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Never again...
Jul 3, 2007

by Lowtax


First off, no, I'm not any kind of fantastic professional chef. I passed a technical school food prep course with a C+ back in high school and have worked fast food jobs for the combined total of maybe a year and a half.

That said, I am an amazing desperation chef. I've been making edible meals out of scraps since I learned how to use the microwave at 8 years old. I once survived for two weeks on three packages of Ramen, some bullion cubes, a package of hot dogs, various seasonings, and $10.

I'm currently in a house which my wife keeps fairly stocked with decent food (she likes to cook "real" sit-down-with-family meals), so my desperation cooking days appear to be at an end. I would, however, like to pass on my accrued real-world knowledge in hopes that someone between jobs or a college kid doesn't starve to death. I should also be able to do a "what have you got, I'll help you out" but don't expect miracles if "water, salt, and pepper" are the only things you have.

I'll start with the most important part: planning.

Regardless of whether your hard times came suddenly or were expected, you have to make a meal plan. This will allow you to shop for what you NEED and not waste money buying too much or too little. This is going to go hand-in-hand with your grocery list (grocery shopping advice will be covered later) so make an accurate projection and stick to it. You'll find that knowing what you want to eat tomorrow will mean you can begin preparations today, and since you're going to be buying on a budget more preparation time will make the food taste better.

Take stock of what you have and how much of it you have. I'm not saying that you need 100% accurate numbers, but if you have a roughly half-container-full of something that weighs 64 ounces full, take note that you have 32 ounces. Figure out how much of what you eat each day, since your shopping is going to be calculated to not buy too much more/less than you need.

Figure out how long you'll be desperate. This is the final piece of the getting-by puzzle. Since you're in survival mode, knowing how long you'll be in it will help to determine the amounts of things to buy. If you don't see an end to it, buy for at least two weeks worth (or what your budget allows).

Next we cover the most difficult part: shopping

Look for dehydrated/dry stuff -- You don't need to buy water, as odds are you have it on hand at home. Noodles and rice will probably be your staple foods while desperation cooking. Flour and cornmeal are good buys as well as bullion cubes and sugars/spices, but if you don't know how to do things as involved as building your own break don't bother. It's nasty, but evaporated milk + water saves a bundle for breakfast when coupled with the bags of generic cereal, which leads to my next point...

Buy generic brands -- You'll be able to get a good percentage more stuff buying Wal*Mart brand whatever rather than getting the top shelf equivalent at a dedicated grocery store. Yes, it doesn't taste as good and yes you might be selling your soul to the devil a bit but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Be careful when buying in bulk -- Wow, that 20lb bag of noodles is two cents cheaper per unit than the same brand smaller bag! That's great if you intend to eat 20 pounds of noodles. Don't buy desperation foodstuffs that you won't eat once you're no longer desperate -- it'll just waste your money. If you made a plan (as mentioned earlier) you should know how long you're going to be desperate and should know roughly how much of what you'll use. Considering the amount of noodles you'll be eating, though, that huge jar of spaghetti sauce is probably a good idea.

Load up on starches -- Potatoes, noodles, tortillas... the list goes on. These are cheap, flexible foods that you should be able to make a variety of rather filling things with and not get sick of.

Don't buy pre-prepared food -- NO TV DINNERS. I don't care how thick your neckbeard is, that lasagna Banquet microwavable try that you normally eat two of anyway is off limits. You could probably MAKE much more and better lasagna yourself for the same price, and cooking REALLY isn't that hard. The more ingredient-centric you shop, the cheaper it is. In the same vein, fast food is also out. As a rule of thumb, if you don't have to add anything to it don't buy it.

Meats and dairy -- Use meat sparingly, and never as a main dish. It's expensive per calorific value. Frozen chicken breasts are always good to add to almost any dish, though, and are an exception to the rule. Eggs are pretty limited, but if you like eggs go for it. Milk should be skim since it's cheaper and as an ingredient you won't taste the difference. Cheese is really cheap here in WI, but anywhere where it's not available at good prices should avoid it (again, it's not all that vital).

Vegetables -- Buy frozen bags of whatever you can. Fresh and canned are wastes of funds. Lettuce is filling and cheap, and can only be found fresh as far as I know, but if you're getting plenty of other veggies you can skip it. I personally like it on the side of most of my meals.

Now that we've covered the basics, let's get down to the cooking. Since I never really measure what I use, I'm just going to list the ingredients of one of my favorite desperation dishes. I usually "play it by taste" and toss whatever into a wok or skillett over some heat while stirring and slowly add small amounts of what I think it needs until it comes out edible.

Ghetto Chili
Peel and slice some potatoes. The thinner the better since the potato starch is what's going to thicken this up. Add skim milk and noodles and let simmer over low heat while covered, stirring often. We're going to get a gravy-ish broth here, so if it starts getting too thin leave uncovered for a bit to evaporate or add more noodles. You can add butter or oil if you'd like, I try to avoid it unless the noodles are really sticking.

Once it's thickened a bit add pepper. poo poo tons of it. And a little salt, too. Stir it very well, and it should become a sort of disgusting gray color. Taste often to achieve target. Add veggies if you like.

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NewcastleBrown
Mar 15, 2004
The One and Only

I'm currently in a debt induced stasis where money in is almost exactly the same as money out. I might just have to take up desperation cooking till I can get myself out of the hole. I waste a ton of money on food. Thank you for this advice!

E: What is your advice for keeping me drunk every night? Cheap beer, or big bottles of the hard stuff?

NewcastleBrown fucked around with this message at Aug 3, 2007 around 21:13

Syncopator
Jul 21, 2006

by Ozma


This thread will be legendary.

AlbertGator
Nov 16, 2004

Alligator for Hire

What's your stance on bean soups? I have a big container of mixed beans that are for making some kind of soup with that I always figured would be one of my last stop desperation meals, but would they be a solid buy for a planned shortage?

Megazver
Jan 13, 2006


NewcastleBrown posted:

E: What is your advice for keeping me drunk every night? Cheap beer, or big bottles of the hard stuff?

Cheap vodka. Just make sure it's not lovely counterfeit vodka, you might die drinking that.

Or, you know, I don't want to sound like your Mom, but - don't get drunk. It's bad for you, man.

Crusty Nutsack
Apr 21, 2005



Never again... posted:

Vegetables -- Buy frozen bags of whatever you can. Fresh and canned are wastes of funds.

Ghetto Chili
Peel and slice some potatoes. The thinner the better since the potato starch is what's going to thicken this up. Add skim milk and noodles and let simmer over low heat while covered, stirring often. We're going to get a gravy-ish broth here, so if it starts getting too thin leave uncovered for a bit to evaporate or add more noodles. You can add butter or oil if you'd like, I try to avoid it unless the noodles are really sticking.

Once it's thickened a bit add pepper. poo poo tons of it. And a little salt, too. Stir it very well, and it should become a sort of disgusting gray color. Taste often to achieve target. Add veggies if you like.

Fresh veggies are a waste of funds? What? At least you got that frozen is better than canned...But everyone can afford a cucumber or some greens at least sometimes. Try farmer's markets. Not to mention, if someone's going to be cooking with a ton of starches, carbs and little protein (as you recommend), hopefully they'll at least get some vitamins and nutrition somewhere.

And, you "chili" recipe sounds completely horrendous. I'm not even sure why you call it chili. It most certainly doesn't resemble anything like chili. I'd like to hear some more recipes from your ghetto collection, please.

Hippie Hedgehog
Feb 19, 2007

Ever cuddled a hedgehog?

NewcastleBrown posted:

E: What is your advice for keeping me drunk every night? Cheap beer, or big bottles of the hard stuff?

Come on, it's not that hard to figure out the amount of alcohol per dollar for different products. Do some math, man! =)

Also, yes, stop drinking if you're desperate for cash. Geez.

este
Feb 17, 2004

Boing!


NewcastleBrown posted:

What is your advice for keeping me drunk every night? Cheap beer, or big bottles of the hard stuff?

Make some Pruno! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pruno

Acetone
May 20, 2005
Working toward a glowing-sludge future!

I'm often too lazy or busy with work to make a grocery run, so I'm looking forward to any good ideas you have. I've also got a couple questions:

What do you suggest for fast/cheap brown-bag type lunches (assuming I've only got ~15-20 minutes to prepare them in the morning)?
What's your take on beans/lentils vs. rice/noodles?
WHY ON EARTH do my potatos go bad in the pantry within 2 weeks? I've tried several different storage spots, but mold or such always gets them.

IRQ
Sep 9, 2001


I disagree with your anti-meat stance.

The thing is to only buy meat on "manager's special" or with "X dollars off" stickers. All it means is that it's close to passing the sell-by date, which is meaningless anyway as it doesn't just instantly turn bad, and you can freeze it anyway.

I once got like a 4 pound ham for a bit over 2 bucks. But even if it's not a great deal like that, you can still routinely get stuff at half price or less.


Acetone posted:

WHY ON EARTH do my potatos go bad in the pantry within 2 weeks? I've tried several different storage spots, but mold or such always gets them.

Because they should be in the fridge. I've had those big bags of baby/red potatoes last months with no trouble.

a worthy uhh
Dec 28, 2006



There's a difference between cooking on the cheap and cooking garbage. Why make that grey slop you described when you could, instead, make mashed potatoes with buttered noodles? Or fried potatoes, or one of a million other forms of potatoes you could make. Everything you cook doesn't have to be thrown together into gruel.

Acetone
May 20, 2005
Working toward a glowing-sludge future!

IRQ posted:

[potatos] should be in the fridge. I've had those big bags of baby/red potatoes last months with no trouble.
Thanks! I guess I'll have to stop being stingy on fridge space.

I'd like to add that the "ghetto chili" sounds pretty drat desperate to me. Rather than using milk, I'd use less water and several TBSP of peanut butter. Then for spicing, add some garlic powder, lemon juice or vinegar, and a little red pepper & spices*. Peanut butter is cheap and adds protein, and the results are pretty tasty.

*: Spices are actually pretty cheap if you buy bulk spices rather than containers. $10 is enough to turn plain potatoes into tasty fare for several months, if used wisely.

Atticus_1354
Dec 9, 2006

Don't you go near that dog, you understand? Don't go near him, he's just as dangerous dead as alive.


me in reverse posted:

There's a difference between cooking on the cheap and cooking garbage. Why make that grey slop you described when you could, instead, make mashed potatoes with buttered noodles? Or fried potatoes, or one of a million other forms of potatoes you could make. Everything you cook doesn't have to be thrown together into gruel.

Seriously. That sounds horrible. You don't need to invent new types of gruel just to eat cheap.

Zazamoot
Apr 2, 2005


Why not just cook rice and beans? A couple cans of beans and a five pound bag of rice costs less than $7 but will supply a week of dinner for one. Add salsa and sour cream and you've got something that is actually enjoyable to eat.

You're going to get a lot of "help" in this thread, this forum is full of broke college students.

IRQ
Sep 9, 2001


Acetone posted:

Thanks! I guess I'll have to stop being stingy on fridge space.

Your fridge/freezer will actually run more efficiently the fuller it is as well (unless it's so completely stuffed that the cold air can't move around), so there's no conceivable reason to be stingy with fridge space. Fill that fucker up, it'll save you electricity.

JohnnyRed
Aug 19, 2004

by Ozma


My usual meal (breakfast, dinner, and often lunch) is rice and cheese in a tortilla. I like to make mexican rice in huge batches, and then just cut some cheese and whatever meat or veggie is around. Super cheap, really tasty, and way way cheap

El Juapeador
Jul 26, 2007

by Lowtax


Or you could circumvent all of this and simply live down the block from a Trader Joe's, as I do.

God bless you, Mr. Joe, wherever you are.

Seriously, that place is a poor single college student's wet dream. You can get some AMAZING pre-made foods from their frozen aisle, some reeeaaally good vegetable mixes and nice pasta dishes for like 2 or 3 bucks, plenty of food that, as far as I can tell from the labels, is reasonably good for you and tastes just as good as fancy restaraunt food you could go out and get for 5 times as much.

Still, if I ever have to live far from my beloved Trader Joe, I shall take this thread to heart.

Fuckin college, making me poor.

Never again...
Jul 3, 2007

by Lowtax


Wow, I'm glad to see so many responses. I'll reply to most, but start this off with another couple desperation recipe...

Terrortilla
Quite possibly the easiest to make since it requires little to no actual cooking and has huge customization potential and is FAST. Take a tortilla, add spaghetti sauce (you SHOULD have a huge jar if you're desperation stocked), a slice or two of cheese (velveeta or american works best), and maybe a hotdog. Roll it, then microwave for however long it takes to get as warm as you'd like it. I'd say enjoy, but you won't.

BBQ chicken rice
Rice is GREAT since it'll basically absorb the flavor of whatever sauce it's steamed in, and Wal*Mart sells huge jugs of Sweet Baby Ray's, the best BBQ sauce available off the shelf. If you don't know how to steam rice, learn. It's as easy as add water, cover, let stand (although I like to add something for the rice to "stand" on so it doesn't touch the water, but you get less flavor).

Anyway, make a base of about 1/3 BBQ sauce and 2/3 water. Slice up one of those frozen chicken breasts. The smaller the chunks -- surface area:volume ratio -- the more flavor will saturate it. Steam the rice in the water/BBQ mixture... the lower the heat and longer it steams the more flavorful it'll be, but be careful, you can overcook the rice. Adding oil/butter may help to keep your rice from sticking, but I try to avoid it. I usually then serve this over lettuce.

This recipe turns out better with time and may take up to two days to prepare depending on if you want to let the chicken passively thaw before cutting it and if you want to marinate it in the BBQ/water mixture before cooking it.

On to the replies

On drinking -- I'm not a big drinker, and a couple of mixers will do me for the night. I've never been desperate to drink, and I've spent more money on cooking wine than drinking alcohol in my life. My brother is an alcoholic in training who likes to blow his money on weed since he can always go to gay bars and let desperate old men get him liquored up for free. He always goes out with a friend, though, since he's known to drink until he passes out and he doesn't want to wake up with a sore butthole.

On Ghetto Chili/fresh veggies -- It doesn't have the consistency of chili at all. It's more like scalloped potatoes and noodles. But if you add enough pepper and a dash of chili powder it'll make you sweat and taste amazingly like overhot nonsweet chili. It's certainly not "gruel" if you prepare it properly any more than scalloped potatoes are. I've prepared/shared this with people and its gone over great.

When you've got $1 and can either buy a week's worth of Ramen or some celery, yes, it's a waste. The wife and I visit the farmer's market every Saturday to supplement our own garden, and it's great if you're not having to decide whether to pay rent or eat, but we're DESPERATION cooking, not "I don't want to go shopping tonight" cooking.

On beans -- I know beans can be steamed, and dried beans are a good buy, but I never cook with them. I have them in the garden, and the wife uses them, but I have literally never added beans to any dish. It's not that I dislike them or anything, but they're like sour cream; I could live the rest of my life without them and not ever wish I had them. I did use to shoot beans through straws at other kids when I was 7 or 8, though.

On "Anti-Meat" -- Again, I'm not dissing meat (I'm planning to raise my own food rabbits) and you can find some really great deals by not buying stuff that's loaded with red dye (meat is normally a sickly brown/gray) but you're paying for a lot of water there. See my above reply about veggies. We're trying to pay our rent or be evicted in 30 days, so we have maybe $4/week to spend on food. You do have good meat buying advice, though.

On spices -- I usually don't mention to add spices to a dish. I used to until I found ihatecilantro.com. I've ALWAYS had a lazy susan stocked full of everything from brown sugar and honey to chili powder. You name it I've got it, and I tend to use liberal amounts of it. I throw garlic into everything I make. Peoples' tastes vary, so I make no assumptions on how people should season things.

On help -- Go ahead, add your advice/recipes. My suggestions and advice assume you're walking to work because you can't afford gas and that you're using the "change jar" to buy food. I'm quite capable of cooking well, but this thread is intended to be about desperation cooking.

Crusty Nutsack
Apr 21, 2005



Never again... posted:

On Ghetto Chili/fresh veggies -- It doesn't have the consistency of chili at all. It's more like scalloped potatoes and noodles. But if you add enough pepper and a dash of chili powder it'll make you sweat and taste amazingly like overhot nonsweet chili. It's certainly not "gruel" if you prepare it properly any more than scalloped potatoes are. I've prepared/shared this with people and its gone over great.

When you've got $1 and can either buy a week's worth of Ramen or some celery, yes, it's a waste. The wife and I visit the farmer's market every Saturday to supplement our own garden, and it's great if you're not having to decide whether to pay rent or eat, but we're DESPERATION cooking, not "I don't want to go shopping tonight" cooking.


This thread is just disgusting and you are giving people horrible advice. Like someone else mentioned, you don't have to concoct some sort of gray gruel for cheap and then put it up on a pedestal like you're the poor's saving grace. All of a sudden you're defending your "ghetto chili," even though you yourself described it as a "disgusting gray color." Why do you think anyone would want to eat that? I got news for you...If it's really like scalloped potatoes, why didn't you tell people how to make actual potatoes au gratin? Guess what you use for that: potatoes, sliced thinly, milk, S+P. Even less ingredients than your gray gruel! And it tastes good!

I also can't believe you're not telling people to use beans. You already told them NOT to use meat (as apparently, it's sickly gray in color, too), so where are they supposed to get some protein from? Everyone NEEDS protein, poor or not. Hell, you could tell people to make rice and beans with rice, beans, canned tomatoes and some pre-mixed Cajun seasoning...Still cheap, but much healthier than the processed, fattening, gray and disgusting thing you're telling people to make.

Processed American cheese, a hot dog, and jarred spaghetti sauce? I'd rather have ramen, thanks much. Practically the same anyway, nutrition-wise. How about using that prcessed spaghetti sauce you hold so highly and putting it over pasta? Maybe adding a link of sausage or some...vegetables! Still, just as cheap as your abomination, but much simpler and healthy.

me in reverse is correct...you're cooking garbage for cheap, when you could be using the same exact ingredients and telling people to cook something that actually resembles food and is healthier.

Never again...
Jul 3, 2007

by Lowtax


shakerpenguin posted:



Thank you for a constructive contribution.

EDIT: See thread title and initial post.

l33t Lurker
Aug 31, 2001


I'm sorry, but he's mostly right, the recipes you're suggesting are unbelievably terrible. You're just throwing together random cheap poo poo that may or may not resemble real food. Hotdogs and spaghetti sauce with american cheese is a quesadilla?

You could put together way more nutritious, way less disgusting meals for the same price if you planned actually thought them through, or looked at a cookbook.

Straylight
Jun 5, 2002
Dude, this title is because you sound like a fucking pompous douche every time you open your mouth. I bet you have shitty tattoos like GodsMullet. PS. Thai food sucks.

Never again... posted:

Terrortilla
Quite possibly the easiest to make since it requires little to no actual cooking and has huge customization potential and is FAST. Take a tortilla, add spaghetti sauce (you SHOULD have a huge jar if you're desperation stocked), a slice or two of cheese (velveeta or american works best), and maybe a hotdog. Roll it, then microwave for however long it takes to get as warm as you'd like it. I'd say enjoy, but you won't.
I wanted to stay out of this thread because it's an insult to cooking, but the advice being given here is total poo poo. You need to change the name of each "recipe" to Abomination ##.

Let's examine this Terrortilla, or as it should be called, Abomination #3.
1 package tortillas = $1
1 jar Ragu or Prego nastiness = $4
1 package hotdogs = $2
1 package of fake cheese = $2

That serves 4 for $9. Or one really fat shithead like the OP.

Now let's look at its nutritional value, using http://www.nutritiondata.com.
A weiner
2 Tb Prego
A tortilla
1 oz fake cheese

Adding that utter poo poo together gives you:
[way too much effort to sum something for which you already know the answer]

Let's look at alternatives: spaghetti with tomato sauce or a quesadilla or really anything using similar ingredients:

Spaghetti WITHOUT SKIMPING for 4 cost:
1 lb dry spaghetti: $0.70
Boil in 1 to 1.5 gallons salted water until cooked properly.

1 14oz can diced tomatoes (fresh only worth it in summer): $0.89
1 large yellow onion: $0.89 a pound, so $0.89
4 Tb butter: $0.25-$0.50
Toss all that in a saucepan and simmer for 45 minutes then crush or puree, depending on preference.
DONE. Total cost for my meal: $3 at most at Boston prices

Chicken quesadilla
1 whole chicken: 3lbs at $0.59 a pound, $1.77
1 package tortillas: $1
1 lb bell pepper: $0.59 a pound, so let's say $0.59
1 package quesadilla queso: $2
Total cost: around $5.50 and you have bones to make chicken soup.

Those are just two examples where making real food costs less, is more healthy and tastes better than the poo poo you're peddling.

Lomil
Oct 9, 2006

You have taken one of our precious scum. We... We will not forget this.

Never again... posted:

Thank you for a constructive contribution.

EDIT: See thread title and initial post.

So by 'desperation' you actually mean "Oh god I just got bitten by a venomous snake! I must eat something that is cheap and will induce vomiting to get the venom out of my system"?

These guys are being constructive, dude. "Use beans, use vegetables", and examples of meals = constructive criticism.

You just don't know what the gently caress you're talking about in terms of preparing healthy AND cheap AND tasty meals which is, as has been demonstrated, more than possible.

andamac
Jan 25, 2004

Two buckets of chicken and a drive to the liquor store.

Hey he's an amazing desperation chef with real world knowledge. What have YOU accomplished with your life huh?

Crusty Nutsack
Apr 21, 2005



Never again... posted:

Thank you for a constructive contribution.

EDIT: See thread title and initial post.

Thanks for your insightful reply!

Honestly, I gave you and everyone else in this thread three other ideas for healthier, cheaper and less disgusting meals. I think that's a contribution.

I'm also still curious as to why you refuse to tell people to use beans, when everyone knows that they're a perfect source of cheap protein around the globe. And you even tell people to not buy meat! (which, apparently, doesn't include hot dogs.)

Also, you tell everyone in your OP to stay away from pre-made pre-processed foods...But let's look at your hot dog crap recipe...Hot dog, check. Jarred spaghetti sauce, check. Processed cheese, check. So, 3/4 of your own recipe goes against your own philosophy. There's more fat, saturated fat, calories and high fructose corn syrup in that "recipe" than there is in a package of ramen. Hence my, I'd rather have ramen.

Moms Stuffing
Jun 2, 2005

the little green one

There's much better ways of desperation cooking than resorting to hot dogs and ramen. If you can, shop at ethnic markets. Everything is a lot cheaper and that means you can actually splurge more often. FRESH vegetables are very cheap at ethnic markets, you don't have to resort to nasty canned or frozen stuff. Bags of dry beans are very cheap and I use a quick soak method that cuts prep time by a million. I just made these beans a few days ago and they're very healthy and full of vegetables. I eat it with brown rice, which you can buy huge bags of for very little money at Asian grocery stores.

1 16 oz package small red beans
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
2 stalks celery, diced
5 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt, pepper, and Sazon to taste.

Soak beans by boiling for 2 minutes, then taking off heat and letting sit for one hour. Drain them and set them aside.

Spray bottom of heavy pot with Pam for 2 seconds, then add diced onion , celery, and carrots. Sweat for 5 minutes on medium heat, adding water as necessary to avoid sticking. Add garlic and zucchini. Cook for another 5 minutes, then add beans and tomatoes. Fill pot with water until just over the beans. Bring to a boil, then bring back down to a simmer. Cook for 2 hours on low heat or until they're soft but not mushy. Season to taste with salt, pepper, or Sazon.

Number of Servings: 9 Serving size is 1 cup of beans.
Fat: 0.1g
Carbohydrates: 39.8g
Calories:120.9
Protein: 10.6g

I grew up broke, gently caress I'm STILL very broke, and I really know how to shop but still eat well.

Ozmodai
May 6, 2007

I hate when my sisters barges in and I'm trying to shade the nipples on my Daemonettes UGH GET OUT



I think I can safely add my own reciepe for really desperate cooking that has been passed down for generations.

Get a big old pot and fill it with water.
Start to get that water to a boil.
Throw anything you think might be edible after boiling into that pot.
Boil ingredients until soft.
Add salt or pepper if can afford to do so and don't waste any of that good broth!

Eat every drat thing you cooked.

cocteau
Nov 28, 2005

The best Darcy.


shakerpenguin posted:

This thread is just disgusting and you are giving people horrible advice.

you're cooking garbage for cheap, when you could be using the same exact ingredients and telling people to cook something that actually resembles food and is healthier.

I'm on board with this response. If this is a thread about horrible concoctions people have invented when desperate and high, then I think the OP's contributions work. Otherwise, they are disgusting and really undermine the whole concept of cooking for cheap.

If you don't have a lot of money, there are actually ways to stretch your dollar and eat halfway decently, as a few others have suggested.

Some ideas off the top of my head. First, bulk food areas of grocery stores can be your friend, especially for rice, cereal/grain (like oatmeal) and especially for spices, because you're not paying for packaging. For example, I just got a large jar's worth of cinnamon for 80 cents by buying it from the bulk area of the store. So there's no reason to eat bland food.

Second, frozen veggies is actually a good idea, and it's worth stocking up on them to add variety and bulk to meals (and it's easy to skip the veggies when you're broke). You can add them to ramen or boxes of mac and cheese, or make cheap homemade soup.

Soup is also a great thing to make. With a bag of dried beans, some bullion (or better, a carton of vegetable or chicken broth), a few canned or frozen veggies, a can of tomatoes, and maybe a little meat, you can make a massive pot of soup that is healthy for you and will cover a number of meals.

Third, protein is a very important and often overlooked (or dismissed) aspect of eating on the cheap. Peanut butter, beans (as in the soup above, or even cans of black, refried or soup beans), and eggs are all inexpensive sources of protein.

Other things that I find help stretch the dining dollar: nonfat dry milk (can work for mac and cheese or other things in a pinch), cereal, plain-label processed cheese (just not the cheapest kind that has no dairy and won't melt!), spaghetti and sauce, 33 cent biscuit mixes, even those $1 michelina frozen meals. Get plain-label koolaid mix or tea bags for beverages and save on soda costs.

Finally, the best idea of all: LEARN HOW TO COOK. If you know the basics of what works together, what makes a cake rise, how to make an omelette, and so forth, you will be able to scrounge around in your pantry and make edible meals.

Thien Pham
Jul 28, 2007
I like to lurk :)

Guys can we stop the bickering and start sharing recipes?

Here's my contribution:

(I have no idea how to name this dish, it is good for 1 person)
($0.20) - Rice, use roughly 2 theecups and throw them into a ricecooker*. Add water until the rice is fully underwater and press the start button. (note that if you're in doubt, it's better to use too little water than too much, you can always add water later on)

($0.60) - Omelet**, break 2 eggs into a bowl, add springonions, 1 tomato sliced into slices or chopped into pieces, salt, pepper and stir until they're all well-mixed. Throw in some sunfloweroil and garlic into a pan, then add the mix.

optional: I like to add cooked beans ($1) to make this dish more edible.

* the ricecooker is optional, there are other ways to prepare rice
** you can add lots of stuff into the omelet like shrimp, ham, vegetables. Also: watermelon + rice is a really really really really good combination!


shakerpenguin posted:

Why do you think anyone would want to eat that? I got news for you...If it's really like scalloped potatoes, why didn't you tell people how to make actual potatoes au gratin? Guess what you use for that: potatoes, sliced thinly, milk, S+P. Even less ingredients than your gray gruel! And it tastes good!

Hell, you could tell people to make rice and beans with rice, beans, canned tomatoes and some pre-mixed Cajun seasoning...Still cheap, but much healthier than the processed, fattening, gray and disgusting thing you're telling people to make.


Please teach me, oh great one do you throw the potaties, milk, salt and pepper into a pan with sunfloweroil?

Also: can you elaborate more thoroughly on the recipe in the 2nd paragraph of the quote? :S

edit: I have no idea how to fry a fish AND make it nice and crispy on the outside. Is it because I am not dipping the fish into some dough?

Thien Pham fucked around with this message at Aug 4, 2007 around 17:20

Never again...
Jul 3, 2007

by Lowtax


v:)v

Thread abandoned, then. A lot of people don't know how to cook anything more involved than Ramen, and nobody else is contributing much aside from critisism (heaven forbid you master chefs out there actually give recipes instead of insults -- Google Embryo being the lone exception to this point). Since everyone knows that this stuff is poo poo without even trying it I guess there's no reason for this thread to remain open. After all, eggs are the menstrual waste of chickens, those MUST be gross without even eating them!

I've got to go fire up the grill to feed my "fat shithead" self, the child, wife, and her parents. OH NOES! Maybe the result won't be the healthiest possible meal and it'll lead to divorce! If the opinions of the internet are any evidence I may even start WWIII.

Even if my recipes are poo poo, the rest of the advice is sound. Going without any protein aside from chicken for a week won't kill you.

PencilProtector
Aug 4, 2007

ok roger nusic, that's enough "convincing" for one night, we'll think about buying your album

Here are somethings I have learned for if you are honestly starving because you are broke:
If you cut down your exercise regimen, you can survive on 1800 calories a day. You will be hungry for the first few days or so while your stomach shrinks, but you will end up needing very little food. This is a true "desperation" measure however, as you will lose muscle mass, etc. After this happens do not overeat, even if you're offered free food, because that will expand your stomach.
As far as free food, go to church. People there will offer to take you home for lunch afterwards, and at least in the midwest there are amazing CHURCH POTLUCKS! There is also free food at art galleries and graduation parties if it is that time of year and you are shameless. It also helps if you get a part-time job around food, like at a sub place or something. Actually, if you do this you probably won't need to take any other "desperation" measures.

Alterian
Jan 28, 2003

THIRTEEN!

We've had a couple of really tight weeks money-wise and we'd still never resort to eating that crap.

If you eat vegetarian you can eat a lot cheaper. If I had to eat incredibly cheap I'd just get some brown rice, black beans, bananas, and eggs. Any left over money would be spent on some sort of dense fruit or vegetable.

Whole milk isn't that much more expensive than skim and if you're eating like that you really should be drinking whole. You can't live on carbs alone.

Screw buying tomato sauce. A can of crushed tomatoes is a lot cheaper and tastes better in my opinion.

Crusty Nutsack
Apr 21, 2005



Never again... posted:

v:)v

Thread abandoned, then. A lot of people don't know how to cook anything more involved than Ramen, and nobody else is contributing much aside from critisism (heaven forbid you master chefs out there actually give recipes instead of insults -- Google Embryo being the lone exception to this point). Since everyone knows that this stuff is poo poo without even trying it I guess there's no reason for this thread to remain open. After all, eggs are the menstrual waste of chickens, those MUST be gross without even eating them!

I've got to go fire up the grill to feed my "fat shithead" self, the child, wife, and her parents. OH NOES! Maybe the result won't be the healthiest possible meal and it'll lead to divorce! If the opinions of the internet are any evidence I may even start WWIII.

Even if my recipes are poo poo, the rest of the advice is sound. Going without any protein aside from chicken for a week won't kill you.



I don't have to actually boil potatoes and noodles in milk to know that it won't taste or look very good, as you've already told us yourself. And plenty of people, including myself, are giving recipes. Pay attention.

And no, your advice is mostly not sound, as plenty of people have already pointed out.

Crusty Nutsack
Apr 21, 2005



Thien Pham posted:

do you throw the potaties, milk, salt and pepper into a pan with sunfloweroil?

Also: can you elaborate more thoroughly on the recipe in the 2nd paragraph of the quote? :S

edit: I have no idea how to fry a fish AND make it nice and crispy on the outside. Is it because I am not dipping the fish into some dough?

get a pie dish, coat it with some butter. slice your potatoes very thinly, layer in the dish. Alternate with onions if you want. Sprinkle each layer with some salt and pepper. Pour milk over the top when the dish is full, enough to just go up the side of the pan maybe an inch or so. Bake, covered with foil, until tender. Remove foil and brown the top.

Beans and rice: I use canned beans because I'm impatient. Just make some rice, use stock to cook it in if you can afford it, and add a couple tablespoons of cajun seasoning. last few minutes of cooking, add some kidney beans, or black beans, whatever you want/is cheaper. That's basic. You can also add onions or other veggies, of course.

cocteau
Nov 28, 2005

The best Darcy.


Never again... posted:

Even if my recipes are poo poo, the rest of the advice is sound. Going without any protein aside from chicken for a week won't kill you.

No, you're right, it won't kill anyone. However, for most people, especially young men or anyone who is physically active, not having protein will mean they will need a lot more carbs to fill themselves up. Eating mostly (processed) carbs does a number to your blood sugar levels, and can make you feel really sluggish. It's a cheap way to eat and can sustain you when you're desperate, but I doubt most people are routinely so broke they can't afford $5 for a jar of peanut butter, some beans and a dozen eggs.

ThirdReichNRoll
Nov 21, 2005



Straylight posted:

1 jar Ragu or Prego nastiness = $4

1 14oz can diced tomatoes (fresh only worth it in summer): $0.89
1 large yellow onion: $0.89 a pound, so $0.89
4 Tb butter: $0.25-$0.50
Toss all that in a saucepan and simmer for 45 minutes then crush or puree, depending on preference.
DONE. Total cost for my meal: $3 at most at Boston prices

Around here you can get 16 oz cans of generic spaghetti sauce for only pennies more than the cost of diced tomatoes. Besides being cheaper, cans of sauce also don't require any preparation time and actually have spices in them.



To contribute, here's a cheap recipe that I use all the time:

Creamy tomato basil soup:

4 cans plain stewed tomatoes
1 bunch of fresh basil leaves (preferably basil from an asian market; it's much cheaper and tastes better)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper

Stick the tomatoes and basil in a blender and liquefy. Put in a pot and simmer for 45 min. Add butter and cream; stir until butter has melted. Salt and pepper to taste.

cocteau
Nov 28, 2005

The best Darcy.


Never again... posted:

v:)v

Thread abandoned, then. A lot of people don't know how to cook anything more involved than Ramen, and nobody else is contributing much aside from critisism (heaven forbid you master chefs out there actually give recipes instead of insults -- Google Embryo being the lone exception to this point).

It just occurred to me that the purpose of this thread is just to give meaning to your user name + custom title.

I'm also surprised that as someone who bases their forum identity around their culinary mastery, you haven't once posted in Goons with Spoons. Perhaps there you will find the appreciation you think your recipes deserve.

Edit: after reading your follow-up thread, I rest my case.

cocteau fucked around with this message at Aug 4, 2007 around 17:41

deutsche nozzle
May 1, 2005

by Fragmaster


I'm poor right now, as I'm stuck between school and a career with debt. Pasta, beans, chicken, and fresh vegetables/fruit is the basis of my diet. I have spaghetti or ravioli two times a week, I eat burritos occasionally, $1 cardboard frozen pizzas, and a poo poo load of what ever vegetables/fruits are on sell at work.

I can get spaghetti noodles at around 50 cents to $1 a pound or a sacks of cheese raviolis for $2, a jars of sauce for $1 (generic, tastes better than the ragu), cans of beans for 50 cents, and sacks of cheese for $2. Fresh foods I usually spend 40 cents to $2 a pound on.

Meat can be incorporated, especially if you cook in bulk. Like, make a big pot of chili if you want it, portion it out into containers and freeze it.

Eating cheap doesn't mean eating poorly.

Not Jawn
Nov 7, 2005

by Lowtax


This thread is awesome, it's like junkfood cuisine.

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odysseystp
Oct 24, 2004
hello

I don't normally read blogs, but this guy gives some pretty good advice on eating on the cheap. I was more a "I want to see what it is like to live on food stamps," but he manages (or at least claims) to live off a dollar a day for an entire month. I tried doing what he did, and since I'm tiny and I don't eat that much normally, it worked for about two weeks, until I gave in and just HAD to eat some goddamn shrimp.

http://hungryforamonth.blogspot.com...th_archive.html

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