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June 27, 2011 at 9:37 pm #36861
Right now off-grid has the biggest appeal to people with the least amount of money. Getting out from under utility bills seems to be foremost on the priority list. However to many people making ends meet seems almost impossible. If you are a renter there are limited options available but you can still save money on food and personal items. Some apartments include utilities, while others have seperate metering. If the latter, there are additional opportunities to save money.
Food is where you can probably save the most. However in order to do that you need to look beyond traditional recipes. North America is accustomed to thinking in terms of pot roasts and steaks on the BBQ. While we all like to eat Chinese, Japanese, and Asian meals on occasion most people do not think of this as normal daily meals. Health professionals have been telling us we eat too much red meat in our diet. But most people think this means becoming vegetarians. Not true! It does require learning a different way to shop and cook.June 27, 2011 at 9:47 pm #41576
Saving money! A penny saved is a penny earned. In Benjamin Franklins time maybe that was true. Today its a dime saved was or would have been a dollar earned (Got that from the Owner Builder Book). We have to start thinking like grandma and grandpa to save money. http://www.daveramsey.com Dave Ramsey has written several books on money management. I’m a fan of his Total Money Makeover. For investing, I’d stay away from Gold and maybe the stock market. Try Land instead that is where the property tax isn’t too high. Diamonds are not forever, but land nearly is. That is as long as your government can keep marauding invading armies at bay.June 28, 2011 at 2:33 am #41577
Larry; evidently you come from a financial strata way above mine. We have to collect pop cans that has a 5 cent rebate each, for a whole month in order to put gas in our 17 year old vehicle for one trip into the nearest town. Our shopping consist of whatever is going at the food bank. Every couple of months we manage to scrounge enough to actually go buy food in a grocery store instead of the food bank. One time we happened to visit a farm when somebody said their chickens had stopped laying, so we said we would take them. Spent the next five hours killing, plucking and gutting the birds so we could put them into a freezer. that lasted us a couple of months
Potatoe, rice, and pasta makes a solid base for a meal. To stretch the food you cut up the good stuff, a small piece at a time. Oh sure, one chicken breast makes a great meal for one person, but dice up one chicken breast, add half an onion then add some spices to the mashed potatoes and you can feed four people enough that they feel they had a meal. The bulk of the cheap potatoes fills the stomach and the diced up other stuff adds flavor and for those who like to kick it up a notch you can add some cajun spice or similar.
Dollar stores have begun to carry food stuff with long shelf life so we often find two cans for a buck or one can of something the brand name stores charge $3 – $4 each. Spices are available at one quarter the price big name stores charge. Spices are wonderful because they can liven up sssssomething that is otherwise bland tasting. When seveal people join together to pool their pennies and quarters you can get stuff in bulk and divvy it up.
Another waay we have found to stretch the food budget is to delay breakfast. Dawdle over tea or coffee then have some cerreal or day old from the food bank around noon. Tea is wonderful for quelling hunger pangs. We usually drink a couple of pot fuls each day. we finish up with a late dinner and dawdle over it to make it last longer. Effectively we manage on one regular meal per day.
When the food bank has real lemons we make lemonade. Half a lemon in a jug of ice cold water gives the water a nice flavor touch so that way one lemon sliced thinly can make enough lemonade for two days. Grandpa and granma grew their own. We plan doing that as well as soon as we find someplace that is not 20 foot deep gravel bed. In the meantime we have to make do with what can be grown in flower pots that people threw out at the dump.June 28, 2011 at 4:06 am #41579
Well, yes and no. I certainly buy all my food from truckstops or walmart or whatever when on the road. A trucker can spend between $400 and $1000 a month on food. I once heard a trucker say, “When I can’t afford to sit down to 2 meals a day I’m going to get out of trucking!” Well I’ve been in it for 8 years and I sit down to only one meal a day. I eat out of the truck or quick stop snack food for the other 2 meals. Or maybe one of the other meals is fast food. And I don’t sit down to a meal every day either. I took a local job a few years back for 1.5 years. I think I ate out maybe 4 times that whole 1.5 years. Rest of the time I ate from my home kitchen. I like cooking because my first 5 working years was working for Shoney’s Restaurant where I preped and cooked anything they sold.
I earned $30K last year, the worst year since I got into trucking in 2002. So I’m not getting rich by any means. And I have no assets to speak of. Only a boat and a 45 foot truck trailer I use for storage which has all my worldly belongings in it.June 28, 2011 at 5:26 pm #41582
My trucker budy loved to cook and hated truck stop food so he prepared almost all his meals in the sleeper. After I installed a decent working inverter system we bought him a George Forman grill which he loved. He had a Danby fridge like you se under a bar counter. He was always getting recipes from my wife.
My reasoning for starting this thread with that title was because the other thread was getting led astray. A single father with a teen age son was asking for help because he only had $95 left for groceries.
I don’t want this thread to become an inverse bragging list of ‘my poverty beats your poverty story’. Both my wife and I have had experience with stretching the grocery well beyond the normal limits most North Americans take for granted. Unless you grew up in post war reconstruction Europe you have no idea what rationing and such was like. Food was issued according to ration booklets and neither love or money could get you more except on the black market. Neither of my parents smoked so they traded cigarettes for eggs. My uncle owned a farm so occasionally we got salamis and smoked meat that never went through a store.
The point being this kind of existence created meal recipes which fed more people than you might imagine.
Your five years at Shoneys has little relevance to starvation recipes because American go to a restaurant to splurge not be miserly. Consequently the types of recipes offered in restaurants bears no recemblance to what I am talking about.
Try feeding a family of four dinner with 3 potatoes, two weiners and half an onion. Used to be my favourite meal when I was growing up.
Likewise how about a dinner using one pork chop, a couple of potatoes and half or maybe a whole onion? Again this could feed four not one person.I bet they never served a meal like that at Shoneys.
You will likely never see a cook book of recipes for really poor people for a couple of reasons. First off people with too little money do not have extra cash for a book. People who have enough money are not likely to want to eat such recipes so why would they buy a book on such recipes.
Over here in North America most people associate cheap food with mulligaan stew as cooked by the irish. The huge number of irish who emigrated after the potatoe famine helped spread this perception. Nothing wrong with it, but there are many more ways to use potatoes than in a stew.
My wifes ancestors were russian peasants and scottish emigrants. As punishment for misdeeds as a child she was sentenced to sit and watch her grandmother cook. Boy what an education! Borzh, kolbasa, and perogies not to mention cabbage rolls and Hablotchy(sp) Growing up on an off grid homestead everything was home made. Canned moose meat was the meat staaple not beef.
Butchering the milk cow for a steak was a silly thing to do because that stopped milk production.
When my wife moved out on her own she took a fishing rod and her hunting cat. she had rented a log cabin near a lake so she fished for food and every week the cat brought home a couple of grouse.
Point being she never learned to cook restaurant style but she sure can feed a crowd.June 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm #41583
Having put foot in mouth and finger to keyboard I herby offer one of many recipes for stretching the food dollar.
I am not going to give exact measurements just ratios because the same recipe can be used whether you have one pound of ground beef or five pounds.
The whole concept behind this kind of recipe is to make a small quantity feed a large number of people.
A quarter or half pound of ground red meat might make one meal for one person but could just as well feed four people when served right.
Take the available quantity of ground meat and place it in the mixing bowl you intend to use. Use a knife to divide the quantity into quarters. Imagine cutting a pie into four equal pieces.
Lift out one section. This is only to give you a convenient way to judge the ratio of filler and meat.
Fill the cavity with either rolled oats or crushed soup crackers plus two table spoons of flour. Also put in at least one egg but two is better. The eggs act as a binder when you blend this whole mixture together. If you do not have an egg you could use a cup of whole milk but don’t use skim milk. It’s too watery and will not be a good binder.
While this is being done you should be boiling potatoes or cooking rice that will be the bulk filler of the meal.
If you have it available cut up half or a whole onion into small diced pieces.. the smaller the better. Add this to the mix.
You can also add salt and peper to suit. Go easy until you have tried this a few times.
Mix the ground meat and other stuff together until it is a homogenous mix. The milk or eggs will give the mixture a slick feel and binds it together. Now form the meat into meat balls about as large as golf balls but never more than a tennis ball. That is too big.
Flatten these slightly as you place them on the heated pan. Use margarine or butter to lubricate the pan so the meat balls do not stick. Squish the paties so they are approximately ¾” or 1” thick. Any fatter than that and the meat will over cook Fry the meat patties until the exterior is nicely browned. The interior will be cooked right through but not so much as to become hardened. The outside will be slightly crisp where browned much like a hamburger patty.
Depending on how many you are serving you can either serve the meat patties with whole potatoes or you can make mashed potatoes. Adding a bit of butter and milk makes the mashed potatoes creamy and bulks it out a bit more. If you have parsley or chives from a garden this adds a bit of extra flavor.
Gravy can be included but is not essential if the budget is tight.
You have several options. Powdered gravy can be found in the dollar stores and super markets or you can make it from scratch using mushroom soup as the stock base.
The meat balls also taste good cold when sliced up and served on rye bread. Garnish with sliced pickles or beets..
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