Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The "I am totally broke and using it as a gimic" Post
Ok - So here is the deal...I am broke. Like as in, flat, crazy, $20 to my name broke until I get a paycheck in 2-3 weeks and even then most of that will have to be saved for rent and car insurance. I guess that's what comes of being a college student again and not having a job until this week. So that means I get to now figure out how to eat on $20 or less for the next 3 weeks (and in turn take these frugal lessons along with me as I continue to be a relatively poor student for the next 3 years. And let's be honest - I am studying theatre, as I continue to be a poor artist for the next 10 years!)
Things in my favor:
1) I have a relatively well stocked pantry with a few sauces, peanut butter, a couple cans of tomatoes, tons of spices, a good amount of rice and grits and pasta and tortillas, some frozen veggies, flour, basics like that.
2) I am a good cook, a confident cook, and I have an adventurous palate so eating some crazy concoctions doesn't phase me
Things going against me:
1) I have a ton of carb items and very few protein items. I have, 1 can of chickpeas, 1 tin of protein powder, 2 tubs of tofu, about 1 lb. of ground beef, 2 cans of smoked oysters and 2 cans of smoked sardines - that is is when it comes to protein for the next 3 weeks.
2) I will run out of muffins this week and I don't have any sweet potatoes on hand to make new ones
3) I will run out of bananas and milk this week for making smoothies
4) I am very limited on fresh produce and I don't have much canned or frozen as backup
So what do you think? Can I live out of my pantry without grocery shopping for the next 3 weeks? If I have to go to the store I don't want to spare more than $10 so what do you think would be the best things to get for that $10? Dried beans? Fresh fruit? Canned fruit? Frozen veggies?
I also have to make a confession - although I generally am very opposed to the industrial agricultural food system and I try to buy only organic meat and dairy products (or natural non-dairy products like almond milk and earth balance "butter"). However, I went to the store yesterday with a $10 budget and I ended up caving to my principles for the sake of cost and got store brand milk and cheap ground beef. It's not that I eat a ton of meat anyway, and I don't think I will do that again...but I have more of an appreciation now about how saying "eat organic no matter what" can seem like a very elite cry when people have to eat and they just don't have the money. That being said, I wasn't happy about eating the beef and I think I am going to go back to vegetarian if I can't afford organic and get dried beans and such instead. I just can't compromise quite that much.
Now - To launch things off, here are some pictures from my pantry cooking last night!
Dinner was an enchilada casserole made with homemade salsa, whole wheat tortillas, a mixture of ground beef, brown rice, and mashed sweet potato seasoned with cumin and chili powder, topped with 1/2 package of frozen veggies, more salsa, more tortillas and sliced cheddar cheese. Baked it at 375 for 20 minutes without the cheese and added the cheese for the last 10 minutes. I don't feel it is worth doing an official recipe for because it was yummy, but pretty basic, and nothing I would be able to repeat since it was made with just whatever was in my fridge last night :-)
I admit, it looks a little goopy when it is all served up, but it was really quite tasty! If I make it again, I will substitute black beans for the ground beef. And if I could buy whatever I wanted to add to it, I would get kale or collard greens and saute those down and add a layer too - but that doesn't fit with my current challenge so frozen veggies it is!
I also had about 5 peaches that were getting really overripe and I needed to do something with them. So I peeled and sliced them all up and tossed them with some cinnamon and ginger.
Added about a cup or so of white wine and simmered it all together for about 20 minutes until it was nice and boiled down and syrupy and super yummy!
I had about 1/2 of this mixture for dessert with one of those mini containers of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia I had in the freezer and a glass of the white wine I used for simmering. Absolutely divine! The other half of the peaches is in the fridge for tonight. I have some cherries that are getting past prime in my fridge too, I might do those with red wine tonight.
So folks - I could use your input here. Any ideas, suggestions, or thoughts on ways to get through this 3 weeks and what I should spend my last $10 of grocery budget on next week would be greatly appreciated! I will try to keep you updated on how it is going and one way or another, I'm pretty sure I won't starve :-)