Yes, I am yammering about this yet again.
- It makes me crazy to stand in the grocery store listening to people complain about not having any money (yeah, I live there, too) and not being able to eat decent food (well, you may be wrong about that).
- It makes me crazy to see elderly people (not too far from that myself) buying pre-packaged junk (loaded with salt and sugar) because they think that is their only choice.
- It makes me crazy to see people online trumpeting about how they have labored through the Food Stamp Challenge and how they have suffered as a result. I'm not on Food Stamps but I assure you that my food budget is as low (and sometimes lower) than that but I eat reasonably well.
Here are the Big Secrets:
- Buy fresh produce that has been marked clearance.
Okay, so you have no talent or patience for cooking? Well, I'm right there with you but I know that those are skills that you can choose to cultivate, so I work at it.
I went to buy cat food today--Daisy made me; that cat is Such a Nag! So I checked to see what was available for food for humans, too. There it was, another marked down salad. I didn't resist--there was potential in that little plastic box.
Once I had dissected the salad contents, it was clear that it would have to be cooked immediately and it was abundantly clear that the salad was 95% greens and 5% extras. No problem. I can work with that.
Chop and onion and a couple of cloves of garlic. Stir fry in a little oil. Add aromatics from the salad kit (peppers, purple onion) and lemon basil that I grew in my tiny garden. (I dearly love this beautiful vintage Farberwear pot that my friend gave me--it is brilliant for making small pots of soup--for me, soup is "small" when it's less than a gallon.)
Add boiling water. Toss in all those many greens. Let it cook down a little. Add a can of tomato paste and a can of chick peas (drained and rinsed). Add a bruised tomato that I accidentally dropped on the floor (don't worry, I washed it off nicely before I chopped it up). Cook a cup of rotini in another pot; when it's al dente, drain and add to the soup. Add a bit of Cajun Seasoning just because. Allow to simmer on very low heat for 15 minutes.
Let the soup rest for an hour. Pour into containers for freezing. Eight meals ready to go. (By the way, the containers were another gift. An acquaintance who works at a grocery rescued these when they were being thrown out. They are cold cut containers and they are amazing for freezing stuff quickly and for stacking easily. And the stuff in them also defrosts rapidly because it's frozen in a thin layer. Win/win/win.)
Eight meals. One salad on clearance at $1.99 and a can of tomato paste for .45 cents. That's a little over $2.50 with tax. Everything else I added was stuff I already had (some of it was given to me--like the rotini and the chick peas) so I don't count that in as a cost. Nor am I adding the kilowatt hours for using my electric stove.
Anyway, do the math, folks: 2.50 ./. 8 = .3125
Or about .32 cents per serving.
How much did the most recent can of Campbell's that you bought cost? And how many meals did it really serve? Have you looked at the additives on the label? Seriously. It just isn't right!
My soup has green vegetables and red vegetables. It has lutein. It has a complete protein (beans and wheat--read this: Vegetarianism and Protein Combining). It has aromatics for flavor and for good health (were you aware that allium is very good for you, besides just being tasty). In other words, this is the basis for a good meal: it's nutritious and inexpensive.
If you're also busy enough to make biscuits or cornbread or even yeast bread, you can have that with the soup for something even better! And that will lower your costs, too.
Now I will hush again.....until someone else starts making me crazy. And then you can expect me to jump back up on my soap box to start hollering about Salad Soup.
Go make soup! It's easy. You'll be glad you did.
Life is good.
.....editing to add just one more thing: you know that plastic box that the salad came in? I am NOT throwing that away. I will remove the label and rinse it out. Then I can use it as a project box on my work table (like for cut quilt pieces or for whatever beads I'm putting together). Or I can use it as a tiny greenhouse to start seeds for my little garden.
Waste not, want not.
Take that, Kon-Mari. Yeah, she makes me crazy, too--all that talk about throwing everything away is (to use a Mississippi expression) just Pure D Evil.