Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 16, 2014
Discuss this article at the Diner Pantry
As we move into Week 3 of the First Month on the SNAP Card budget, I’m doing quite well with some decent amount of leftovers here in terms of Eggs, Potatoes and even some Chili and Spaghetti in containers. So for Week 3 Purchases, I am going to get even CHEAPER, and just buy some Stew Meat to make a simple stew, along with Flour, Butter, Cooking Oil and Cheese so I can make Cheese Omelletes this week for breakfast, in addition to the Eggs Toba Flambe Video Special of the Week you see above. BE CAREFUL when you make this breakfast! You don’t want to burn down your Doomstead! LoL.
Note: I did have to CHEAT for the Flambe with the SECRET INGREDIENT for a spectacular Egg Skillet dish. This really perks up your Eggs! (Hint: This Recipe was Illegal from 1920 to 1933 in the FSoA) 🙂
So this week’s expenditures are
1 lb Stew meat $5
5 lbs Flour $2.50
2 lbs Cheddar Cheese $7
1 qt Cooking Oil $3
1 lb Butter $5
Dry Onion Soup Mix $2
The Cheese, Flour, Oil and Butter will last quite some time since you don’t use too much of this stuff usually for most things you whip up. Total for the week here around $24.50. So for the first 3 weeks, this will be a total of around $77, which leaves me $63 to finish out the month until JP Morgan Chase Recharges my SNAP Card.
A few issues were raised in SCG002 regarding just how cheap you can go here in what you buy. For instance, my friend and fellow Gourmet Stucky pointed out that you can make Pasta cheaper than you can buy it, but the savings are pretty inconsequential here. I only spent $2 on Pasta to begin with even buying the premade stuff. Similarly, you can buy Beans and some various other Staples very cheap, especially in Bulk, but if you try to live on JUST these mostly empty calories (though beans have good protein content too), the diet is ridiculously bland, not to mention totally lacking in vitamins.
What runs up the cost is getting variety in the diet, and all the less cheap foods you need to fill it out and be able to do some decent cooking with. So far, the “recipes” here are super basic, and really this is mainly “Bachelor Cooking 101”, at least it used to be. Nowadays the typical Bachelor doesn’t even do this much cooking, because you can buy Frozen Foods to microwave up just about as cheap as doing most of these type of preparations. I’ll go through the economics of that in another episode. Besides that, if you are still employed and making a decent paycheck, most bachelors don’t cook breakfast for instance, they just stop in at Taco Bell on the way to work and buy a Breakfast Burrito. Lunch comes in the form of a Subway Sandwich. On the way home you stop at the Hot Counter of the Deli section of your local Food Emporium and buy some General Tso’s Chicken and Fried Rice. You spend $20/day on food this way, it’s not real healthy, but it is well within the budget of most people employed in jobz above the Min Wage.
The other criticism came in the Meat department, with the idea you can get cheaper meats to eat that are not usual in the Amerikan diet, Liver, Tripe, Pigs Feet & Neck Bones yadda yadda. The thing is, in Food Emporiums in this neighborhood, they aren’t that available usually, and they are not much cheaper either, if at all cheaper. You’ll still pay $3/lb for most of them, even freaking Soup Bones with no meat at all on them! On the other hand, I can about always find some cut of Boneless Pork for the same price. The most I would save in a Week if my Meat consumption is 1-2lb/week is maybe $2 most by buying a cheap cut or some gizzard. It just does not make a big difference to the total budget, which gets consumed elsewhere.
Besides spices, the main area that consumes your budget is if you start buying a lot of Fresh Veggies. Another criticism came in is that instead of buying Canned Tomato Sauce, I should make my OWN Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes! Issue here is a 1 qt Can of Tomato Sauce comes as cheap as $1.25 on sale, to make this much tomato sauce with Fresh Tomatoes would cost $10 EZ. If you are growing your own Tomatoes, this obviously is the way to go, but not if you are buying them. Another thing to remember with the commercial tomatoes is that they usually are ethylene ripened and are not much more vitamin filled than the canned ones. If you go and buy hothouse on the vine tomatoes, you can double your cost again here. You’re ot gonna make much Tomato Sauce on a SNAP Card budget if you try to do it with Fresh Tomatoes, unless you are growing them yourself.
OK, that covers the critique from the last episode of SCG, now let’s get on with this week! Since I am just making Stew and the only Main Ingredient I am currently missing is Stew Meat ( I have Carrots, Onions, Potatoes and Garlic still left from my Week 1 purchase), the fun part of this week is SHOPPING for the Meat!
I have 4 basic choices for buying Commercial Meat around here, Carr’s (a Safeway Chain store), Fred Meyer (a Kroger Chain store), 3 Bears (a discount Food Warehouse) and Matanuska Meats, a local place that will prepare your hunting and fishing meat as well as providing meat for sale from the local farms.
I am fortunate all of these places are on my route to and from work more or less, I don’t have to go much out of the way to check in on them for what is available. 3 Bears has BY FAR the largest selection, and usually the lowest prices, but Carr’s comes in pretty low also sometimes, relatively speaking of course. The meat fridge you see above at 3 Bears is only one of several, others have whole sides of beef, lamb etc in them. With the MASS QUANTITIES of meat present in these freezers every day, it’s hard to imagine the day they will all be empty. Until that day arrives though, plenty to choose from, and so far the prices aren’t too bad yet.
Fred Meyer overall for meat is not usually a good choice, although they come in cheapest on other stuff often enough. Matanuska Meats has the highest Quality and is my usual choice if I am being Meat Picky, even though the price is usually a bit higher.
For Stew Meat, the difference is between paying $5/lb at Carr’s or $6/lb at Matanuska Meats, and just choosing here I would go with MM for a lousy $1 difference. However, I am also torn in what cut I want to use, there are some real nice Ox Tails also on the rack at Fred Meyer. This would make a much RICHER stew with more FAT in it than typical lean stew meat. They want $7/lb for the Ox Tails. This week, I decide to go medium with the Stew Meat from Matanuska Meats. I’ll save doing an Ox Tail Stew for when I have more in the way of spices to make it super duper.
Some of Francois’ dried meat selection. He gives classes in preparing your meats as well. Old School stuff.
I’m not going to video making Stew, because it is brain dead easy, and besides I am out of time here if I want to have the article ready for Sunday Brunch.
Much like the Spaghetti Sauce, the first proceedure is browning the meat in a pan before slow cooking, so it has nice color. With the cubed meat though, I roll it around in some flour before browning it. This adds calories and also will help thicken the stew. Later you can add more flour to thicken more if you like. I’m using whole grain flour for this. A bag of flour is a great way to add in some extra cheap calories to any meal, even without making pasta from it.
Once browned up, you just chuck it in the slow cooker with the potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, and make the broth from the Onion Soup mix. OK, I am cheating again here and adding some Marsala Wine to flavor up the cooking broth some more. It was a cheap bottle though and I only used 1/2 a cup. Whisk in a little more Flour if you want it thicker. Feel free to dump in your favorite spices if you have some also. A Bay leaf definitely helps here.
3-4 hours later, ladle it out over some rice and Give Thanks to Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase for another day of Industrial Food Living on your SNAP Card!
After 3 weeks here of “just getting by” on the SNAP Card Budget, in Week 4 I am FINALLY going to be able to start doing some REAL COOKING with REAL RECIPES! I have $63 to spend for the final week or so here in the month, so I can buy some more expensive spices and ingredients. Also, I’ll stock up on some staples like cooking oil, butter, sour cream etc to have available to make next month’s dishes perkier.
What I will go for at this time is dependent on what I see On Sale in the markets, but probably will include Last Great Frontier Fish Chowder RE and a Chicken dish, maybe Chicken Marsala, Chicken Paprikash or Chicken Parmesian. Chicken is always relatively cheap animal protein, so a good meat choice. Just have to watch out for the GMO fed chickens, which tend to be stringy in texture.
We also have Thanksgiving coming up, so we probably need to do something special for that. No way I will do a Turkey though for just me, I’d be eating the leftovers for MONTHS, even with a small Turkey.
Until then eat well and watch those shelves for disappearing products!