Off the keyboard of RE
Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 23, 2014
Discuss this article in the Diner Pantry
Week 4, the BONUS Week in the SNAP Card Budget has finally ARRIVED. AT LAST I will be able to start varying my meals and doing some more creative cooking!
As opposed to my roughly $25 Budget in the first 3 Weeks of this Adventure, this week I have about $65 to spend on FOOD left on my SNAP Card! I am feeling positively WEALTHY as I head over to the Food Emporiums with this hefty load of Digital FRNs still left on the Card!
I start by cruising for BARGAINS on items I could not afford earlier while I made sure I had enough calories and basics in the larder to make it through the first 3 weeks. I am in better shape now with a decent amount of basics, plus leftovers from the first 3 weeks. I’m not gonna go hungry here in the next 10 days no matter what I buy. However, I am still not going to be stupid and buy super expensive meat cuts quite yet for full on gourmet. I’m looking for bargain fixin’s to make quality meals with.
In the Meat Dept, I find On Sale Organic Chicken Breasts, thin cut for $6. That is a BUY! Also an odd cut of beef ribs that sold at $2.50/lb, also a BUY for another Stew. Finally in the Meat Dept, I found a Twin Pack of New York Strip Steaks for around $6, a little thinner than I usually like for BBQ, but with a high flame and quick cook, should be OK. These steaks are small enough I will not have leftovers and they just are single meal jobs. They will both be Grilled, because given the choice, I ALWAYS grill steaks rather than do pan or broiler cooking with them. However, the rest of the prep will differ some so not exactly the same meal. I am thinking I will have one or two Premium Steak & Eggs Breakfasts, and another Steak Dinner with Onions, Peppers, Tomatoes and Mushrooms.
Altogether here on the Meat End, I am around $15, now I need to fill out the meals here with the remaining $50.
I head first to the Fresh Veggies produce dept of the Food Emporium, as so far I have not had any fresh veggies in my meals and I MISS them. Besides, they are healthy for you to eat.
I get a Crown of Broccoli for $3, 1 Pt Mushrooms for $2.50, 1/2 lb of Brussel Sprouts for a bit over $1, Spinach for $3, Zucchini $2 and an Avocado for $2.50. I also still have carrots and onions and potatoes leftover from earlier purchases. Total on the Fresh Veggies here, around $14. So now up to $29 Spent, around $35 left.
Given the stuff I have just purchased, plus what is left from before, I now plan in my head my meals, and have to buy some premium stuff I do not have.
I need some spice, Tarragon for $3. I need cooking sherry and marsala cooking wine, ON SALE for $4.59 each. Two cans of Seasoned Black Beans, $2. The Beans are to go with Rice in the larder as one of the Carb choices of the week besides the Spaghetti and the Potatoes. I have plenty of dried beans in my Preps, but canned beans are WAY easier to prepare and they aren’t very expensive. Unlike many other veggies also, canned beans don’t have much different texture than if you prepare them from dried beans. I absolutely cannot stand anything like Canned Asparagus or Green Beans though. Yuck Mush and tasteless, never buy them on ANY budget!. Total here another $15 or so, down to $20 left.
With the remaining, I buy some Staples, Sour Cream to go with my Baked Potatoes, $2.50, Hot Sauce $3 , 1 lb Ground Beef, $5, Spaghetti Sauce $3, Peanut Butter $2, Loaf Oatbread ON SALE $3.
10 Day Plan as it evolves during the Shopping Expedition is this:
2 Nights Steak Dinners with Carb & Veggie Side Dishes
3 Nights Chicken Dinners with Carb & Veggie Side Dishes
2 Nights Stew Dinners
1 Night Gourmet Hamburger Dinner
1 Night Leftover Chili Dinner
1 Night ALL LEFTOVERS Dinner.
For the Stew this week, besides the riblets, it gets potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic, some onion soup mix for broth and a little BBQ sauce. Main difference from normal stew is that prior to dropping the meat into the Slow Cooker, I seared it on the Grill, which adds some nice smokey flavor. You could just eat these off the grill, but this meat is a little tough even though there is plenty of fat. Added benefit of doing a quick grilling first is that you render off some of the copious fat in this cut, which would be way too much in your stew. Even so, I will probably have to cool it and skim some fat off after the slow cook, although in a real starvation scenario you would never do this. In terms of calories, the more fat the better in your meal. You have to balance this against having so much fat in there you clog up your arteries and die from Cardiac Arrest instead of starvation. Overall though, on a Paleo type diet you can leave most fat in as long as you don’t overdo total consumption.
For the Chicken Dishes, my plan was to make two from the package of thin sliced organic chicken breasts, my own recipe of Chicken Alaska SNAP RE, and a typical Chicken Marsala. However, I ended up just making the one Chicken Alaska since I didn’t have time and just did all 4 Chicken Breasts the same way. The Preps are not too much different for Marsala, and mostly the cooking is the same although you do have to bake Chicken RE a little in the oven to melt the cheese, which you do not have to do for Chicken Marsala. For Chicken Marsala, you can go to Emeril or the Food Network for a recipe and cooking method, I won’t do that one here.
Now, I have to make an admission here, the recipes I am including do NOT include some spices that I have in my Preps that I could add to flavor these meals up a bit more. They are still pretty tasty without the additional spices, and equally nutritious either way. If you have some available spices, don’t hesitate to add them to make the recipe even BETTER! For the Chicken Alaska SNAP RE, I suggest Tarragon and Sage in the saute phase. Tarragon is a real good spice to use with Chicken, and the Sage accentuates the aroma.
Chicken SNAP Alaska RE Recipe
1 lb thin sliced Chicken Breasts
6 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup Flour
Pound chicken breasts thin, flour both sides. Add chopped garlic to hot cooking oil, sear the breasts 2-3 minutes each side, remove from flame. Add Sliced Tomatoes to the Hot Oil/Garlic, fry each side about 1-2 minutes. Lay Tomato slices over chicken on skillet or baking dish. Lay cheese slices over chicken & tomatoes. Bake in Oven @ 350 F for around 10 minutes until the cheese melts nicely. Lay Avocado Slices over the cheese and Serve. Serves 4 people, or four meals for one person. Approximate cost: $3-4 per serving.
This brings us to another issue, Cooking after TSHTF, or Cooking from just what you can Grow or Raise on your Doomstead.
Tons of things you drop into a Recipe are only available while JIT Shipping is still up and running to some extent. Who grows Peppercorns on their Doomstead? Can you get Avocados? Paprika? Cooking Sherry? Lemons? Probably not on many things, so your meals will not have such flavorings in them, even if you have access to Fish, Chicken, Moose, Potatoes, Carrots etc.
Your actual ability to “cook” also gets limited down, while I can pound chicken breasts and flour them, you can’t do this if you are homeless, or at least it is real difficult. Once you are homeless, your either boiling stuff or roasting it over a flame if you are working with anything fresh, but mostly you are not and just heating up canned food or microwaving in a convenience store. Homeless people do not have lots of cooking utensils, cast iron pans which are heavy to carry around etc. Cooking with NO Utensils at all is just either open flame roasting or burying the food wrapped in leaves with hot rocks for a slow cook.
In fact “cooking” as we know it today really did not begin until Metallurgy was pretty well developed to make Pots, Pans, Griddles, Dutch Ovens etc. Cookware in the old days was very valuable and handed down from generation to generation, along with things like Silverware and Fine China dishware. With the Industrial Era though, mass produced cooking and eating utensils got very cheap and everyone takes these things for granted now. Once out on the street though as a Homeless person, most of these things are baggage you just can’t carry around with you. Most of what you eat off of and with is disposable paper and plasticware. I have a couple of Stoneware sets, but I almost never use them. Paper Plates! Yes, I know it is wasteful. However, I save on the energy used to wash the dishes!
This ends the first month, and what it does demonstrate is that you most certainly can survive on a SNAP card allotment, at least as long as you are not yet Homeless. In fact you can do way better than I did this month by accessing Food Pantries if you qualify, and next month I will figure into the equation what is possible with food issued out to low income people and the elderly at a Food Pantry like the one I Volunteer at. If you add in this stuff, at least twice a week you can eat premium foods if you watch the total budget and your consumption and food type distribution.
As long as both the SNAP Cards are issued out AND the Food Pantries continue to operate, any real “Food Riots” here in the FSoA such as you see already in MENA are unlikely. If you are starving here in the FSoA right now, it’s either because you are already Homeless or do not have knowledge enough to be able to access the Food Assistance that is available in most neighborhoods, or you simply do not know how to Budget and spend your SNAP allotment on stupid things. Like a Bag of Potato Chips that runs $4! Soda and high fructose corn syrup “Juices”! Drink WATER from the Tap on a SNAP Budget! For many people though, they simply don’t think about this and spend the whole $140 on junk which is gone in a week or two, which is sad.
At the moment, the problem Economically for most of the population is not a Food Problem, there is plenty and it is getting distributed out for the most part, although you definitely have instances of people being poorly nourished due to their own ignorance and the poor choices in food available they make. That food plenty will probably not last in perpetuity of course, but neither do I think it will drop off the map here in the FSoA that rapidly either.
Finally for today, in the next month I am not going to delineate the weekly purchases from here on in, but rather do an Estimated Cost Per Meal, since the accumulation of stuff over time means you do not always buy new stuff every month. For instance, one quart of cooking oil lasts me at least 2 months. Same with a pound of butter. There are always leftovers to every meal, so you cannot make an absolute on exactly what you need to buy in any given month once you get going on this.
Generally speaking, most meals will come in between $2-$5. Daily expenditures will mostly stay under $5, but after a few days of CHEAP EATING, a Gourmet Meal that might run $10 or even $20 might be cooked up here on the Diner Stove. You cannot do many of those though and stay under a total monthly budget of $140. However, I will do one SUPER PREMIUM meal each month and still stay under Budget.
Besides looking at what you get in a monthly box from the food pantry, I’ll also look more at how a Homeless person might use his SNAP Card and try to stay under budget with just Canned and Microwaveable foods in the next month. Then we’ll examine the total economics of living on Poverty level income.
Until next week then, Eat Well and Stay Healthy!