Published on The Doomstead Diner on April 23, 2017
Discuss this article at the Pantry inside the Diner
The general focus of the SNAP Card Gourmet series is to find ways to feed yourself with "relatively" healthy food at a price you can afford on a SNAP Card budget, which generally comes in the neighborhood in the FSoA right now of $140 per person, or somewhere around $5/day. So whenever I write one of these SNAP Card Gourmet posts, I try to stay inside this parameter of $5/day for your nutrition needs. This meal goes a bit over the target price, but it's a huge meal and you could shrink it some to stay inside the $5 target.
In this episode of TSCG, we're going to discover how to make a fabulous Mexican style meal for 4 people, coming in around $6/per person. There's very little in the way of "real cooking" in this recipe, it mostly uses off the shelf frozen or canned foods, along with some fresh veggies, like Avocados for your Guacamole. You can of course make it somewhat healthier if you make your Burritos and Chimichangas from scratch, but it won't be any cheaper. In fact it will probably be more expensive that way. So this falls under the category of cheap and filling calories, but not too high on the Nutrition scale. It also falls under the category of EZ to prepare, you only need a Microwave and a couple of pots on a double burner electric hotplate. So if you are wedged into a Section 8 one room Bates Motel with your wife (or husband) and 2 kids, you can probably cook up this meal and save a lot of money off the cost of the same thing at a Taco Bell, Chipotle or Qdoba, where it will cost you around $12-16.
The meal starts with the main entree of either two Burritos, Chimichangas, or Enchiladas your choice there. They come in packages of 8 from El Monterey for around $5.00 around here, probably somewhat cheaper in the lower 48.
To these frozen delights, prior to microwaving you spruce them up with slices of cheddar cheese, around $4.00 for an 8 oz package which you lay over the top of them so it melts over the Burrito. You might want to use Pepper Jack cheese instead, your choice. You further add calories to this by serving with a dollop of Sour Cream, a pint of which comes in around $3.00.
The real piece de resistance is your Guacamole, which you make from 2 avocados mashed up and a package of Guacamole mix so you don't have to buy all the separate spices like cilantro and lime, etc. $4.00 for the Avocados, $1 for the mix, total $5.00 for the guacamole. You can sometimes get avocados cheaper than this on sale.
A bottle of Salsa, another $3. You'll probably have left over Salsa to use in another meal, but we'll count the whole cost of the bottle here.
Your final addition to the meal can be either refried beans at $1/can, 2 cans probably enough but if you have big eaters maybe 3 cans. Other choice would be Black Beans & Rice, which comes in around the same price of $3.
Total cost for the meal per person is $6, which is over the SNAP Card benchmark of $5, but for a once a week Mega Meal, not too far over and you can easily make up for it through the rest of the week with some days of cheaper eating, like making spaghetti or peanut butter sandwiches, etc. To be honest for myself, this would be 2-3 days of meals for me, not one. I am perennially eating more leftovers than I do freshly cooked meals these days.
Since the meal is pretty heavy on the Calories but thin on the Vitamins, you're also going to want to be sure to take a multi-vitamin with it, which adds maybe 50 cents to each serving depending on the quality of vitamins you buy and the size of the container. Vitamins always need to be accounted for in your total SNAP card budget for the month, and one should always try to buy the largest size and have it last a few months than buying smaller sizes every month, it comes in cheaper that way. Vitamins keep a long time, you don't need to worry about them going bad.
In the next episode of the SNAP Card Gourmet, we'll look at a much HEALTHIER style of eating and which takes no cooking whatsoever. It's also one of the few meal types you can put together for a single person without ending up with tons of leftovers you need to eat every day for a week so you can work through it all. I call this the "Endless Salad".
Until then, Bon Apetite Diners!