Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Food Stamp Challenge Part VI. It Was Easy.

I've officially finished the $46.12  Food Stamp Challenge and I have some important findings.

But to finish up the week's menu here's what happened.

B. coffee, toast, grapefruit
L. Tuna fish salad sandwiches
D. pasta with marinara sauce-which I shared with the Dragon Lady


B. coffee, toast, grapefruit
L. salad with oil and vinegar
D. barbecued chicken thighs


B. coffee, frosted shredded wheat
L. salad with oil and vinegar
D. Leftover chicken thighs

First, it CAN be done and it won't hurt you one bit.

It was easy.

Some folks seem to think that if you have a job and you spend all day at it it's too much to expect that you should have to cook when you get home. Well, that's one thing kids are good for. They can put their prissy butts to doing some prep work so that all you have to do is the range work. If you don't have kids, you can still precook or prepare some of your building blocks and store them in the fridge.

Rice, pasta, tuna salad, spuds, and so on are easily prepared beforehand while you're watching The Voice or some such mindless drivel. From that comes spaghetti, lo mein, fried rice, potato salad (remember that big jar of mayonnaise you bought?) and lots of other good stuff. Better you should read a book and ditch the cable TV. Frozen entrees are no substitute for doing for yourself, and neither is Burger King. Remember, people have prepared their own chow for the last 30 or 40,000 years, so stop kvetching and get busy.

Learning how to make better use of the things you have at hand is a must. Remember that huge package of chicken thighs I bought? My mother was a good cook-and part of being a good cook is being an economically sound cook as well. She had a large stockpot for such things, and surplus chicken bones and trimmings along with a few basic items will make up a lot of chicken soup or stock if you like and want to freeze it.

Come to think of it, making tasty and nutritious soups from things like (now don't laugh) chicken necks, beef neck bones, ham hocks and other similar products will feed you well.

Consider soul food. Folks on the cotton patch took stuff that white folks couldn't care less about-like chicken necks, beef bones, pork shoulder, greens and so on, and turned them into epicurean delights. Spend all day working out in the hot sun like they did, and then preparing food for the family, was monumental. So don't whinge about how you don't have the time.

As my sociology instructor at Kal Valley Community College used to say at the end of every class, "Words hurt. Use them wisely. And don't waste food."

This might also be an opportunity to spend some time in the library-you know, the place where the old people sit around and read the papers for free?-and acquire basic cooking skills. Folks, learning how to prepare nutritious and tasty food that cal help you and the kids get through the day is NOT difficult.

This is probably the most important part: be a smart shopper and come to the market prepared to buy only what you can afford. Some things will last a lot longer than a week-a large box of pasta or a two pound bag of rice, for instance. Shop what's in season and the sale ads and look for what the lady who shops for Iowa's institutions calls "opportunity buys".

Likewise, look for in store specials that aren't advertised. When we were doing our weekly marketing, for instance, Price Chopper had an 8 pound bag of nice looking Colorado spuds for $1.89. There's a lot of good eating in that bag that can be prepared in a number of ways. Likewise, Hy-Vee had nice big red Delicious apples for $0.44 a pound last week.

Once you get this project up and running you can use the power of synergy to increase your purchasing power. Try teaming up with a friend or two to make bulk purchases of essentials like flour, sugar, milk, butter, onions, olive oil ($14 for 2 liters of EVOO at Hy-Vee this week) or whichever cooking oil you prefer, and so on. Buying staples in bulk can make your dollars go a lot farther, and if you are so inclined you can teach yourself useful survival skills-like baking, making your own pasta, and if you've got the room, raising your own chickens-folks did that in my home town in the New Jersey suburbs. You can get a plot in a community garden and make your money go even farther.

This gives me an idea. Teaming up with a friend and pooling $29.00 each would be interesting to see if we can meet the $29.00 food stamp challenge that ole Gwyneth failed so miserably at.

To be continued......


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