Welcome to Surviving on $8.15 an Hour
Hi everyone! I know there are lots of websites out there that offer great advice for cooking meals on a budget, but most of them involve cooking for families or in large batches to save money. What if you are just one person, with a tiny freezer, trying to survive on a very limited budget and you don't want to eat from the fast food dollar menu? You are sick of ramen noodles, hot dogs, and $1 frozen entrées. I'll be honest, I have all of those things in my house, but I cook real meals too! I don't freeze tons of leftovers to save money--I don't have room in my freezer. It's possible to cook great meals and not spend more than $1-$2 a meal. My favorite easy recipe costs $3.35 and I get three lunch/dinners and one breakfast from it! It's gone in two days and nothing went in the freezer! I'll share it with you very soon!
Lesson 1: Build a PantryThere are a number of things that should be in your spice rack, and or pantry at all times. They add flavor, ease cooking, or stretch meals. They last a long time and you shouldn't have to replace them often. Most of them are pretty inexpensive if you buy the bargin/store brand or buy them at the Dollar Store. (My very next article is about what to buy at Walmart, what to buy at the Dollar Store and when to shop at the regular grocery store--even Whole Foods has a place in your shopping roster!) I do keep a small herb garden on my balcony and I'll teach you how to do that very soon!
There are three things you absolutely cannot do without:
Salt--If you can swing it buy Sea Salt
Pepper--Buy whole pepper corns and a grinder--you can get one for about $4 at IKEA--or buy pepper in a grinder at the Dollar Store
Olive Oil--yes it's expensive, but look for a buy one get one offer (there is one at Publix right now) or buy whatever size bottle is in your budget--Walmart has it's own store brand of olive oil.
Dried Herbs and Spices I use a lot:
Dried Herbs and Spices I use a little:
Pasta--I like to keep a couple of different shapes, but I use Angel Hair and Garden Rotini most often
Rice--brown or white, it's completely your call, I'm miserable at cooking rice so I use the instant or boil in a bag variety--and I use brown.
Black Beans--dried is less expensive than canned
White Beans--same as above
Canned Tomatoes--regular, Italian herb, and spicy--the store brand at Walmart is $.68 a can.
Canned Corn--It's the only canned veggie I use and it stretches lots of recipes!
In the Fridge:
Mustard--I use spicy brown
Hot Sauce--I use Crystal
I personally also always have: pickles, dill relish and plain yogurt
Now you have somewhere to start from! In the next installment I'll talk about where to buy what and how to shop smart! STOP EATING RAMEN NOODLES!