For those of you just getting here, I am doing an April Camp NaNoWriMo. I am just publishing the book right here for free. I did not have my brilliant editor clean it up, so you are getting the sloppy first and only draft as this is just for fun but needed…
Rice and Beans
There is being poor and living poor on purpose. There is a poor man’s mentality, poverty consciousness and then there is downright frugal living for creating abundance.
We do eat a lot of beans and potatoes. Mostly because they are easy, nutritious, filling and I could eat pintos daily. I love burritos!! You just need beans, tortillas and then you can fill with ground and seasoned beef, ground turkey, fresh lettuce, ripe tomatoes, creamy avocadoes, cheese, sauce of any kind. I had a jar of Taco Bell packets I save every time I get their bean burritos. Whole pinto, refried pinto…tacos, bean and cheese burrito, bean dip…oh, it goes on and on.
Potatoes are fantastic baked and loaded. Chili and cheese, sour cream, or just butter and salt. Or chop them up and toss with oil and salt, bake and voila! You have fries to dip in ketchup and ranch. Hello!
Rice, white or brown. Great for stir fries. Great for sauteed veggies to pile on top.
These are great ways to stretch other things such as meat that should really be used as a condiment.
Look at Asian countries. They have the way they feed us Americans with tons of sugar and oil coated meat or the real way they eat which is mostly vegetables and rice and tofu or meat as a little bit of flavor.
I started buying packets of organic bacon and I can make that packet last forever. I use just a little bit to fry greens, potatoes, or throw in beans for the extra bit of flavor when the crowd (my family) is tiring of the main staples.
Greens are easy to grow. Probably the easiest thing I have ever grown. You can put the seeds right in the ground and they grow with a little watering. Once established they require little water and you can harvest daily and they keep growing to produce abundant supply. Greens are kale, mustard greens, chard, collards. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. I cook them in soup, fry with a little oil, garlic, and salt, or stir fry with brown rice. Delicious. Free and organic when grown in your yard. Or a bucket.
Flour is very hard to find these days because everyone and their grandmother is baking their time away while sheltered in, but if you can score a 50 lb of flour, both wheat and white, you can bake a couple loaves of bread or a huge batch of tortillas.
I make a peasant loaf that is cheap, cheap, cheap:
3 cups warm water, TBSP yeast, 5 cups white flour. Mix and cover, when it rises add 2 cups wheat and put some flour on the table (or where you will knead it) and pour the flour out onto the floured surface. As you knead it mix in a little more flour if needs be. Until it isn’t super sticky. Roll in a big ball and return to bowl, cover and let rise again. Then punch down, split and roll into two loaves, put in loaf pans, cover and rise again. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes. Great for toast or melting cheese on it.
White bread is great for sandwiches. I make an Amish White Bread from Allrecipes.com. You will need oil and sugar for that one.
Then there is the bread maker. I have two and I just love them. When I’m feeling super productive I make white bread in the bread makers and my wheat bread is done by hand. Then I store all but one loaf in the freezer. I have a small top freezer so I can’t go crazy with premaking and storing food.
Canning is a huge way to save money and reduce food waste. It is a great way to store up fresh veggies during the summer when produce is in season and fresh. It is a way to store up your garden harvest. It is great for canning mass amounts of goods if you go to the U pick farms.
You can start with some tools and a big water bath pot from Walmart or Winco. Find cheap jars on Craigslist or garage sales. Once you have all that it is all cheap. I used to go to Sprouts Wednesday double coupon day and load up on produce on sale. I also picked 100 lbs of produce at a farm for $30. But that was before I knew how to can. Let’s just say we gorged ourselves on watermelon and corn and tomatoes for a week before it all went bad.
Plain food is inexpensive. Canned tomato sauce, green beans, corn. Frozen veggies. Whole chickens. Bulk items like grains, beans, flour. Produce in season. Just shop from the produce section and bulk section and you will be fine.
Learn the craft of scratch cooking. You can cut the grocery bill in half. And it doesn’t have to be fancy. I wash a bag of potatoes, poke with a fork and bake in my large crockpot for 4 to 6 hours. I use these for loaded potatoes or fry with onions. Fried potatoes and onions with a side of beans simmered with just a little bacon is delicious! And very Depression Era style cooking.
Take a day to bake up a storm and have bread, tortillas, and muffins for the week.
Make soup. All you need is a bouillon; chicken, beef, vegetable. Have frozen vegetables or fresh, rice or barley and you have soup.
If you want recipes and ideas I have a whole section in my book Home Economics.
Stock your Pantry
One thing that happened as soon as “shelter in place” was headlining on the news was a dash to the store and panic buying. I’d say a mass amount of people learned to stock that pantry overnight. But did they do it smartly? I noticed that beans, rice, flour, and pasta were in short or no supply so I’d say yes, they stocked properly.
One day when there is flour in the world again…and rice and beans, this is a properly, simply, cheaply stocked pantry that will get you through most worldly and daily issues. It’s not complicated.
Rice, beans, pasta, flour, sugar, salt, oil, pepper, potatoes, onions, garlic.
Canned items: corn, green beans, tomato sauce, soups or gravies if you like. Cream of soups (great for casseroles).
Extra dry stuff: powdered potatoes, powdered milk, cornmeal.
Frozen: vegetables, whole chickens, bacon for flavoring.
Seasoning: anything you love. I love Mrs. Dash or Chef Merito for flavoring everything. Corn starch, baking soda, and powder. Yeast for baking.
I buy 25 lb to 50 lb bags of flour, rice, oats, steel-cut oats, lentils, soybeans, garbanzos, beans (kidney, black, pinto), and whatever else we will use.
We have two buckets of walnuts we picked off the ground at friends. The neighbor’s tree had dropped them and the nuts were covering the whole yard. No one was interested and my husband loves walnuts so we loaded two huge bags. We have been using them for two years and counting.
If you are on food stamps stay with the bulk bags of dried goods, canned food on sale or huge discounts, and produce on sale and in season. Try to stock up just a little each time you shop and build a pantry.
What if you have no pantry. Make one. Use part of an extra room or guest room, a hall closet with some cheap shelving inserted.