I need to be candid...
Life has really been interesting as of late, and sometimes you have to stop and take a minute to let yourself smell the roses.
With the death of dad, I found myself pretty overwhelmed and unable to wrap my mind around a lot of things. It's been five months now, and it still really hurts, but my dad would not want me to walk away from something I worked so hard to create. He invested his heart and soul into my blogging and creativity, and I got to the point where looking at this blog had been gnawing at me in the wrong way. I don't want to give this up; I just need to get my heart back into the story, you know?
I have been trying, therefor, to spend time outside of trying to be a great cook. I needed to be around my mom and sisters more, to get closer to them than I have ever felt. I needed to see my growing nieces and nephews and feel the joy in how much they are like me even though I didn't birth them. My sweet little baby niece, Avalee, just turned a year old this month, and she melts my heart. The way she dug into her smash cake just gave me so much to smile about.
She really gives me so many reasons to laugh, and it's been so wonderful to watch her grow. I would have never gotten to see her this much if my dad hadn't passed away; my sister and her husband wouldn't be living with my mom and helping her with things that needed to be fixed around the house but got put aside due to dad being so sick all the time. I would have missed out, and that would have just made things feel more empty.
My husband and I just celebrated our second year together, and we did something really wonderful together. We went to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary that day, and the miniatures museum that was near there. I'd never seen so many Trumpeter Swans in one place before, nor an owl, nor a bald eagle. It's stuff like this that I really needed to experience to help me heal... I am so very glad that I took the opportunity to step back and observe the things that I would have never noticed, and that would have truly been worse than feeling the grief I feel. My dad would have wanted me to do all of these things because, in the end, he was a man who saw beauty in so many things he never used to before he was ill. I guess somewhere along the line, we all tend to forget that life isn't just about our work, and I think that is what happened to me in the last several months.
Some pictures from my adventures...
I do have some things that I am finding excitement in. I have already written the blog post for the Monkey Bread recipe I think I talked about in my previous post (don't quote me on that.) All I need to do is get it made and take lots of pictures so I can share it with you all, as well as the story behind why it is a special thing to me.
I have made a few friends along the way, one of them being a really cool guy named Captain Kenny, who specializes in fresh seafood, not only in cooking it but in the catch. I really enjoy his YouTube videos and recommend you check them out. I will not only provide a link to his blog, but his YouTube channel.
Please do show some love to Captain Kenny's Fresh, subscribe to his YouTube and click on the bell icon to get notifications of his new releases! Like and share, too!
I do want to thank everyone who has given their love and support to me over the last several months when everything was rough. There are too many people to name at this point, but they know who they are. Thank you to everyone who has been encouraging me to get back into writing, your efforts are not in vain! I might be slow to start and I know most will understand, but there will be more blog posts to come.
With that all being said...
Marie Barone isn't the only one...
I have been holding onto a secret for quite some time… or rather, secret recipe.
Did you ever watch the show, Everybody Loves Raymond? Marie Barone was one of my favorite characters. I mean, she could cook some beautiful foods, though she was very secretive of this. One recipe in particular got my gears moving and my curiosity on high alert. It was steak pizzaiola, a name that I memorized and thought about quite a bit.
Carne Pizzaiola means “meat in pizza style,” and is mostly made with cheaper cuts of beef, but can be other meats such as chicken. Basically, it is a wide range of combinations that you can use. The best way to put it is that the meat is a replacement for pizza crust. I have no idea on where in Italy this dish was first made, or even when, but I thank the Italians for such lovely fare.
I decided to look a recipe up and you’re probably going to giggle at where I found it at… I hijacked Martha Stewart’s recipe for her easier version (she has both that and traditional). I made it the first time several years ago, but right away I decided to change what I saw because her recipe seemed so… well… herbless? She was using round steak, which is quite lacking of flavor to begin with, and there wasn’t much in the way of even Oregano. I don’t even remember if she used it or not.
I thought about how I like my pizza in general and went for it. My family gobbled it up, including my very picky dad who didn’t like flavor much (aka, he had a bland pallet, the poor man). Guess what? It’s actually very easy to make, and you don’t even have to tenderize the meat because it’s a slow cooked, one pot/pan meal!
Totally optional but worth it, refined method:
Serve with pasta or bread if desired!
Note: I omitted the paste because that is how I like the sauce, so it might look different on my plate than it will look on yours if you use the paste.
The best part of this recipe is that you can play with it, adding what you like on pizza. If you are so inclined to add mushrooms, or other meats, or what have you. I like to keep it simple, closer to traditional. If you use a different meat, your cooking time might change, Chicken breast is better added back into the pan close to the end of the sauce cooking so it doesn’t dry up, chicken thigh would probably work better.
Funny story about a different protein that I used once for this recipe… My dad absolutely loathed venison. He swore up and down that he would be able to tell if it was deer or not. My sister asked me to cook dinner for a Christmas gathering, perhaps a few years back, knowing that dad would throw a fit if he knew it was Bambi in the pan and not Heifer. Challenge accepted. I made one of my best batches of pizzaiola that evening, making sure I was there before everyone else so dad wouldn’t see the venison before it was cooked. It turned out so tender and delicious that dad ate seconds… I had fooled him into eating deer meat!
When I told him a year or so later that we fed him Bambi, he said, “I knew it all along,” in that tone of voice a kid gets when they find out they’ve been duped.
And I laughed and laughed. (I kid)
With that all being said, I bid you good day and:
Mothers Day was yesterday; my sisters and I wanted to do some things that were special for my mom, given that it's been a rough time since dad left us. We put together a brunch and my older sister asked me to make something to bring, and one of mom's favorite things that I make is an easy chocolate mousse, or what other people would call a whipped dessert since it isn't traditional mousse.
I was going to make a strawberry sauce for it and maybe some other fruit, but my strawberries were freezer burnt and my plans had to change. I remembered the bananas I had sitting around, all ripe and brown looking in their overly sweet glory. I remembered that my mom liked banana pudding, so the bell went off in my head: I would make banana mousse and I could put the chocolate in as chunks, which would make it appropriate for a brunch dessert after all.
Before I get into the recipe, though, I want to talk about my mom. My dad was not the only person who contributed to this passion of mine, it was my mom that taught me a few basics like boiling water and making boxed foods like mac n cheese, or spaghetti. The story she told me about her own cooking was that she wasn't a very good cook when she was first married to my dad, but she never really said that was why she was teaching me some things.
She did the best she could at the time, but it was hard for her when dad had gotten sick from driving truck and could no longer work. She'd work rough hours at a nearby nursing home during second and third shift, thus leaving my dad to do the cooking while she did everything she could to keep food on the table. I remember how she would buy a lot of pork chops because those were some of the cheapest, and a lot of ground beef for the same reason, but she didn't get to eat them with us.
Mom told us later that it was really hard for her to keep the hours she did because she missed her babies. By the time she got home, she was asleep, she couldn't see us off to school, and she didn't g et to see us much at all during her second shift job. Finally, she decided to go to school to better her life as well as ours, was able to get a better job with better hours and we were able to eat better food.
Needless to say, I appreciate my mom's role in encouraging my knowledge of cooking and being supportive of me when I decided to go to culinary school. Mom, I hope that you read this because writing out my feelings tends to be much more eloquent than my sometimes stumbling words.
More about the dessert
This dessert is so very easy and delicious that you might be surprised. The secret to making this non traditional mousse is cream cheese or Neufchatel instead of gelatin, which not only gives it the thickness it needs, but it adds depth to the flavor of the dessert.
The end result is something wonderful... If you are a fan of bananas, anyways. I absolutely loved the texture it had after it chilled overnight. You can, in fact, freeze this one and make a lovely ice cream of sorts, it is that velvety. The flavor of the bananas is subtle after only an hour, and stronger overnight. The dark chocolate balances out the sweetness (No added sugar, by the way!) to the dessert and makes for a rich flavor combination. Fair warning, it's not quite diet food either, but a little bit does go a long way.
Speaking of Bananas!
I am pleased as punch to update you on QDFoodie's cute kitchen food. The kick starter campaign is now in full swing, and they could use some help from friends all over to make their dream into reality. For as little as a $2 donation and simply spreading the word through social media, you will be a big help.
You could end up with a gratitude gift of one of my favorites out of this collection, the banana measuring spoons that are both metric and standard, as well as in braille. These wonderful tools are for a good cause, helping kids of all sorts to develop a love for cooking as well as adults who happen to like cuteness such as these.
I am looking forward to testing these babies out, and you will help make that happen.
Be sure to check them out at their Kickstarter Campaign!
As you may know from my previous blog post, I lost my father on March 21 of this year, so my inspiration has not been present very much as my family and I try to heal from this major loss. I decided to invite my mother over for Easter, which happened to be the Sunday after the funeral as well as April Fool's day. April Fool's Day is o high significance for me because of the practical joke war that my dad and I had going for years, at least until I surpassed everything he ever taught me and made him proud.
I spent the day trying to go at a relaxed pace. I chose to have a later dinner than we would normally do for a holiday (my family usually eats celebration suppers either at noon if we are at his step parents' house, or 3 pm if at my mother's house), but damned if things didn't go the way of a certain fellow's law that shall not be named; but we all know and loathe him.
I melted down over missing croutons. Yeah. That was me.
Even with all of the chaos going on in my head that day, as well as things throughout my house, I was able to pull dinner off and even got dessert going with time to spare. Despite the melt down, I was okay by dinner time and happy to have my mom at my table.
My mom does gluten free, so I had to figure out what to do for dessert, Lucky for me, she had her baking mix already handy and handed it over to me the day prior when my hubby and I spent time over at my sister's house. Since I already had frozen peaches, I used those and what mom handed me, and I threw together the cobbler.
The cobbler is super easy, really!
Gluten Free Peach Cobbler
Preheat Oven to 350
Sift baking Mix into a bowl, add melted butter and mix with fork until pea sized clumps form.
Add your milk, vanilla, and your sugar and cut into the mixture until you form a loose dough or paste.
Grease your cast iron skillet with butter for best result, oil or spray will do as well.
Toss the peaches with both wet and dry ingredients and spread over biscuit dough
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until peaches caramelize, top of biscuit will be pale but the bottom will be brown
Serve and enjoy!
Mom was happy to eat it right after it came out of the oven and had a chance to cool only slightly. She loved it. Unfortunately, I fell asleep before I could eat some, but it was fantastic when it was cold as well.
If you want to do this with regular ingredients, just add the three TBSP of sugar and the vanilla to this recipe when you add the milk to this recipe!
I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you give it a try! It was delicious, I am telling you.
Early Wednesday morning...
We lost my dad.
There really aren't enough words to describe the feeling I personally feel, and I am not going to go into detail as to the events leading up to the moment that a hospital staff member walked into that tiny little, windowless room to inform me that he'd finally let go.
This blog post is a tribute to one of my best friends, one of my biggest fans and supporters, the Reverend Donald E. Worden, otherwise known as the Geriatric Hippie in the blog that birthed this one.
Dad was born March 2, 1955 to Donald Ross and Helen Mae... He became the older brother to three, Mark, Phillip, and Timothy Worden. Grandpa was a hard man as far as his sons went, but he did teach dad that you do everything that you can in order to help your loved ones out. Dad would always have some kind of story about the trouble he got into and the pranks he played on grandpa, as well as how much he loved my grandmother. My mother told me a funny story about how dad tried to make some food for grandma, and he used shoe polish in the dish. This part is relevant later on in my story about him.
He met my mom in the fall of 1977 and, as he described, fell in love at the sight of her. He told me that mom was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, that he looked at his friend and said, "I'm going to marry that woman." He gave merry chase after that, my mom wasn't as sure as he was. But three months later, they were wed in a small ceremony, a winter wedding in 1978. He and mom went on to start their new life together as one.
In 1980, they were blessed with my older sister, Melissa, 1983, myself, and 1986, Cassandra. Melissa and Cassandra were definitely daddy's girls, while I was a momma's girl. I don't remember much of my younger childhood other than I was a happy kid, and that we moved around a bit. I remember the places we lived and have snatches of memories about those places, more memories in the newer places the older I got...
The place that I loved living at the most was the caretaker's apartment at a storage facility. My dad and mom had a blast working there, if I remember correctly, and we had a blast playing there, it was the best place for a game of hide and seek without even having to open any of the units up. Dad worked really hard there, but he had plenty of fun, and they were able to put Melissa and me into dance class.
I don't remember the exact year that my mom was working second shift at a nursing home (after we got into the house we grew up in), but this is where his weird cooking came into play. Dad would cook what he knew how to cook. Back then, his catalog was quite limited to breakfast foods, monkey bread (which is one of my favorite things he ever made), and meat and potatoes. Pretty much every night, we would be stuck staring down at shoe leather pork chops, some canned veggies, and instant spuds. We complained at some point, and it led him to making the strangely wonderful "Cheeseburger Mashed Tater Pie," which was simply ground beef, instant spuds, and cheese. It was so good. More importantly, this is the time period my older sister and I started trying to cook food for ourselves as a means of getting through the constant swine piles. I was eight when I finally learned some easy stuff like boxed mac and cheese, and I would probably not have learned this until later, nor have the passion I have now for cooking. In a way, it is his doing that I even started the blog that came before this one.
After all of us grew up, dad no longer had to worry about raising us, and he grew kind of depressed. But then he went and got himself ordained and started to marry people, which became a great joy for him. He wasn't your typical reverend; he had tattoos, a long beard and hair, and he was gruff. That didn't matter to the people who asked for his services... This became his favorite job since he'd been a truck driver. He married people no matter what because he believed that love was the most wonderful thing. Sometimes he waived his fee as a gift to couples. I have included pictures of him officiating as well as participating otherwise in weddings.
As you can see from a few of these pictures, he was a prankster. The man loved a good joke, and taught us all how to prank. Him and I had a war going on (that I actually won because I took what he taught me and ran) but he was gracious about the loss and said it was a great joke. I remember many stories where he would prank his coworkers and sometimes scare the crap out of them. His favorite joke and one that he repeated was dressing up as a woman for two halloweens, and it went on to be successful and a smash hit among both sets of coworkers. Fair warning with this one, it involves toilet humor, but he liked fart jokes the most. Trust me, growing up with my dad farting on me was not my favorite thing, but it did teach me that it wasn't as gross as people made it out to be and that it is okay to laugh at flatulence.
Aside from the fart jokes, there were many things that made him happy... Working on cars, tinkering with computers, building cool stuff, etc. He was a hard worker for most of his life. He even served our country in the Navy before he met my mom and worked as a volunteer firefighter. The man lived a life of adventure, travel, and hard work. He provided for us so that we would never go hungry as kids, he would do things that we were embarrassed about when we were kids that we can look back as adults and say that we are grateful that he did these things... Our friends all loved dad, he was like a dad to many and touched so very many lives.
I miss him terribly... I miss hearing his voice and his encouragement when I need to hear it. I miss the hours of conversation, the wisdom of some of his words and his humor. I miss his campfire chili and beef stew, and yes, his monkey bread. Sometime in the next week, he'll be placed into the earth with a 21 gun salute, and it will be finality. I can honestly say that I am not ready...
My dad really was one of my biggest fans. I had started my original blog, Foodie-Zoo after some encouragement from my best friends, and he decided he wanted to pay for a domain name to put it on. He did his best to keep that thing running, but his server computer just wasn't the greatest and eventually, he forgot to pay for the domain name, which is okay because I never expected him to pay for it in the first place.
He didn't always like the food that I made, but he did eat some of my experiments and he did always want for me to keep going, I don't think that I would have become the food blogger I am today if he hadn't encouraged me as he did.
I really am not ready for saying goodbye, but I have to reconcile myself to it because he is gone on to a better place. I am grateful that he is no longer in pain, that he no longer suffers as he had in his last years of life. I could write a whole book on his life instead of this compact version, but it would still never be enough words to share my dad with you.
I am going to keep this blog going, even if there are times that I just can't post... He wouldn't want me to give up on what I have worked hard for, even though you only see a fraction of it in comparison to the old blog... I just hope that I can do him proud.
In Loving Memory Of:
Everything in place
| || |
- If you haven't salted your water, you should do so like pasta water. Add cubed potatoes and turn the heat up to high.
- If you have decided to to the potato skins, dry them and then deep fry those bad boys until desired crisp (4-6 minutes), drain on paper towel and salt a tiny bit
- Test the potatoes for doneness, testing any piece that might be bigger than others. It is better to be slightly over than under.
- When the potatoes are done, drain well and rice, mash, or mix in the pot.
- Reduce heat to medium low, return pot to heat.
- Add butter first, folding into the potatoes, add the cheese and fold in... Just fold in each of those so they melt, you don't want to overwork the spuds. Add your bacon and onions, reserve 1/2 of each, season to taste, and fold until somewhat incorporated.
- Stir in milk, adding a little more at a time if your potatoes are too dry
- Transfer to serving bowl, topping with reserved bacon and scallions.
- If you can't find goat cheese, cream cheese is a good substitute, just call them cream cheese potatoes instead :)
- You can use chives instead of scallions for the same type of flavor
- If you add too much milk, you can add some potato flakes. I know that seems like blaspheme, but you gotta do what you gotta do. No shame!
- If you are watching your health, use your preferred butter substitute or half the butter. You can use neufchattel for a similar flavor, and use skim milk, and turkey bacon.
- If you want to make it vegan, use some of the potato water, vegan cheese and margarine.
So I thought about it, and I decided I would give it a try. I wanted it with more stretch, however, so I got the idea to add some burger into the mix because, why not? People make chilli-mac and cheese burger mac, why not go ahead and put some burger into my soup? So I did, and I made the right call. The soup was very delicious, and my husband liked it so much that he ate three bowls. That is a compliment because he's such a picky eater.
I had the urge to throw some broccoli in because, hello, broccoli and cheese soup... But I resisted, and that was also the right call. I wouldn't eat broccoli with a hamburger, so why would I put it in a soup based off of such? I would, however, eat it with some sauteed green peppers, so that is what I did instead.
As usual, I looked around the internet for recipes, saw a bunch, and then decided just to do my own spin which I am sharing with you. Just like in all recipes that I post, I think about the flavor profile... What can I do to make it better? For instance, I didn't really look for a Mac n Cheeseburger soup, just mac n cheese soup. I threw the burger in because I thought it would stretch it along and make it taste good. I was right.
Here is my take!
- Clean and chop your veggies and cut velveeta into cubes, shred swiss
- In the dutch oven, toss the veggies in with a little butter or olive oil if desired, add salt and pepper as you go (including in the next step)
- Add the garlic to cook a little, then add your ground beef and brown... Drain off any extra fat.
- Add in your stock and bring to a simmer. In the meantime, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Adjust any seasonings.
- While the pasta is cooking, add milk to the broth, bring to a simmer and then add the cheeses a little at a time until melted.
- Serve over cooked pasta or finish cooking pasta in the soup.
First of all, I am sorry that my posting can sometimes be sporadic, but I have some tough health issues happening. I am constantly battling with my stomach. You see all this awesome, and sometimes not so awesome, food that I make, and I can't always eat it because I am sick to my stomach. It's a bummer, but I am okay. At least I get to taste it!
Right now, I am waiting on results from a biopsy done to my gut when they found inflammation again. Signs are pointing to an inflammatory disease, which means that I will have to specialize in a completely different diet and my recipes are subject to big changes in the future. Until I know anything, I eat what I want in moderation (mostly) and in the meantime, I will post regular recipes.
I bring this up because I am thinking this means a new format for some of my recipes... Do I do two recipes, a regular one and then the specialized one like I was doing before? I don't know yet. Hopefully, I will know what is going on before too long so I can have a plan of action.
I also want to bring up that I have done several recipes in the last few weeks to try and get ahead, but I did get really ill in the last few weeks, hence me not posting. I am going to go ahead with the one freshest on my pallet.
Thank you for your support and understanding!
Chicken Fried Steak!!
I have avoided the making of chicken fried steak like the plague for the longest time. The first time I ate it, it was disgusting... There was a certain flavor to it that I found rather gross that I couldn't put my finger on. Add to that, I still had a diversion to gravy at the time. I don't remember quite how this happened, but if memory does serve me right? Well, I think my mom bought already breaded cubed steak to fry up one time for chicken fried steak, and there was a certain sour taste to it.
If I had to pin point this flavor after looking through different recipes for this food, it would probably be buttermilk. I am almost 99% positive that this is what it was! Half of the recipes that I saw had buttermilk in them, which makes sense because fried chicken sometimes has buttermilk in it that works well with chicken but I don't think it does for beef. I could be wrong, but I wasn't about to use it.
So yeah, I made it, and I dubiously tried a tiny little piece off the end of one fillet, curling my lips defiantly in the process of bringing the food to my pie hole... Then I gingerly took the piece in, chewed, and to my delight, it was delicious. I decided to plate stuff before I could devour the rest of my portion, leaving nothing to be pictured.
My husband was quite please that I made this meal, too, and he gave me a kiss for doing it because he knew that I was kind of on the fence about making it... But I owe it to you, my readers, and myself, to revisit my old foes so that I can make recipes about them. And yes, this recipe is based on ones from around the internet, but I didn't stick to them, I took liberties and it worked.
I hope you all enjoy the recipe as much as I did, but I will probably not be eating this very much at all because, well... Obvious reasons. That is not to say I am telling people not to eat this stuff, so much as to eat it in moderation!
A little history lesson, it is believed that chicken fried steak came from German influence back in the mid 1800's, I can concur that it is much like wienerschnitzel! It did remind me of that, something I had the pleasure of trying in culinary school.
- Pat steaks dry, then season well with salt and pepper.
- In a bowl, mix eggs and milk, also seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Plop flour on a plate..... And also season.
- Heat oil at medium to medium high heat. While you are doing that, work on breading the steaks. I used the double dip method. I dipped in egg first as opposed to the flour, then the flour, then egg, then flour, which made for a nice craggy look in the breading.
- Test the oil with a little flour, if the flour foams, it's hot enough.
- Fry on both sides for 5-8 minutes each, or until golden brown on both sides.
- Set on paper towel to drain... You shouldn't need any salt because you seasoned as you went along!
- Drain all but a few tablespoons of the oil, making sure the bits and pieces from frying are still in there. Add an equal amount of flour, and then add 3-4 cups of milk, lots of pepper, and bring to a simmer. If gravy is too thick, add a little more milk or water at the end.
- Serve with your choice of sides.
I've read a lot about this so called Food Stamp Diet off and on over the last few years. Celebrities and elected officials alike trying it out and failing or just being outright miserable through the whole ordeal. As if people who have a bit of money somehow forgot how to eat and count! Lessons your mother and father should have taught you include 1) What food is nutritious 2) Where to find it 3) How much it costs and, most importantly, 4) What it is worth. The cost of a particular thing is of little significance in most situations as the VALUE of that thing tends to dictate the cost. Nutritious food costs dollars. Good tasting nutritious food costs more dollars. CONVENIENT food costs the most dollars of all but usually doesn't hold much in the way of nutrition.
My name is Rebecca and, not only am I a survivor of the Real Life Food Stamp Diet but, I work in a grocery store and live in a food desert! Well, more accurately, I live on the boundary between a food desert and NOT a food desert because the demographic area to the north/northeast of me is measured by city standards and the area to the south/southwest of me is measured by rural standards. I'm sitting smack on the border between the two areas. It isn't fun, I can tell you!
Okay, so, back to the "diet" thingamajiggy. What we have to do first is define how much the government has decided a person should get per person per meal. We will use the information we have available on the internet. This chart from www.cbpp.org is handy, indeed.
SNAP Benefits by Household Size
Household Size Maximum Monthly Benefit, Estimated Average Monthly
Fiscal Year 2018 Benefit, Fiscal Year 2017
1 $192 $142
2 $352 $253
3 $504 $379
4 $640 $465
5 $760 $556
6 $913 $657
7 $1,009 $697
8 $1,153 $870
Each additional person $144
As you can see, the maximum amount of food stamps you can get for a single person is $192 for a whole month. Break that down by the day with some simple math. The average month has 30 days, so 192/30=6.40. That's $6.40 per day or $2.13 per meal to feed one person. 6.4x7=44.8 or $44.80 for a week. But, as the chart shows, most people don't get the maximum amount in food stamps. A single person usually gets only $142 per month according to this chart, so we will use THAT number for our exploration okay? OKAY! Maths, I do them. 142/30=4.7333333. That is $4.73 per day or $1.57 per meal to feed one person. 4.7333333x7=33.133333 or $33.13 per week. That isn't so bad at all when you consider that the creators of this challenging diet estimated the costs to be $1 per person per meal! We have 50% to 100% more money to spend on feeding ourselves if we use real world numbers, you silly celebrities! We are going to use the smaller number because that is the amount the AVERAGE person on food stamp benefits receives. It is important to note that food stamp purchases are not taxed where I'm from, so we are free to use all of the money up to the last penny even if in reality we have to spend a bit extra to cover the taxes because we are trying to make it on a food stamp budget here. To be realistic we have to pretend that the taxes don't exist.
Are you ready to dive into buying food to feed a single person with only $33.13 for an entire week? Let's try!
First, we're going to think about how many times per week we will want to eat meat. We're getting 21 meals and for most people, meat is eaten at least once per day. The USDA (those guys who actually issue food stamps) recommends at least 2 servings of meat or protein per day, so we will estimate two servings of meat per day which means we will need 14 servings.
Second, we're going to need dairy. The USDA recommends at least 2 servings per day, so we will estimate 14 servings of this also.
Third, we will need veggies. The USDA recommends at least 3 servings per day, so we will estimate 21 servings of this for the week.
Fourth, we need to think about fruits. The USDA recommends at least 2 servings per day, so we will estimate 14 servings for the week.
Fifth, we need to think about grains. The USDA recommends at least 6 servings per day, so we are going to estimate 42 servings of this for the week. (GOSH that's A LOT OF GRAINS!)
Lastly, we need to consider extra things like spices, sauces, spreads, etc because we all use that stuff and it's what makes things more interesting and allows us to vary the flavors of what we're consuming so that it doesn't become monotonous.
Since I work in a mid range priced grocery store, I'm planning to use pricing available there for my estimates. Full disclosure, I am not comparison shopping here, I am just giving you the breakdown of what you can get on average. Okay? OKAY?
Let's start from the top! We need meat! A serving of meat is 3-4 oz. You read that right and I did not stutter. What are we going to buy to fill this? Oh me, oh my!
Let's start with a pound of boneless skinless chicken breast. Most weeks it only costs $1.99 from the butcher counter and a pound of it will make at least three servings of meat. Mmmmm chicken! We'll round that up to $2.15 because no one ever gets it exactly at a pound. Then we can scootch over and pick up a 12 oz package of smoked sausage for just $1.29. That's another four servings of meat. A pound of ground beef $3.19, that's another four servings of meat. For our last three servings, we will pick up a package of bologna for $1.19 (it's actually more than three servings, but we can save the leftovers for next week or use them as a little snack this week). So there we have more than the amount of meat we actually need for a total of $7.82. We now have $25.31 left.
Dairy. Serving sizes vary depending on the medium.
So, we will pick up a half gallon of milk for $1.50 to start. That's 8 servings of dairy (8 0z per serving) so we're already halfway there! We will then pick up a quarter pound of cheese from the deli counter because we're feeling fancy today! On average a quarter pound of cheese will cost you about $1.50 and offers an average of 4 servings. (I strongly recommend you skip the Kraft and Velveeta style singles because most of them do not contain much in the way of real dairy. Read the label. They don't say CHEESE. They say "Singles" or "Slices" or "Pasteurized Processed Cheese Food" because they don't contain enough milk to be legally labeled cheese. The stuff you get at the deli counter is actually cheese). Then we will pick up a four pack of yogurt for $1.98 which rounds out our dairy needs for a total of $4.98. We now have $20.33
Veggies. A half cup of cooked veggies is a serving.
Let's pick up a bag of salad mix for $1.59. That bag of salad mix will offer you a whopping 8 servings of veggies for the week, but we will want dressing to go with it and a small generic bottle costs $1.29. We can pick up a can of black beans for $0.69 which will offer us two servings. Grab a 5 lb bag of potatoes for $2.59 and get another 10 servings of veggies (these can be substituted for meat or grains due to their high starch and protein content). We will need margarine sticks to go with the potatoes, so add $0.89. And we can grab a bag of frozen broccoli or carrots for $1. A bag of frozen onions for another $1. This fulfills our veggie requirement and gives us some seasonings that can be used for other things if needed for a total of $9.05. We now have $11.28 left. We're getting low on funds now. Can we make it?
To fulfill our fruit requirements, we can substitute some juices so long as they are 100% juices. These may be high in sugar content though, so use them sparingly. A 64 oz bottle of apple, grape, or cranberry juice will cost about $2.59 and one serving is 4 oz. This one bottle of juice offers us 16 servings of fruit but it doesn't have to be consumed immediately, so we can pick up a pound of whatever apple or peach is on sale for $1.59 per pound this week to fill things out a bit and offer four servings of fiber rich fruit pulp. Round that up to $1.75 because nature is not keen on exact weights! So we have 20 servings of fruit available for $4.34. We now have $6.94.
Grains. Our biggest challenge.
We will start with two loaves of bread for $1.70. Each loaf contains a whopping 11 servings which is a quarter of our needs. We're halfway there! We'll grab a box of quick oats bringing us another 10 servings of grains for $1.39. And a pound of brown rice for $0.79 will give us the last 10 servings we need for a total of $3.88. That leaves $3.08 for spices.
We'll grab garlic powder, chili powder, and salt this week. They will last longer than the week and they're a good investment because of their shelf life. This will cost you $2.59 and leave you $0.47 to rollover to next week's grocery bill! We did it!
Maybe next week I will post a few recipes that you can make from this list of groceries I've provided. :)
These are various recipes that either I created, or I found and adjusted to what I thought would be awesome or even healthier.
Poor Man's Meal