Wednesday, July 3, 2013

There are 4 of you left, and only 3 roses...

Uh oh, they left the door to my cage unlocked again and I found my way back.

In recent weeks on my other online home (Yes you’re going to get another shameless plug. We’re good people, give us a try ) I’ve been asked if I can do a post about cheap and easy meals that anyone can prepare. Now, I believe that anyone can prepare any meal with a bit of foresight and some gumption but the cheap part is the kicker here. So I’m going to take myself back to college and post to you about my personal experiences living on “Bachelor Chow”.

To start off, I guess we need to define what bachelor chow actually is. I think it is the food that young people make when they’re too busy chasing members of the opposite sex or having the blackout nights aforementioned in my “cooking with booze” post ( to care much about taking time to cook fantastic meals. I also suppose I should let you know that in college I was spoiled by having a full size deep freeze and a room mate whose father gave us 500 pounds of moose meat so I didn’t have to buy any variation of beef or beef like meat for the year I lived with him.

That leads me to my first tip, take freebies or good deals when they arise. If you have an uncle who raises pigs and he is willing to let you have some of the meat for cheap or free, JUMP on it. Store has a 50 pound bag of potatoes on for $3, BUY THEM. Of course there are limits here, don’t buy the 50 pound bag of tomatoes as there is no way you’d ever eat them before they go bad.

My second tip is to get some sort of a freezer. Apartment size freezers are fairly cheap and are worth their weight in gold if you use them correctly. Please don’t talk to me about the little freezer in the refrigerator either, we both know that it serves no other purpose than that of a liquor cabinet for college students. Having a freezer will allow you to make large amounts of food and freeze them in single servings for later when that hot redhead in your physics class is far more interesting than chopping onions. The freezer will also allow you to buy bulk packs of things (chicken, shrimp, sausage, frozen veggies etc)  for much cheaper than individual packs and portion them out as you want them.  Making your food this way is actually cheaper than buying premade canned or frozen meals and it is WAY healthier.

I know I was asked for specific recipes but I’m not going to go that route as I find it limiting and boring really. I’m instead going to go the way of giving ideas and letting your creative juices flow.

First idea is to get creative with what you have. Tired of eating KD, but you bought a 900 pack of it for $10 at COSTCO? Well make it anyways and chop up a couple of those hot dogs you have in the fridge and then add some of the salsa you have to it and boom, it aint KD no more. Add some different spices ( to things to totally change their flavor. Got a leftover smokie from that kegger a couple nights ago? Chop it up and add it to your Ramen noodles with some diced onion or peppers. The idea here is to look outside the box and try new things. Don’t be afraid of making something that isn’t gourmet, this is how you learn and even the best chefs in the world have made a few stinkers in their lives.

That smokie thought got me thinking about the next idea; make use of your leftovers. You’re on a tight budget, don’t throw money away by throwing food away. At the very least most foods can be chopped up and added to some diced potatoes and veggies to make a hash that will be passable as food in 98% of the civilized world. Or toss in a can of premade tomato sauce and $0.30 worth of spaghetti noodles and make a pasta dish. The point is that most things can be re-purposed as a secondary meal.

I suppose that both of those ideas are pretty much the same. It all boils down to being creative and not being afraid to fail. Once you get past those two hurdles, the possibilities are endless.

I want to make a list of things that I think every bachelor or bachelorette should have in their home so they can at the very least eat semi-healthy.

  1. A freezer – explained above
  2. Dry pasta – cheap to buy, keeps forever on the shelf and is very versatile
  3. Brown rice – see above
  4. Canned tomatoes – decently cheap, healthy to eat and available in a wide variety of flavors and styles
  5. Beans – fresh is more work than canned. Beans are ridiculously healthy for you and are cheap if you look around
  6. Fresh vegetables – Not always the cheapest but lets face it, you have to stave off scurvy somehow
  7. A good assortment of spices – not cheap to buy but they last a long time and allow you to make food that doesn’t all taste exactly the same.

That’s probably good for now. I may revisit this idea or just do a recipe post later.

Dogg’s Chili
(If you’re from Texas, I don’t want to hear about the fact that it “aint chili”)
2 pounds ground beef                                    3-4 cups home made baked beans (3-4 cans)
2 cans red kidney beans                                2 cans sliced mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion, chopped                    1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped                                   4 cloves garlic, minced
Chili powder                                                  Oregano
Basil                                                            Marjoram

  1. Add meat and garlic to large pot and cook on medium until meat is browned.
  2. add onion, peppers, mushrooms and beans and bring to a slow boil.
  3. add spices to taste.
  4. simmer for at least 1 hour, preferably 2, stirring often.
  5. serve with garlic toast. 
  6. if you're a bachelor, freeze some and use it on hot dogs later

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