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Good Eating on Any Budget

2 Comments 28 October 2009

20100124081106 300x187 Good Eating on Any BudgetWhile there are dozens of official reports about the economy improving, the general population has yet to feel the effects of it. With unemployment rates hanging in the double-digit percentage points, it’s become apparent to the average family that it is time to modify their budget, and not in the desired direction.

Going shopping these days, you may see some sort of common pattern. The department stores and ‘non-necessity’ stores are drastically marking down their prices. The same, however, does not go for grocery stores. Grocers are marking up prices, only to put them “on sale,” which brings them to the originally marked prices, anyway… and that’s when they have the sale.

Health conscious Americans will tell you that the prices for produce are even worst. At their best, fruits and vegetables have been horribly overpriced in comparison to almost any other country in the world. What does it tell you when you see those own an extremely low budget commonly being overweight in the US, whereas the low income people in other places are rather thin? Well, take that situation and multiply it a few times, because that  is quickly becoming the common situation throughout the States, where those on a fixed budget are eating very unhealthy foods because of their low cost.

One of the secrets of the gourmet shopper is buying by the bulk. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to purchase a huge amount. You will, however, say goodbye to (most of) those pre-packaged foods. By shopping for only what you need for a particular recipe, you can help to eliminate wasted food and money.

Using the Internet, you’ll be able to find some fantastic recipes from some of our favorite food websites. For the remainder of this post, we’ll point out some great recipes that can be made on a budget. Be aware that there may be even cheaper options available, but we’re going for quality over a few cents difference.

Breakfast

Marmalade Stuffed French Toast

This french toast recipe requires the use of french bread or other thick loaves - but definitely not your standard sliced white bread. At higher-end markets and most bakeries, they replenish their stock of this bread daily. Look for the “day old bread” bins, be sure to smell them to rule out any presence of mold, and you’ll save a bundle. Feel free to exchange the orange marmalade for another favorite fruit preserve.

Freshly Squeezed Grapefruit Juice

Ingredients: 3 large red grapefruits, 1 juicer (check the local dollar store for one)
Procedure: Slice the grapefruit in half at the largest point. Center inside fruit above the juicer, push down, and grin. Pour juice in tall, slim glass over crushed ice.

Even in the sunny State of California, good quality produce for in “middle America” grocery stores is supremely difficult to come by. In the Silicon Valley area, Mollie Stones has a weekly sale on produce of the highest quality, which brings the price to numbers even lower than the local Safeway. For those living in other areas, don’t be afraid to step into a commonly “higher end” grocery store - you may just be surprised at how beautiful the fruit is, and for a relatively low price.

Lunch

Italian Parsley and Beet Salad

While it is possible to find olive oil sold per the specific quantity required, this is one item you’ll want to have on hand all the time. Go for an extra virgin olive oil from Italy, Greece, or Israel that will be versatile enough for all of your dishes.

Greek Chicken Wrap

Tortillas are a great opt-in for wraps when a slightly more traditional lavosh isn’t available. On the other hand, feel free to grab one of the rather large pre-cooked rotisserie chickens from Costco and substitute it for the chicken breast called for in the recipe.

Chickpea Fritters with Tzatziki

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are available canned (ready to go), bagged (dry), or in bulk (dry). If you purchase a can of these beans, rinse them off before using them in a recipe. If you plan on going with the dried beans, make sure to start the preparation the day before.

Dinner

Seasonal Country Salad with Spiced Walnuts

The price difference between iceberg lettuce and the “fancier” varieties at markets worth their salt is minimal enough to constitute choosing, again, quality over a few pennies. Go for field greens and gain some great vitamins and nutrients.

Moroccan Halibut

Feel free to substitute any whitefish for the halibut.

Carrot Fennel Soup

This recipe calls for fennel seeds. These are usually included on any prestocked spice rack. Purchase one at your local department home store for about $20 and you’ll always have the basics on hand.

Easy Italian Chicken

Canned tomatoes are great to have in the pantry. Instead of buying fresh tomatoes (which, of course, are always better to have) that will rot if not used in a couple of days, having these in stock will come in handy for almost any dish the calls for tomatoes to be cooked.

Café Au Lait Puddings

What a great, simple to make and yummy treat, proving that anyone can eat well on a budget.

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Your Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Loving you for this post. I was JUST thinking that I need to cut down the grocery budget after a huge blow out month of birthday parties.

    MWAH MWAH MWAH!

  2. Cool blog, thanks for the recipes and shopping tips.


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