I’m going to collate this post into a list separated into types of foods (legumes, grains, vegetables, and proteins), with tips on how to buy them and how to prepare them. I hope this can help, and to all my fellow poor cooks out there: hang in there.
Keep a stock of beans, lentils, and dried chickpeas around if you can. As such, assuming you don’t throw them out and keep them properly stored, buying This is a 100% return on your investment.
As long as you soak them and put them in the fridge before you go to bed they’ll be available the next day to cook quickly. These are the best thing to have if you’re looking to stretch a meal because of their nutrient density and the fact that they’re just damn delicious on their own.
Some really common examples are lentil curry, hummus, falafels, and putting chickpeas in a shakshuka. I highly recommend learning what the most commonly eaten grans and cereals in your locality are, and then finding the affordable ones.
Wait for those huge sacks of rice to go on sale (it happens pretty frequently), then buy 2. Ideally grab long-grain rice if you’re just looking for a side-dish or fried rice base, but in a pinch short grain’ll do; it’s just less forgiving and the starches don’t retrograde as fully so when you cool it is doesn’t keep as nicely.
It’s high in protein and iron, and can help dramatically improve your nutrient intake for very little cost. In soups, roasted in tea (thanks Korea), and used in tandem with rice, it can go a very, very long way in making your diet a more sustainable one in times of austerity and plenty, alike.
Don’t get me started on avocado cartels and the impact of quinoa farming on low-income African communities. In reality, most grains and cereals have a lot of nutrients and minerals, and they’re often overlooked.
POTATOES: Treat these as a starch option similar to grains or cereals. Buy them seasonally for the best value and if you have a day to do so, preserve them if you ever see a huge sale.
Freezing meat is fine, but try to avoid buying pre-made frozen protein options. Get raw product and do the work yourself to save a LOT of cash and get better food out of it.
I say this because in modern western culture eating meat every day is seen as normal. This is an oddity when we examine all of human history, and this notion should be abandoned if we’re trying to live more affordably.
Good luck, and please try not to contribute to the death of our water ecosystems. Fish bones and crustacean shells for stock, fat deposits on the occasional salmon id for whatever you want, and fish skin, if it’s your cup of tea, for a lovely snack.
It’s awful for you, it isn’t cheaper than a bowl of rice with soy sauce, a fried egg, and some frozen peas, and it’ll kill you slowly. Hell, if anyone’s advice involves doing what they did in college, take it with a grain of salt.
Chips, sugar cereals, premade salad dressings, sweet juice/pop, and processed foods like KD or TV dinners are not the way to go if you’re looking to get the most out of your dollar at the grocery store. They’re bad for you, they’re expensive relative to the cost of production, and they put a burden on your body that you’ll pay for down the line.
Kraft block cheese only costs as little as it does because it’s the by-product of the real money-maker: whey protein production. If you’re going to buy cheese, please support a real cheese maker.
I've seen a few meals made with an air fryer posted around Reddit recently, and they looked good. I am watching my calorie intake, and I know even a tablespoon of oil is a lot.
I've included substitutions below, so I'm sure you could make some variation of this work with what you have in your fridge! Return the chicken to the pot and continue on with the recipe as written.
2 scallions minced, white and green parts kept separate Combine the diced chicken with one tablespoon olive in a gallon freezer bag.
Close the bag and shake it until the chicken is completely coated. Transfer to the refrigerator for 15 minutes as you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Add jalapeño, lime juice, red onion, and garlic and mix to combine. Add the chicken and cook in an even layer for at least 5-7 minutes until a brown crust forms.
Add the butter and cook an additional minute until frothy, being careful not to burn the garlic. Once the butter is melted and frothy, add the rice and toss to coat.
Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, stirring regularly, to prevent the rice from sticking. Add more stock or water, as necessary, to loosen up the rice if it absorbs too much liquid.
Once the rice is tender, stir in the cheddar cheese and the white parts of the scallions. Divide the chicken and rice between bowls and spoon the avocado topping onto each.
Calories: 503kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 82 mg | Sodium: 404 mg | Potassium: 969 mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | vitamin A: 1098IU | vitamin C: 21 mg | Calcium: 165 mg | Iron: 3 mg You need a rolling pin (empty wine bottle works just as well), a knife, and just all-purpose flour, eggs, salt and oil.
I like to make fresh pasta every couple of months at least, and have made it myself for years. Only in the last couple of years did I get a hand crank machine for Christmas.
I can't overstate just how differently delicious fresh pasta is. Look at the preservatives in ravioli from the store, then the price tag.
You could make all that for the cost of 1 cup of flour, 3 eggs, and a small sauté pan of filling. But, butter freezes quite well, and is still just fine for baking and such well past that 'best by' date.
Organ meats are very healthy for you, and this way you get the nutrition from them without the weird texture of them. I do this almost every time I make roast chicken or turkey and I hope others try it.