Eating the Recession

I’ll be jumping on the obvious bandwagon next week with a column on how to eat cheaply in tough economic times. Try to find a food section not tackling this issue, I know, yawn.

Anyway, I’m soliciting ideas. Braising tougher cuts, more beans, real fat, eating less meat in general, etc. Any ideas? Any non-squirrel tips from the Great Depression era?

Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

5 thoughts

  1. Does it count if a tip is something you do all the time, good or bad economy?

    I look for closeouts in the produce dept. When the broccolini goes from $3.50 a package to $0.99, I’ll buy all six or seven packets and blanch and bag the veggies for later. Just this week, I got those fancy gourmet tiny cucumbers for $0.69 a package (instead of over $2.00), and we’re eating Korean pickles for dinner. Still have plenty left for salads and maybe Vietnamese spring rolls later.

    My other idea is pretty common. Soup and stew. Great way to use veggies (like closeout veggies) and stretch meats. A pound of stew beef (particularly if you cut it yourself into bite-size pieces) can go a long, long way.

    On that note, cutting your own meats and chickens is a good way to save a few cents. I often buy a beef roast on sale – and it could end up as a pot roast, a beef soup or stew, or even ground beef if I choose. I’m equipped to do it all.

    An old-fashioned idea? The pressure cooker. I’ve been using one for well on 30 years now, and wouldn’t give it up for anything. You can turn chicken parts into stock for soup, or a whole chicken into chicken and dumplings; beef chunks into meltingly tender bites, or a pot roast into something beautiful — and all in less than 90 minutes. In fact, I have two now – one electric (times itself) and one “regular.”

  2. I’ve been thinking more about this. You know what’s the most important thing? PLANNING! The more you plan your meals, the more you can save (imho). In the old days, I used to actually write out menus for a week at a time, shopping accordingly.

    If you can do that, you know exactly what’s for supper each evening, you can shop for only those ingredients, and you don’t end up with nights on end where you arrive home to nothing to cook, nothing in the fridge, and so you spend too much on takeout or eatout.

    Even if you don’t go to that extent, just being wise with your shopping habits – like, don’t go every night, but every week – can keep you from a lot of impulse buying. That’s the one thing I hate about farmers’ markets. Sometimes, I give in to the temptation of spending $10 on a pint of blackberries that I could really do without.

  3. Beans are a key for protein. I work with a family that is struggling. Yet, it is their belief that meat is a requirement for every meal. Meat is not cheap; nor does one need it nutritionally every meal. My wife and I save lots of money (and eat well) by buying bulk dried beans and then being creating when making them. Highly reccomended.

    Another idea, celebrities and members of Congress have often made headlines trying to live on food stamp allocation levels for a week. Maybe a good idea (gimmick) for Mr. and Mrs. Show Me Eats and family!? I think ya’all are creative enough to show that it can be done pretty well with some planning and creativity.

  4. 1. Eat before you go to the supermarket. Make a shopping list and stick to it. Especially avoid the displays at the end of supermarket aisles – those are impulse/high profit items.

    2. More flavor, less meat. Almost all ethnic food is made with very little meat, because it’s from like, you know, people and not the rich folks. Enchiladas, curries, stews, soups — all taste wonderful and stretch the meat budget.

    3. Less expensive cuts of meat are often tastier than steak – there is a reason why fancy New York restaurants import pork bellies and beef shanks from Missouri.

    4. Try canning. You can get started for less than $50, and you’ll save that on your first batch of peaches come winter. Buy equipment and jars from garage sales (if I haven’t sucked them all up first ;).

    5. Eat well, just not so much. We Americans substitute quantity for taste, with very bad consequences.

    6. Treat yourself to something wonderful every now and then. Life is too short to deprive yourself.

    As Jackie Gleason said, “I’ve often been broke, but I’ve never been poor.”

  5. I’m sorry; I am still dizzy from three posts in 72 hours….I’ll have to get back to you…

    missed you, Scott!!!!!

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