Wednesday, 8 January 2014

What To Do When You're In a Dire Financial Situation Part II

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Click here for Part I of the series.

When you're in dire financial straits, often the only variable in your budget will be the grocery bill.  With the following meal ideas, you will be able to bring your grocery bill down lower than you ever thought possible, leaving more money for bills, debt, or other essential living costs. 

This is not gourmet food, and it probably won't excite your soul.  It is however largely unprocessed, will fill empty tummies, and will help keep the wolf from the door.  I've broken it down into two sections - absolute rock bottom meals, and those which take a bit more time to prepare and therefore offer a little bit more flavour and nutrition.

The first rule of thumb when reducing your grocery bill is to cut out meat, or at least seriously reduce the frequency that you eat it.  There will always be debate about whether eating meat is good or bad for us, but all you need to know for now is that cutting out (or severely reducing) meat for several weeks or even several months is not going to do your health any harm.  Your family is hungry, and you have no money.  Your goal is to fix their hunger, not satisfy their cravings.  If anyone complains about the lack of meat, tell them that if they bring home the bacon, you'll cook it!

What you need to do is focus on foods that will fill you up, as cheaply as possible.  Rice needs to become your best friend.  As well as bread, pasta, potatoes and other root vegetables - yep, all the foods that get crucified by low-carb lovers.  Again - you're not reading this blog because you're looking for delicious superfoods recipes that fit in nicely with your diet preferences.  You're here because you're in survival mode.  Add to your filling foods things like beans, lentils, eggs, tinned tomatoes and tuna, vegetables, baking ingredients... and you can come up with plenty of meals.

Rockbottom Tummy Fillers:

  • Porridge made with water and salt.  If you can afford it, top with cinnamon, sugar or jam, or with cheap, seasonal fruit.
  • Toast with peanut butter or jam 
  • Fried eggs on toast

  • Peanut butter sandwiches (remember to bake your own bread)
  • Mashed egg sandwiches
  • Toasted sandwiches
  • Leftovers
  • Carrot sticks, boiled eggs, seasonal fruit, banana bread, cheap crackers/biscuits, homemade baking

  • Rice and peanut butter warmed together (1 - 2 cups of rice and 2 - 3 tbsp peanut butter per person) - satay rice.

  • Corn fritters - simple recipe here
  • Scrambled eggs on toast (use water not milk)
  • Spaghetti or baked beans on toast 
  • Creamed corn on toast
  • Tinned tuna (buy it in oil for more flavour) and rice
  • Baked potatoes with cheap, simple toppings 
  • Thick potato slices baked or microwaved and topped with whatever toppings you have on hand, served with frozen vegetables

  • Pasta with olive oil mixed through
  • Pasta with tinned tomatoes or pasta sauce mixed through
  • Pasta with tinned tomatoes/pasta sauce, grated carrot and peas
  • Pasta with tinned tomatoes and tuna, served with frozen vegetables
  • Tinned tomatoes heated up and eaten as soup, with toast
  • Homemade soup and toast
  • Fried rice - with just about ANYTHING added
  • Rice topped with hot sauce/sweet chilli sauce/tomato sauce/bbq sauce
  • Rice topped with soup
  • Mashed vegetables with onion gravy
  • Homemade pizza with homemade bases and anything you have in the fridge
  • Homemade pizza with tinned spaghetti and fine breadcrumbs on top
  • Homemade pizza with tomato sauce, sliced cooked potato and herbs on top
  • Potato, pumpkin and pea curry
  • Roast vegetables with gravy
  • Roast vegetables blended with homemade chicken stock to make soup, served with toast

Spend Money To Save Money:
  • Buy a bottle of your favourite flavoured sauce and make it a rule that the only time you can use it is when you've accidentally made something that is so unpalatable that you're considering not eating it.  A delicious sauce can mask just about anything when you keep in mind that your goal is just to fill your stomach and give yourself energy.

Food Tip:
  • Buy smooth peanut butter, weight for weight it contains more peanut butter than crunchy peanut butter.  You can always add your own chopped nuts to the mix if you still want it crunchy.

Next up: Slightly more involved/nutritious but still cheap recipes.

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