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TheMightyFavog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-04-07 10:24 PM
Original message
OK, DU Cooks, it's Challenge time...
Due to commitments at our campus Radio Station, I will be forced to stay in Stevens Point over Spring Break. During this time I will be spending ten days in my dorm room with my roommate (who works in IT and has to stay over to help with maintenance and upgrades.

During these ten days, I will have no access to my meal plan and only $60 to spend (Money which I will earn by selling my plasma) I currently have several packets of Ramen, some instant flavored oatmeal, I may have access to a couple of pounds of ground beef that have been sitting in a friend's freezer for a while, salt and pepper, garlic salt, dried onion flakes, and a bottle of Kikkoman Soy Sauce.

Your challenge: Come up with recipe ideas for me so that I can eat.

There are several stipulations:

NO TUNA DISHES. I don't like tuna.

Dishes must be simple and easy.

Dishes must have little clean-up.

I only have a saucepan, during limited hours, I will have access to additional pots and pans.
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eyesroll Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:11 AM
Response to Original message
1. Go to the Asian market in Stevens Point and pick up a bottle of Memmi soup base ($2) and a pack
of thin white Chinese "paste" noodles (can't think of what they're called -- they're wheat, and they're about 33-75 cents for a pound).

Buy eggs there if they are fresh ($1 per dozen); otherwise get them at the regular market. Also get a bag or brick of frozen spinach. ($1 -- thaw in the fridge before you use them.)

This is my "eating cheap" quick lunch soup:
Anyhow...

Mix 1 part Memmi base with 9 parts water, enough to make 3 cups of liquid. (You can always add more Memmi if it seems too weak, or water if it's too strong.) Bring to a boil. Add a generous handful of noodles and let simmer until the noodles are al dente (you want them to be soft eventually). Throw in a handful of spinach. Return to a slow boil. Add two eggs and poach the eggs in the broth until they're as done as you want them. Alternatively, you can swirl the eggs and make more of an egg-flower soup.)

This makes a generous lunch in about 10 minutes (leftovers reheat OK but don't keep them for more than a day or it gets slimy).
Total cost per serving is about $1.

Asian markets, in general, are good for eating cheap -- you can pick up a bag of rice, some fresh veggies, a block of tofu, a bottle of hoisin and a bottle of hot sauce for $10 and make several meals out of it.

If I were in your shoes, I'd take $35 to the Asian market and buy a big bag of rice (long grain is fine, although I use Calrose as my multi-purpose rice), a pack of those white noodles, a packet of bean-thread noodles (same price), a packet of rice noodles (same price), the Memmi base, a bulb of garlic, a knob of ginger, a few onions, a few potatoes, a small bottle of Sambal Oelek (a chili paste --$2), a can of coconut milk (50 cents), a can of masaman curry paste ($1--look for the cans that can be added to one can of coconut milk), a block of tofu ($1-$2), a bunch of bananas and whatever veggies looked fresh that were in my budget. Make sure there's a green pepper and some scallions in there somewhere. Yes, you can get all of this for $35 at an Asian market.

Then, I'd go to the regular market and get a pound of bulk rolled oats, wheat, barley or a combination of all three (50 cents -$1 -- can be microwaved in a few minutes and tastes much better than the instant packets, but you can cut that out if the packets are acceptable to you or if you just don't eat breakfast), a carton of milk, a loaf of bread, a package of boneless/skinless chicken thighs (cheaper than breasts -- or else get frozen breasts), a 1# package of beef stew meat, a dozen eggs, a small can of tomato paste, a small box of cornstarch (optional), a small bottle of vegetable oil, a small bottle of apple cider vinegar, a can of pineapple. Oh, and get a box of pasta (50 cents - $1) and a jar of sauce ($1.50 if you find it on sale) -- make meat sauce with the ground beef, and that'll last a few meals. If you can't find a source of sugar, get a small box as well. Try to get some fruit in there as well (aside from the bananas you picked up cheap at the asian market).

You will need to beg, steal or borrow a knife, a vegetable peeler (only if you can't peel with a knife) and a can opener. A colander and a spatula are good to have, too.

Here's a simple Thai curry recipe:
Put half the coconut milk and all of the curry paste in the saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add the beef stew meat (cut into small chunks if it's not already) and a cut-up onion. Bring to a boil. Add a couple of peeled, cubed potatoes. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the potatoes are tender and almost giving up their starch. Add the green pepper (again, cut into small chunks). When the green pepper's done, check for seasoning -- you can add sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce (if you have it) as needed. (This will take no longer than making a pot of spaghetti, really.) Serve over rice. This will last you a few meals.

And here's sweet and sour chicken:
Sautee an onion and some garlic until soft. Add some cut-up chicken and cook until the chicken's done. Add whatever vegetables you want (I like carrots, peppers, tomatoes, but use whatever you found that was cheap), and cook until they're still a bit crisp. Add the can of pineapple, with its juice, plus a couple of spoonfuls of tomato paste, a couple of spoonfuls of soy sauce, about the same amount of apple cider vinegar and the same amount of sugar. Bring the mix to a simmer, and taste -- if it's not sweet enough, add sugar; not sour enough, add vinegar; if it needs body, add more tomato paste; if it seems lacking "something," try the soy sauce. Simmer for a few minutes, then thicken if you want -- make a slurry out of a couple of spoonfuls of cornstarch and the same amount of COLD water, then add to the pan and let it do its magic (adding cornstarch directly will result in gross lumps). Again, serve with rice; it'll last a few meals.

My basic stir fry (best done in a wok, OK in a big skillet, doable in a saucepan if you really have to):
Marinate whatever protein you're using (chicken, pressed-out tofu, you may even be able to get ground beef to work) in soy sauce, Sambal, sugar, vinegar (the apple cider stuff is fine), garlic and ginger. (I use sesame oil, too, but that stuff is probably out of your budget for the week.) Stir-fry the protein in a small amount of oil, add veggies (long-cooking ones like carrots go in first; spinach goes in last) and do the same. (You can add the marinade to the pan so long as you let it boil to get any meat-borne nasties out.) I like to serve my stir-fries tossed into softened bean thread noodles (in which case, you soften them up in a bowl of hot water, cut them with scissors a few times, then toss into the pan with the stir-fry...add some more soy sauce, or a mixture of soy sauce, sugar and Sambal, to season the noodles.)

Asian-influenced cooking is my specialty, and one of the things I appreciate is that it's cheap. Sure, a box of spaghetti and a jar of sauce is cheap, too, but I tire easily of that but find enough diversity in Asian flavors (given that I cook Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Indian) that I don't find it boring at all.

Remember that some of these recipes do take time (none should take more than 30 minutes, though) but they make enough quantities that you can cook once and eat three or four times. Oh: Cook a big batch of rice in advance, then reheat as needed.

Breakfasts -- oatmeal, or eggs with toast, and fruit.

Good luck!




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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:37 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. its late and I am tired, so I will just say one thing then return tomorrow
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 01:38 AM by Kali
to see what has transpired and add if I can. For now:

Pinto beans, corn tortillas, and cheese.


oops see how late it is? I posted this in the wrong place!
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petronius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:47 AM
Response to Reply #1
7. Those are some awesome suggestions - I'm bookmarking this...
:yourock:
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EOTE Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:23 PM
Response to Reply #1
20. Great post!
Eating on a budget is always something I've had a problem with. But with your suggestions, I'd like to give it a good try. I like Asian food quite a bit, but don't cook it as often as I'd like. I don't mind a lack of variety it means I can eat on the cheap and still have a balanced meal. I'm bookmarking this thread as well. Thanks for the info!
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MonkeyFunk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:30 AM
Response to Original message
2. Spend $30
on a bottle of decent vodka. Get your roommate drunk. Steal his wallet while he's passed out and go out for a good meal.
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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:35 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. they are students - no need to spend that much
:rofl:
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TheMightyFavog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:53 AM
Response to Reply #2
8. Ummm make that $60. His girlfriend practically lives here.
If he wouldn't kick my as she would.

Actually, I fear getting my ass kicked by her more than by my roomate.

Besides, I actually like this roommate
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MonkeyFunk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:19 AM
Response to Reply #8
13. wait...
there'll be a girl there? Then make HER cook!

:hide:
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TheMightyFavog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #13
18. Uhhh... She's seen this and has a question for you...
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 01:46 PM by JonathanChance
Do you wish to be cremated or buried at sea? :P
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MonkeyFunk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:25 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. cremated...
and my ashes spread over Jake Gyllenhaal
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grasswire Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:34 AM
Response to Original message
3. I'll bite
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 01:35 AM by grasswire
but first I need to know if you have oven use and how many meals a day you think you'll need. Oh, and what about a microwave?
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TheMightyFavog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:55 AM
Response to Reply #3
9. Got a mircowave.
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 01:55 AM by JonathanChance
I have access to a very fickle electric range whose burners don't work half the time, I'm not even sure if the oven even works.

I do have access to a pizza oven, though.
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grasswire Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:12 AM
Response to Reply #3
12. one meal plan
10 pound bag of russet potatoes -- $1.50
1 lb. butter -- $2.50
2 pound brick of cheddar cheese -- $5.00
1 bag apples -- $5.00
1 lb brown rice -- $1.00 in bulk
2 dozen eggs -- $3.00
10 pkg ramen noodles -- $2.00
3 loaves wheat bread on sale -- $3.00
frozen orange juice -- $2.00
garlic -- $1.00
a thumb of fresh ginger -- $1.00
3 cans various kinds of beans -- pinto, kidney, black -- $2.40
2 cans tomatoes -- $1.60
1 jar peanut butter -- $2.50
1 small jar honey or jam -- 2.00
1 box good cereal such as grapenuts or shredded wheat -- $3.00
1 box saltines -- $1.50
2 half gallons of milk -- $3.00
1 packet chili seasoning -- $1
1 pkg tortillas $1.50
1 jar salsa $2.50
1 pound coarse cornmeal from bulk for polenta, & for thickening chili $.65
1 pound pasta $1
1 small bottle italian salad dressing $1.25
parsley $.50
green onions $.50
1 bell pepper $.65
celery $1.50
bananas $1.00
1 pound sliced salami $5.00
1 pkg hamburger helper on sale $1.50
1 box microwave popcorn $2.00
jar pasta sauce $1.50
pkg english muffins $1.00
1 pound carrots $1.00


From this, you can make:

Dinners:

baked potatoes with cheese, veggie salad
homemade chili topped with cheese & onion (leftovers, too) with or without hamburger, saltines
polenta with cheese, fruit salad
brown rice & ramen noodle huge veggie stir fry (lots of leftovers)
huevos rancheros (eggs, tortillas, cheese, salsa)
cheesy creamy potato soup (leftovers, too)
english muffin pizzas (use salami pieces, diced green onion & bell pepper, and some of the pasta sauce for topping)
pasta salad with diced vegetables and salami
hamburger helper with or without hamburger
pasta with sauce and garlic toast

Lunches:

grilled cheese sandwiches
salami and cheese sandwiches
PB&J or honey
various leftovers

Breakfasts:

fried eggs & toast
french toast & honey or jam
fried potatoes & salami
cereal & fruit

Snacks:

lots of possibilities. Saltines & PB, popcorn, celery & PB, crackers & cheese, cereal, hard-boiled eggs, cheese & apple slices, toasted english muffins,

If you had any more $$, I'd go for some greens and some juice.

I'm just going with basic easy American grub. If you know how to make an omelette, of course, it's a whole other ball game and a better one.
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:43 AM
Response to Original message
6. You need rice and vegetables
Sounds like it's time for the stir fry.
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Oeditpus Rex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:02 AM
Response to Original message
10. Unfortunately
the only ingredients you have for Oeufs de Oedi are pepper and garlic salt.

Though the onion bits would go quite well.

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anti-everything Donating Member (627 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:02 AM
Response to Original message
11. Chili
1 can of black beans
1 can of corn
1 lb ground beef
1 can Pabst Blue Ribbon beer
1 red onion
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 jalapenos finely chopped
2 habaneros finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper


cook all day in crock pot or simmer on stove for 4 hrs. or more
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liberal renegade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 06:51 AM
Response to Reply #11
15. you'll also
need a loaf of bread and a half gallon of milk, so you can put out the fire in your mouth after consuming 1 bowl of this stuff. :nuke:
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piedmont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:23 AM
Response to Original message
14. My favorite version of Red Beans& Rice:
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 02:27 AM by piedmont
VERY cheap to make (about 4 bucks) and you can get around 6-7 meals from it.

Ingredients:
1/4 of a medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
teaspoon of olive or other oil
1/2 lb Andouille Sausage or smoked sausage (omit the sausage to make it even cheaper)
2 cans Van Camp's New Orleans style Red Kidney Beans (I like these because they don't have added corn syrup, like some other brands' plain ole red kidney beans). Substitute with any canned red kidney beans (though preferably w/out corn syrup)
2 cans stewed tomatoes
3-5 Bay leaves
Crystal hot sauce, Tony Chachere's cajun spice to taste


Sautee the onion and garlic in the oil on low heat (don't brown the garlic!) and set aside in a bowl. Cut the sausage into small pieces and brown on medium heat. Drain the fat from the sausage and combine with ALL the ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes. Don't let it get to too vigorous a boil or the insides of the beans will pop out and you'll have a pot of bean skins and starch. Serve with rice (duh).
This dish actually tastes much better as left-overs, because the beans absorb the other flavors all night in the fridge.
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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 10:18 AM
Response to Original message
16. Some good suggestions here, my one alteration would be to cook your own beans
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 10:19 AM by Kali
- way cheaper than canned!

Ethnic foods - especially Asian, tend to be very economical and quite tasty.

Staples like rice, beans, cornmeal are cheaper in bulk, fresh veggies are better purchased fresh daily or every other day IF hitting the store is not a problem in terms of time/transportation costs. Sometimes frozen veggies are cheaper and often they are better quality so scope out the per oz or lb prices.

Most companies make flavored tomato sauce now and that can be cheaper than jarred spaghetti sauce - be sure to check. A very small amount of hamburger can make bland sauce taste much better. As can a bit of Parmesan (get that free by raiding the various pizza joints/Friends rooms - the little packets are always laying around aren't they?)

Get what ever is the cheapest pasta - often it is the elbow mac.
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AllegroRondo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 11:32 AM
Response to Original message
17. Do you have a crock pot?
buy a whole chicken and cook it in there. then remove the meat from the bones, add more water, pasta (or rice or potatoes), any leftover veggies you may have laying around, salt and spices ( I use Ms Dash). A pot of this soup would last me 3-5 days when I was single.
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malta blue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:48 PM
Response to Original message
19. Pick up some chicken stock to cook that ramen in
and add some veggies too!
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