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poverty cooking

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Two favorite "poverty" foods at this household. Potato soup and the cheapest boxed mac'n'cheese avaialble. I would make mac'n'cheese alot especially during those seasons when the budget got broke with antibiotics to treat the kids' ear infections. They call it earache food that made them feel better. I won't tell them that it was the antibiotic that I had to force down their throats! One daughter grew up to become an exchange student in Germany. Her first request when she got there was to ask to have as much mac'n'cheese sent to her as I could! Potato soup could be stretched to serve the neighborhood! We are expecting one of our exchange students who is from Denmark, after Christmas - haven't seen her in years. The first thing she asked for, when she called to say she was coming to visit, was a batch of "Tater Soup!"

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Feed corn! YOu can get 50 pounds for about $7. I eat a lot of mush. I make "polenta" and put all kinds of stuff with it. It is way cheaper than pasta and even cheaper than rice. Use it to vary your diet now and when you are totally dependent on your storage foods.


I never buy soups. They are expensive and I don't care for the taste of them. My DD cannot have them anyhow because of gluten problems.


Things that will add body/flavor to soups are powdered onions, browned flour (or cornmeal or rice), dried nettles, leftover coffee, kelp granules (taste a bit fishy), tomato powder,other powdered dried veggies.


If you use soy, buy the beans and learn to make your own soy milk and tofu. The leftover fiberous bean bits can be dried in the oven and added to meatloaf or other ground meat dishes. To avoid a beany flavor bring the water to a boil and pour in the dried soybeans. This kills the enzyme that causes the beany taste. The enzyme also has antinutritive factors that are deactivated by the boiling.

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  • 1 month later...

I had a real poverty meal tonight, as it was just me here at home. I had left over smashed potatoes mixed with left over corn. I melted some home made goat cheese over that, so it amounted to a casserole for one. I also had a left over drop biscuit and some butter. Had all of that with some hot tea. I know I should have included a green in there for completeness, but I was feeling lazy. :)

To me, a lot of the foods in this thread are comfort foods - it's the way I grew up too!!

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Originally Posted By: CeeGee
I would love to have a Ranch dressing recipe.


Originally Posted By: Amishway Homesteaders
Yes, Yes, Yes!
we would love to have it too.
always running out of it just when we need it.

Here's my favorite:

"I Can't Believe It's Not 'Hidden Valley' Ranch Dressing Mix


There's a low, low calorie version there, too.

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  • 4 months later...

As a bride on a budget all those many years ago, I LOVED Bisquick, and I enjoyed making casseroles. Today I could probably get my kids to eat a Bisquick recipe, but they hate casseroles unless it's pasta.


Thinking ahead to when shtf, will probably go home to Mom's in NJ. Being a chef, she HATES CASSEROLES AND WOULD NEVER EAT ANYTHING WITH BISQUICK. I guess she can do with less, she is always telling me that we eat way too much, ok, so yes, I eat when stressed, but my kids eat like birds unless they are at her house, but then again, she buys things like lamb chops, who wouldn't eat! I plan to be prepared for when her special foods run out, she says she will always have enough, but actually, and I don't mean to be rude, but I don't think she has a clue! Yes, she grew up during the depression and she knows about rationing gas and flour and sugar (my grandfather owned a bakery) etc... but she says I am taking my plans way too far out to left field, and that it won't get that bad again. She doesn't drive much so she can fill her tank for $20- not me!! I can't remember when I had a full tank, usually the first day after my payment hits my CC account.


Oh well, at least I know I will be prepared thanks to all of you and all your wonderful advice. I am definitely planning on getting a Food Saver within the next month or so. Buying the stuff my boys like to eat and then storing it. Time to get those buckets again! (still kicking myself for dumping about 30 of them last year!! UGH!!!)


Ciao Everyone! (uh yeah and chow too)


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  • 2 months later...
  • 6 months later...

A dear friend of mine asked me how I made my biscuits. I gave her the recipe and found about a year later that she was STILL buying the boxed bisquik. When I asked her why, she said it took too much time to make. :0327:


Well, if you want to spend $7 for a box when for under $1 you can make it, go ahead. So now I've got stashes in my pantry for homemade mixes - biscuits, dressings, etc. Cheap, tasty, and available! :)

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QUOTE (Crazy4Canning @ Mar 4 2009, 04:17 PM)
A dear friend of mine asked me how I made my biscuits. I gave her the recipe and found about a year later that she was STILL buying the boxed bisquik. When I asked her why, she said it took too much time to make. 0327.gif

Well, if you want to spend $7 for a box when for under $1 you can make it, go ahead. So now I've got stashes in my pantry for homemade mixes - biscuits, dressings, etc. Cheap, tasty, and available! smile.gif

Offer to sell her some home made mixes at less than store prices and pocket the cash. New age "butter & egg money."

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I did that once, actually more than once, and I found out the mixes were still sitting on the friend's pantry shelf over 6 months later. "Oh, I never got around to making it."


I've learned not to give Christmas gifts of homemade items/mixes unless you "really" know the person will use them since most don't.

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Well, when this friend lived 20 minutes away I would. Now, I've learned not to assume anyone wants anything. I'll offer recipies but rarely now, give mixes.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
QUOTE (Mouse Kitty @ Apr 15 2007, 07:43 AM)
Let's see.... poverty cooking/eating.... I'd say the first year we were married (1988) would definitely qualify as a crash course for the 18 year old I was then about poverty and making do with nothing at all.

A double box set of 6lb. Bisquik boxes cellophaned together, a 5lb. box of dried milk, a large bag of rice and two cheap stewing chickens could quite literally feed us for two weeks. (Add in stick margarine which is usually STILL found for 48 cents a lb or less.) We usually got these items from Sam's.

We would make Chicken and dumplings. Pancakes or biscuits for breakfast. Biscuits with creamed chicken over them. Many nights we had pancakes (butter with no/little syrup) for dinner. Trust me - a thick, heavy Bisquik pancake for dinner can fill up even a hungry man very nicely.

There was also a recipe on the back of the Bisquik box about making a breakfast casserole with Bisquik, eggs, milk and cheese. I don't remember what it was. But if I could afford or had the eggs and cheese I would make that and we would eat on it for two days or more.

We also used to make a Bisquik-like shortcake (almost like a drop biscuit, really) and add a can of cheap pie filling as topping for a treat. For some reason I could almost always find a dented can of pie filling for next to nothing in the sale bins.

Creamed chicken (if any was left) went well over the rice, or sometimes we saved some of the chicken after boiling for dumpling broth and made a rice and chicken baked casserole.
Sometimes I had some sugar or brown sugar to make one of the other coffee-cake-like items listed on the back. They were always plain, but very filling. Let me stress that I made different Bisquik recipes according to whatever else I might have on hand or could afford - cinnamon, etc.

In today's prices according to my pricebook:
Costco - ONE 6lb. box of Bisquik - $4.35 (x2 = 8.70)
Aldi's - ONE 5lb. box of dry milk - $7.95
Chicken - varies by store, but ranges from .49 -.99 a lb for various cheap chicken parts- I'll go overkill/protein-heavy and say spend 10.00 on chicken.
Rice - medium bag for $2.50
Margarine - $1.00 for 2 lbs.

Total - $30.15

There wasn't much variety, that is true, but we sure didn't starve. I STILL keep Bisquik on hand - I know I can make the same thing from bulk ingredients, but it's great in a pinch to have on hand. Sorry for the long, wordy post!

You don't happen to have the recipe for making bisquik do you? We eat a lot of it here since it doesn't have egg in it and I can add egg substitute which works great with it.

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When I was a kid my parents were missionaries and they never had money for food so we ate a lot of refried beans and rice. Mom would soak and cook the beans with salty water then drain and mash them then add season salt. We would eat burritoes, rices with tomatoes and lots of other things with the two and sometimes we would get govt. cheese and oh was that great!

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QUOTE (Cat @ Apr 4 2009, 06:00 PM)
Yup, yup, yup...

Look in "Mare's collection of money-saving mixes (repost)" in this same section of the Kitchen.

It's the first recipe, but you won't be able to stop *there*.... happy0203.gif



WOW !!! What a wonderful resource !! I've been looking for recipies like those ! Thank You !!!

If i might add a couple "Plain" food recipes

Hot Sausage and Veggies.

6 Hot sausage links, sliced about a half to three quarters of an inch thick. ( i slice them while they are still mostly frozen...much easier) ( One could also use loose ground hot sausage.)

Brown with sliced (or wedge cut) onion.

Then add sliced carrots, cauliflower and broccoli..( i use the frozen "California Blend"

Chunk in potatoes, and let simmer until the veggies are tender. It is spicy-ish, but yummy.

Someone else up-thread mentioned saving leftover veggies. I also do that, then when i happen to get sick... a pot of chicken soup with those mixed up veggies thrown in seems to Really help me feel better. ( if i make dumplings on it, DH is in Heaven. biggrin.gif )

This is a wonderful thread. So very helpful ! Mea.

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My Grandmother (a cook in service) and my parents were all around during WW2; here's some of their rules/stuff they passed to me:

Never buy a food unless it does at least two meals.
Buy at the time of day (usually just before closing) when food is reduced in price.
Stick to your budget
Always pay your mortgage first.

Gran used to bake on one day and then freeze/put it in the larder to keep for later.

Now the food:

Look at the price of chicken - is a whole one cheaper then wings etc.? You will find boneless chicken is more expensive then that with the bone. Just get with your butcher skills, and de-bone it yourself.

Mince is a Godsend. Make up shepherds pies and freeze them.

Always leave the skins on the potatoes - they hold a lot of carbs and nutrients. If you're really poor and do peel them, keep the skins and add them to a thick stew broth (people lived on this in concentration camps).

Stews are great, have a roast one day, cold meat the next and what's left heat up in a hot gravy with vegetables in a stew. I don't like curry, but this can be done in the same way.

Stir fries are good, with limited meat, and lots of vegetables and a little rice.

Stewed fruit is another good one. Get some large cooking apples, make a pie, stew some and both can be frozen, some can go for breakfast and some for a treat.

We have markets and farmers markets here in the UK, also the Womens Institute (WI) do food/plant sales where you can pick up cheaper food. The WI are a mountain of growing and cooking knowledge.

Cake can also be frozen, do small sponges and freeze them, so if you are desperate for a treat you can get a small one out at a time.

Look up the BBC food website (www.bbc.co.uk/food) to look up the following recipes:

Toad in the Hole (sausages in a batter)
Shepherds Pie (Mince and potato)
Cottage Pie (Mince and potato)
Baked Potato/Jacket Potatoes (Roasted in the Oven)
Rock Cakes (Like a scone with currents in)
Victoria Sponge (Classic sponge)
Fruit cake
Fruit Crumble (stewed fruit with a cake like topping)
Jam Tart (Jelly/Preserve in a pie case with lattice on top)
Jam Roly Poly (Jelly/Preserve in a pastry roll)

The last two are wonderful ways to use up pastry when you've baked a pie. You can make little ones that fit a muffin/cup cake tin. Any jam can be used, but do be careful not to put it on the sides of the tins, as it will burn, and also when you get it out of the oven, make sure they cool well, as they are extremely hot.

Good Luck

PS have you thought of doing food swops, with neighbours and friends, to give them things you no longer want etc.

PPS Also get to know your local edible wild food, in the UK we love our Blackberry bushes that grow on the side of the road, the fruit is awesome with apples etc.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have a feeling that as our economy continues to deteriorate, this thread will see more and more views. I'm back today because dh may only work about half of this whole year. :(


Really, I think all of this is about effort. With a little effort and thought, I can make TERRIFIC cheap meals, but if I'm feeling lazy or short on time, meals get more expensive.


Off I go, to make dinner: Individual French Bread Pizzas...on sandwich rolls (free), with left-lover spaghetti sauce, a can of mushrooms, a tiny portion of the pepperoni slices I purchased at Costco, and mozzarella cheese from Costco.


Let's see...effort...I should add to this a salad and/or homemade applesauce.



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  • 3 weeks later...

I located this http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Cookery_(Bookshelf) , it's the cookbook collection from Project Gutenberg.


The one that jumped out at me was this one,

Twenty-Five Cent Dinners for Families of Six, published 1879. Of course, prices are a tad bit higher these days...


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  • 2 months later...

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