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Cooking When You are Poor

Some of my best work has been done when impoverished by western standards. Back in college, a ten dollar bill could produce miracles. After having a career, and plenty of money to buy whatever the hell I want, there has been something that can only be described as a degradation in creativity.

Recently, I'm trying to cut back on food expenses, and get back to lesser meats, short sales, and work toward family cooking. Sometimes economic conditions change. Any thoughts on this?

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  1. Less meat, more vegetarian food. Cheaper cuts when having meat based meals. Make larger portions - eat one, freeze one. Look out for bargains at the supermarket - but make sure they really are bargains. Eat seasonally. Think through what youre cooking - a chicken will easily give you three meals - a roast, something withe the leftovers, and a carcass for stock/soup.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Harters

      Second Harters' chicken suggestion.

      Less meat, unless you are a hunter or huntress. Many a deer has sustained a family. Of course, you need to have the wherewithal for bullets and refrigeration.

      Garden (if you're in an urban area see if there is a community garden) and put away food (freeze, can, etc.).

      Second pumpkinspice's suggestion "beans, beans, beans."

      Whole Foods used to have an article in their newsletter on feeding a family of four for $4 or something like that.

    2. - Only buy meat when on sale
      - Meat is never / rarely the star of any dish
      - Beans, beans, beans
      - Egg heavy dishes (quiche)
      - Frozen veg is your friend when not in season
      - Only buy what you think you will need/eat (especially if it can’t be frozen)
      - Freeze bread from the sales rack
      - Get deli meat ends (much cheaper than the regular cuts)

      7 Replies
      1. re: pumpkinspice

        Don't buy veggies when not in season.
        (carrots and other roots are obvs exceptions)

        1. re: Chowrin

          Completely disagree. Produce in-season is not always cheaper. Frozen vegetables retain more nutrients than fresh vegetables not locally-grown and consumed within a day or two of harvest. Frozen vegetables are very often cheaper than fresh, whether local or not.

          1. re: greygarious

            Cite me some numbers? I'm on a low budget, so frozen veggies are often evaluated as "is it better than carrots?"

            1. re: Chowrin

              I don't have numbers but I've also read that frozen veggies can retain more nutrients and aren't as awful as they used to be made to sound.

              1. re: Chowrin

                Around here, fresh carrots are 99 cents a pound. Frozen peas, green beans, and corn are also 99 cents for a one-pound bag but their fresh versions would only be that cheap during a supermarket sale. They'd be twice as much, or more, at a farmstand or farmer's market. The very short delay between harvest time and flash-freezing of frozen vegetables makes them more nutritious than any fresh ones unless they've just been picked from a local garden or field.

                So, "is it better than carrots"? In price, often. Nutritionally, always.

                1. re: greygarious

                  it's about .69cents/lb or so for carrots (buying 10lb bags)

                2. re: Chowrin

                  As opposed to canned goods, much less salt.

          2. Cooking on a budget without feeling like you are on one is to focus on diversity. One large bag of starchy potatoes:
            Gnocchi, potato pancakes, spanish tortilla, mashed potatoes....
            Make your own bread, flatbread/pizza, tortillas and pasta
            Fish cakes are a great way to use up frozen fish and a little goes a long way-you can also make them with leftover mashed potatoes

            1. One further recommendation - buy this book:
              http://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Called-J...

              Monroe is from my part of the world, so probably you may not be familiar with the names of some ingredients, nor metric quantities. But she has become a very successful writer in recent months. You can follow her newspaper column here - http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandsty...

              FWIW, the book has recipes for dishes at bargain basement prices - often around 30p (around 0.50 USD)

              1. Make a lot of stews and casseroles like lasagna, and freeze what you don't eat. You'll end up with a lot of free meals later on.

                Make sure you don't sacrifice nutrition for cost. You could end up buying a lot of cheap carbs and impact your health.

                1. Not sure where you live today but, I find the 99 cent only stores to have some great food value. You can always get a pound of cherry tomatoes, stalk of celery, eggplant, lemons, oranges etc. They also have a pretty good selection of canned products.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: treb

                    Such an amazing store that I go there first and fill in with Trader Joes and the grocery store. In this area they stock on Saturday mornings and the produce is awesome. In addition to what treb wrote I can always count on portobello, cremini and white mushrooms (a few weeks back I got lucky when they had both white and brown beech mushrooms!) They have quite a bit of organic and local produce and the fridge items can be quite good. 32 oz containers of Polly O ricotta every now and then, local dairy, cheeses, bags of onions, garlic, potatoes, etc. Before the current lime shortage I could regularly pick up 3 pound bags of limes there all the time.

                    While we can afford more now I like to keep a tight budget both so there is money for things we want to do and in case we ever aren't in the position we currently are. I've been self employed for many years and have ridden quite the money rollercoaster.

                    Also, I second growing what you can. Even if all you have is room for a couple of pots of herbs you can liven up quite a few meals (and they are a good source of some vitamins/ minerals.)

                    1. re: treb

                      treb-for a small family you can get chicken thigh pkgs there

                      1. re: treb

                        I always check the canned goods when I am in a Dollar store. Once I found canned Montmorency cherries (the tart kind for baking pies etc) for $1 a can when the identical brand at my fancy market was selling for $4.59 (always check the date though). I suspect that these stores may buy up odd lots and you never know what may turn up---a lot of it is weird off-brand but name brands do appear.

                        1. re: treb

                          The dollar stores in my area only have canned, dried and a very small selection of frozen/refrigerated items. Something I should do more often, but forget to do, is shop at Grocery Outlet. If you're not picky about brand, you can get some great deals there.

                        2. when we were first married, both in college and both with jobs, we had to make our pennies stretch.

                          I'd buy 5 lbs ground beef and make it last all week.
                          meatballs, meatloaf, chili, burgers, stroganoff, SOS, etc.
                          not saying it was a brilliant move, but you do what you gotta do when you need to stretch a budget.

                          also buy whole chickens on sale, buy a few freeze a few. again the multiple things you can make with a simple chicken are endless.

                          1. There has been a lot of discussion about cooking/eating on a budget on this board and on general topics. There are lots of great ideas in the archives, so to speak, were one inclined to search for them. I find the older threads of some value, but perhaps that is an iconoclastic view of these boards.

                            1. It sounds like you are not necessarily trying to cut costs, but are missing that "forced creativity" that you once felt. I understand that idea as well. Sort of like a "budget Iron Chef"......or "cost conscious Chopped" thing!

                              When I want to feel invigorated to make *something spectacular out of nothing*, I look toward cuisines that rely on methods. The pressure cooker is wonderful for this. Taking tough meats (short ribs!) and turning them into something succulent. African and Brazilian stews can be amazing from modest ingredients. Vietnamese food celebrates bright flavors with simple inexpensive vegetables and fresh herbs, savory but simple, balanced table sauces. Indian cuisine, fermented dals, dosa and flavorful chutneys from over ripe fruit combined with a few spices. Korean food is heavy on technique rather than expensive ingredients ...cabbage turns to kimchee!
                              Anyway, that is how I get inspired and more grounded in my cooking if I go astray with too many expensive and exotic base ingredients. I kind of come back to earth this way.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: sedimental

                                You hit my sentiments exactly, sedimental!

                                1. re: sedimental

                                  You might also try to cook out of the pantry--it makes you be more creative when you start from what you have and try to figure out what you can do with it. I like being inventive this way--look and see what is in the fridge and how it can be combined in interesting ways. Of course I do also like planning meals, but this is a good way to use leftover ingredients and spark creativity. I find that it doesn't work well with following exact recipes, but good for being creative!

                                  1. re: SarahCW

                                    There was a challenge a few years ago (on another food board) to cook only from your pantry, no shopping for two weeks. Then, you could add in a few fresh items (milk, eggs produce...) and see how long you could go!

                                    The person who started this did it because he realized he'd gotten in a rut, and would go shopping every week, without really taking stock of what he already had. It helped him clean out his fridge, freezer and pantry and definitely awakened his creativity.

                                    Of course those challenges often happen back east - it's called being snowed in!

                                2. Rudeboy,
                                  funny, but you and I are in the same place. When I was in university, between the 2 of us we spent $400 on food in total a month (including eating out) and we managed to live on that just fine. Now, that both of us have good jobs and make a very decent living, I noticed that we spend some insane amount of money on food...

                                  I am in Canada, so prices are higher here. We buy all our meat in bulk from the farms, but somehow, in addition to meat purchases, we managed to spend at least $250 a week for produce...I cut this budget to $125 and I am doing cash only (no credit cards for groceries)...While this may seem as a high number, everything in Canada (Alberta) is more expensive and we are eating organic only (and this is not something I am willing to give up)

                                  So, what I found saves the most money is:

                                  -pre-made breakfasts, lunches and snacks

                                  -cook several dishes on the weekend that can last through the week to avoid eating out

                                  -shop at ethnic stores for items like chick peas, tahini, spices, lentils, etc

                                  -some organic items can be ridiculously overpriced. for instance, cheese. BUT there are countries, like Switzerland, that ban anything GMO, so buying Swiss cheese is organic by definition at no extra cost (Costco is great for that). Same goes for fish - I buy frozen wild

                                  -I started using more lentils and beans, but to a limit as my hubby is not the biggest fan

                                  -I make home made jams, pickles, cookies, etc. (again, its not that hard and saves you a ton, when you compare cost of home made organic jam vs. store bought organic jam for example)

                                  -write a menu for a week and shop for groceries once a week (i do Friday night so I can cook on weekend)

                                  - use lots of home made stocks to make simple, cheap, delicious meals (lentil rague, soups, sauces)

                                  - eat seasonally (my falls for example are always full of roasted squashes, pumpkins, soups, etc)

                                  since I don't have that much time, I use slow cooker, oven, just ordered a breakmaker, etc - these appliances do make life easier and cooking faster. I never freeze cooked meals, but cookie dough is always in my freezer along with shredded cheese, and often times shredded zucchini, squash, etc

                                  56 Replies
                                  1. re: Allenkii

                                    Wow, what a thoughtful and detailed reply! especially like the info on swiss cheese. Stocks and jams and pickling is what I'm trying to get back to.

                                    I lived next to a woman whose name was Rose - she always gave me free garlic chives. I bought the place from her kids, and now they are springing up in the yard all over. They are "free" and I see her face every time I pull one.

                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                      I have very small back yard and a very big dog, but I am thinking of starting a small garden as well. Our growing season is extremely short (still snowing here), so things like garlic and potatoes is what I will plant :)

                                      I make my jams, pickles, antipasto in late summer for winter, but when I run out of jam mid winter, I just buy a package of organic fruit (whatever is cheap, aka whatever organic Costco has), mix it with some honey and let it simmer for couple of hours. I then poor it into clean jar and keep in the fridge -no sterilizing since it will be in the fridge for maybe a month or two. No sterilizing means less time spent and making a jam is really easy :)

                                      I find the biggest money saver is planning for a week and shopping once a week. I made and froze cookies yesterday and used up all eggs, but I told my husband - no eggs till Friday, as I know if we go to the store for eggs, we will spend at least $60...

                                      1. re: Allenkii

                                        I wish I had a dog, to chase away the varmints.

                                      2. re: rudeboy

                                        Rudeboy -

                                        I agree, Allenkii's info on cheese is very helpful!

                                        In addition to being a happybaker, I am a very happy jam maker. I buy in season at ethnic markets, make fruit butters with dried fruits and, always check the freezer case for great deals. The frozen blueberries at costco are a steal!

                                        And when you make it yourself you can control the sugar and texture. Much better jam for less money : )

                                        1. re: happybaker

                                          Yes, I also buy frozen costco blueberries as well as frozen mangoes....mmmmm....summer and smoothies cannot come fast enough

                                          1. re: happybaker

                                            Woerks for the kids, too. We now make our own lemonade....much less sugar than store bought, more refreshing, and the kids love it. I'm not a great gardener, but I'm good with herbs, which saves bundles.

                                          2. re: rudeboy

                                            there is a difference between organic and "non=gmo"

                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                              All organic is GMO-free, but not all GMO free products are organic

                                              1. re: Allenkii

                                                Exactly.

                                                1. re: Allenkii

                                                  +2

                                                  1. re: Allenkii

                                                    actually that's not true. some organics still have GMO's. organic most often refers to the growing method no pesticides or chemical fertilizers but unless the seeds were certified non - GMO also most often referred to as heirloom seeds then they can still have GMO's.

                                                    1. re: ChefDominick

                                                      I thought by definition organic was non-gmo?

                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                        Totally not. Thats one reason things are gmo so they can be grown 'organically'

                                                        1. re: daislander

                                                          actually the reason for gmo's was for resistance to pesticides so farmers could use more pesticides and fungicides to increase yields with less loss.GMO is frowned upon in organics but not completely disallowed infact most people dont realize that packaged foods labeled "certified organic' by law need 95% organic material so 5% could be whatever. and it was also designed to raise sales of pestisides and seed sales since alot of GMO seed strains are sterile

                                                          1. re: ChefDominick

                                                            It sounds like your saying the '5% whatever' isn't actually food matter? Organic matter and organic meaning no synthetic fert or pesticide are two different things.

                                                            1. re: daislander

                                                              Can people who say GMO can be Organic please post proof for this? I have searched over and over again for USA and Canada, and in my research GMO can NOT be organic. I would be very concerned if I am wrong.
                                                              Also, I am aware of 95% rule, but 5% GMO is still better than 100% and is worth the extra price for me

                                                              1. re: Allenkii

                                                                I look it as say this variety of corn called 'Kernel King' is a GMO variety of corn. If that seed is planted and grown under 'organic' regulations why couldn't it be deemed organic. A organic company wouldnt need to plant that variety but I didn't think it means they can't.

                                                                Edit I think I found some proof for you AllenK! They are not aloud to use GMO seeds for produce slated for organic market.

                                                                http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfi...

                                                                But if pollen blows from genetically modified corn into your organic cornfield and pollinates a few kernels, you aren't "using" it — at least according to the USDA's interpretation of those rules. In fact, a lot of the organic corn that's fed to organically raised chickens or pigs, does contain some level of GMOs.

                                                                That said, organic producers typically do try to minimize the presence of GMOs, because their customers don't want them. It's usually not too hard to keep contamination to a very low level. But there are crops — specifically canola and corn — in which it's extremely difficult to eliminate it entirely.

                                                                1. re: daislander

                                                                  yes as of 2011 its an exluded practice but if you read the whole thing its sort of a well if its there its there as long as the farmer didn't "intentionally" use the seeds besides that About 90% of all corn was already modified along with cotton and conola as of like 20 years ago

                                                                  1. re: ChefDominick

                                                                    Just read 90% of US milk has GMO traces because of the feed i guess. Sugar beets are now GMO so pretty much anything processed you buy in a store has GMO traces. So if we get get bitten by corn silk worms or sprayed with round up we shouldn't be worried.

                                                                    http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-f...

                                                                    1. re: ChefDominick

                                                                      I thought they could plant a gmo and call it organic if it was raised that way. At least they can't intentionally do that.

                                                                      1. re: daislander

                                                                        No, they absolutely cannot do that!
                                                                        Its better to buy organic milk - tastes better as well

                                                                        1. re: Allenkii

                                                                          "Its better to buy organic milk - tastes better as well"

                                                                          it does not taste better.

                                                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                            The one I buy here is much closer in taste to the milk I had growing up but to each their own. I also buy 3.25% milk and organic milk and organic eggs taste different to me

                                                                            1. re: Allenkii

                                                                              Farm Fresh Milk in general tastes better to me too. Farm Fresh will generally by nature be organic, though not always.

                                                                              While I do prefer raw milk to cooked milk I still will seek out pasteurized if their is any question about farm cleanliness and I prefer non-homogenized creamline milk to the normal whole milk. But such is a matter of taste purely.

                                                                              Fortunately in south central PA I have access to Farm Fresh Milk of every description and all of it is high qualty and most all organic. I even have 2 seperate Milkmen.
                                                                              Thats right there are farms that still deliver milk to the door of their customers.

                                                                              Unfortunately not everyone has that advantage.

                                                                              1. re: falerin

                                                                                South Central PA (hershey and Lancaster) has the second best milk in the damn country. You, sir, don't count.

                                                                                "Farm Fresh Milk" from other parts of the country is radioactive.

                                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                  No disagreement on the former. We have darned good milk here. The latter seems a tad silly and definitely questionable. But still quite amusing.

                                                                                  1. re: falerin

                                                                                    It's utah and nevada. Not radioactive enough to be dangerous (the FDA would be on them like a hot monkey if it was), but still they did do nuclear testing there.

                                                                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                      LOL

                                                                                      Well thats true. The water is slightly radioactive too. Thats how people get superpowers.

                                                                                      Seriously though we are not immune in SCPA. We had the TMI disaster and still have Three Mile Island, Berwick, and Limerick power plants. Where I can live I can see the cooling towers of TMI every day.

                                                                                2. re: falerin

                                                                                  The raw milk and organic milk that comes out of SCPA farms is truly excellent - along with other dairy including cheeses yoghurts and - they spoil me for commercial dairy products. In Philly it's certainly not for the poor though - this stuff is a luxury item for most.

                                                                                  1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                    The problem is that in Philadelphia such tends to be sold that way and since the farms are not all arround it becomes harder. Milk Price Fixing in PA makes it even more difficult. Delivery services though tend to have fixed prices. Your Family Cow (which is based in Chambersburg) definitely delivers to Philadelphia and Apple Valley Creamery in Adams county will deliver to Philly though as far as I can tell do a search online. The price is definitely still higher then mass produced stuff especially if you include the bottle deposit. About twice the price frankly (But I would rather half my consumption and pay twice as much) for processed dairy like yogurt and cheese and the like the prices of those two is pretty much identical to around the area

                                                                                    1. re: falerin

                                                                                      We get good prices on eggs and yoghurt from our cooperative buying club (we used to get milk and cheese but logistics caused problems) - hopefully it is soon to be a store for now the urban farm in the neighborhood fills most gaps but somewhat expensively - the fair food farmstand in RTM also costly but has great cheese. All and all it is quality I am willing to pay for and I guess it is not more expensive than "premium" products at WF or TJs but no possibility of competing price wise with factory stuff. Once our food coop opens I hope access will get much easier. access to this quality of stuff is a privilege of living in this region

                                                                                      1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                        Indeed. Indeed

                                                                                3. re: Allenkii

                                                                                  "...and organic milk and organic eggs taste different to me"

                                                                                  they do taste different. I too buy oirganic milk, different brands, and none taste 'better'. If anything, they taste MUCH more bland, which may be a good thing for most people that do not like the taste of real farm fresh milk all that much.

                                                                                  Organic eggs are better tasting, but they also vary considerably in taste and quality from brand to brand and time of year...

                                                                                  1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                    I would take Cage Free eggs over either and I would prefer the cage free variety you get from the farm directly not a grocer. My milkman will deliver those too. Unfortunately, there is a distinct risk in cage free practices that some cannot get past and that is that some of the eggs may have been fertilized but non incubated. A red spot in the yolk will drive many for the hills.

                                                                                    1. re: falerin

                                                                                      "ignorance is bliss"

                                                                                      and that can be interpreted in many ways, from both sides....

                                                                                4. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                  Not unless it's pastured, it doesn't.

                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                    so you agree?

                                                                                    1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                      Yes.

                                                                          2. re: daislander

                                                                            Thank you, Daislander

                                                                            I know about contamination, but still by buying organic we reduce the chance of GMO and support clean industry.

                                                                            And thank you for providing the link that further supports my research findings that GMO can NOT be organic (contamination aside)

                                                                          3. re: Allenkii

                                                                            yes GMO can be used in organic because gmo is Genetically Modified which means its DNA gnome modified not neccessarily synthetic. more easily explained as a HYBRID so it can be organic in its make up. and it would not be 5% gmo in the 95% rule it wood still be 100% gmo if its gmo the 95% rule says there can be 5% non organic ingredients in processed packaged organic food. you can find a list of all this at the NOP website there are also some synthetic pesticides and herbicides can be used in emergency treatments so save a crop.

                                                                            1. re: ChefDominick

                                                                              Hybridizing and GMO are totally different. Taking a dirt bacteria and lacing into a beet strain is different then taking two beet strains into a f1 hybrid.

                                                                              Not sure if you noticed the link but NOP says no GMO can't be used in organic crops.

                                                                              'The use of GMOs is prohibited in organic production and handling.' link in my above post.

                                                                              1. re: daislander

                                                                                Not really. In spite of what anti-GMO lobbies argue the effect is basically identical. The rumors that scientists lack precision and just throw a bunch of stuff together with unknown affect are absolutely FUD. Does it introduce a gene from a different basic species? Yes it introduces a foreign gene, but humans have done this via other means too such as animal hybridization (which does cross species boundaries) and Polyploid hybridization, cross-polination, and Grafting, which arguably introduce very different species to each other at several different levels. I am still not pro-Monsanto because their goal is clearly profits. But I am very much about actual scientific evidence and not conspiracy and near neo-Luddite efforts. The fact is that their legal practices will do far far more harm then their scientific ones.

                                                                                As to the general argument the USDA specifies that GMO's are a prohibited "method". Which is actually different than what they say about pesticides and herbicides.

                                                                                But cross contact GMO hybridization will still occur and they are only required to prevent it within reasonable limits which is above 5%.

                                                                                Pointedly, outside of things specifically certified as Organic, many of these labels put on foods have no legal meaning at all.

                                                                                1. re: falerin

                                                                                  Thanks falerin. Good sound points (whether or not everyone welcomes them).

                                                                                  1. re: falerin

                                                                                    'Not really' Is totally your opinion. 'It introduces a foreign gene' You said it right there. The effects might be similar but they are totally different. Just because 'humans have done things via other means' does not mean we should continue to until who knows what will happen. Cross pollination of two different species does not naturally happen. Grafting isn't changing the cellular structure and offspring of the grafted plant it will always stay the same as it will as the host stay as it naturally was.

                                                                                    1. re: daislander

                                                                                      Further, there are countries that completely ban GMO...I believe (correct me if I am wrong) that Switzerland is a pioneer in GMO and is also a leader in GMO research. Yet, the country bans any GMO in food industry...that tells you a lot right there! Or the fact that Russia banned GMO corn imports over the risks of cancer…

                                                                                      1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                        Many EU countries outright ban GMOs by convention. European countries are very firm about origins and labelling which is why PDO status is a big thing there. Even if the processes are identical and the ingredients are shown to be molecularly identical. You cannot call a cheese Stilton if it is not made in a specific town.

                                                                                        That process has both its benefits and its detractors. It certainly means that terms are very precise however. I support precision.

                                                                                        I still think the ban however is based on uncertain hysteria. Science and Law should be libertarian and individuals should decide what we do for or to ourselves not the government

                                                                                      2. re: daislander

                                                                                        Human beings are animals and regardless of their unique traits are part of nature just like anything else. Our actions as human beings are as much part of nature as any other process. Nature is self correcting. If humans push the envelope too far they will be corrected by the same selection pressures any other force is.

                                                                                        Cross pollination of other species DOES naturally happen in close species in area and land space all the time. A large number of pommes and the vast majority of citrus are cross species hybridized. Mind you at this point we are at least within the same general genera or family.

                                                                                        The same is true of many grapes.

                                                                                        My counter to the fact that can does not mean shoud is that Just because progress MAY result in a bad result does not mean we should STOP progress either. The reverse holds just as much weight.

                                                                                        Show me double blinded, peer reviewed science, that supports stopping something and I will agree with stopping it. Otherwise I am a libertarian in terms of both science and nature.

                                                                                        Strong science does NOT support the view that GMO's are different. No more then it supported the view that babies born via IVF are different. Nor the idea that cloned humans or animals will be different. All of those ideas are based on human fear.

                                                                                        Fear should never direct policy. Which is why GMO labeling is itself hot button. Labels create false assurances and false fears. People will avoid perfectly safe things if hysterical peers convince them that man made is bad.

                                                                                        This is why incidentally I do support stopping climate change because there is evidence that continuing to allow climate change will detrimentally affect the future of the human species.

                                                                                        Ultimately, if we fail to adjust then the climate will change until we are extinct.

                                                                                        Extinction is how nature gets rid of maladaptive behaviors.

                                                                                        As a human I do not desire extinction so I believe we should act to stop it.

                                                                                        1. re: falerin

                                                                                          I think the problem is they are just moving to fast putting these things into main stream agriculture. When something like pollen is generated I can understand its hard to contain. Im sure a lot of this was done in greenhouses and still should be with some sort of exhaust system to kill the pollen. A 8 meter crop boundary is nothing in the pollen world.

                                                                                          We are not talking about apples crossing with oranges here. (metaphorically yes) Which you say as happened?

                                                                                          I think hybridizing is good idea. Only because it usually done to make something stronger and in need of less fertilizer to get the same quality product or more diseases resistance to use less herb and pesticides not more!.

                                                                                          Your not injecting IVF babies with sunscreen so they are less effected by UV light.

                                                                                          We are crossing species like the salmon/eel testing the US are doing but can't even do in there own waters and are to Panama to do so.

                                                                                          This is all to feed the masses the things they want at the price they want. At they pretend no worry or cost to mother nature. The double blind is the mongloid salmon babies they had to kill before getting there salmeel.

                                                                                          1. re: daislander

                                                                                            That I agree with. There is a definite rush to market here and as in many fields it is a negative for the consumer in many ways. While I am not convinced of doomsday scenarios I am also not convinced we should just do it because we can. That is no better science than the opposite.

                                                                                          2. re: falerin

                                                                                            Humans will probably continue to exist, but we've destroyed the planet sufficiently that our species might prefer extinction to life a century or two from now. Even if we quit overpopulating the Earth, human life will become increasingly more difficult.
                                                                                            Natural climate change would have been tough enough, but we've made it faster and more devastating. Here we are quibbling about organic vs. GMO vs. big farma vs. boutique growers, when droughts and floods and freezes
                                                                                            will probably result in shortages and huge price hikes by the middle of the century.

                                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                                              I would concur.

                                                                                          3. re: daislander

                                                                                            And that they are totally different is likewise entirely your opinion. Science does NOT support the view that method changes function. The genetic results of the offspring are what matter and they are straight forward.

                                                                                  2. re: daislander

                                                                                    your right i mispoke by saying 5% whatever i meant 5 % non organic ingredients as in not certified organic foods glad you pointed that out so i could correct it

                                                                      2. re: rudeboy

                                                                        So many great ideas being thrown around. I am in the same boat as you rudeboy. I spend way too much and would like to live simpler. I live on the westside in Los Angeles and things are insanely priced around here. You can't imagine how much I pay for a single farm fresh rabbit or a whole lobster! I force myself to live on a budget and it is really hard when you know you can pay more if you choose to. We allocate $160 per week for groceries, excluding dry goods and meats. I realize this is a lot more than many have to spend and I feel very fortunate to be able to do it, but I think it is a lot less than most people spend who shop at places like Ralphs. Depending on what I making that week, I either have some left over or run through the neither amount on Monday! We keep a separate budget for meat and paper products and do the shopping for the first as needed and for the second, in bulk because it is cheaper. This budge is for a family of 4. I eat organic, pasture raised, and farm fresh whenever available. I hit the farmer's market, TJs, and Whole Foods every week and the fish market and specialty stores as needed. Let me tell you, it is hard to live within these numbers.

                                                                        ETA: I only use cash to pay for groceries. It makes it easier to stay within my budget. Once the grocery money is gone, it's gone! Period.

                                                                        It sounds like you have space for a food garden, even if you don't have the inclination.

                                                                        You can save a ton by planting perennial herbs. My front lawn is a thyme patch and the borders are rosemary bushes. On either side of my garden I have 2 small bay trees in pots. Very little maintenance except for cutting back the thyme after summer so it will regrow. I haven't had to replant these items going on 11 years.

                                                                        Also on the grounds are fruit trees (pomegranate, tangerine, apple, fig, and peach) all of which produce only enough to supplement my habit, but they are still on the new side in terms of producing.

                                                                        I also try to plant seasonal produce on my side yard. When I do this, I try to buy the 6 packs which are usually around $1.99 or $3.99 for six plants. I just planted 6 sugar snap peas, black kales, artichokes, mixed baby greens, and early girl tomatoes. If they take off, I won't have to buy any of these all season. I also plant asparagus and sunchokes which come back every year if you are lucky! I have way too much fennel. Occasionally I get a leek popping up from past seasons which I feel is like finding a $1 when you walk down the street. More herbs on the side: oregano, chives, marjoram, lemon verbena, lemongrass, all of which are 11 years old.

                                                                        Every few months I plant a basil and a parsley. They don't last long but it is nice to have them while they are around and they always pay for themselves. I used to have a basil that naturalized but it just died after 11 years.

                                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                                          In case any of you decide to start using your garden as an extension of your pantry like I do, I'd like to suggest a book to you. It is not on EYB but I have it in my home library and it is definitely one of my take to a desert island books. The Year I Ate My Yard, by Tony Kienitz. It is a short book, loaded with good advice, and a few recipes. Tons and tons of practical information about starting an edible garden.

                                                                          I heard him speak on NPR and then was fortunate enough to be able to get Tony to landscape our property. (This was many years ago). I still refer to this book every planting season.

                                                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                                                            One suggestion I've read is to shop less often / at fewer stores. The average person buys an "extra" $10 of items at a grocery store. If you shop 3 - 4 places in a week, as I sometimes do as well, you suddenly have 30 - 40 dollars more out of pocket. I managed to drop that at Costco alone last week - buying half of my potting soil for spring gardening a month from now. Not from the grocery budget, directly, just less cash on hand.

                                                                      3. I LOVE the .99 cent store and find their produce (at least at the store I go to) has incredible produce and name brand items..

                                                                        I see all levels of the socio-economic classes and I don't know how the other big name grocery stores can compete, along with their small % margins.

                                                                        They really need to step up their game if they want to stay in the game.

                                                                        I always like to think if I had only $20 bucks to last for a week, what would I buy at the .99 cent store.

                                                                        It really has helped the military families and ones whom are struggling.

                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                          people go into that store from all walks of life far as I can tell. what kinds of cars are in the parking lot or drive up, tell me that. the one on Fort Apache in Vegas is a hoot.
                                                                          I go in there for the entertainment factor :)))))))

                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                            I'm not sure that the 99 cent store is there for entertainment. Some people are simply struggling.

                                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                                              Rudeboy -

                                                                              When the 99 cent store first opened, except for a few areas, it was not that busy. Now, wow. Almost always busy and they will sell out of things. It went from people going there for a few things, to people doing serious grocery shopping there (at least to my eyes.)

                                                                              I've seen Bentley's there. I've seen folks walk up with food stamps. And they are all happy with the deals.

                                                                              It truly is a great resource.

                                                                              1. re: happybaker

                                                                                RB -

                                                                                Like you, I've been in the position where, dinner had to be cheap. Now, luckily, happily, there is much more flexibility - but in some ways no challenge.

                                                                                So there are days I consciously say "I'm only cooking from the pantry." Or "I'm going to the 99 cents store and creating a meal out of what I find." It definitely gets the creative juices going again!

                                                                              2. re: rudeboy

                                                                                I get my cat snacks there for 99 cents. Safeway charges $2.00 for the same snack! I have found beautiful organic produce in the 99 cent store on my side of the city. It is a great resource for any savvy shopper.

                                                                                1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                  It is also a great resource for seniors! I know my folks shop there. I have only stepped inside when the kids needed things for their classrooms - plastic chairs, but they are a wonderful resource for those truly on a budget.

                                                                                2. re: rudeboy

                                                                                  I'm speaking of performers. not implying anything else.

                                                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                    Il Divo and happybaker - gotcha. My sister drives a Mercedes (it is a 2000, though) and goes to Dollar Tree all the time!

                                                                              3. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                I've been setting aside a set amount of money for food. You can get a lot of good stuff from the 99 cent stores.

                                                                                1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                  Can I ask how much you spend on food, where you are located and how many people in your household + any special dietary requirements? for comparison purposes only :)

                                                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                    If there are any of this type store in my area that sells fresh or frozen food, I am not aware of them. I do like exploring the job lots store, which carries a mixture of one-time items and others they always seem to carry.

                                                                                    At the supermarket, when I get to a given department, I check the markdown rack/quick-sale area FIRST. If it's
                                                                                    in decent condition and a good deal, I buy it, and try to think of what to do with it as I complete my shopping, in case it calls for another ingredient that I know I don't have on hand, e.g., a quick-sale lamb shank means making lamb-lima bean soup and I might need a bag of large dried limas.

                                                                                2. Shopping at Asian or Hispanic grocery stores is a big money saver for me. The produce is cheap and I can afford to try new things. Stir frying is a really helpful technique- you can easily use so many different ingredients. Lots of veggies and lots of rice for me!

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                    I'd say this is one of the best and most effective ways you can save money on your food budget. My city has a few large Chinese markets and a couple of Indian ones as well.

                                                                                    Just last week, the Chinese market was selling asparagus for $1.00 per bunch (whereas the supermarket had it for $1.99 per pound). At the Chinese market, I can get fresh fish (I mean fish that's swimming around in a tank until they take it out and fillet it) for half of what I would pay at the supermarket.

                                                                                    At the Indian market, I can get giant bags of chick peas and lentils, fantastic blends of tea, spices, for half the price of the supermarket. It's amazing.

                                                                                    1. re: mwk

                                                                                      Oh my goodness the spices are ridiculous! I can get a huge bag of cloves for a couple dollars and pay $6 for 1/5 the amount at the regular grocery store. I also like being able to buy a small amount of produce and I find that's harder to do at my usual store.

                                                                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                        I agree, dried herbs and spices in plastic bags are cheap at the Asian market. Also, a good place to buy just what you need is the bulk section at our local food coop. Measure into small plastic bags. Pay by weight.

                                                                                  2. All of the suggestions below are great.
                                                                                    I write down all the specials from the two megamarts and CVS that are close to me on a post-it-note (I remove the back and put another post-I-note over that for my actual list of things I need) so I can keep track of what's on sale where, and buy accordingly.
                                                                                    As far as cooking, pasta is also your friend. It can make things like small cuts of chicken or beef go a long way. (Bear in mind that Trader Joe's usually charges only $1 or so for its pasta). Also, if you have a blender or a food processor, you can often take last night's meal and make it into a soup, adding stock (your own or bought on sale) and/or tomato sauce, and/or veggies, either fresh or frozen.
                                                                                    ....but most of all, don't forget that you are NOT "poor"...you're just "broke".
                                                                                    Good luck!

                                                                                    1. In addition to beans as many people have recommended, work in some lentils into your diet. This is a staple of South Asian cusine. It's cheap source of protein and if you Google around, there are dozens of daal recipes using a variety of different lentils (red lentils, black lentils, channa daal, mung daal, etc).

                                                                                      1. Some great posts already! Different stores in the same chain sometimes have different deals. Kicked myself for not grabbing slightly brown reduced price bananas to make banana bread. The package of jalapenos looked fine and were one third the price of first quality but we don't use a lot of jalapenos. In the fish dept trimmings are sold as chowder fish. I keep meaning to make fish cakes with some or chowder. There are also big chunks of swordfish for kabobs that are half the price of swordfish steaks.

                                                                                        I have been very pleased to make soup from turkey carcases and another from the end of the spiral ham. It's almost like a free meal. I agree that produce esp mushrooms seem to be less expensive at an Asian market.

                                                                                        We don't have a 99 cent store around here but we do have bakery outlets. I can get loaves of our favorite bread at less than half price. Ditto for sandwich buns and pita breads.

                                                                                        For about a year I've been making yeast rolls. This makes a soup meal special. Some recipes don't require lengthy rises.

                                                                                        I haven't foraged for wild greens but I've met someone who lived only on wild food last summer. A friend made a wonderful kimchee from young day lily shoots. We have a stand up freezer so my husband and I will pick a lot of blueberries at a PYO place (getting hard to find wild berries) and freeze in 2 cup bags. Our daughter-in-law makes a fabulous zucchini relish from zucchinis that get too big. I make a curried cherry tomato sauce from excess cherry tomatoes that would be great as a shrimp cocktail sauce but I like to put it on my morning eggs.

                                                                                        Check local orchards for seconds, the fruit that is not first quality. Sometimes it's fine for fresh eating but sometimes it has a little too many scabs or bruises but it still great for cooked dishes, apple sauce, jelly, etc.

                                                                                        1. Yes. I can absolutely relate to what you said. The first seven years I was married, when my husband was in graduate school and I was at home with two babies, I was a better cook and baker than ever since in my life. I can't account for this phenomenon and believe it to be a form of magic. However, I would say, shop the sales (nowadays all weekly sale flyers are online) and take advantage of loss leaders. Pass up prepared anything in favor of homemade anything. Plan your week's menus ahead. Think of meat as a condiment---a little meat, a lot of pasta. Hearty soups are great, as are omelets and crepes. Utilize everything---a roast chicken provides meat then the bones make a soup; leftover stew becomes a meat pie; stale bread becomes bread pudding or strata; the bone of the ham becomes Cuban black bean soup. Do your own baking--- the coffee cake or pie that costs $10 at the bakery you can make at home for $1.50. Choose the neighborhood where you shop---in my city, posh downtown trendy markets can cost as much as 50% more per item, especially for produce, than ethnic-oriented markets in more humble neighborhoods. And the more freezer space you have, the more ahead of the game you will be as a portion of dishes that must be made in large quantity, like lasagna and moussaka, can be saved for future use.

                                                                                          1. Watch for seasonal specials. Where I live, sweet potatoes are normally around $ 1 lb but during the Thanksgiving-Christmas season the price drops to maybe 17 or 19 cents lb so I freeze as much sweet potato as I have room for. I boil them in their peelings, drain the water off, slip the peelings off (easy), and mash them (also easy---a wooden spoon will do it) with a can of crushed pineapple (one can per mixing bowlful of potato). I freeze this in individual or meal-size portions. It is a great family favorite as-is or done in the oven with marshmallows browned on top. And if you live where you can get tomatoes and peppers really cheap in the summer, freeze them for cooking use in wintertime when the price is much higher.

                                                                                            1. A variation on sedimental's advice here: study cuisines that have, of necessity, learned to make phenomenal use of cheap ingredients.

                                                                                              Actually, that describes most of human cooking in most of history. But I particularly resonate with a tradition in China, which emerges as a common theme of many traditional recipes as practised there (much less discernible in Chinese cooking overseas in abundant regions, like North America), of insisting on making food -- EVEN if scarce! -- taste interesting. I plan to post more that's related, but here's a brief note on one classic Chinese cookbook in English that explores this theme in DEPTH.

                                                                                              Kenneth H. C. Lo did for UK and US readers what Fu Pei Mei did in Taiwan: catalogue and popularize diverse authentic Chinese recipes. His work is not uniformly good, but here's a remarkable example.

                                                                                              Chinese Cooking on Next to Nothing (US title 1976; UK title is Cheap Chow) highlighted its point with a publisher's release banquet for 100 journalists, of Chinese food from the book, total budget US $30 (30 cents per journalist). That's over a dollar in today's money, but still impressive. This book is organized by food styles: congees, red-cooking, "master sauce" dishes, noodle dishes, etc. Its theme is how Chinese leveraged the scarcer ingredients -- "say, 1/2 lb. of meat in feeding six or seven people" -- for both nutrition and maximum flavor.

                                                                                              Typically, a little meat or fish (or leftovers, or even broth), skillfully enhanced with seasonings, flavors a stew or sauce built on vegetables, which then augments grain-based "bulk foods." In this tradition, such byproducts as rendered pork fat aren't discarded, or used just for frying things, but added lightly to other dishes for flavor.

                                                                                              1. I would say the biggest pratfall for keeping meal costs in check is buying over priced specialty items to make a recipe - and often you could get the same item much cheaper at a different market

                                                                                                for saving money - buy bulk, shop what's on sale - which is usually what's in season too

                                                                                                for creativity - cook like an immigrant - shop where the workers shop - go to the ethnic markets pick an ingredient you are unfamiliar with and build a meal around it

                                                                                                done right you can combine these two and do both -

                                                                                                Asian, Hispanic and Middle Eastern markets often gave great values and interesting ingredients to base dishes on

                                                                                                one day I was on line behind a Central American worker at a supermarket that caters a fairly low-income Hispanic community - the guy had a car full of pork ribs, dried and fresh chilies, and avocados - not much else - I really wanted to be invited to whatever meal he was making :) he was definitely a man with a plan.

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                  I'v been guilty too many times of just asking "what are you making with all that?: Nine times out of ten, they are happy to share, especially hispanic people (I speak a little spanish - mainly food Spanish from working in restaurants). Sometimes you get the cold shoulder, but the rest of the times are worth it.

                                                                                                  I'm lucky to have a huge hispanic grocer (Fiesta) here, as well as an off the charts Asian Supermarket (MT).

                                                                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                    I miss Fiesta - I used to have one down the block in Houston - the neighborhood was a mix of yuppies, college students, and working class Mexican families - ripe avocados, cheap wine and expensive cheese - it was awesome.

                                                                                                    oh I forgot he had a ton of fresh tomatillos too - your right I tend to be embarrassed to ask people but most people are happy to share about food.

                                                                                                  2. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                    He may have been buying for a restaurant. I see that all the time in Chicago. Apparently they don't just shop for the restaurant at wholesale places. When something is attractively on sale at a retail market, I see someone from a nearby restaurant (sometimes wearing clothing with the restaurant logo) loading up on the special---have actually seen them carry it into an adjacent restaurant.

                                                                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                      It wasn't restaurant quantity - he was dressed as labor - my guess is it was his night to cook in a house or apartment full of laborers - pretty common in the area.

                                                                                                  3. a ten spot can still easily feed a family of four for dinner. meat, veggies, and starch.
                                                                                                    the freezer is your friend. both for "fresh" foods and cooked dishes. making a large batch of a one pot dish can defer costs to the freezer and make a lovely meal for 'next time'.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                      I have gone to the market recently with just the ten spot and no credit cards. Kale and cauliflower were on sale for 99 cents each, and then the pork that I bought was only about $3. Didn't even use the whole ten (OK, I lied, I bought cheap wine with the rest.)

                                                                                                    2. When my cooking has "the blahs" I try to cook peasant dishes from different parts of the world. Usually, they're flavorful, budget-friendly and healthy. Taking a culinary trip around the globe has eliminated many boring meals from this household.

                                                                                                      Edit: As you have hear from previous posters, the American diet is meat-centric. As a starting point, think of grain-legume combinations and add seasonings and vegetables from different countries to begin your journey. Many years ago, ACF began a program titled "Re-thinking the center of the plate", designed to reduce meat servings. Use this as guideline, coupled with your culinary journey. Reading "Hungry Planet" may be an eye-opener as well.

                                                                                                      You have already received many great suggestions, let us hear what you are doing with these ideas.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Sherri

                                                                                                        This response is for you and westsidegal: TOTALLY agree. We do "meat and three's at home, where the point was to eat small amounts of sustainable meats with at least three vegetables, legumes, whole grains.There's a sale rack in the back of my market, and they had split green peas (dry) in a 1 lb bag marked down to 50 cents. That fed four of us multiple times.

                                                                                                        I was in Bangladesh in a village, and this family offered us lunch. Everything was laying on the floor of their concrete kitchen. I really wanted to take lunch from them, but my host advised against it because of potential issues. They had water from a nearby river, though, and I regret not taking their food. Many good meals there using lots of veggies and sparse meats.

                                                                                                         
                                                                                                      2. my recommendation would be to substitute 'LESS meat" for "LESSER meats.

                                                                                                        most of the interesting cuisines that are based on legumes are not the meat-centric european cuisines.

                                                                                                        indian vegetarian food
                                                                                                        moroccan vegetarian food
                                                                                                        middle eastern vegetarian food
                                                                                                        ethiopian vegetarian food
                                                                                                        all are amazingly inexpensive to make.

                                                                                                        1. Meat and dairy items are very expensive. Beans, legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and small amounts of nuts, seeds, and olive oil--the foundation of a vegan lifestyle--are comparatively inexpensive. The dishes I've tried are tasty, filling, and inexpensive. We eat vegan one or two days a week.

                                                                                                          Discipline yourself to plan ahead and allow more time for food prep. Shop with a list and stock up your pantry so you always have some meatless go-to items on hand. If you are averse to giving up two entire food groups (meat and dairy) try one day a week at first or use small amounts of meat or cheese as a garnish rather than the main dish.

                                                                                                          Experiment with Asian, Indian, Caribbean (etc.) recipes and flavors. Set a goal for weight loss or challenge yourself to stay under a certain dollar amount and reward yourself with something unrelated to food. Find interesting recipes for unfamiliar foods, especially the unusual grains like quinoa, spelt, etc. Find variations on traditional foods like cornbread and try to amp up the flavor.

                                                                                                          Start your evening meals with a small salad, vegetables and dip, or clear soup. Skip desserts or serve fruit either fresh or in compotes. Allow yourself an occasional splurge. Most of all, make your new lifestyle a choice for better living and stay positive. Good luck!

                                                                                                          1. Already said but bears repeating- more vegetarian meals. It won't just save money but will also push you to think and cook in a completly different way.

                                                                                                            I was working on a research project recently and nearly half the vegetarians in the US have a household income of $40/k a year or less.

                                                                                                            Veggie burger patties can be improvised from ingredients as simple as white beans, oatmeal, shredded carrots and some spices. Mash the beans really well and it acts like the glue for the other ingredients. Chill in the fridge an hour (or more) and then cook stovetop. Mix and match any bean/grain/veggie combo plus minus spices and extras that are nice (like sunflower seeds) but not essential.
                                                                                                            - one lb of organic non-gmo tofu is $2. One lb organic non-gmo meat/poultry/dairy/eggs/etc is a whole lot more $$

                                                                                                            As a vegetarian college kid i did 100% of my grocery shopping in chinatown. I didn't (don't) have easy access to any big box stores or groceries or discount stores but don't especially miss them either.

                                                                                                            - go to the farmers market as they are closing. If the vendors in nyc (where they can and do charge some impressive prices) have bargains yours will too. I have scored huge organic slightly worse for wear cauliflower for $1 and other great discounts on produce that was full price just hours ago.
                                                                                                            - consider and try new protein options at the ethnic markets like canned pickled quail eggs, chinese vegetarian duck, pressed tofu, etc
                                                                                                            - no packaged convenience foods: make granola, have oatmeal and fruit, etc boxed cereals are often expensive and not as filling or nutritious as real food

                                                                                                            1. This sizable discussion from last summer may be helpful - Frugal Tasty Recipes for Families on Public Assistance.
                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9037...

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                Great link, thanks.

                                                                                                                Another great resource is a cookbook: CHEAP, FAST, GOOD.

                                                                                                              2. Oh yes, I've had thoughts on this subject my entire cooking life! Even during the times when I can buy whatever I want, I still work hard at getting everything possible out of my food money.

                                                                                                                Planning meals ahead of time, making larger batches, less meat, more veggies are the way we roll in my kitchen! I cook for a lot of people each week, and need to keep the costs down.

                                                                                                                You can also identify items on your shopping list that add significant cost, and start making those things at home. For me, it's been homemade yogurt instead of store bought, homemade vanilla & other extracts, homemade soups, homemade sweetened condensed milk for baking, homemade espresso powder for baking, homemade sugar cubes, etc. I've saved hundreds of dollars over the last few years by making adjustments like that, and the homemade stuff tastes way better than store bought. It's also really rewarding to know you made it yourself, you saved money, and it's delicious!

                                                                                                                One last thought: look around at different stores in your area for deals. For instance, I buy most of my spices, fruit, fresh garlic and chilies at the Latin market down the street because they're fresher and cheaper. I don't run myself crazy driving all over town for the best prices, but I do plan ahead of time and shop at a few places when it's convenient.

                                                                                                                Good luck!

                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: FoodWacky

                                                                                                                  gad foodwacky, that is a bowl I'd gladly crave. love that sort of hot bowl of goodness

                                                                                                                  1. re: FoodWacky

                                                                                                                    Ethnic markets ARE a gem. The have this awesome market in Chicago called Old World Market - it's essentially half West African/half Latin. The owner and employees are Latin and their customers are Africans/Latin. They have their own butcher section and you'll see different types and cuts of meat that are very popular to Africans and you'll see cuts that are common in the Latin market. Tripe? Just give me a pressure cooker and some spices and I'm ready for soup!

                                                                                                                    Not to far from there are a few Asian markets and there's another gem.

                                                                                                                    Between the Asian markets, African markets, and Costco, I have very little use for chain grocery stores.

                                                                                                                    1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                                      If you are in Chicago you probably know all of these already but here goes: 1) Tony's Finer Foods (there are several)---huge Hispanic supermarkets. I go there for Goya's frozen tropical fruit nectars, distributed only through Tonys; frozen empanada dough already rolled and cut out; Puerto Rican decaf, has more body than Anglo decaf; tropical produce. 2) Patel's and other Indian markets on Devon. 3) Shop & Save, South Archer at Linder---has aisle after aisle of Eastern European items; pork cut the Polish way; great breads that they bake there. 4) ) The Vietnamese markets around Broadway & Argyle. 5) Tortilleria El Milagro on 26th St for all kinds of tortillas, masa, hojas para tamales. 6) Swedish Bakery and the Swedish deli on Clark around Berwyn. 7) Al-Khayam grocery store, butcher, and bakery on west side of Kedzie in the block below Lawrence: everything Middle Eastern. 8) Ann's, Chicago & Leavitt, Russian products including an extensive frozen line. We are Sooooo lucky in Chicago, food-shopping paradise.

                                                                                                                      The markets you mention make me think you may be in Uptown or Andersonville or Edgewater. Do you know Edgewater Produce on Clark? Small but wonderful.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                        I've only been to Chicago once, but I did notice the diversity there. If I ever have the opportunity to migrate, I could live there in the summer and back here in Austin for the 7 months of "winter" that we have.

                                                                                                                  2. cheaper cuts of meat will definitely force you to be creative but being packed with more flavor than it's more pricey counterparts, you will be more than satisfied. Whole chickens are so much cheaper and it takes no time to break down. Stewing pork and beef are always on sale. Economic conditions have changed for my family and I but being smarter with what we put in the cart has helped immensely.

                                                                                                                    1. Check the flyers for sales,plan your meals and purchase according to a list. Planning is the key, it will make the difference in saving money and also purchasing items that you like as opposed to impulse shopping. Everything is so expensive, these days, even a loaf of bread.

                                                                                                                      1. As a poor person, I buy things like bacon and a stick of chorzio, lots of beans, canned tomatoes, frozen veggies and fruits and rice. Great for when my food stamps run out at the end of the month I make my own stock out of chicken bones. I make my own seafood stock to when I'm lucky enough to afford shrimp or when lobster drops to $5.99 I buy that and use the shells to make a stock.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: YAYME

                                                                                                                          I love this response - who says people on a budget can't afford lobster.

                                                                                                                          A great place for seafood is your local Asian market - crab, lobster, catfish, etc.

                                                                                                                        2. Nothing much to add on the budget shopping tips, but I have recently discovered (about seven years late) the no-knead bread thing, and wow, is that easy and economical. One bag of flour and a 3-pack of yeast and some salt is what, five bucks? That's probably 10 loaves (I have no idea how many cups of flour are in a 5-lb bag, but it's 3 cups per loaf) and each one would be a good $5 in a bakery. You can google all around for it, but I like the Smitten Kitchen version, with active dry yeast (it needs a bit less than 1/2 tsp.)

                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: sciencediet

                                                                                                                            Beg borrow or plead with someone to get 2lbs of yeast from Costco. Way, way cheaper.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                              If you are near a bulk food store like Smart and Final or GFS, there is no membership fee and you can get the 2 pound packs of yeast there as well.

                                                                                                                              1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                I'm not, but it sounds like a great tip! thank you!

                                                                                                                            2. re: sciencediet

                                                                                                                              Great start, but here's something better. 2 people already mentioned costco or GFS(I need to go there tomorrow to get ginger), buy your flour in bulk!

                                                                                                                              By the way, I bought my 1lb block of yeast for about $2 or $3 from webstaurantstore.com. It's an online restaurant supply site and you save lots of money there. I dump the yeast into a canister and store in the freezer - yeast will last for 1 or 2 years in there and it's still good.

                                                                                                                              I buy my flour in bulk. I swear by King Arthur flour and every once in a while, when I run low, I drive to their distributor to buy a 50lb bag of flour for under $20! Cambro makes square containers(22qt at webstaurant) and I keep most of the flour in there for long-term storage. Get a smaller container to store frequently used flour. I know this sounds crazy but flour last over a year easy! No bug, great flavor.

                                                                                                                              Buy a cast iron dutch oven - for $20, it's a great bread-maker.

                                                                                                                              1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                                                My yeast from costco was fine four years later. I finally decided a second $2 was worth it. FILTER your water, chlorine kills yeast!

                                                                                                                              2. re: sciencediet

                                                                                                                                The no knead bread thing IS really awesome and has saved me from eating the horrid corner store processed bread - having grown up with good bread readily and cheaply available I would describe my current neighborhood as a "bread dessert"

                                                                                                                              3. I too have a hard time keeping my creativity going. Cookbooks are the way I keep myself motivated, but that can be an expensive habit too. I loved the suggestion of eating like an immigrant. That is pretty much how I eat most of the time.

                                                                                                                                Back when I was in grad school, I loved cooking but I didn't really know what I was doing. That's changed, but back then pretty much all the dishes I made were things that would be classified as peasant cuisine. The kinds of dishes that would be served to you in someone's home in a rural village. Or by a street vendor. Most of those, by nature, are the inventions of poverty.

                                                                                                                                I loved hearing your story about Bangladesh. You should have ignored your guide! I would have loved to hear about that meal.

                                                                                                                                Someone else suggested this already, but forcing yourself to stick to one cuisine for a week at a time or to cook only from your pantry allows you to make better use of what you are buying. So for ex., one week you focus on Latin American cuisine, you start by making a big pot of beans that will be repurposed throughout the week. One day served alongside homemade tortillas, with nothing but fresh salsa, another as a component for soft tacos with carnitas and a cabbage topping, a third it is added to soup, and so on. The next week, you would have cumin left over so you might think of naturally moving on to Indian cuisine, etc., etc.

                                                                                                                                Re street food, I have a great cookbook if this is the type of cooking that speaks to you:

                                                                                                                                http://www.amazon.com/The-World-Stree...

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                  Public library is my primary cookbook source since I downsized the bookshelf in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                2. If you do not already have them, and still have discretionary income, I might purchase a few appliances that will help you stretch your food dollar when times are tough: a good pressure cooker (or two); a good rice cooker; a vacuum sealer; and perhaps a food dehydrator.

                                                                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                    Vacuum sealer is the best ever! I also just bought the mason jar attachment and it has revolutionized my world.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                      All can be found at thrift shops and estate sales. I don't have a pressure cooker but have the others and they open the door to all kinds of thing you can do with food so it gets the creativity going, too.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                        The pressure cooker also allows you to cook those inexpensive items, like beans, very quickly. Sometime the thought of the long cooking times makes people shy away.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                          I'm not one of these people. Having something bubbling away on the stove top is one of my favorite things in the world. Today it's chicken stock.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                            I love waking up to the smell of stock!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                              lol I hate the smell of savoury food in my bedroom. Cinnamon buns on the other hand... :-)

                                                                                                                                            2. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                              I love the idea of making stock or soups that cook for hours, but there are some foods that just take a long time.

                                                                                                                                              Tripe - I love tripe but it takes a good 3-4 hours to have it soften to a silky texture. Stockfish - tasty, but smelly - cook it fast and be done with it.

                                                                                                                                            3. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                              i use the microwave for beans.
                                                                                                                                              soak the beans in water in a covered glass casserole dish overnight.

                                                                                                                                              then change the water and put them in the microwave in the same covered glass casserole.
                                                                                                                                              i program the microwave to go on high for about 5 minutes (you have to experiment with this --the water must just start to simmer, the time needed depends on your quantity and the strength of your microwave)
                                                                                                                                              then switch to 10% power for an hour and a half.
                                                                                                                                              i leave the house and when i get home, the beans are done!

                                                                                                                                          2. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                                                                            I second the pressure cooker, but will not consider a rice cooker. I know this may sound weird because I'm African and eat a lot of rice, but I was considering a Zoji rice cooker a couple months back and realized it was a waste of money.

                                                                                                                                            If anything, get a good bag of rice and be familiar with the cook times. I buy Golden Phoenix jasmine rice from the Asian market(ethnic markets are gems!) and cook it on the stove top with my heavy bottom sauce pan. Just rinse rice a few times to get out the starch, add slightly more water than rice(3 cups rice/3.25c water), bring it boil. Once it's boiling, lower to simmer, stir the rice completely for a minute, cover and let cook for 10-12 minutes. Perfectly cooked rice!

                                                                                                                                            Avoid as many single-use appliances as you can - if I could, I'll give away my deep fryer, salad spinner, panini maker. My cast-iron dutch oven is the best deep-fryer and I use it for homemade bread.

                                                                                                                                            Start canning/jarring foods. Nice weather means great prices on produce. Go to a local farm buy lot of fresh produce. You can use your pressure cooker to can tomatoes, jams and preserves, soups, etc.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                                                              my rice cooker is cheaper than stovetop, energy unit by energy unit. Just saying... (not a zoji, though. that would take forever to pay back!)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                                                                for rice, i also use a covered glass casserole dish in the microwave.
                                                                                                                                                no need for yet another appliance.

                                                                                                                                                most mocrowaves these days can be programmed for two sequential cooking steps. the first step is just to get the heat up to simmering, and the next is the cooking on low 'til done

                                                                                                                                                1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                                                                  I agree about single use appliances and I, too, have never had problems making rice on the stove top (almost daily). But I haven't found a better substitute for my salad spinner so it lives, taking up a big chunk of cupboard space.

                                                                                                                                              2. Less of everything.

                                                                                                                                                1. Avoid generic grocery stores and look into warehouse clubs like Costco. Even when you're there, steer clear of many packaged snacks and junk food.

                                                                                                                                                  I just got back from Costco today and it's so easy to spend far too much money on junk food and cereals.

                                                                                                                                                  Rather than buy bulk pack of rolls, breads, etc, just buy flour and you can make so many things. Sure you can buy a tub of hummus, but you can also buy chick peas at 50 cents a can and use it for hummus, chick pea snacks, side dish, etc.

                                                                                                                                                  Milk is $3/gallon and you can buy 3 dozen eggs at a great price. Who needs caramel sauce when you can make your own using whipping cream. You also eliminate the need to buy whipped cream. Whipping cream is also great in homemade soups, not the canned, overly salty items.

                                                                                                                                                  Check out the produce section - you have lemons(for lemonade, lemon curd, lemon chicken/fish), etc.

                                                                                                                                                  A 20lb bag of potatoes might seem like overkill, but you can make potato chips, baked potatoes, gratin potatoes, or even hash browns from scratch - just get a box grater.

                                                                                                                                                  Anyone can save money by eating ramen noodles, but I think what will make you happier and healthier is saving money yet eating really good food.

                                                                                                                                                  Spices: Costco has a limited selection of spices. I'm in Chicago and the popular spice market has ridiculous prices. I buy spices online from companies like Atlantic Spice Company, San Francisco Herb company, etc and the savings are amazing. 1 pound of Italian seasoning for about $5 (that could last you all year or longer), 8oz of bay leaves for $4 (the bag is larger than the 1 gallon ziploc bags), you name it. Spend $50 for free shipping and you can buy with friends/family and split.

                                                                                                                                                  1. They say necessity is, but really desperation is the mother of inventions.

                                                                                                                                                    Maybe donate all but $10 of your take-home pay and watch the creativity flow!

                                                                                                                                                    1. Frozen vegetables or veggies on sale - also, go to the cheaper/immigrant-filled farmers market, not the one in a wealthy suburb. Lots of beans. I love beans, so many sorts and lots of different flavors. Chicken backs and necks are great for soups. Also eggs, cheap delicious protein. Cheddar or other domestic cheese is pretty inexpensive too.

                                                                                                                                                      lately my favorite winter poor food meal is soup beans, usually great northern, and sinkers (biscuit dumplings). With some frozen green beans or 99c/lb specials on fresh produce -broccoli or whatever, or lightly steamed cabbage. Cabbage is wonderful stuff, and as cheap as dirt.

                                                                                                                                                      1. While we don't need to be on a strict budget, since I don't work, I pretty much consider it my job to spend the family money in the most responsible way possible. It's not always easy, because I'm tired a lot (not working because I'm disabled), but the slow cooker does help a lot. I also sometimes make different meals just for me because I'm allergic to a lot of foods that the rest of the family likes.

                                                                                                                                                        I like a challenge. My current 'game' has been going to the grocery store late at night when they markdown the meat, and buying whatever happens to be on markdown that night to cook the next day. I keep a large pantry of staples at home so that I can usually improvise a meal from whatever protein I happen to be able to get. Last week I found a huge package of pork ribs really marked down - I had never made them before. Did them in the slow cooker for lunch, and my step-daughter has decided they are her new favorite food.

                                                                                                                                                        Slow cookers are great for making soup out of leftovers, which I do all the time. The only negative is that sometimes my husband or step-daughter really likes the soup and I can't remember exactly what I put into it since it tends to be different every time.

                                                                                                                                                        I buy whole chickens and bone-in turkey breasts when they are on sale for a good price. I season and cook in the slow cooker. (no one in my family is a crispy skin fan, so this works for us) The first night we'll have a big dinner of chicken or turkey, mashed or roasted potatoes, gravy, and vegetables. Depending on how my freezer stash is, I might use the carcass to make broth (right now I have 10 cups in the freezer, so this isn't really necessary). I use the leftovers for a ton of things - soup, chicken/turkey salad, lettuce salad with chopped chicken or turkey, creamed chicken over biscuits, various casseroles, quesadillas, quiche, sandwiches. Sometimes I'll mix the chopped meat with some leftover gravy and veg and cover with mashed potatoes for a knock-off shepherds pie. If we get tired of chicken, I'll chop it up and freeze, and then take it out to make something in a week when it can seem 'new' again.

                                                                                                                                                        Breakfast for dinner is popular here - I can't eat eggs, but the rest of the family loves scrambles made up with whatever leftovers I have on hand. I'm actually making a specific kind of steak sandwich this weekend because my step-daughter has asked for scrambled eggs with the leftover steak.

                                                                                                                                                        I go to Aldi and the local salvage grocery about once a week. I usually pick up produce from Aldi - they have specials each week that are usually great prices. If peppers are on special, we'll have fajitas or pasta with sausage and peppers. If potatoes are on special, we'll have a baked potato night with chili. The salvage grocery has different stuff all the time, and it is fun to see what I can make out of what they have. It is also a great place to get staples for the pantry so that I can easily make meals.

                                                                                                                                                        1. I just wanted to mention that my favorite culinary icon, the handsome and elegant Jacques Pepin, answered a *what is your favorite food* question during an interview with something like* peasant food* and he mentioned he loves *gruel*. Good cheap earthy humble satisfying foods to fuel both the body and the spirit:)!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                                            On his TV show, he said good bread with good butter. That qualifies, of course. His earlier series detailed many of the classic star dishes of French haute cuisine, but in his more recent ones, he is very often cooking peasant or peasant-inspired dishes, with a noticeable commitment to not wasting ingredients. When baking with apples, the skins are often left on. If peeled, he mentions drying the peels, then making a tea with them.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Making stews can really cut down the food expense. Cheap cuts of meat are the best for stews. Also throw in some aromatic cheap veges such as carrots and potatoes, and you are golden. Cheap and delicious.

                                                                                                                                                            I also recently found out that Grocery Outlets carry groceries for much less than other grocery stores. They don't have everything that I'm looking for, so I'd shop their first. Buy what I can and get the remaining items at my regular grocery stores.

                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: v2pham

                                                                                                                                                              cutting out the meat altogether cuts out much more of the expense.
                                                                                                                                                              learn how to cook legumes and the millions of high protein products that are made from them, such as tofu.

                                                                                                                                                              really, all of this wringing of hands about how to get meat on the table when on a budget is totally mystifying to me.
                                                                                                                                                              i'm not a vegetarian nor a vegan, but i do have a cooking repetoire of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
                                                                                                                                                              compared to most meat-based meals, these cost MUCH less, keep far longer, and are more interesting to eat.

                                                                                                                                                              it was a blast going into the local indian market and having the woman take me around the spice rack explaining the various ingredients.
                                                                                                                                                              now i have several terrific curries in my repetoire.

                                                                                                                                                              did the same thing at the local ethiopian market. who knew that shiro powder was assembled at the market and could be bought already assembled? stir it up with oil and water on the stovetop, cook some greens, buy some injera (ethiopian bread) from the market at which you bought the shiro powder and you have a meal that costs pennies and can be cooked in minutes.

                                                                                                                                                              the vast majority of middle eastern mezze are delicious and high protein and also happen to be vegetarian and LOW COST

                                                                                                                                                              you get the picture.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                I have a cookbook on Indian Vegetarian Food and I really haven't done a good job of exploring it. There's even an Indian Market less than a mile from me, and while it is always in the back of my mind, I haven't made it a habit. Thanks for reminding me.

                                                                                                                                                                I do love meat, though, I find that I go for the meat first when I'm eating - we try to do meat and three dinners mostly. Less meat and more veggies. My six year old girl LOVES steak and roasted meats, so I typically have to serve the veggies first. Maybe veggie nights three times a week, at least, is a good idea. Funny that my 3.5 year old boy is more inclined to vegetables. That little guy just loves mushrooms. See my other post on mushrooms.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                  A dinner plate featuring a big piece of meat is certainly not a regular feature on a budget menu plan, but smaller amounts, and meat used as a condiment (e.g. pizza topping) is often a bargain. Here in the Boston area, chickens are frequently on sale for $1/#. They can be twice that, or more, at full price. But that's the same, or less than, many fresh vegetables. Sure, dried beans are a bargain for both price and nutrition but not many people want to eat them at every meal. Red bell peppers are $3/# regular price. That's more than ground beef. A head of cauliflower or a bunch of broccoli can easily approach $3. Where feeling satisfied, and getting enough nutritious calories into growing children are concerns, modest amounts of meat and poultry provide good value. Fish is always more expensive than meat and poultry, which is unfortunate considering its nutritional desirability.

                                                                                                                                                                  I can probably make a meatloaf dinner for the same price as eggplant parmigiana. Just sayin'.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                    << getting enough nutritious calories into growing children are concerns,>>

                                                                                                                                                                    read the china study.
                                                                                                                                                                    encouraging kids to develop the habit of eating meat with any kind of frequency, is not necessarily a good thing in terms of their long-term health.
                                                                                                                                                                    personally, i'm not a vegetarian.
                                                                                                                                                                    that said, there is no doubt at this point that being vegetarian is a solid choice for long-term health.
                                                                                                                                                                    a tremendous amount of legitimate, evidence from conventional sources has been amassed on this

                                                                                                                                                                    the China Study is sometimes called The China–Cornell–Oxford Project

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                                      And then Google "Debunking the China Study" so you've read both sides of the story and can make your own decisions on what is best for you.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: v2pham

                                                                                                                                                                  Instead of wine in the stew a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar will do the same.

                                                                                                                                                                3. Beans. Couscous. Pasta with a lot of veg.
                                                                                                                                                                  BTW Offal is very inexpensive. Kidneys make a fine meal and are dirt cheap!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. My dad is quite poor these days. I bought him a pasta maker. Just a cheap 25 one. But a bag of flour and some water....some eggs if you got em...spinach... Thats some gourmet shit right there lol. Thats really if you have more time then money. I know its hard to beat a 75cent pack of spaghetti.

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: daislander

                                                                                                                                                                      won't help your dad, but Sophia Loren once said,
                                                                                                                                                                      "Everything you see I owe to spaghetti'"

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Sure, but this does not mean that wealth precludes creativity nor indeed that expensive ingredients are not tasty but necessity is the mother of invention and being impoverished financially will indeed encourage a cook to make the best out of what they can.

                                                                                                                                                                      One of the biggest things about this is that other than for the most mass marketed ingredients that are well available to everyone costs are always lower for locally sourced fresher ingredients then for ingredients that have to be shipped.

                                                                                                                                                                      The cost of transport is passed on.

                                                                                                                                                                      So buy locally and buy fresh and seasonally is a big thing.

                                                                                                                                                                      Diversify. Try new things.

                                                                                                                                                                      Shop Locally but at varied locations. Sticking to a single large store will limit options but shopping around will increase them.

                                                                                                                                                                      One of the cheapest ways to eat, is incidentally one of the hardest and also one of the LEAST likely to produce diversity, and that is the extreme coupon movement. You can indeed save tons of money but your purchases are controlled by the coupon and by savings which limits you to what is on sale. Diversity in those environments requires meticulous planning (as does extreme savings) and if you are the sort that prefers convenience and rapidness that method is DEFINITELY not for you.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Recent comment here: "Can people who say GMO can be Organic please post proof for this?" I for one don't know how this confusion ever arose. westsidegal accurately summarized the point, but to expand on that, the two terms reflect separate aspects of farming.

                                                                                                                                                                        "Organic" traditionally denotes how crops are tended (without pesticides). "GMO" concerns how a species or strain was developed. In principle, these aspects are utterly independent. Many people continue to use the word "organic" for farming in this, its longest-establised sense.

                                                                                                                                                                        There are also serious issues with how popular culture has interpreted the terms themselves. Health-conscious scientists point out these issues periodically, but it doesn't always get across and even, sometimes, meets resistance from simplistic intuitions.

                                                                                                                                                                        One of the world's best-respected university food-toxicology groups, in the University of California at Davis Food Science Dept., has pointed out for years that if you assay total toxin burden in plant foods (not just manmade toxins, basis of the traditional definition of "organic"), a different picture emerges.¹

                                                                                                                                                                        Some "organic" produce is measurably more toxic than "conventional" equivalents, with naturally occurring toxins caused in various ways by insect or fungal attack, while _proper_ use of the right pesticides can yield produce with lower toxin content than "organic" cultivation. (To be sure, agribusiness has not always focused on careful use of the right pesticides; on the other hand, as the Davis researchers also point out, much of the public is also ignorant of this whole issue, wrongly assuming "organic" to mean "less toxic.") You can find more on this subject if you're seriously interested.

                                                                                                                                                                        __________
                                                                                                                                                                        ¹ An overview paper by Winter and Davis, of that group, concluded that depending on the crop, either pesticide residue from conventional farming, or naturally-occurring toxins from organic farming, may be the dominant source of food toxins in the food crop and "data currently do not exist to ascertain whether the differences in the levels of such chemicals between organic foods and conventional foods are of health significance." That's the current informed scientific view, but it's more complex and nuanced than the Good vs Bad messages that the public generally likes. The public often prefers to rationalize (with or w/o the aid of comforting Google hits) its existing perception.

                                                                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                          Am I missing something???

                                                                                                                                                                          "The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table"

                                                                                                                                                                          See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2013/05/17/orga...

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                            Buying 100% Organic, Certified Organic, and USDA Organic-labeled products is usually the easiest way to identify and avoid genetically modified ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                            The United States and Canadian governments do NOT allow companies to label products “100% / Certified Organic” if they contain genetically modified foods.

                                                                                                                                                                            http://gmo-awareness.com/2011/05/05/i...

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                              For Canada

                                                                                                                                                                              "Genetically modified organisms are not permitted under the standards, as stated in CAN/CGSB-32.310-2006, 1.4.1.a. Any product that is certified organic under the Organic Products Regulations (OPR) (SOR/2006-338) cannot use GMOs. In order to protect against GMO contamination, farmers must demonstrate to their certifying body (CB) that they have done everything possible to prevent contamination from neighbouring fields."

                                                                                                                                                                              "Farmers are required to develop buffer zones of eight metres to mitigate GMO engineered (or pesticide) drift from neighbouring fields. The Canadian Organic Standards (COS) also require that organic farmers use certified organic seed. If farmers are not saving and planting their own seed, they must ensure that their seed suppliers conform to standards requirements. For some crops, it is extremely difficult for commercial growers to obtain sufficient quantities of certified organic seed. In this case, growers must provide documentation proving that they have made at least three phone calls to organic seed providers. If they are still unable to obtain enough organic seed, they can use non-organic, GMO-free seed. The GMO-free status of the seed must be documented. "

                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.cog.ca/index.php?page=cons...

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                                                                                "Am I missing something???"

                                                                                                                                                                                Possibly. My point was that "organic" farming has a fundamental meaning, and "GMO" has a fundamental meaning (though it's a much newer buzz phrase than "organic farming"). In the same sense that length and width have fundamentally indpendent meanings.

                                                                                                                                                                                Regulatory definitions of "organic" have shifted constantly during my own 50 years of hearing the phrase. If some current regulatory definitions choose to link GMOs with "organic" protocols, that is a regulatory decision (like linking length and width in certain contexts).

                                                                                                                                                                                There remain deeper problems with perception vs. reality in public intuitive interpretation of both "organic" and non-GMO protocols but, to repeat, that is something interested readers can explore for themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                                                                                  Allenki:

                                                                                                                                                                                  What you are missing is that the US government often makes nonsense rulings based on public pressure of convenience such as declaring by law that a Tomato is a vegetable and not a fruit in spite of the fact that botanically they are very clearly fruit. In fact the tomato is a berry. The raspberry on the other hand is no berry at all, nor is the strawberry. Both are accessory fruit, but the term accessory fruit has no market appeal whatsoever.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Organic is a vacuous as hell term in general. USDA Certified Organic indeed introduces those restrictions based on demands.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Unfortunately those seeking to know what they are getting actually HURT their cause by muddying the waters.

                                                                                                                                                                                  As eatzalot notes the two practices belong considered entirely separately, The science and practice are entirely separate. By combining them we end up with a word with diluted meaning and weaker affect.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Organic is already an unfortunate term given its implications to both biochemistry and carbon chemistry.

                                                                                                                                                                                  According to the rules of science along Petrol is organic.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: falerin

                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you falerin,
                                                                                                                                                                                    I understand and agree with what you wrote above. The confusion arose as someone stated that “organic” does not mean “GMO-free”; further, the statement was made that GMO was created so it could be grown organically. I understand very well how these two are entirely different concepts, however, my point all along was that GE organisms cannot be certified organic in Canada or the USA. I am also well aware of the contamination issue. I have provided several quotes with sources for people to read.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                                                                                      Given Allenki that we both made simillar suggestions in general. Largely buy local, eat fresh, and eat seasonal. i am not surprised that in general we are in actual agreement. I just tend to take a more permissive approach in general because ultimately I consider humans as just another part of nature. Though we may have a particularly strong ability to ensure our own extinction.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: falerin

                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks again falerin. As you point out, regulatory usage of "organic" shifts considerably over time. In recent years it has drifted away from its classic, clear meaning (under political influences as you noted), even though that classic meaning itself already had well-grounded _scientific_ objections for health guidance as I noted earlier. Today I'm sure there are many people still unaware, in all good faith, of the term's current conflation (specifically in regulatory context) with non-GMO food. Who knows what the government definitions will be, 10 years from now.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                                        What ever public pressure dictates no doubt. I for one am in favor of linguistic precision over nonce words of convenience.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                                                                                      This conversation has drifted quite far from the OP's topic I think.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Why even keep buying meat? Just my 2 cents. Dried beans and rice are very cheap...for your greens, buy what's in season or on sale and/or try growing some even if all you have is a sunny windowsill. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Buy the cheapest cuts of meat there are. Cooking them in a pressure cooker can render them tender. Old goat takes about 35 minutes. Consider curries for a hit of flavour - not just for the meat but for everything.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Consider making more of your food from scratch. It's not always cheaper, so do your research. Bread doesn't take that long to mix up, doesn't take nearly as much work as you'd think (kneading for five or ten minutes really isn't necessary - I do ten kneads four times about 20-30 minutes apart and it works great. I then portion and shape the dough and freeze. I take out the dough balls out, however many are required, let them defrost and rise, then bake. I end up baking bread for my husband's breakfast every day, but mix up the dough only every twelve days.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Buy cheap veggies, even when you don't know what they are or how to use them. When you get home, research them and cook 'em up. (I do this for unknown veggies out of curiosity, not because they're cheaper, but it's the same principle.)

                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                                                                                                        All sound advice. One word of caution, though. Make sure when buying unknown produce you DO research how to prepare them as some of them have toxic parts or can be toxic if not prepared correctly. Cassava and Yuca root for instance contain glycosides that convert to cyanide in acid including the lining of the stomach (and not the low levels in apple pips, but truly toxic levels)

                                                                                                                                                                                        Rhubarb leaves are poisonous as is raw rhubarb stem.

                                                                                                                                                                                        And since we are talking about creative cooking on a budget, some of our basic staples are pretty bad in this regard too. For instance, raw kidney beans (and several other common beans as well) contain a toxic lectin that if improperly soaked and not properly cooked thoroughly cause blood problems in severe illness. Worse phytohaemagglutinin levels increase with heat so partially cooking them is worse than not cooking at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I do advise being adventurous and trying new foods and methods as often as possible, especially with fruits and vegetables. Even with animal products there are several that contain toxic elements if not cooked or prepared properly (and not just obvious ones like fugu either).

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: falerin

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, absolutely research.

                                                                                                                                                                                          For me, research can include asking the people in the shop how to prepare the vegetable if they seem amenable to questions. One place I shopped, a lady who worked the produce section would approach me when I picked up produce obviously not from my country of origin (I'm white, this was in Singapore) and she'd explain what it was, how it was used, and so on. Extremely helpful lady. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                          In Sri Lanka, it was usually my mother in law (Sri Lankan) who'd explain to me what it was, how it was used, and so on. There are a few foods there that must be prepared in specific ways. Ie, a vegetable that has to be cooked, cannot be eaten raw without the person getting really ill, and could not be consumed within 24 hours of consuming ginger in any form or the person would get sick. I don't remember what that vegetable was - I've only come across it in Sri Lanka. And from what I recall, it might be one I ended up being allergic to.