Sunday, August 2, 2015
Food and Cooking When You are Poor
This news report is a bit annoying with the focus on chocolate, which is a non-essential and treat food, but obviously the prices are going up. I am dying for a salad. Prepared foods are all bad for you. Since I got my disability, I'm actually going to send husband to the store and say "Get me some oranges". When sick I need more vitamin C. Maybe I will make some soup too with a little bit of left over chicken. My leg seems to be healing but this is frightening stuff when it does happen.
The idiot weight mongers will think all us fat people can live on nothing but cheap frozen broccoli, but I have noticed the scope of food getting worse. One day I had us go to a restaurant with a great special where we could eat a meal each for 5 dollars. Maybe they knew the people with the coupon were coming since I thought some vegetables would come with my dish and they were microscopic including the piece of the tomato. Even the grilled chicken that was supposed to accompany it consisted of two teeny tiny pieces--I'm not a meat glutton, even the deck of cards rule is not one I find horrendous but this was a bit much. The food prices must be going up for the restaurants too.
If you want to eat well while poor, you have to work at it. In my case this means going multiple places, to do the shopping maybe a wealthier person could take care of in one store. I'm sometimes having to feed two people on 60 or 70 dollars a week. If I was not diabetic and did not have food allergies to eggs and potatoes, there would be definitely more lee-way but I do what I can.
Remember I am a person who has had to dumpster dive to eat, so I understand when people have nothing. Here I am trying to make do with what I have. There are months where we have far more and far less. This month we were able to skip the food pantries but last month we had to go to them. I know unlike many people with jobs, I have more time to cook and plan. On this post, I will share some of what I do. This post is risky as I am sure some of the fat logic types would scream, "You are fat, you shouldn't be eating at all!".
The veggie stands help this time of year but if we didn't have a car, we wouldn't see one of those. We have to drive 8 miles to get to the closest ones and they are all in the suburban/outskirt areas. The only veggie stand in town, is the Saturday morning overpriced one for yuppie tourists we can't afford. However we do go to this one that is on a farm, and this guy grows everything from special peppers to different kinds of onions. I'll be over there Monday. I can get two big bags of vegetables for 14 dollars and plenty of good eating. With vegetables you can make stir fry. I really want a wok! Here is one stir fry I made that turned out tasty.
Being able to return dairy to my diet has helped me a lot, cottage cheese is friendly enough to diabetes especially when a small portion can kill hunger pain and it's not that expensive. The miracle of Lactase milk has brought dairy back to my life. Imagine ten years without pizza, I couldn't eat any cheese except expensive lactase free veggie shreds. I will need to be careful since cheese can bring calories and fat but my food has been tastier with some of this added back to my diet.
We have gone back to Aldis or you may call it Save-A-Lot and the Mexican market to get food. They have recently improved their food quality introducing organic foods and lowering the salt. At the Mexican market I buy corn tortillas, cans of hominy, hot sauce, queso fresca, and chicken. Sometimes I get flour tortillas but I have been passing those up more since they seem to raise my sugars. The chicken there, tastes far superior to any other grocery store, to the point it blows my mind. If foodees in this town discovered their chicken they'd probably take the place over but they do fill the place up to eat at their attached restaurant even with the place being on the edge of a bad neighborhood. Even with my walker theft, the good deals drew us back. They also have good cheap vegetables. I hope pablano peppers are good for you because I have been eating a lot of them. Tomatoes, avacados, pablanos and big bunches of cilantro are other things to buy there.
The regular super-markets have priced us out for good except when we buy one or two things. I cook from scratch a lot and can cook anything which helps. Years ago I worked in restaurants. The only thing I am not as good at is baking but even there I muddle through. I invent recipes all the time. Here is a soup I invented, which had curry powder, left over chicken and rice, cauliflower and pablano peppers in it. I also cook a lot of what the Mexicans call "pozole" which is hominy soup made with various peppers and tomatoes
Soup is a life-saver when you are poor. Often there are left-overs of it. You also can cobble together left over meat, vegetables and other things to put a soup together. Soup is lower in calories too and a nutrient rich food. By the way don't use crappy chicken stock, the cans are more expensive then the long run. I stick with Better Than Bouillon. I have boiled chicken bones and cheaper parts to make my own chicken stock as well. Here is one favorite soup I make all the time, and it is one I feel better after eating. It contains cut up tomatoes--try and get the best you can get, cooked with mint in olive oil, salt and pepper, a little bit of garlic, cut up chicken broth, some chicken meat and cut up fresh parsley, a dash of Tabasco and a shot of a good rice vinegar or lemon juice. Sometimes it is good with orzo too.
We will be okay this month but to make sure we are okay, I have to plan buying the food out like a military mission. I will need to go to four places to acquire decent food. If I wasn't married, I'd probably be in the streets with a tin cup. Sometimes I see the poor souls down at the monthly church soup kitchen we go on occasion to but while we go when we need to, and have months we can skip, others are down there like clockwork and that includes the mobile and other food pantries. Sometimes it is scary to watch the yuppies buying junk food and alcohol for their endless social gatherings and know there people even going more hungry down the street. The food pantries have been packed around here lately.
I had a nice friend send me a Mexican cook book, it will help. I cook real Mexican food, not the Tex-Mex stuff which is more full of fat and calories. Hey go to a Mexican market why not learn to cook like the folks there? Here are some tacos I made with cilantro, queso fresca, and onion and skirt steak that had been marinated and cooked. By the way these kind of tacos are far more economically viable. One round of queso fresca can last us for a several meals, since a little crumble will do you.
When the veggie stands are in full swing it is easier too. At least the tomatoes have taste to them. The prices are going higher. Sometimes because of my past I fear the hungry days coming back. Yes that is the irony of my fatness, that in my 20s I could not afford food and my memories of empty refrigerators and dumpster diving for food have stayed with me. I'm not sure if these things will ever leave my memory banks. These are candy-days compared to those times even if we struggle, no one is missing a meal, which is impossible to do with diabetes.
One thing I will spend money on when I have it, is good bread. I have made my own bread before and am trying to improve my own bread so I don't have to buy the expensive stuff. Until I can find real yeast and the bread doesn't come out so dense, then buying it is necessary. Do they sell only wimpy yeast that doesn't work to keep the bakers in business? Anyhow these bakers are great!
Good bread vs bad bread will affect blood sugars far differently. I even "feel" different when I eat good bread. Some extremists will say someone fat like me never should eat bread, but low carb in my case and in my body makes my sugars go nuts. I should know. There is a bakery in this town that has won baking awards and makes everything from scratch. This is a big sandwich I made for my husband at a picnic, and even one piece of this stuff will last a person. It is a multi-grain bread that has everything in it from flax to millet. If you are going to eat carbs, get some bang for your buck. Make it complex and don't waste the calories on fluff.
Right now we scoured the bottom of the barrel so far I'm out of soy sauce, chicken stock and essentials of cooking that will need re-stocking. I will be at my charity dentist soon and will be close to some Asian grocery stores where I can stock up on things that are one-fourth the price of the normal grocery stores. Yes they are that much cheaper. You get a huge bottle of rice vinegar that is 4.50, and they charge 4.00 in the regular grocery stores for a teeny tiny bottle. The soy sauces are of superior quality and cheaper too. I paid 5.00 for this big soy sauce bottle that lasted me for months when they want 3.69 for a teeny bottle of Kikoman at the mainstream grocery stores.
Another thing I will buy and this is an extremely low calorie food I love, but it is very expensive in regular grocery stores is some Nori, which is dried and seasoned seaweed.
I cooked some weird concoction of leftover vegetables, with one little drop of oil that was left, with some turmeric and other seasonings to go with chicken last night. Two old tomatoes served as snacks yesterday. I have to wait for the temperature to go down but will go back to the cheaper two stores when I can. I sometimes have wondered about writing a recipe book for the poor. LOL it's a zine idea.