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Old 12-01-2011, 10:39 PM   #1
Katherine Derbyshire
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Eat real food without going broke or being chained to the stove: a case study

One of the most common complaints around here -- and in society in general -- is that real food is too expensive and takes too much time. So I thought I'd post an example of what can be done with intelligent shopping and planning.

Day 1 (Dinner): Beef brisket, roasted with ham, almonds, Mexican spices, and potatoes.

Approximately three hours cooking time, but that's just sitting in the oven. The prep took 30-45 minutes. It involved larding the beef with almonds and chunks of ham, and making the spice blend, both of which could be skipped or substituted. The primary cost was the brisket itself.

Day 2 and Day 3 (Lunch): Leftover beef, warmed and served in tortillas with fresh lettuce, tomato, and avocado.

Yeah, I know tortillas aren't paleo. Use lettuce leaf wraps instead if you care. The veggies and tortillas are the additional cost here. Took about an hour, including prep, eating, and cleanup. That could be reduced by chopping the veggies and beef in advance and using a microwave (instead of a skillet) to heat the beef. And by eating faster -- I'm pretty slow.

Day 4: Chop remaining beef, use as a base for chili. I haven't actually done this yet, but I'll be adding some bison, some more spices, and beans and veggies. The resulting batch will be big enough for two or three meals, with another two or three meals worth of freezable leftovers. Needs to simmer a while, so I'll do it on the weekend, but the actual hands on time is not much more than needed to chop the beef and brown the bison. You could obviously use ground beef instead of bison.

Notes:

I didn't cost this out or calculate portion sizes, as those will depend on your budget and appetite. Obviously grassfed beef for a family of four will cost more than feedlot beef for a couple or single person. The beef and the bison for the chili are by far the largest components of the cost, totaling probably double the rest of the ingredients combined. Still, beef brisket is pretty cheap compared to steak, or even chicken breasts.

Seasoning is of course a matter of taste. But you could do essentially the same thing with a more conventional pot roast, using the leftovers for sandwiches and then for a beef stew.

I didn't eat these meals consecutively, but you could. Once the beef is cooked, it keeps pretty well.

Learn to cook!

Katherine
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:14 AM   #2
Arturo Garcia
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Re: Eat real food without going broke or being chained to the stove: a case study

Thank you Katherine.

But I had already figured the solution for this budget issue. Instead of wanting to be 70sBig, Huge, 200#+ of muscle, etc... I now want to be a skinny, 125# guy, but truly RIPPED with a six-pack to get all the ChickZ (so it's better anyways). I'm gonna save a few bucks for sure.
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:46 AM   #3
Tony Sutton
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Re: Eat real food without going broke or being chained to the stove: a case study

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Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire View Post
One of the most common complaints around here -- and in society in general -- is that real food is too expensive and takes too much time. So I thought I'd post an example of what can be done with intelligent shopping and planning.


Learn to cook!

Katherine
Great post Katherine! I really like the ease and creativity of these examples.

I know price varies due to location, but could you post an estimation of the cost? Also, how large of a brisket did you buy?

-Tony
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:55 AM   #4
Matt Heriot
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Re: Eat real food without going broke or being chained to the stove: a case study

Good thread Katherine. My wife and I were talking about this the other night. I think with smart shopping and some knowledge everyone can afford to eat healthy no matter what their financial situation is. Quick example,

Dinner for family of 4:
A prepared roasted chicken at Market Basket is $4.
Bundle of asparagus is another $3.
Rice (if you so choose) is virtually pennies per serving.

Less than $10 and you can have a healthy, protein and nutrient filled dinner. I would like to see a family of 4 get dinner at McD's for less than $10.
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:03 AM   #5
Daniel Sont
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Re: Eat real food without going broke or being chained to the stove: a case study

Me, being a student and also working parttime, usually do something like this.

wake up in the morning

put chicken breasts in toaster oven
put squash in microwave
go take a shower while they cook
come back and fry something
put it all in tupperware
get dressed and leave.


edit: my food is nothing of a delicacy
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:20 AM   #6
Mark Davis
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Re: Eat real food without going broke or being chained to the stove: a case study

Great post Katherine! One item I have been living by is my vegetable steamer. I found out it takes way less time to cook veggies this way and is way healthier (less nutrient loss during cooking). I cut up my veggies ( ex. sweet potatoes, or butternut squash) and about 10 minutes later they are done. I have a 8 qt. steamer and will cook a ton of veggies at once and then eat them for then next few days. I even like to eat sweet potatoes and squash cold if I am in a rush.
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:25 AM   #7
Christine Parry
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Re: Eat real food without going broke or being chained to the stove: a case study

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Heriot View Post
Good thread Katherine. My wife and I were talking about this the other night. I think with smart shopping and some knowledge everyone can afford to eat healthy no matter what their financial situation is. Quick example,

Dinner for family of 4:
A prepared roasted chicken at Market Basket is $4.
Bundle of asparagus is another $3.
Rice (if you so choose) is virtually pennies per serving.

Less than $10 and you can have a healthy, protein and nutrient filled dinner. I would like to see a family of 4 get dinner at McD's for less than $10.
Market Basket FTW. I love that place. When I first moved to the Boston area I went to Shaw's for a while before switching to MB, and my grocery bill probably dropped by about 30-35%. The shopping experience screwed with my zen thing for a while, but I'm used to it now.
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:25 AM   #8
Matt Heriot
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Re: Eat real food without going broke or being chained to the stove: a case study

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Originally Posted by Christine Parry View Post
Market Basket FTW. I love that place. When I first moved to the Boston area I went to Shaw's for a while before switching to MB, and my grocery bill probably dropped by about 30-35%. The shopping experience screwed with my zen thing for a while, but I'm used to it now.
Same here, weekly bill is roughly 40% cheaper at MB than at Stop N Shop for the same products. Shopping there on Sunday will drive you to drink. My wife is a saint for putting up with it; utter chaos.
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:26 AM   #9
Luke Seubert
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Re: Eat real food without going broke or being chained to the stove: a case study

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Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire View Post

Learn to cook!
So very true.

By way of informational resources useful to those who need to learn to cook:

The Way to Cook by Julia Child
This is her magnum opus, and it contains extensive information on culinary knowledge, technique, ingredients, and above all, recipes. Julia Child is the best source for superior recipes.

La Varenne Pratique by Anne Willan
A comprehensive encyclopedia of culinary knowledge, with extensive information about ingredients and tools. Lavishly illustrated, this tome isn't as strong in recipes, but it is superb for culinary knowledge. The chapter on herbs and spices alone is a stunner.

La Technique book and Fast Food My Way books and videos by Jacques Pepin
Pepin is the master of culinary technique and manual skill, and La Technique is a thorough treatment of the subject. For those looking to cook healthy, nutritious, fresh foods quickly, his videos and books from the Fast Food My Way series are excellent. The videos from the series, More Fast Food My Way (WFS), are available for free online.

The eGullet Society
The eGullet Society provides an excellent webforum for foodies who are into cooking. They conduct an extensive series of online courses in various techniques as part of the eGullet Culinary Institute (WFS).

Cooking for Engineers
An eclectic collection of articles on recipes, tools, techniques, and knowledge; Cooking For Engineers (WFS) is an excellent resource for the geek-inclined. The tool reviews are especially helpful, along with the extensive information on the material science behind different metals and their use in cookware and knives.
__________________
Grinding off the fat one day at a time, one pound at a time - PaleoZone vs Morbid Obesity: An Odyssey (WFS)
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:37 AM   #10
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Eat real food without going broke or being chained to the stove: a case study

Luke's list is good. I would also add:

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook or Joy of Cooking. Both are comprehensive collections of basic recipes and techniques. What to do with that new vegetable you found at the farmer's market? How to grill a steak or roast a chicken? It's all in here.

At least one comprehensive guide to the regional cuisine of your choice. These will assume that you understand the basics, but will explain any techniques peculiar to that cuisine and offer tips on buying specialized ingredients, menu planning, etc. My particular favorites are:

The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan.
The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, by Diana Kennedy
The Chinese Kitchen, by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo
The Barbeque Bible, by Steven Raichlen

Enjoy!

Katherine
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