Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Poverty Food Shopping List

It is time to talk about more recipes...

I started this blog long before the recession hit simply because I was experienceing my own recession. Living in one of the most elegant cities in the world without resources allowed me the privilege (yes, privilege) to experience truly hard times. You never really look at the world and people in quite the same way after experiencing financial hardship.

I thought that for this installement I would share with you a classic shopping list I used during the roughest times. Now that times are better for me, I am actually sticking to this list as much as possible. It is wonderfully satisfying to know that you can survive on nearly nothing.

Keep in mind a couple of things. This list was used to sustain two adults, one male and one female and represents food that should last for a period of no less than '4-5 days. The budget was about 10 Euros.

One bag of sliced bread - 1.00
One box of frozen hamburger patties- 10 in a box- 3.89
One jar canned tomatoe sauce- about 12 ounces- .80
One package pasta or rice- .70

Two fresh onions- .45
3 fresh carrotts- .35
2 Courgettes- .70

Carton of Milk - .60
Bag of coffee- .80

Bag of lentilles- .95
Tomato paste- .20
Can of stewed tomatoes- .20

You will notice that this list is sorely lacking in the fresh fruits and vegetable area. These are some of the most expensive items in most shops as we all know. Not to worry, I have another 10 Euro fruit and vegetable list that would be used for the same sustaining purposes. Here is that list.

One 2.5 kilo sac of potatoes - 1.95
2 kilo bag of onions- 1.45

One bag of fresh courgettes- 1.65
6 carrotts- .70

One jar of tomatoe sauce - .80
One box of dry couscous- .75

One 10 pack of fresh eggs - 1.00
Carton of milk- .60
Box of tea- .45

One 2.5 kilo bag of apples- 1.50

Each of these lists is bare bones food. There is nothing here by way of condiments, spices, etc...
For such a list of basics to season, I recommend spending not more than 9 Euros as follows:

Salt- .60
Pepper- .55
Mayonnaise- .65
Mustard- .35
Harissa red pepper paste- .45
Curry powder- .55
Herbes de Provences (an herb blend of 3 green herbs) .55

Balsamic vinegar- 1.55
Olive oil- 3.65
Sugar- .75

Now, what can you really do with list number one?

I guaranty that you can get at least 5 dinners, 5 lunches and 5 breakfasts from that list. Here is how you do it...

Pasta Bolognaise- Half an onion chopped: half a carrot chopped fine; saute with 1 of the beef patties (no need to add oil); Once fully cooked add half the jar of tomatoe sauce and allow to simmer on low for a good 20 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta- This is enough for 2 persons.

Hamburgers using sliced toasted bread served with grilled onions.

Vegetarian lentil stew- begin to cook about one third of a small sac of lentills in 3 times its quantity of water. When water is reduced by half and the lentills are beginning to get soft, add half a chopped onion and half a chopped carrot, roughly chopped; add either half a can of stewed tomatoes or a small can of tomatoe paste. Allow to simmer until lentils are fully cooked and the stew is thick and hearty. Serve with toasted bread.

Meatballs- using 2 beef patties- crumble one slice of torn or shredded bread into a bowl; add defrosted beef patties. Roll into balls and saute on low in non stick pan. Once fully cooked, add a couple of tablespoons of tomatoe sauce over the patties and continue to simmer. Serve over rice.

Dolmas- Cut the courgettes in half (NOT lengthwise!)... you will now hollow out the courgette portions creating courgette tubes... fill the tubes with a beef and chopped onion mixture. Saute in non stick pan until center meat and courgettes are fully cooked. Add a tiny amount of water. Serve with rice or couscous. Did you save the courgette centers? You should have!

Hamburger helper, your own version! - cook rice; transfer to larger pot and add a beef pattie or two; add finely chopped half an onion and the courgette centers you saved; add remaining tomatoe sauce. Transfer to a pyrex pan and bake for 10 minutes until top is crusty.

What is lunch you ask?

Lentil stew- another round! ( make the rest of the bag- enough for two days)

Vegetarian lentils and rice with carrot ( make the rest of the bag- enough for 2 days)

Open face hamburgers

What is breakfast?

Cafe au lait + Toast

This is survival folks, not the Ritz!

Do this for one week and I guaranty you that by now your mouth will be watering over the thought of saltines and ketchup! List number two is frankly far easier to deal with. Omelettes and egg salad; couscous with vegetables; potato soup; onion soup; vegetable soup; potato salad; baked apples; legumes Provencal; onions farcis au couscous; fried or poached eggs; scrambled eggs with home fries; And a lovely cup of tea every morning!

It's not easy folks but you can do it! If you have the luxury of the condiment list, the possibilities are far more interesting....not endless, but more interesting.

Good luck!