Foodie on a Budget (the new frugal gourmet)
I am living proof that you can make less than 20K a year and still eat good. A few of my favorites: Orange Scented Morrocan Beef (Mrouzia) with Caramelized Onions and Raisens Over Couscous. $1.75 per portion Tibetan Beef Noodle Soup with Ginger, Garlic, Tomatoes and Onions, Garnished with Fresh Grated Cabbage. $1.50 per portion Apple Glazed Salmon over Mustard Cream Rice with Garlic Almond Green Beans. $3 per portion (might be off on that one) Shrimp Ceviche with Red Onion, Mango, Avocado, Cilantro, Lemon and Lime with Steamed Corn Tortillas. $2 per person (might be off on this one) Mexican Cheese Dip Night with Spinach-Queso Dip, Peach Salsa and Cream Cheese Dip, Bean and Pepper Jack Cheese Dip with Corn Tortilla Chips. $1 or less per person Teriyaki Roasted Chicken with Thai Green Curry Scented Mashed Potatoes and Pineapple-Red Onion Relish $2.50 per person Fried Almond Chicken over Vanilla Scented Rice with Orange Soy Sauce $1.50 per portion Pork Stuffed with Red Peppers and Savory Ricotta Cheese with Penne A La Vodka $2.25 per person A few tricks to accomplish this: 1) Shop at a variety of stores. I have an Ingles, Kroger, Publix and a hispanic groccery close to each other. I get the "deals" from the right places at the right times. Also, get one of those produce guides that tells you when certain produce is harvested. When grocceries have large stock of in-season vegetables, they always go on sale (ever see Watermelons on sale in the witer? No, and they taste like shit, too). 2) Scan the deals, plan your meals, and shop once a week. Once you find the deals, figure out how to make those into meals. Buy that stuff then cook it all at once, portioning off the right amounts for different meals. I will cook three meals at once and have enough food for lunch and dinner every night for almost a week and a half. 3) Once a month, clean the pantry. Look at the weird sauces and such that you have in your cubbard and make something. Box of macaroni and cheese and a jar of salsa? Tex Mex Pasta! White rice, canned mushrooms and sour cream? Faux Risotto! 4) See your fridge as evolving. This is sorta weird, but I think of the ingredients in my fridge as an evolving process. Instead of buying the same things over and over again to make my favorite meals, I look at what I have, what I need to turn that into food, and what I will have left over that can become the next set of new meals. Ex: White rice, carrot, soy sauce ---> fried rice (need eggs) --> bought eggs, now buy loaf of bread for egg salad sandwiches (need mayo) --> bought mayo, now buy lemons for lemon aoili salad dressing...etc etc. Eventually, you'll go back to step 3 (pantry cleaning) and the bread left over from the sandwiches becomes the croutons for the salad you made with the lemon aoili made from the mayo for the egg salad and the original carrots you had in the fried rice are great in the salad, too.