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Food is expensive, but eating continues to be necessary!

Let's talk about cheap, but good and healthy food.

I have a few ideas...what are yours?

Cheap, but good, lunch idea (because no one should live on peanut butter and jelly!)

Get some dried garbanzo beans/chick peas (dried beans are super cheap, especially in  bulk!).  Soak them overnight.  Boil them until they are soft.  Then make hummus, a delicious Middle Eastern spread.  There are hundreds of ways to make hummus, but the basic recipe is: mashed, cooked garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini (a sesame paste that is somewhat expensive, but you only use a little of it in each batch), lemon juice, olive oil and salt, plus whatever spices you like.  Here are an infinite variety of specific hummus recipes.  Spread it on bread or on pita, or scoop it up with carrots or other firm vegetables.  On a sandwich, add tomatoes, lettuce, sprouts, or whatever you like.

Hummus is filling, rich in protein, but much cheaper than meat.  If you make a big batch of it, you can have lunch for a week, and it keeps for quite a few days.

Cheap, but satisfying, breakfast (because cold cereal is crazy expensive, not to mention loaded with sugar):

Rolled oats in bulk are very cheap.  Even at the expensive little organic co-op in my neighborhood, I can sometimes get it for under $1/pound.  A serving of oatmeal is less than a half-cup dry.  For a breakfast for me and my two children, I use a little less than 1 1/2 cups dry oatmeal, four cups of water (they like it pretty soft.  If you like it firmer, use less water).  I throw in a cubed apple, cinnamon, and some raisins or nuts.  To save time in the morning, you can put the oatmeal, water, cinnamon, a little salt, and apple in a pot the night before, then just heat it up in the morning.  Bring it to a boil, then simmer for a few minutes.  Brown sugar is cheaper to sweeten it than maple syrup (which is also good),and if it's too hot, use milk.  This meal is literally a few cents a serving, plus makes you feel warm and happy on a cold morning.

Another cheap breakfast
Make your own pancake mix.  It takes less than ten minutes to mix up a big batch of dry mix.  When you want pancakes, add an egg or two, some milk or water, a little vanilla if you have it, a few tablespoons of oil and whatever you like in it (apple, chocolate chips, berries).  This is much cheaper than buying pancake mix, and with no preservatives or anything.  Here is one recipe, but there are others.  I just made a big batch without milk powder, but next time I'm going to try to find powdered buttermilk to have buttermilk pancakes.  

Other cheap meal ideas:
Lentil soup and pea soup are both made with cheap dried beans that make very nutritious, delicious meals.

You can make a beautiful and beautifully cheap chili with a variety of dried beans of different colors. Soak them overnight and forget the canned kind.

What about you?

Are you cutting back on what you spend on food?

What are your ideas for cheap, but nutritious meals?

Originally posted to MadLibrarian on Fri Dec 05, 2008 at 12:03 PM PST.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


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