Internet, I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I like saving money on things. I think paying full price is for suckers.
Now, read that last sentence carefully.
I think paying full price is for suckers.
There’s not nearly as much fun in buying the least expensive products possible as there is in doing something like this.
So, anyway, when it comes to food, I won’t deny that our cabinets are full of plenty of the low cost stuff like, say, this:
Phil mostly takes these to work – I don’t usually want to eat them until they’re in his hands, because everyone knows the most delicious-looking foods are whatever foods are currently being eaten by Phil, especially if he’s eating it kind of absentmindedly while he watches TV or reads something on the computer and gets it halfway to his mouth before I snatch it out of his hand, that is when it is most delicious.
Also mostly eaten by Phil because, ok, NOT AS EASY AS IT SOUNDS, GUYS.
Definitely not only eaten by Phil (because food shouldn’t be orange unless it is, you know, an orange) but also purchased by Phil, because I would never let him have name brand macaronis. He obviously thinks we’re fancier than we are.
We do definitely have our share of the 10/$10 foods in our cabinets that help our grocery money go a bit farther and at first, upon moving in with Phil and realizing that he expected to eat at regular intervals every single day (what the hell?), I was pretty damn impressed with me, stocking our cabinets with such a bounty of inexpensive foods.
Eventually, though, I realized that we were both going to inflate and never un-swell and have to paint ourselves blue and both be Violet Beauregarde for Halloween every single year forever and ever if our prepackaged food puffiness sodium intake stayed so high and resigned myself to start cooking things. The Internet being, you know, the Internet, I was able to find a buttload of inexpensive recipes which all basically went like this:
1. Cut up some hot dogs and put it in your macaronis or,
2. Buy some 73% lean ground meat in a tube and put it in your macaronis or,
3. Buy some chicken and boil it until it is pretty dead and then lay it on some rice that you also boiled until mostly dead.
4. Eat beans til you DIE FROM IT. Have you thought about eating beans? Hey, you know, you should eat some beans. I don’t know if it occurred to you yet, but if you want to eat inexpensively, beans. You need to eat beans. You have no options other than beans. Are you trying to cut your food bill? One idea that no one at all has suggested to you yet and you’re too dumb to come up with on your own is beans.
Basically, everything fell into one of four categories – Put Shit in Macaroni Category, Flavorless Chicken Category, Bean Category, Cheese Category – the Cheese Category being the who cares what it is because it’s covered in cheese. Phil really liked that category.
Internet, Phil and I aren’t hard to please, food-wise. We’ve both smoked for years, and even aside from that, we’re not really fancy eaters. Even aside from the whole saving money thing. I mean, I once ate chicken nuggets, happily, for 30+ days in a row. Phil just asks that it be edible and is overjoyed if it’s edible with cheese and bacon.
Something else you should know? I don’t know how to cook. Like, at all. But I know that we certainly can’t save money by eating out all of the time, and we certainly can’t eat very well by relying on convenience foods, no matter how many NOMens (I STILL think that was funny, jerks) we can get for a dollar. Also, no matter how appealing Phil may find the Cheese Category above, deeper internet searches did reveal that it is possible to find recipes that are both healthy and inexpensive (and also appealing). You’d think with all the crap available on the Internet that it would be easier than it was. But it totally wasn’t.
So, Internet, for Day 2 of Phil’s Christmas Vacation, I made him some soup, and here is the story.
This is lentils and they cost $1.79, and lentils are like beans. And I think beans are gross. I have texture issues with food, and beans make me want to gag and scrape them off my tongue and then scrape my tongue with my fingers for the rest of the day and maybe kind of cry a little. I’m actually getting a little upset right now just thinking about it. I bought them from the Mexican part of the supermarket. They were in the regular part of the supermarket, too, but they were less expensive in the Mexican part of the supermarket. I don’t understand why, Internet, but I can tell you this – racists are NOT getting the best deals.
I’m showing you this picture not because it is interesting or because it’s good, because it is totally neither, but for foreshadowing. For this recipe, you need to use two pots. That’s kind of annoying, but whatever. This is the lentils in four cups of water, which is a lot of water, but it doesn’t even take up half of the pot. That means it took a hundred years to boil. I wasn’t even watching it, I swear. Not with both eyes, anyway.
This picture definitely isn’t here because it’s good. While I was waiting for the lentil water to boil (which, can someone explain this to me? I was supposed to wait for the lentil water to boil, then turn the heat off and cover it and just let it sit there. Was I supposed to let it boil for a minute first? Or turn it off the second it boiled? Is there some kind of boiling rule?) I was cutting up this other stuff, like that onion, which was $.79/lb, (I totally learned how to cut up onions from The Pioneer Woman) and I got to that point with the celery ($.79 for the whole bunch and that is just 3 sticks) and I realized I totally didn’t know how to cut up celery, so I took a picture to ask Twitter, and then I realized that I was using my camera, not a cell phone, and asking Twitter would be a total pain in the ass.
This doesn’t have a price because it was already in my house. I’m a total garlic cheater. Phil and I both like garlic a lot, so I would buy it a lot, and the problem was, I kept having to REbuy it. Garlic isn’t especially expensive, but we would buy it and I’d often forget to use it for one reason or another (relying on convenience foods or drive throughs entirely too much) and the garlic would go to waste. Sure, it was a small amount of money, but it was wasted none the less, so I became a garlic cheater. Our shameless food non-fussiness serves us pretty well when it comes to saving money.
This totally counts as vegetables. Totally. Therefore, it’s already a healthy meal. I could end this post now. Victory is ours. There is also olive oil in there, which was already in the house. Here it is time for another confession, where I tell you it is generic, store brand olive oil, because I actually don’t even know what the difference between olive oil and vegetable oil is, except to know that the time that we made rice krispie treats and sprayed the pan with olive oil cooking spray was a HUGE MISTAKE, let alone have a refined enough palate to have a preference for varying qualities of olive oil. Again, my low-browness saves us some cash.
This was the most expensive thing purchased for this recipe at $2.99 on sale, and there are two confessions that go alone with it. First of all, up until the very second I placed the picture in this post just now – not even when I read the recipe, wrote the grocery list from the recipe, found the item on the shelf, purchased it, used it, or took the picture – not until this very second, did I realized that it was called TURMERIC. I thought it was tumeric. Like you’d say it tumor-ick. Like TUMOR. Like “It’s not a tu-mah.” Also? Confession two? I don’t know what the fuck this is. I don’t know what it tastes like. What the fuck is this shit?
Now cumin? Cumin I know. But come on. We’re salt and pepper people on the whole. I know cumin, I like cumin, but not enough to buy it in the normal supermarket spice aisle. I bought it for $.84 cents in the Mexican aisle, and I didn’t even buy it on this shopping trip so it doesn’t count. I was annoyed that I had to buy turmeric in the normal spice aisle, it’s uneconomical. I don’t even know what the hell that stuff is.
Hot sauce and chili powder also went in around this point, too, which I also already owned, so they don’t count. Only, actually? I only THOUGHT I owned chili powder. What I ACTUALLY own is chili oil, paprika, and cayenne pepper. I used cayenne pepper. It’s not like I know the difference. I assume they’re both red. Same thing, right?
Something I’ve learned since I’ve started grown up cooking things is that whenever canned tomatoes go on sale, you’ve got to buy, like, a million of them. Because even if you have a million of them, you never actually have enough. Or? You only have diced when you need crushed. Or crushed when you need whole. Whatever the case. You need them. All the time. I actually bought these even though I had some in the cabinet because of course I didn’t have any fire roasted ones, and they were on sale for $1.17 a can. But anyway, if you’re like me and not fully grown up yet and no one has passed this tip to you? You need to buy canned tomatoes whenever they’re on sale. Trust me.
Oh, man, now I am totally just showing off with the vegetables and the healthiness.
Hey. Uh. Hey. Is the… uh… Is the food almost ready? Because, uh, I’ve been like, uh, contemplating the universe and, uh, my place in it, you know? As a dog? Uh, and like, you know how like, you guys think like, you’re the bosses of ME? Well, like, uh, YOU pick up MY poo. And I was thinking about that and like, uh, my mind was like, totally blown, man. And, uh, wait, what?
You also need to buy broth and stock and stuff whenever it’s on sale, if no one has told you that, yet, too. I guess most of you smart people who have been cooking stuff for years are all laughing at me behind your hands but PEOPLE AREN’T BORN KNOWING THIS STUFF, YOU KNOW. You people, cover your eyes for a second.
Okay, you should also always buy low sodium when available, because you can always add salt but you can’t really unsalt, and salt makes you puffy, anyway.
Ok, you know it alls can UNCOVER NOW.
Also? Do you remember that foreshadowing from before? All those tomatoes and all that broth are more of it.
This is cilantro and it really annoys me and I also want to rub my face in it because it smells delicious. I bought it in a bunch that cost $.69 and it was the last thing I bought for this recipe. That is only about 1/4 of the bunch of cilantro. MAYBE 1/3. Cilantro’s a pretty strong flavor and both Phil and I really like it, but it’s highly unlikely we’ll use it again before the rest of it wilts, especially with the recipes I have planned for the rest of this week, with it being Christmas and all. Now, I’m not complaining about the price and all – it’s $.69 and I’m not cheap – I just like saving money. I just hate seeing food go to waste, and the rest of the cilantro is going to go to waste. I guess I can rub my face in the leftovers.
Zero percent of the food I cook looks delicious. Some percentage greater than zero but less than 100 of the food I cook tastes delicious. Ok, less than 50. But I’m working on it.
This picture is after I added the lentils, but you can’t exactly tell, because like I told you, it kind of took forever to boil? And then they didn’t get soft after I let them sit there like the recipe said. So I microwaved them and tried to squish some of them with my spoon, because the recipe said to squish some of them, but none of them would really squish too much, so I bit one to see what was going on, and it was ALMOST JUST LIKE A BEAN, and I was HORRIFIED, so I put them in the blender. But you probably wouldn’t have to do that, either because you would know how to cook lentils or because you wouldn’t be horrified by lentils.
Here was what I didn’t figure out even though there was plenty of foreshadowing in the form of two cups of lentils, four cups of water, two cans of tomatoes and four cups of vegetable broth – this is not a recipe for two people. The lentils make it ridiculously filling, so neither of us ate more than one bowl.
And one more confession? I thought the soup would fit in that first container and it didn’t and I thought the rest would fit in that second container and it didn’t.
I’m a container misjudger.
A container misjudger with one million soup.
A container misjudger with one million soup who doesn’t know what turmeric is.
A container misjudger with one million soup who doesn’t know what turmeric is and is probably going to keep calling it tumor-ick.