Get a metal frying pan - Stainless steel is flexible and easy to use. Nonstick coatings are worthless. A lid is useful, but not required. $5-10 thrift store or $30 new.
Get a large pot you can boil water in, with a lid. Watch out for aluminum pans - They can interact with acidic foods, and you don't want that. $10-15 thrift store or $30 new.
Get a chef's knife and a cutting board. Get a whetstone - The sharper your knife is, the less force you'll be putting behind it when you cut yourself. And you will, eventually, cut yourself. Buy the knife and whetstone new - $30-50. Buy the board at a thrift store - $5.
Get a wooden spoon. Spend a couple extra dollars and buy one with a thick handle - They're surprisingly easy to snap. $3 new.
Don't skimp here - If you buy decent quality gear you won't ever have to buy it again. That said, don't go crazy - that $200 frying pan isn't going to cook your food for you. Buy items that look like you could throw them at a dump truck without hurting them. But don't actually do that.
Get yourself a big bundle of greens. Kale, chard, mustard, collard, cabbage, stinging nettles (Yup! They stop stinging when you cook 'em), spinach, bok choy, beet greens, radish greens, endive, turnip greens, etc. Don't use lettuces.
Loosely chop your greens, put a little oil in your pan, and turn it to medium heat. Put an inch or so of greens in your pan - A little more if you have a lid.
Feel free to experiment with various oils - Butter, olive oil, lard, vegetable oil, etc. Don't be too afraid of saturated fats here - It doesn't take much to coat a pan of greens.
Cook the greens, stirring casually, until they start to soften, then add a little salt. Taste 'em and turn the heat off when they're soft enough to be tasty.
Now add a little splash of acid - Lemon juice, lime juice, any type of vinegar. A small amount of honey or sugar is a good addition too.
Well, you got yourself a $3/pound beef roast, or a $2/pound pork roast. Now what?
Get your big pot. Put it on the stove, and put your hunk of meat in it. If you're feeling fancy, put a little oil in the pan and saute each side. Otherwise, skip to the next step.
Wander around the kitchen until you find some sort of liquid. Wine's a great choice. A little vinegar, cut with a lot of water, can do the trick. Any sort of meat or vegetable stock works well. Some people use Dr. Pepper. Don't use cream or milk, they'll curdle, and don't use water, it'll remove all flavor from your meat. Add your liquid to the pot until it covers the bottom by an inch or two.
Put the lid on your pot, turn the heat up to high, and wait for your liquid to almost come to a boil. Once it does, adjust heat to low and find something entertaining to do in a nearby room. You'll want to be able to monitor your stove and pot so it doesn't burn the meat or your house, but it won't need your full attention. Add more liquid as required; don't let it boil dry.
Wait several hours.
Come back to the meat and poke at it with a wooden spoon. Hard. Does it come apart a little? If so, you're done. If not, keep cooking.
Once it's done, pull it out of the pan and chop at it with your knife - Try to carve perpendicular to the little strings in the meat.
Don't throw the liquid away! It pulled out a lot of the flavor from your meat. Turn the heat up and allow it to boil down until it's a thin sauce. Salt it to taste and pour it over your meat slices. Serve.
You'd probably better make a side dish too, or you're going to eat 12 pounds of meat and lie moaning on the floor, "Ooooh.... Why has Dirkson does this to me? WHY?!"
Pick two or three of the following vegetables: broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, brussels sprout, turnips, pumpkins, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, summer squash, onions, garlic (Go light on garlic!), celery, kohlrabi, leek, beets, parsnips.
Chop into smallish bits. Don't stress about keeping them the same shape, but try to keep them roughly the same size. Throw your veggie mix in your frying pan with a little oil. Medium heat, cook until brown, stirring consistently. Add a little salt and pepper, and one random herb - Ideally fresh, but anything that's been in your spice cupboard for less than a year or two will do
If you have a hollow veggie, stuff it with lean hamburger, salt, a few breadcrumbs, and one random herb. A little cheese in the mix works well too, depending on mood. Bake at 300F until the vegetable bit is soft and the meat bit is brown all the way through. You can do this with zuchinni, bell peppers, spicy peppers, etc.
Jeeze, it feels like there's more bones in a chicken then there is chicken, doesn't it? Don't let the man keep you down - Use that carcass! It was expensive, dammit!
Your leftover bones and clean vegetable scraps should go in a bag in the freezer. Once you've got enough, dump them into your big pot and cover everything with water. Bring it up to a boil, then reduce heat until it stops boiling and put a lid on it. Sweet veggies (Carrots, turnips, etc) and chicken will finish quickly, in only an hour or so. Pork or beef bones will take a couple hours to unlock all the flavor. Go do something in a nearby room while it cooks.
Once it's done, pour the liquid off into whatever you have that'll hold it. This is stock, and it will make you many amazing soups. It'll keep in the freezer for several months, or in the fridge for a couple days.
If you end up with a layer of fat on top of the stock, stick it in the fridge - The fat will rise to the top, and the cold with solidify the fat, allowing you to scrape it off with ease. If you're daring, use it to cook greens.
If your stock turns solid in the fridge, that's absolutely OK - Bones contains gelatin, which will get into your stock. Just warm it up a little to re-liquify it.
Oh boy, now you did it. You just had to have that new Playstation 360, so you've got $50 to eat for four weeks. You're screwed.
But not quite. Go to the bulk section and get yourself some lentils. Don't bother with the fancy french lentils or the red lentils; They all taste the same. If they're cheap, split green or yellow peas cook almost identically, and provide a little variety.
Put on some boiling water and throw a handful of lentils in. If you use too many, it'll be thick. If you use too few, it'll be thin. Either way is delicious. Reduce the heat to low, put a lid on 'em, and let 'em sit on the back burner until they're soft. The longer they cook, the more they'll blend into your liquid.
Once they're done, add a little salt. Lentils take to flavorings really well, particularly spicy flavorings. Try a little cayenne pepper and a spoonfull of sour cream. Alternatively, a small amount of honey or molasses is delicious. You could also use meat or veggie stock in place of water for some extra flavor.
Lentils are extremely cheap and high in protein. With a little added fat they're a nutritious, filling meal for pennies.
Beans are very much like lentils, although they take much longer to cook. They're sort of lentils on hard mode.
Add salt to boiling water - This will improve the flavor of the resulting pasta. If you're cooking filled pasta or small, curvy pasta, a couple drops of oil added to the water can help keep it from sticking while you drain it. For long, thin pasta, prompt application of sauce should be enough to keep it from sticking. Throw your pasta in the water.
Be careful not to overcook your pasta - Take out a little and try some while it's cooking. You want your pasta to still have a little structure to it, not be slimy and limp. Once it's done, drain your pasta. If you've got a colander or sieve, use that - Otherwise use the lid to strain out the liquid, being careful not to burn yourself.
Apply store-bought pasta sauce. Yeah, I said it - You CAN make your own, but you're not going to do it that much cheaper than pre-made sauce, and it's a tricky sauce to season.
A little hamburger, cooked in your frying pan, is a good way to add protein.
Pasta takes hardly any time or thought - Perfect for nights when you don't want to cook!
See the middle of the store? Ignore it.
What you want is on the outside of the store. Start in the produce section, and linger. Vegetables are good for you, cheap, filling, and delicious. Grab a good amount, and some fruit too - Wards off scurvy. You don't want scurvy.
Once that's done, wander on over to the bulk section. Pick up your pastas, lentils, a few spices, and maybe a few nuts or dried fruit for a snack. You don't need candy, put it back.
Next is meat. Pork and chicken are cheapest, beef is the most expensive. Don't buy steaks, you aren't Rockefeller. Cheap cuts of meat take longer to cook, but are just as flavorful and nutritious as the expensive cuts. Sausages can provide some nice variety.
The dairy section is just around the corner. A little cheese can be a nice addition to a lot of meals. Eggs are versatile and protein-rich, but tricky to cook if you want anything but scrambled eggs.
Ignore the chip isle, the candy isle, and the soda isle. If you need a few baking goods (particularly oils), wander down that isle. Canned fruits and veggies are usually more expensive than fresh. Ignore the pre-made frozen foods like the plague - You can make better food, cheaper.
In my area, farmers markets are cheaper than the big stores for produce, but inside cities this tends to reverse. YMMV.
Finally, consider whole meats. Beef at the market usually starts at $3/lb. Beef, purchased by the half or quarter from a butcher or farmer usually stops at $3/lb. You can save money on whole lambs and pigs, too. You'll need a chest freezer to store it, though, and you'll need to pay for it all up front.
Last edited by sidious on August 14, 2013 10:01AM CST; reason "fadfs"
Sushi is the bomb, werk!!!U just made me realize that i havent had any in awhile. Gonna have to get some tomorrow then, i go on binges everyone once in awhile with sushi and eat it like 3 times a week. I need help, hehe
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