I have the following main challenges when it comes to eating cheaply: 1) my own resistance to eat anything that's too processed/primarily made up of high-fructose-corn-syrup and/or plastic. So basically any F.M.V.-brand dollar store food is out. 2) my boyfriend's aversion to
As a result, I'm working under two assumptions: 1) it's possible to eat relatively healthy and cheap if you put extra time into it, and 2) my boyfriend will still love me if I tell him "if you're hungry enough, you'll eat the damned leftovers," especially if I heat up the leftovers while wearing a negligee.
Shopping List (all prices estimated from Kroger/Fred Meyer):
1 lb split peas ($2.70 for a 2lb bag) (alternate: lentils)
2 regular ol' potatoes ($1.79 for a 10lb bag)
2 carrots (40c/lb)
1 regular ol' yellow onions ($2.50 for 5lb bag)
2 cups brown rice (I buy this stuff in bulk, so I'm not sure what it costs in normal quantities)
garlic (I buy the big containers of pre-minced garlic, which saves money and time, though real cooks will be horrified if they see it in your fridge)
Hearty Split Pea Soup:
1. Rinse 2 cups of split peas (1 lb). Make sure there are no pebbles hiding in there -- cheap versions of food seem to be a little dodgier on quality control. Toss into large cooking pot.
2. Sautee in olive oil a chopped onion and a spoonful or two of the minced garlic. When the onions get all glazey and see-thru-y, toss the whole thing (including oil & garlic) into the pot with the peas.
3. Peel and slice up 2 large carrots and 2 medium potatoes. If you really like potatoes, you can put more in, but I'm a little eh on them. Put in pot.
4. Fill pot up with water to completely cover everything that's in there, plus some extra for boiling room.
5. Add spices. I use soy sauce, pepper, garlic powder and random-mixed-spices like Spike.
6. Heat up pot to boiling. Let it boil rapidly for a few minutes, then stir, cover and bring down the temperature. Let it simmer for about an hour.
7. While it's simmering, make rice. I'm pretty sure you could alternately just toss the dry rice into the soup with some extra water when you've got 20 minutes left on the soup clock, but I haven't tried this yet.
Taste, season, serve on rice, feel warm and fed. This soup is pretty mushy, so if you want your peas to remain pea-shaped, cook for less time. Then freeze the extra and bring to work for lunch the rest of the week. Soup costs about $3 to make, and you won't be as embarrassed to serve it to people who come over as you would be for serving ramen. :)
Papa Red's alternate: Split Pea Soup, No Chopping Version:
1 cup split peas
2 cups water
Put in pot, boil, simmer until peas are soft (usually about 1/2 hour when my dad does it, somehow longer than that when I do).
Extra Hint: Hearty Soup is perfectly timed for doing laundry -- put in washer, prep soup and bring to boil, switch clothes over to dryer, simmer soup for 1 hour, dryer & soup = done and you've had an hour of waiting in which to watch TV and yet be doubly productive.