$45 emergency menu

topic posted Thu, June 26, 2008 - 11:28 AM by  Whitney
interesting link --

Hooray for beans as a protein source!
posted by:
SF Bay Area
  • Unsu...

    Re: $45 emergency menu

    Thu, June 26, 2008 - 11:50 AM

    The Hillbilly Housewife is really great. All her menus and recipes are well thought out. But she is definitely *not* lazy!
  • Re: $45 emergency menu

    Fri, June 27, 2008 - 7:16 AM
    This is interesting and relatively inexpensive but I wouldn't say it qualifies as healthy. There is a lot of bread (pancakes, french toast, muffins, cinnamon toast, dumplings, tortillas), dairy, a fair amount of sugar (orange juice, jelly, syrup, sweetners, french toast) and other unhealthy options including peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, corn fritters, margarine (that crap should be against the law!) and even hot dogs. And you can't get much more unhealthy than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

    I think you could build from this and make it healthier though. Substitute quinoa with rice milk and frozen fruit (microwave for one minute) for the unhealthy breakfast items. Ditch the bread altogether, all of it. Substitute butter instead of margarine or, even better, apple butter for margarine. Substitute "All Fruit" for jelly (if you must have bread) and use that on your pancakes also (which should be wholewheat) insted of syrup. Use whole wheat bread if you must have french toast also. Substitute fresh corn for mac and cheese and quinoa for ramen noodles. More beans. More fresh veggies. Watermelon for dessert.

    It would be neat if someone made a site like this that featured healthy cheap alternatives. As we've seen in this tribe, it is possible to eat healthy food relatively inexpensively.
    • Re: $45 emergency menu

      Sat, June 28, 2008 - 9:32 AM
      I would say that depending on where you are in the country, a good deal of your substitutions are comparatively NOT cheap, and often not even available. While it's not ideal healthy, this is aiming to be accessible and healthy enough to sustain.

      That having been said, writing up a version with price checked variations of more fresh stuff would be incredibly useful.
      • Re: $45 emergency menu

        Sat, June 28, 2008 - 10:07 AM
        Actually, let's look at those substitutions:

        Quinoa is about a dollar a pound. And a little goes a long way. It's a whole food and very, very healthy. It's also easy to cook and fast to make. You can even make it up ahead of time for the week and just reheat it in the microwave.

        Squash is definitely much less expensive than mac and cheese, especially in the summertime. Cheese is expensive!

        Butter is more expensive but, again, margarine is poison. If you have cellulite, you can thank margarine, not butter. Same with a lot of heart disesases caused by plaques. In that case, you have to figure in the cost of healthcare too!

        All fruit and apple butter are easy to make and much cheaper than jelly or storebought in the long run. It also makes great presents at holidays so it can save you money there too!

        Rice milk is about the same price as regular milk when you compare it gallon to gallon. And it's much healthier than milk. (Soy milk is not so healthy. It's not made from soy beans but from soy byproducts like stems and leaves, which have no nutritional value. Choose rice milk over soy milk.)

        Whole wheat bread is comparable to most white breads. Again, when you figure in the cost of healthcare for all that white flour intake, you're saving money!

        Corn is about .50 cents an ear. For a family of four, $2.00. A bit more than boxed mac and cheese (not homemade though) but not much. It's so much healthier too that I think that negates the small extra cost. Pasta made from white flour with salt, preservatives and sugar mixed with fake cheese (who knows what that's made of) are both bad for us and result in more doctor visits, high health insurance (because they make us fatter) and other increased health costs.

        Peanut butter is awful. It doesn't matter how much it costs. It's full of fat but, more than that, it's full of aflatoxins. I love Jimmy Carter but one of the bad things he did as president was raise the level of aflatoxins that could be in peanuts. (He was a peanut farmer.) Aflatoxins are a mold that reek havoc with our health. Many people who think they are allergic to peanuts actually aren't. They are allergic to afflatoxins. When you add peanut butter, to sugary jelly, to white bread ... well, it may cost little on the front end but it costs A LOT on the back end -- literally and figuratively.

        Watermelon costs $3-6 depending on where you are and what the season is but one feeds quite a few people. It is also so healthy! It also directly supports farmers instead of manufacturers.

        This site does make use of beans. I think they could make even more use of beans though. Edamame, or boiled soybeans lightly salted, are very inexpensive and just full of protein and nutrients. They are also delicious. They're a staple of my diet and most Japanese people as well. That's something I should have noted the first go round. If you have to buy them frozen, the cost can add up, but fresh, they're really cheap. Mung beans and aduki beans and lentils are also very healthy and very cheap also. Granted they're not available everywhere. If we request them at our local grocery stores though, they soon will be. They are easy to ship and store and anyone could carry them. I remember back in the day when you couldn't get refried beans at many grocery stores. Now they're a staple. It's up to us to figure out what is healthy and affordable and demand our stores carry it.

        Another healthy cheap alternative is kale. Kale can be substituted for lasagna noodles to make a great, delicious, healthy lasagna. It's also easier to make. Kale can also be baked at 350 for 10 minutes to make fabulous chips that taste a lot like potato chips. In this way, it's a great and inexpensive snack too. It also can be used in soups, stews and juices.

        Really I think it's just about educating ourselves and each other, figuring out healthy alternatives and demanding our stores carry the stuff we need. There's a great show on BBC America called You Are What You Eat that is hosted by a holistic nuttritionist. She teaches people how to eat healthy and they often complain that they can't afford it. Then she shows them that when they choose the right foods, their grocery bills almost always drop. I highly recommend that show. Here is a link to a bunch of recipes from her site:

        In some ways, she seems to be making exactly the resource we're talking about here. And, you're right, it wil be very useful!
        • Re: $45 emergency menu

          Sat, June 28, 2008 - 10:15 AM
          Caroleeena, thanks so much for this post and your others recently. I tend to think I'm on the up and up on these things, but I didn't know about things like soy milk being made from stems and leaves and about aflatoxins in peanut butter. Very informative.

          Thanks for sharing your knowledge!
          • Re: $45 emergency menu

            Sat, June 28, 2008 - 10:33 AM
            My pleasure. I am lucky to have a nutritionist and personal chef as a best friend. She teaches me so much. I am a lot healthier because of her. Plus, shows like You Are What You Eat are a great resource. We really don't have anything like that in the US. We have "diet shows" but nothing that focuses on nutrition. I find that show really informative and helpful.
            • Re: $45 emergency menu

              Sat, June 28, 2008 - 10:39 AM
              You know what else I forgot to mention? Sweet potatoes!!! Sweet potatoes are chock full of nutrients we need and they're delicious. White potatoes (and white foods in general) don't even come close to being as good for us. And sweet potatoes are usually pretty reasonably priced year round. You can slice them and cook them at 350 for 10 minutes to make chips, or bake them ahead of time and serve them plain or stuffed with black beans and tomatoes (or anything you'd put on a potato -- cheese, sour cream, chives -- my favorite is cashews!!!), you can even use them to make mashed sweet potatoes. They're so sweet they don't require butter!
              • Re: $45 emergency menu

                Sat, June 28, 2008 - 10:53 AM
                I have to say though as a person who has been desperately broke
                from time to time, with children to feed, it's comforting to know that
                in a pinch, I can feed my family for a week on like 50.00

                It may not be the healthiest food, but it's not as bad as fast food
                and it's certainly better than going hungry. I agree, some simple
                substitutions would be optimal. But I think this lady did a pretty
                good job coming up with a menu that would make sense to most

                • Re: $45 emergency menu

                  Sat, June 28, 2008 - 11:05 AM
                  I hear ya. These are the kinds of things my mother (who was widowed when we were very young) fed us when I was growing up. Still, a lot of this is not healthy. (And my mother has diabetes now and just had her gall bladder removed, which comes from too much dairy and fat.) The best gift we can give our kids is healthy food. If we can find healthy alternatives that are just as cheap, that's ideal.

                  I have a good friend who has been unemployed for a year (I have too actually so I know the trials of eating healthy on the cheap) but she only buys organic produce. Her son asked her, "Mom, why do you always buy organic? It's so much more expensive." She responded, "Honey, we're not so poor that we have to eat poison." I was really struck by that. It has stayed with me.

                  So, yes. It is more work to figure out the healthy alternatives that are equally inexpensive and pursue them but what better gift can we give our kids? Or our selves?
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: $45 emergency menu

                    Sat, June 28, 2008 - 11:11 AM
                    Those prices are way outdated, at very least for NYC. Flour is at least twice that on sale, ramen is 20cents a pack on sale, regular eggs are close to $2 a dozen(organics are $4/dz), a jar of Skippy is $3-$4. I could go on. . .but even for generics, it's way off.
                    • Re: $45 emergency menu

                      Sun, June 29, 2008 - 12:32 AM
                      Somewhere on her page I believe it says that she originally did this in 2006 and she's in a more rual area where things will be cheaper. But it's at least a good starting point if you want to try something like this.

                      I kept being told to go to Big Lots for spices but I found most of the starter ones that I needed for .50 cents a piece at Dollar General. I also got quite a few things there for really cheap but I ate most of them by now and can't remember what they were. LOL I think I got some very generic Mac 'n' Cheese for .26 cents a box. I know it's not good for us in the slightest, but I usually make it from scratch. Every now and then we get a taste for the boxed stuff, and when you're really on a tight budget it helps stretch what cheese we have in the house.
                      • Re: $45 emergency menu

                        Sun, June 29, 2008 - 3:28 AM
                        There is something addictive about that boxed stuff. Maybe it's a comfort food. I know I grew up on it. Why does bad for us have to taste so so so delicious!?!
                        • Re: $45 emergency menu

                          Sun, June 29, 2008 - 7:35 AM
                          I've been collecting herb plants to replace my spices. Many of the ones I use are hardy and drought tolerant, so a $2 plant supplies fresh spice all year. This year I'm letting my basil go to seed so I won't have to buy any start next year.
        • Re: $45 emergency menu

          Thu, July 3, 2008 - 10:06 AM
          Thanks Caroleeena! I NEVER knew that about peanut butter! Wow................! I'm off to make some cashew butter instead! (please don't tell me that's bad, too! LOL!)

          And I love sweet potatoes, too. I try to eat one every one else in my house likes them, so it's one food I'm guaranteed to have around when I want it!
          • Re: $45 emergency menu

            Thu, July 3, 2008 - 5:09 PM
            I had a friend back in elementary school who used to get I guess welfare or wic or something. They were given a couple of these ENORMOUS 5 pound cans of almond butter a month and it was sooo good. We never could find it in the store and I found some last month and it was $6 for a small jar. O_O I think it's time to invest in a heavy duty blender and make my own.
  • Re: $45 emergency menu

    Mon, June 30, 2008 - 12:50 PM
    oh yeah... we've used this before!

    We subbed for healthier versions of many things, which didn't drive the $$ up too much. I think my kids would've passed out from shock if I had brought home white flour, white sugar, or ramen noodles! Bulk bins are your friend when you're on a budget cuz you can buy just what you need to get ya through... we eat tons of oatmeal especially during the colder months - great flour replacement too. Making stuff with all whole wheat flour can make it a bit heavy - the oats make things dense but have a mild flavor.
    • Re: $45 emergency menu

      Wed, July 2, 2008 - 5:34 AM
      Caroleena you rock!

      I tried the quinoa with the fruit and rice milk and it was awesome!

      And thanks for the info on the soy milk and peanut butter. It's funny how so many times you think you are eating healthly when you really aren't!
      • Re: $45 emergency menu

        Wed, July 2, 2008 - 4:13 PM

        There is a great book I got on Amazon a while back worth checking out

        "The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties that Won't Break Your Bank, Your Back, Or Your Schedule" (Paperback)
        by Sally Sampson (Author)

        A couple of wonderful meal examples: Roasted Chicken Breasts with Dried Figs, Apricots, and Prunes; French Bread; Mixed Green Salad with Red Onions and Toasted Pine Nuts; and Rice Pudding. Or, Grilled, Marinated Flank Steak with Soy, Sherry, and Dijon; Potato Cake with Garlic and Olive Oil; Salad of Arugula, Avocado, and Mango; and Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce.

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