Author Topic: Emergency Rations  (Read 3897 times)

igthebold

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Emergency Rations
« on: September 14, 2012, 01:54:51 PM »
Hey folks, got a challenge for you: Imagine you have a friend who's hit hard times. You want to give him $30/week of groceries. Family of 3-5. Add the constraint that he's spending most of his time working, so he doesn't have a lot of time to cook. You don't have to feed him 100%, but you want your $30 to go as far as possible.

What would you buy him?

Summary: maximize $30/week of groceries, minimize prep time.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2012, 03:00:30 PM »
Preparing something hardy, healthy, and bulky that is inexpensive and can feed for a few nights - think casserole, stew, lasagne, etc.

grantmeaname

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2012, 03:04:33 PM »
Yeah, I'm with took. I eat a lot of "rice with stuff in it", which is every bit as exciting as it sounds. Macaroni casserole (cheap veggies, ground meat, canned tomatoes, cheese, macaroni) and the other pasta casseroles (which I tend to make about once a week) are dirt cheap too.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2012, 05:59:35 PM »
Bananas cost less 50 cents a pound and are the poor athlete's energy bar. That'll help cover the vitamins needs.

corcoran

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2012, 12:21:43 AM »
If your friend is in such hard times, I'd try to look up local food pantries. Local businesses and churches can donate to or run these food pantries, and you can get pretty decent food. (e.g. locally the wheat bread on the shelf is untouched apparently needy people here are picky enough)

twinge

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2012, 04:57:04 AM »
Hmm..., maybe
Oats   
Eggs
Fixins for PB&J
bananas
beans
carrots
sweet potatoes/potatoes

The thing about food is that it's about habits and someone has to decide they want to develop new habits for food prep (even minimal) and tastes to go along with it. If I were REALLY in this situation, I would probably look at what they already eat and buy things that support their patterns that are already healthy and cheap.  Things I know they would use.  That's why I tried to suggest things that are fairly versatile, most people know how to make and will usually be willing to eat in some form.

If I were trying to be more discreet in my support, I'd be less likely to buy these basics and more likely to do things like make a huge stew/casserole with a big side dish of rice and bring it by, or buy costco sized containers of things for myself and see if they were interested in taking up extras--especially things like produce, eggs or dairy that would go bad or extras like salsa that can make the endless rice and beans diet a little more palatable.  And I'd probably make some comments about how much I love to cook--Italian grandmother etc. and that's why I happen to have these big extra pots of stew or talk up Costco saying the price is right there, but I hate to see the huge carton go to waste etc.  I'm going on actual experience here now of what I've actually done in these situations now, which is I guess drifting away from your original question...

mustachecat

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2012, 09:47:31 AM »
If your friend is in such hard times, I'd try to look up local food pantries. Local businesses and churches can donate to or run these food pantries, and you can get pretty decent food. (e.g. locally the wheat bread on the shelf is untouched apparently needy people here are picky enough)

Yeah, assuming this isn't just an ultra frugal grocery shopping exercise, I'd also add, help your friend get on food stamps. A family of 3-5 can gross up to $2,008-$2,836/month and and be eligible. For July 2012, the USDA estimates the cost of feeding a family of four (with kids ages 6-8 and 9-11; younger kids would cost about $20/week less) at their "thrifty" level to be $144. I'm sure some families--especially those with one non-working parent, who has the time to comparison shop, meal plan, etc.--can beat that, but the gulf between that and $30 is pretty wide.

But if this is a frugal shopping exercise, and your friend's time is that tight, I would say that $30 and a few hours of your weekend is the best. Glancing at my local circulars, this would be my shopping list:

- dried black beans (1 lb: $1.50)
- rice (20 lb: $8)
- eggs (3 dozen: $3)
- chicken leg quarters (12 lbs: $8)
- yams (3 lbs: $1)
- green beans (5 lbs: $4)
- bananas (8 lbs: $4)
- onions (2 lbs: $1)

This are NYC (albeit on-sale) prices, so you'd probably be able to do even better elsewhere.

Presoak and cook the beans; brine and roast the chicken legs with the yams; mash the yams; take the leftover chicken fat and sautee the onions with them, then add the green beans; make a big pot of rice and beans. You could load it all up in a big foil tray, or portion it out into smaller containers/servings and take it to your friend. It's about 26 lbs. of food, so depending on their appetites/family size, they could get a full week's dinner out of that. The eggs and bananas are extra.

Bakari

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2012, 04:34:20 PM »
I hate food prep taking too long, so I substitute bulk bin coos-coos for rice as a base.
Equal parts coos-coos and water, microwave for one minute, done.
Not as cheap as rice, but much cheaper than any prepared food, while being ready even faster than a "TV dinner"
Anything I've said here useful or interesting?  Find a lot more of my thoughts here: http://randomthoughts.fyi

AmbystomaOpacum

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2012, 12:01:14 PM »
Also trying to optimize for health here:

Bananas
Brown rice
Carrots
Chicken
Eggs
Lentils
Peas, frozen
Tomatoes, canned
Tuna, canned
Yogurt, whole milk, plain, in big tubs

Any remaining money on a healthy treat, like berries or plums or such.

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2012, 07:48:49 PM »
I was actually in this situation a while back. Heard about a family that needed help in our community from a friend. I bought a pork shoulder from a wholesale store (cash and carry, but Costco would have this too) plus a 25# bag of oats and brown rice. Those items could keep a fam going for a long while. Pork shoulder is about the cheapest cut of meat out there, it's almost impossible to overcook it, and it adapts well to most regional and international food backgrounds (with the obvious exceptions of Kosher and Halal diets). One pork shoulder, cooked slow, will provide a lot of fat and protein calories and will keep or can be divided and frozen for a long time.

igthebold

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2012, 07:07:18 AM »
Thanks everybody. I love the suggestions. A nice balance of convenience and cost. As you guessed, this pertains to a real situation, and I don't know the recipient's level of cooking skill, so I'll be learning from your feedback and trying to apply it to his situation.

swick

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2012, 09:32:55 PM »
If he does like to cook, even a little, sharing your spices or picking some up at some ethnic markets would go a long way in making those staple foods like beans and rice taste good and different. Many cultures use the same base ingredients but make them taste completely different depending on the spices they use.


carolinakaren

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Re: Emergency Rations
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2012, 02:57:24 AM »
I liked the idea about sharing large costco containers!  Alot of people do that, so your friend might not even notice you were trying to help.  Soup is also an easy way to share a meal.  You could make up a huge batch and take over a pot for the family without much expense.