Author Topic: Low/no effort food  (Read 6486 times)

Jschange

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Low/no effort food
« on: April 21, 2015, 09:14:45 PM »
Hello all!

I really want to trim my food budget... but I have a complicating factor that means I struggle with avoiding convenience foods and take out. I know I won't hit perfection, but I can improve.

Anyone have ideas to cut my budget or plan to manage these scenarios? Food I can stock and microwave for when I'm not doing well? I'm thinking that an inventory of emergency foods on the back of a door could be as easy to follow as a takeout menu.

And anyone with disabilities who can suggest other budget friendly coping mechanisms would be great. Or smart ways to haul 3 meals and snacks in your bag (I am always hungry. Aren't you?).


Thanks!
« Last Edit: December 19, 2016, 08:33:02 PM by LittleFriendlyGiant »

Squeedge

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2015, 05:24:21 AM »
I don't know how you would feel about it, but Soylent is a great alternative for me that just involves mixing water with a powder.  Some people are adverse to just drinking a liquid with a somewhat pancake batter-y texture, but it's been a god-send for me.  It usually comes out to about $2-$3 per meal, which while not the most mustachian thing, is plenty below the $10-$20 you can easily spend on take-out/fast food.

Edit: Forgot to mention, when stored in powder form in the airtight bags they come in (4 meals per bag), the stated shelf life is about two years, so pretty easy to keep a stock of it just for when you need it.  Once mixed you typically want to consume it within a few days though.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2015, 05:33:07 AM by Squeedge »

garion

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2015, 05:37:35 AM »
Trader Joe's has some good convenience food for cheap and it's also relatively healthy (not as many additives as mainstream grocery store). I used to eat their frozen dinners a lot when I lived alone, but they also have some shelf stable foods as well I believe.

pbkmaine

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2015, 06:06:53 AM »
It might make sense for you to have a small freezer. When things are going better, make and freeze large batches of foods you like. Then you can microwave them when you need them. Google "once-a-month-cooking". This is a good project to do with friends/family, too. As far as hauling meals goes, you can pack a bag with nuts, cheese, crackers, carrots, celery, apples, peppers, oranges, pears, grapes.

tarheeldan

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2015, 06:15:14 AM »
Definitely freezing. I use 2cup Pyrex containers with lids. I have half full of cooked and then frozen veggie mixes (e.g. oriental or peking stir fry) and the other half with brown rice. I make batches of Thai or Japanese curry and keep those in the fridge. Thaw overnight, combine and nuke. Alternarively, thaw and stir fry of its a good day.

Kwill

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2015, 06:35:28 AM »
Hardboiled eggs if you do a bunch when you are well will keep a few days at least and make for quick breakfasts. I keep granola bars, a jar of peanuts, and a bag of trail mix at the office.

Frozen food is a good idea. I buy bags of frozen chopped onions for use in cooking, and you can also get frozen chopped green peppers or vegetable mixes. I keep bags of pre-shredded cheese in the freezer, too. For me it's half that I wouldn't be able to use up fresh vegetables and cheese before they went bad and half that I would be too lazy to cook much if I actually had to chop and shred things and dirty more dishes. There's not much price difference between fresh and frozen when it comes to things like onions.

nereo

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2015, 06:39:25 AM »
+1 to freezing meals and following the 'once-a-month' cooking strategies. 
Another suggestion; can you use a crockpot/slow-cooker during your down times?  LOTS of tasty recipes there you can just toss in a slow cooker and eat 4-8 hours later.
I also make and freeze large batches of burritos (usually breakfast burritos with eggs, sausage, cheese, salsa etc) - microwave each one for 2 minutes and you have a hot, filling, tasty meal. Works equally well with regular burritos (beans, rice, meat, cheese).  Make 12-24 of them during your good times and you'll have them during your down times.

g'luck.

begood

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2015, 07:19:34 AM »
Peanut butter on apples or celery or bananas.

Hard cheeses - keep well, good protein and calcium.

Almonds or cashews for a very portable, long shelf-life snack. Put in baggies and tuck in your backpack.

Don't forget to drink water!

dragoncar

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2015, 07:32:53 AM »
I don't know how you would feel about it, but Soylent is a great alternative for me that just involves mixing water with a powder.  Some people are adverse to just drinking a liquid with a somewhat pancake batter-y texture, but it's been a god-send for me.  It usually comes out to about $2-$3 per meal, which while not the most mustachian thing, is plenty below the $10-$20 you can easily spend on take-out/fast food.

Edit: Forgot to mention, when stored in powder form in the airtight bags they come in (4 meals per bag), the stated shelf life is about two years, so pretty easy to keep a stock of it just for when you need it.  Once mixed you typically want to consume it within a few days though.

Totally expected that to be a joke, but they seem to be serious. 

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WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.

They say this is OK and compare it to heavy metal content of tuna and salmon.  Uh, those are known to be bad for you to eat every day also.

boarder42

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2015, 08:18:09 AM »
stay away from highly processed prepared foods... you can make your own and freeze it and do crock pot soups and chili's once or 2x a month.  set aside 2 weekends a month to do massive cooking and then you can get away from feeling like you're cooking all the time

swick

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2015, 08:19:01 AM »
+1 to all the freezer suggestions. If you find the idea of Batch cooking too overwhelming, simply increase the amount of meals you are already cooking and make a couple of extra portions to put right into the freezer. The in short order you have a variety of meals to choose from.

I do this for my Hubby's lunches. I'll make a double batch of rice and a bigger portion of sauce or curry and then freeze everything we have leftover, thaw the night before in the fridge and your good to go. He especially likes Kormas/butter chicken/thai curries (all of which can be made in the crockpot too) You can also do this with pasta and Spaghetti sauce, chili...

Also when you are making a casserole or something along that lines, it is usually just as east to make two (or a bunch of individual portions) and most can be cooked right from frozen.

Bob W

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2015, 08:30:10 AM »
+1 freezer.   You can make big pots of soup and baggy it up.  Chicken Noodle,  Chili Soup etc.   Take some bags out a  put in the fridge to thaw.  Then 2.5 minutes in the microwave and you're set.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2015, 08:37:42 AM »
(I am always hungry. Aren't you?).
Actually, no.  I was when I ate SAD (Standard American Diet).  Eating low carb reset the insulin/glucagon cycle, and I am not hungry all the time.  I used to get a headache if I was an hour late eating lunch - now, 3 hours late because of schedule changes, yes I am hungry, no I am not dying and desperate.  Part is the low carb, part is the no-grain (wheat plays tricks on your mind, read Wheat Belly).  Plus low carb snacks are portable.

The make-ahead freeze suggestions make a lot of sense too.


Chrissy

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2015, 10:32:08 AM »
Is there a grocery delivery service where you live?  I use Peapod.  This might help with the times when you are housebound.  You can make a list of things you intend to buy, and it will save it for you.  It will also let you revisit previous orders, so you can buy exactly what you bought last time.

Peapod has coupon codes for first-time customers (look around the web), and often gives you more coupons with your delivery.

sunnyca

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2015, 11:27:29 AM »
Really simple low effort food to keep on hand is peanut butter and jelly.  Keep a few sliced loaves in the freezer, and thaw as needed.  You can also keep other sandwich items in stock as well that has a long shelf life (cheese, cured meats, etc.).

Canned or frozen beans are also good to have on hand.  I make up a batch of rice, and a pot of beans, and freeze in little containers to nuke.

Axecleaver

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2015, 11:57:33 AM »
The freezer+slow cooker suggestion is excellent. I find I can make some really delicious stuff with all frozen ingredients and five minutes or less of cooking effort. Just have to plan a half day or so in advance. Soups from scratch, slow cooker dried beans, and basic (cheap cut) roasts that melt in your mouth are a piece of cake. All of this stuff is also really low impact on your blood sugar. I like to use kale, cabbage, onions and garlic in excess, but tune to your taste.

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[I was hungry] when I ate SAD (Standard American Diet).  Eating low carb reset the insulin/glucagon cycle, and I am not hungry all the time. 
Second this. I gave up artificial sweeteners and cut way back on carbs five years ago and I'm never hungry now, and haven't experienced a single headache in over three years. I can miss breakfast and lunch and then have a reasonable sized dinner, and I'm still not hungry all day. It's hard to believe unless you experience it. Took about a month to settle into it.

Jeremy E.

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Re: Low/no effort food
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2015, 12:11:31 PM »
Canned Chili, chicken noodle soup, etc.
Potatoes (just poke it with a fork a few times and microwave it for 10 minutes, easy baked potatoe, then add cheese or butter if you like)
mix rolled oats with brown sugar and a little water or milk
live near apple trees that you can pick apples from (I have one in my yard)
Rice with bouillon cubes (basically ramen, but even cheaper)
PB&Js are always easy
If you have a george foreman grill, buy a bunch of chicken($2/lb at wal mart) and freeze it, you can cook a completely frozen chicken breast in 12 minutes with no effort
If you live near a Winco, they have great granola you can buy by the pound.
Good Luck!