Well, it took me 36 years of existence in this painful world to make serious economic decisions regarding my budget. I've been in this apartment for over a year now, and my rent has doubled. This has caused me some financial woes during the end of the month. When I say financial woes, I'm not comparing myself to people at the poverty level, I'm referring to 30-something professionals who are too undisciplined with their cash, leading to light starvation, and the selling off of various items to pawn shops every now and then to afford gas. I'm well aware my problems are small and I'm in no way making myself out to be a victim of this shitty economy...as shitty as it is. I'm really quite well. Dare I say content. For now.
What have I done?
Pretty much just one thing. Cutting out going out (Yeah, big surprise). I'm enjoying that cozy apartment I'm spending more on, and entertaining myself through Netflix, and other (clean) Internet sites, streaming channels and sports events, lectures on philosophy and economics, and what have you. If you will.
It's no secret I like going out. I like the local vibe in this town, there are good people here. Some bad. Mostly good. I like eating out a lot too. I like good food. More than anything, I like a good meal. Food, drink and socializing are what make me happy. Food, drink and socializing can also cost a lot.
So, I only drink if I'm at a bar with people. They call that social drinking. That's now gone (or reduced). I do miss the socializing, that's gone too (or reduced). But, I could substitute that desire to interact with the people with a desire to interact with various cooking ingredients and spices, and create some good food that is both cheap and healthy, but most importantly, tastes good. I'm very picky with food, let it be known.
What have I been eating that's both cheap and yummo ~ What I like?
1) Homemade Pizza-
A decent sized ball of dough may cost a dollar, if that, and I can get four or five awesome pizzas from it. I've been doing the Pesto thing a lot now, and I'm too lazy to make it. I can get a jar of that stuff for under 3 bucks which is good for 2 pizzas. My dough is top shelf (thanks to a recipe I stole from a friend). I'm eating just as good as those at an Italian restaurant, and clearly my pizza is better than that college shit they sell in this town.
I eat a lot of eggs. I make omelets, usually with just mushrooms and/or peppers. Cheap and filling. Good protein. I usually add some cumin in there as well as other secret spices.
3) Beef Smoked Sausage (Hillshire Farms)
It's very similar to Kielbasa though made of all beef. Yeah, it's corporate highly processed beef but fry them up, till the skin is crispy (with a little grape seed oil), add a chipotle, a bit of a habenaro, half an onion (sauteed), and red bell pepper (sauteed), with a little Asian mustard powder ~ then put it all on a bun, and you'll be in a good place. No joke.
Most people know about Ramen, but I think few push it to its limits. If you're not afraid of a little MSG, then start by frying up some mushrooms, bell pepper, shredded carrots, and meat if you got any. I usually put Sriracha and a little peanut oil in the mix. I then add the water and make the soup. When the soup and veggies and noodles are all cooked, I end with an egg and top it with a green onion at the very end. Quite cheap and filling.
Chili is making a comeback with me, and I can see this meal being a good friend during cold Pennsylvania nights. Have some fun with it though. Most decent grocery stores now have a decent array of dried chili peppers from the southwest. Buy a few, and grind them up, and put them in the mix along with the other standard ingredients. I prefer adding a beef stock and flour to make it all thick. A large pot of this stuff can go faster than you think. And it's economical.
These are just some of my food choices I make at home, and when these get perfected, you can move onto something else. I've been experimenting with Hot'n'Sour soup too, among other things, and if I get that down, I'll put it up. But you will become a better person, and cash won't be as tight, if you decide to eat out less and perfect a few dishes and make them irresistible. (Otherwise, why bother)
((Another big budgeting decision I made was to get a really cheap cell phone, which I wrote about almost two weeks ago, check that out if you care.))
So, gone are the days of fear and panic when I see my balance running low. Instead of being a time of worry, it's now an occasion for opportunity, creativity and adventure in the kitchen. This is to the benefit of the mind and body (and soul). Yeah, it's cliche, but there are really infinite possibilities, spice combinations, ingredients and approaches. Options and choices are always something to be valued and utilized to their furthest potential as you see fit for your own tastes. You're in charge of your own kitchen. Live it up and save some cash in the process, and maybe you'll have something to offer your friends and community.
(disclaimer: These blog posts are not intended or designed to pass on any hidden or secret or profound knowledge, just an honest discussion of where I'm at and what I'm doing. You may find this to be completely unoriginal and uninteresting and that's perfectly fine. Though, they are written with a heartfelt truth and honestly about the things I'm into at this stage. If they are of no use to you, please move on to the next blogger or feel free to comment in the comment section. To each his own.)