hungry hungry hippos
December 10, 2006 10:47 AM   Subscribe

I have about $20 to keep me fed until Thursday night. What do I buy?

It's exams week. My last exam is Thursday night. How do I keep my brain fed until then? I am a vegetarian with a naturally high metabolism.

Here's what I have to work with:
Money Things -
$3 left on my meal plan (a simple meal can be had for near $1 if you hit the dining halls at the right hour)
$10 cash
$15 available in my ATM account

Kitcheny things -
5lbs flour
2lbs bisquick
1 can crisco
a few grams of yeast
2.5 lbs brown rice
a lot of honey (I drink a lot of tea)
a negligible amount of peanut butter (will be eaten by tonight)
stove/oven/microwave/rice cooker
posted by tylermoody to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
rice and beans, some spice
posted by caddis at 10:52 AM on December 10, 2006

You've got everything you need except for eggs and yeast to make kringle (assuming you can steal some salt from the cafeteria)

Fruit is surprisingly expensive but I imagine you could use honey as the filler. The kringle I've had doesn't actually have much filling anyway, or use your cafeteria to get some real fruit.
posted by substrate at 11:02 AM on December 10, 2006

if you had 2/3 cup of milk, you could mix that with 2 1/4 cups of bisquick and make biscuits. the honey will go well with that.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 11:02 AM on December 10, 2006

peanut butter and banana sammiches
posted by gnutron at 11:04 AM on December 10, 2006

You have $20 until THURSDAY?!?

You're fine.

First off, biscuts and honey. Good for snacks, as a side, etc. You'll be eating a lot of carbs.

Run through your $3 meals on lunches. Stagger them, and have biscuts on the off days.

Do you have spices? If yes, then you've got seasoned brown rice.

Buy 12 eggs. Shouldn't run you more than a dollar or two. Now you have plenty of beefy protien. Think fried rice, or scrambled eggs, or egg sandwiches (remember the biscuts?).

Get margarine ($1) and some pasta ($1.50) and some tuna ($.80). Maybe even two cans of tuna. Now you've got tuna sandwiches, and if you can scrounge some cheese, you've got pasta and a butter sauce.

You've got a lot of cash left over, but what's listed above can keep you fed. Other good places to spend your cash: bread ($1.50) and off-brand PB&J ($2) for a week's worth of lunches. You'll also want some snacks; I like chocolate chips a lot for a little kick of sugar. Also consider frozen vegatables ($1) which can be real tasty with a little salt and butter. Or instant mashed potatos ($2) which sometimes require milk, but you can get by with salt and a lot of butter.

$20 can get you a long way; just don't eat out. At all.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:04 AM on December 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

You could get a bag of beans, an onion and a couple of carrots, maybe a container of chili powder from the dollar store and make soup.

26 ounce cans of pasta sauce are about a $1. You could have a lot of spaghetti with marinara sauce for less than $3.

Eat lots of brown rice, of course, because that's paid for.

If it was me, I'd splurge on a loaf of whole wheat bread and more peanut butter.
posted by found dog one eye at 11:04 AM on December 10, 2006

Dude, you're fine. Get some cheap vegetables, like carrots or something like that, and you can have rice and veggies. Also, pasta is very cheap.
posted by number9dream at 11:06 AM on December 10, 2006

buy beans for the rice, and hit some Asian store for supercheap spice as noted above

go to a grocery store and ask them to sell you their expired milk, it's still drinkable 3 days after the expiration date if kept properly refrigerated. you eat eggs? they're cheap, and there's lots of protein. use the flour to make bread, it's filling.

you'll be alright.

if you're still hungry, sell a few cds/books assuming you have any, you'll make some extra bucks
posted by matteo at 11:08 AM on December 10, 2006

You can *easily* eat for five days with $20.

First, you need vegetables and fruit for finals week; rice and beans isn't enough, so be sure to include green and yellow things. Call the grocery store and ask if they have a day-old produce shelf, and what time they stock it. I've picked up enormous bags of zucchini for $1.50 many times and had delicious, thick soup for days.

I'd go for bananas, an onion or two to use in quick stir-fries over rice (perhaps scrounging some soy sauce packets at a fast food place to mix with your honey for a sweet-sour sauce), and whatever you see that's reduced that week in the produce aisle. Spend $12 on a good selection of delicious veggies/fruit and you'll eat well for 5 days. I'd suggest spaghetti as filler, but you have enough rice to last you.

2nd, you can make this recently famous no-knead bread with your current ingredients and a little salt. It takes a day to slow-rise, but is fantastic and nearly effortless.

Third, replace that peanut butter. That's another $3.

Fourth, get as many canned beans as you can with the rest. Aside from working great with the rice, you can make a large batch of bean salad with maybe a can of corn or something, along with some of your veggies, drizzled with whatever oil and spices you can scrounge (I like equal parts lime juice and canola oil, with a little brown sugar and dijon mustard mixed in, but you'll have to improvise).

Good luck! I've been there (and kinda still am); it's not that hard to eat well on the cheap!
posted by mediareport at 11:19 AM on December 10, 2006

You're short on beans.
You need more greens.
Vegetables are nice.
You've plenty of rice.
How about some fruit?
Peanut butter, to boot!

You can make biscuits and bread,
and cookies (portable sugar bombs),
bean stew, pancakes, tortillas with
refried beans, rice with vegetables,
beans with vegetables, rice with
vegetables, beans with vegetables...
posted by the Real Dan at 11:20 AM on December 10, 2006 [5 favorites]

You might find some good ideas at Frugal Cuisine
posted by stefanie at 11:29 AM on December 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

Mexican Food is a great way to go-- tasty, filling, and cheap.
can of refried beans
can of black beans
bottle of salsa
bag of store brand shredded cheese
tortillas (whole grain is a good choice)
bag of tortilla chips

This should all be less than $10.00. Depending on where you shop, add in a tomato or two and a head of lettuce (or bagged lettuce if it is on sale.) Now you can mix the ingredients in a variety of ways: nachos, soft tacos, burritos, even chimichangas if you have a way to fry the burritos.

Also if you can boil foods, you can make split pea soup and a 1 lb bag of dried split peas (good for several meals) cost around 60 cents. My basic recipe for split pea soup is to fry up an onion in olive oil, add in some chopped carrots, two bay leaves and a sprig of rosemary, cover with water and boil until mushy (2 hours or more) but you can actually make the soup with only the peas and water.

Like oriental food? Try frying up an onion, add in a minced garlic head or two and then a whole head of cabbage, sliced into thin strips. Cook this until the cabbage is soft. There should be a little liquid in the pan from the cabbage. Now add in a couple packages of maruchan noodles (broken up) with the seasoning packets and boil for three minutes until the noodles are done. This should be enough food for 3 meals.

2 pkgs of noodles .28
3 lb head of cabbage at 33 cents per pound: $1.00
1 large onion $1.00
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:40 AM on December 10, 2006

cans of hearty soup, and ramen noodles.
posted by pwally at 12:09 PM on December 10, 2006

Hillbilly Housewife has a week-long $45 emergency menu geared towards families of 4-6. You could probably adapt it to your needs and budget.
posted by Ostara at 12:14 PM on December 10, 2006 [2 favorites]

I love you the Real Dan

Big bags of beans, or for that matter, lentils. Lentils are cheap as hell.

This recipe is delicious and cheap (though unfortunately will require you buying a fair number of veggies; though you can modify it as necessary). Multiply the ingredients by 4 and it will feed you for days.
posted by duffell at 12:27 PM on December 10, 2006

My wife can do miracles with little food on hand. Here is her suggestion:
With that much flour, Crisco & rice you can easily survive the week with little cash!

Shopping list: 1 dozen eggs,1 can green peas, 1 can carrots, 1 large onion, 1 stalk celery, 3 cans evaporated milk. This should be about $4.00 . We may not be talking gourmet meals here but hey, they will keep the old motor running during exam time!

1. Cook all of the rice. It will make enough for numerous dishes all week, (assuming that you have a fridge.)

2. Use some of your flour, some yeast (1 teaspoon for each cup of flour), salt & water, to make "fry bread". You have enough of these ingredients for meals & snacks all week. Mix 2 cups flour, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons yeast, and enough water to make a stiff dough. Pinch off a golf ball size of dough, flatten and stick you finger through the center to make a hole. Fry in hot Crisco, turning to brown both sides. Eat plain while hot or with some of the honey.

3. Make pancakes with the bisquick. Eat with honey for breakfast. For next pancake meal, add a cup of brown rice to pancake batter before frying. Fry an egg and place on pancake, then smother with gravy.(To make gravy, melt two tablespoons Crisco in pan. Add 2 tablespoon flour. Cook & stir gently until lightly browned. Then add one can of evaporated milk. Stir constantly until thickened. Season/w salt & pepper and pour over pancake & egg.

4. Saute onion and chopped celery, cool, then refrigerate to use all week to mix with cooked rice for a quick meal..

5. Mix rice with the sauteed veggies as well as the canned peas & carrots. Serve hot (with soy sauce if you have it.) This will make enough for several meals.

6. Mix bisquick as directed on the box. Press into a shallow pie pan, covering bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Now beat 4 eggs, add a can of evaporated milk, a cup of the veggies & rice, salt & pepper to taste. Bake in a 375 oven until mixture is lightly browned and "set" in the center.

Eat this hot or cold.

Just remember, with that much flour and Crisco on hand you will not starve. And remember, a one pound bag of dry beans which cost 50c or less, cooked and flavored with some of the Crisco

would be a nutritious change from rice every day. A bowl of beans/some of the sauteed veggies and fry bread makes a great meal. You will even have money left over at the end of the week
posted by JayRwv at 12:29 PM on December 10, 2006

You should be able to make it with the suggestions above, but I thought I'd mention that in my school most people had tons of extra money left over in their meal plans at the end of the term. This money is use it or lose it, right? Maybe some friends would take you out a time or two.
posted by textilephile at 12:31 PM on December 10, 2006

caddis nailed it 5 minutes in. Rice and beans.

I'll always remember the year I lived on $11,000 -- for shelter, food, car insurance, everything. Fortunately the car was paid for and I was willing to live in a dumpy apartment.
posted by intermod at 12:59 PM on December 10, 2006

I see lots of advice about eating frugally, and that's all good, but this isn't a time to start eating frozen fruits and vegetables, or going hungry, you need your health for finals week!

If money is that scarce right now, there's nothing shameful in asking a friend for 50$ to help last you the week. If one of my buddies did, I'd be glad to help, and I wouldn't expect them to give it back unless they could do so without hardship.
posted by paperclip at 2:04 PM on December 10, 2006

Google for a lentil soup recipe. I remember it working out to about a quarter per serving.
posted by deadmessenger at 2:11 PM on December 10, 2006

rice and beans/lentils, as mentioned, are your base.
you also need something with vitamin B12 and omega fatty acids. Non-animal sources of this are hemp or flax seeds. Non-meat sources are dairy. Then finally, fruits/vegetables.
posted by allelopath at 2:29 PM on December 10, 2006

Don't know if it's vegetarian-friendly, but you can get Ramen for $0.10 a packet. Even if that's not enough to fill you at one meal, it's a decent side dish. It's not the healthiest (high in salt) but it'll get you through a tight spot.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:51 PM on December 10, 2006

you can get Ramen for $0.10 a packet

Just be sure to toss in some broccoli/zucchini/whatever just after the noodles start to boil and you have something good. Ramen by itself is a pretty low-nutrient meal.
posted by mediareport at 5:54 PM on December 10, 2006

Ramen is definitely a low nutrient meal. Ingredients tend to be flour, oil, salt and not much else. Tasty, but not good for you.

My favourite things to do for cheap meals are stew or pasta. They scale up for very little money. For pasta, I could make a weeks worth for maybe $10-15.00. Cheap pasta is less than a dollar a packet, throw in some chopped vegies (whatever you can get on sale), splash out on a bottle of basil sauce (a few dollars), add some beans and it's good to go!

Dried peas, beans, lentils etc make a staggering amount of soup once cooked up, too. You could go through your local supermarket or grocer, find all the discounted produce and make up a tasty meal in bulk, as long as you don't mind eating the same thing for a while.

Good luck!
posted by tomble at 6:37 PM on December 10, 2006

Oh, and oatmeal. A large bowl of oatmeal with honey & cinnamon for breakfast should keep you full for hours, and quick oats are damn cheap.
posted by tomble at 6:38 PM on December 10, 2006

If you have a currently operating farmer's market or fruit stand in your area, go there for your veggies and fruit. I regularly fill up my regulation-sized canvas shopping bag for $7 or so without even trying to be thrifty. And that's a week's worth of veggies for two.

Other than that, get some beans, get some tofu maybe, for protein, and have some sauteed veggie, rice&bean, and cheese burritos and some veggie & tofu stir fry over rice. Any leftovers can go to make a tasty soup or stew.

Taking the time off from studying/writing to bake some bread might help you relax and actually help your grades!

And don't underestimate dumpster diving. I've never done it, but I've eaten at the tables of folks who did. You should be totally set on what you've got for now, but, y'know, for future reference.
posted by librarina at 9:03 PM on December 10, 2006

So, how'd it turn out, Tyler?
posted by the Real Dan at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2006

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