A Grimace is a Big Mac, Cheeseburger and Quarter Pounder (with cheese) Combined into what can only be considered a stupid and unhealthy idea. You take the top off the Big Mac, and put the Cheeseburger in, replacing the Big Macs bun. Then take the top third of the Big Mac off and put the Quarter pounder in the bottom, and then rebuild it again.
Eating Technique: If you're going for speed, just shove a whole wing/drumstick in your mouth and scrape the meat off with your teeth as you're pulling it out. With practice you can get the meat off cleaner and increase speed.
First off, no, I'm not any kind of fantastic professional chef. I passed a technical school food prep course with a C+ back in high school and have worked fast food jobs for the combined total of maybe a year and a half.
That said, I am an amazing desperation chef. I've been making edible meals out of scraps since I learned how to use the microwave at 8 years old. I once survived for two weeks on three packages of Ramen, some bullion cubes, a package of hot dogs, various seasonings, and $10.
I'm currently in a house which my wife keeps fairly stocked with decent food (she likes to cook "real" sit-down-with-family meals), so my desperation cooking days appear to be at an end. I would, however, like to pass on my accrued real-world knowledge in hopes that someone between jobs or a college kid doesn't starve to death. I should also be able to do a "what have you got, I'll help you out" but don't expect miracles if "water, salt, and pepper" are the only things you have.
I'll start with the most important part: planning.
Regardless of whether your hard times came suddenly or were expected, you have to make a meal plan. This will allow you to shop for what you NEED and not waste money buying too much or too little. This is going to go hand-in-hand with your grocery list (grocery shopping advice will be covered later) so make an accurate projection and stick to it. You'll find that knowing what you want to eat tomorrow will mean you can begin preparations today, and since you're going to be buying on a budget more preparation time will make the food taste better.
Take stock of what you have and how much of it you have. I'm not saying that you need 100% accurate numbers, but if you have a roughly half-container-full of something that weighs 64 ounces full, take note that you have 32 ounces. Figure out how much of what you eat each day, since your shopping is going to be calculated to not buy too much more/less than you need.
Figure out how long you'll be desperate. This is the final piece of the getting-by puzzle. Since you're in survival mode, knowing how long you'll be in it will help to determine the amounts of things to buy. If you don't see an end to it, buy for at least two weeks worth (or what your budget allows).
Next we cover the most difficult part: shopping
Look for dehydrated/dry stuff -- You don't need to buy water, as odds are you have it on hand at home. Noodles and rice will probably be your staple foods while desperation cooking. Flour and cornmeal are good buys as well as bullion cubes and sugars/spices, but if you don't know how to do things as involved as building your own break don't bother. It's nasty, but evaporated milk + water saves a bundle for breakfast when coupled with the bags of generic cereal, which leads to my next point...
Buy generic brands -- You'll be able to get a good percentage more stuff buying Wal*Mart brand whatever rather than getting the top shelf equivalent at a dedicated grocery store. Yes, it doesn't taste as good and yes you might be selling your soul to the devil a bit but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Be careful when buying in bulk -- Wow, that 20lb bag of noodles is two cents cheaper per unit than the same brand smaller bag! That's great if you intend to eat 20 pounds of noodles. Don't buy desperation foodstuffs that you won't eat once you're no longer desperate -- it'll just waste your money. If you made a plan (as mentioned earlier) you should know how long you're going to be desperate and should know roughly how much of what you'll use. Considering the amount of noodles you'll be eating, though, that huge jar of spaghetti sauce is probably a good idea.
Load up on starches -- Potatoes, noodles, tortillas... the list goes on. These are cheap, flexible foods that you should be able to make a variety of rather filling things with and not get sick of.
Don't buy pre-prepared food -- NO TV DINNERS. I don't care how thick your neckbeard is, that lasagna Banquet microwavable try that you normally eat two of anyway is off limits. You could probably MAKE much more and better lasagna yourself for the same price, and cooking REALLY isn't that hard. The more ingredient-centric you shop, the cheaper it is. In the same vein, fast food is also out. As a rule of thumb, if you don't have to add anything to it don't buy it.
Meats and dairy -- Use meat sparingly, and never as a main dish. It's expensive per calorific value. Frozen chicken breasts are always good to add to almost any dish, though, and are an exception to the rule. Eggs are pretty limited, but if you like eggs go for it. Milk should be skim since it's cheaper and as an ingredient you won't taste the difference. Cheese is really cheap here in WI, but anywhere where it's not available at good prices should avoid it (again, it's not all that vital).
Vegetables -- Buy frozen bags of whatever you can. Fresh and canned are wastes of funds. Lettuce is filling and cheap, and can only be found fresh as far as I know, but if you're getting plenty of other veggies you can skip it. I personally like it on the side of most of my meals.
Now that we've covered the basics, let's get down to the cooking. Since I never really measure what I use, I'm just going to list the ingredients of one of my favorite desperation dishes. I usually "play it by taste" and toss whatever into a wok or skillett over some heat while stirring and slowly add small amounts of what I think it needs until it comes out edible.
Ghetto ChiliPeel and slice some potatoes. The thinner the better since the potato starch is what's going to thicken this up. Add skim milk and noodles and let simmer over low heat while covered, stirring often. We're going to get a gravy-ish broth here, so if it starts getting too thin leave uncovered for a bit to evaporate or add more noodles. You can add butter or oil if you'd like, I try to avoid it unless the noodles are really sticking.
Once it's thickened a bit add pepper. Shit tons of it. And a little salt, too. Stir it very well, and it should become a sort of disgusting gray color. Taste often to achieve target. Add veggies if you like.
Is the world ready for Staind By Me, St@nd By e-Me, and Crank 3: Stand By Me?
Finally: an advice column for the rest of us! (Who seek to enslave humanity.)
A Goon outs himself as a wizard and gets a warm reception from the rogues/rangers/paladins gallery!
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