I swear I’m going to get to the main point of this article. Just hear me out for second.
Quick history: Most meals in history, which are now deemed to be expensive and consumed by individuals who possess a position of power–mainly wealth–started out as ‘peasant food?’
There is a certain sadomasochistic feeling that one feels when they are self-sufficient or self-reliant. It’s true in fact, that the Millennial and Gen Z generations cannot afford to buy a house. With the rising cost of gas, groceries, housing and basically everything in between, as well as a full schedule between school and work, it’s hard to find when we can make ourselves a decent meal on a strict budget.
the ‘struggle meal’ has been essential to my survival in Los Angeles. It is a well-known non delicacy for people who are not on the higher socioeconomic status which can include but not limited to: college students, young youth, single parents, the homeless or when you just don’t really give a shit. This in no way mean that all ‘struggle meals’ don’t require some sort of dedication of time. So, it’s best to schedule your meals ahead of time if needed. Just trust the process and there may be beauty in the breakdown.
I figure, its best to purchase the cheapest and most versatile fruits and veggies– as well as meats to last at least a week. Look ahead at each market and be conscious of your budget and how many times you will use any single product. Don’t buy two pounds of lemons and one head for example.
Cheap produce can be found at some markets in a discounted area. This does not mean the produce has spoiled. Most of the time it is because of its imperfection or a stray from a pre-sorted bag for sale. produce and butcher section of the market. In my own personal experience, I prefer to go to less mainstream markets in L.A. County. For me, Mexican mercados—or markets—reach to the pinnacle of good produce at a great price.
Northgate, Superior, Baja Ranch Market and your local carneceria are winners to me. Food4Less is another market that provides quality ingredients for a lower price. Another thing, if buying meat, ask the butcher to portion in different bags so you can store some in the freezer for later use.
Make sure you can have non-perishables always in your cupboard, especially of on sale and in big bulk. This would consist for dry noodles, canned food, dry beans, dry rice and oatmeal. Although our goal is to be full and at the same time incorporating a healthy (or somewhat) meal that won’t require much. With ingredients like dry beans and dry rice; these can be cooked a day or two ahead of time and last if correctly stored.
Buy dairy products as needed. I am not a cow-milk consumption-ist. I think it’s cruel and unnatural. I don’t mind buying a ton of eggs though. I eat them like a religion. Spare me the cholesterol talk.
Did you know you can freeze bread and torillas?
Is what is the different between condiment, seasoning or spice? What they could be is a bit expensive. If you have the commodity to have a street market/market/farmer’s market that allows you to buy any single spice/seasoning/or condiment, take advantage of it.
Always have hot sauce!!!
Buy a filtration for water. Drink more water.
Finally, here are some of my legitimate favorites that I have repeated time and time again when the struggle is real:
5. Jacked Tina (Frozen Burritos):
“Something I learned with the stuff in my fridge.”
Buy any brand or style of frozen burrito My brand and style is Tina’s frozen burritos in ‘Green Chile Beef.’ Pop it in the microwave for about a min. Heat on med-heat a shallow pan with canola or vegetable oil on the stove. Place burrito on heated pan. Lower heat and cover. Flip over after a minute and remove from pan. In the meanwhile, cut onion, cilantro and jalapeno or any pepper to your liking to make a pico de gallo and dress over burrito. Add hot sauce or anything else that you would like!
Cost: about $1.75
4. Frijoles de la Olla (Pot beans, so easy.)
“Growing up, there was always with a pot of frijoles (beans) on the stove.”
Dry beans take a while to rehydrate and cook so start them early. Not promoting this but, my working mother would start a pot in the morning and leave it on a low flame until we arrived home from school to tend to it until ready.
Gather 3-4 cups of dry pinto/black beans and sort out on a surface and rocks or throw away beans there might be. Place beans into deep pot and wash. Fill pot with 10 cups of water. Add 2 quarters of a medium brown onion and a slice of a chile pepper for heat and flavoring. Bring to a boil. Add salt to taste and remember to not over salt. The beans will absorb any salt that is added to the boiling water. Boil until beans are fork tender. May serve with basically anything like sour cream, tomatoes, onion, squash etc. … let your imagination go wild.
Cost per serving: $1.50
3. Momma’s Pizza
“I loved the smell of blistering cheese coming from the oven.”
Grab any slice(s) of toasted bread, or what I recently learned, a toasted flour tortilla(s). Place tomato slices on bread. Place slices or tomato and cheese (any type) on top of surface of choice. Season with any herbs or top with any veggies or meats. Pop in the oven/broiler for 5-minutes or boiler for 1-minute. Cool and enjoy.
2. College Ramen
“Everything and the egg.”
Place egg(d) in a small pot and fill with water just enough to cover the egg(s). Bring to a boil. Boild for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. Place in cold water than set aside. Boil any brand of instant ramen to instruction on package. Place ramen and broth in a bowl. Slice one egg lengthwise and place on top of noodles. I like to add onion, cilantro, lemon, a dash of soy sauce and Tapatio.
Cost per serving: $1.00
“No matter what you eat, you are still eating.”
Served hot or cold with a frown and a sense of independence.