Food Prep on a Budget

My wife is out of town on business this week, and she left before she normally does our (and in this week’s case, my) food prep, so it was up to me to get it done. I decided to do an experiment and see how much food I could make for $25. It turns out, you can eat for a week.

Now, the bad news is that it’s all chicken. That’s something I try to avoid; eating the same food all week. That leads to palate fatigue, and is one of the main reasons people fall off diets and stop eating healthy. They just get bored of eating the same food over and over again. There are some who have steel will and can eat the same food over and over for weeks, months, and even years on end. I’m not one of those people (except for breakfast; I love my bacon and eggs!). When it comes to lunch and dinner, I need a varied menu.

This week, I still had a few leftovers from last week’s food prep, so I knew I wasn’t going to be stuck eating just chicken all week. With that said, I smoked two whole chickens with nothing more than salt and pepper sprinkled onto the outside, and I put beer into the water container in the smoker instead of water. I smoked the chicken at 250 degrees for just under four hours, and it was incredibly juicy and tasty.

For some veggies, I did two things. First, I got some red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and an onion, and I sliced these all up and put them into a frying pan with some coconut oil and some seasonings. I under-sauteed them so that I could put the veggies into the lunch containers and I figured that the microwave will finish the cooking of the veggies. This will keep them from getting over-soft.

I also made a Hungarian cucumber salad. This is more for dinner use, as I like to have some sort of salad side with my dinners. It’s very easy to make: peel three cucumbers and then with a mandolin, slice them thin into a bowl. Add salt and garlic powder, and let sit in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours. Remove the bowl and wring out the cucumber. This literally takes as much of the water out of the cucumber. After you’ve wrung out as much of the water as you can from the cucumber (discarding that water by placing the wrung out cucumber into a new, smaller bowl), add vinegar, a little water, and either some honey or monk fruit sweetener to taste. I used monk fruit this time, and it came out very well.

I packaged no fewer than 8 packages for lunches and dinners this week coupled with the leftovers from last week. Had I needed a second meat, I could have purchased a roast or some pork for another $10-15 dollars and perhaps 2 or 3 sweet potatoes for another $3. Instead of sweet potatoes, I could have bought some cauliflower or broccoli as well. That brings us to under $50 for a weeks’ worth of food for two people. It’s not exciting, but it’s all easy stuff that can be done in a smoker or a crock pot, which means very low effort food.

Eating right can be done on the cheap. You just have to plan ahead and using the least processed food, even when it comes to meat, helps reduce the cost a lot.

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