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*Cue Dramatic Music* Loaf Of The Gods

I'm not entirely sure how I did it, but I created a true work of art the other night. Out of four generic brand premade ground beef hamburger patties and a few things I had laying around the kitchen, I made The Meatloaf to end all meatloaves. It was the moistest, most perfectly spiced, most succulent meatloaf I have ever eaten in my entire life. I don't remember selling my soul to Satan, but I must've, because DAMN, it was as if I stole it directly from the kitchen of the gods. I couldn't help but imagine what it would taste like with real meat. The one and only drawback was that it was slightly more fragile than most meatloaves I've eaten, but usually the density comes at the expense of flavor. I'll happily sacrifice a small amount of density/shape for taste.

After eating, I felt like I should go to confession or something and beg forgiveness for pilfering G-d's dinner. Lucky I live so close to the Cathedral.

Loaf:
1 lb ground beef or 4 pre-made (but not pre-cooked) hamburger patties
3-4 handfulls of breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg

Glaze:
1/2 cup chili sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon honey

Combine loaf ingredients in a large bowl. Mix gently, but thorougly until ingredients are blended. I used my hands (washed, of course), but there are varying schools of thought as to whether this is the best method.

Pack this mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Turn the meatloaf out of the pan into the center of a greased/cooking sprayed glass baking dish. If you don't have a bread pan, you can just make an oblong mound directly on the dish. Place meatloaf on the center rack, with a pie dish (or any other sort of baking dish) of water underneath. The water will evaporate upwards and moisten the meatloaf so as to prevent dryness.

Combine the chili sauce, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Pour glaze over meatloaf. Bake in oven on 325 degrees for roughly an hour and a half, checking with a meat thermometer to be sure that it is done all the way through. Once meatloaf is cooked, remove from oven and allow to set for 10 minutes. Transfer meatloaf to plate and serve.

*note: A little bit of juice will form around the meatloaf. That's ok, it doesn't hurt the taste at all.

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A very simple money-saver

I did this last week without thinking, and realized that its worth doing more. 

I'm sorry to anyone who looks at his and says "well DUH! I'm already doing that"

If you can, split meals with others. Lets face it, if you go to the grocery store the food is clearly packaged for a family of at least 4. So, you have two options. Option one is to buy the family sized loaf of bread, the 3 lb bag of potatos, the entire gallon of milk- and then eat/drink that every day for a week, or even two. Me, personaly, I get sick of eating the same food day after day. Granted, sometimes it cant be avoided, but I dont like to. The other downside is that its not healthy. We are built to be hunter/gatherer creatures, which means eating a wide variety of things on a day to day basis. Sure, potatos are nutricious, but if you eat just that for 2 weeks anything that ISNT in that potato your not getting at all. VITAMINS ARE NOT THE ANSWER.

So, last week I gt 1 lb of beef, and a 69 cent can of manwich sauce, a bag od carrots, and some buns. We split it between 3 people, and it cost next to nothing per person. This way we all got our protein, nothing spoiled, and we didnt have a chance to get sick of what we were eating. If we did this regularly I think we could save quite a lot of money, and be healthier.

Now, do remember that this only works if your not burning a bunch of gas. Make friends with people in your building. Chances are good they could use a low-cost means of getting a variety of foods to. If not in your building, within walking distance. Then you even get just a smidgen of exersize...and mabey even a little bit of that oh-so-precious sunshine.

** As a side note, dont neglect good ol sloppy joes. their cheap, but since you ate them as a kid you dont have to feel broke when your eating them. Their nostalgic instad of depressing.

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a thrifty list of links

I thought maybe you guys would appreciate some of these links,I've been collecting them for a while and they have been alot of help to me-


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Cheap (super filling) Lasagna-ish Stuff

OK, so my husband is a freak about watching gourmet cooking shows.  They make me ravenous but we stay broke a good chunk of the time.  Well one of them had a tasty, pretty easy, and dirt cheap recipe.  They Called it vegetarian Lasagna.

Step one: Home made polenta.  This is cheap as they sell course corn meal in bulk where I live.  I'm sure you all have recipes for polenta by now.  Take the polenta and refrigerate in large flat sheets to set up.  After it has solidified in large sheets procede to step two. 

Step Two: Creating the insides. I used bits of lefover spaghetti squash and a free (Huge) Zuchini given to me by a co-worker from her garden.  Sliced Zuchini into thin slices and sprinkled layers with garlic and onion powder. 

Take large Baking pan, layer polenta into a coated layer on the bottom.  Then layer zuchini slices, then spaghetti squash bits, sprinkle, repeat zuchini layer, cover with layer of spaghetti sauce ($0.89/can).  Top entire pan with Polenta flat and solid.   Then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, This will fill a 9"x12" cake pan.  The Slices when cooled are about 3 inches deep.  It is filling and satisfying, feeds many and preserves well.  Tasty and full.  And totally vegan.

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Is it incredible? Why, yes it is! Is it oh-so-edible? Absolutely! What is this fabulous, flexible, phenomenal food? It's none other than the egg. It can be used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and is included in just about everything from cakes to quiche. Its versitility is its virtue, making the egg a staple for any cook.

The egg is the poor person's best friend. Eggs are a great source of protien, making an excellent meat substitute and they're cheap, with a whole dozen of them sell for under two dollars. In my area, you can buy a standard carton for roughly $1.25 at the supermarket. This carton will usually last me about a week, depending on what I'm making with it.

I know some of you haven't had a whole lot of cooking experience, so I'll start off with the basics(although veteran cooks may want to give the following paragraphs a read anyway in case you find some of my tips and tricks helpful). Egg BasicsCollapse )

There are an overwhelmingly vast number of recipes out there that vary in their level of complication. Omelettes, quiches, and souffles are among my favorite, more cost effective ones, but there are countless others. A good search on the internet will turn up a fair few. Best of luck and please ask any questions that come to mind.

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Red Beans And Rice And A Word on Bacon

This was a recipe my mother used quite frequently when I was young and is one of my favorites. When I was very small (and ridiculously picky), I used to add mozerella cheese. Now I love the recipe as is and wouldn't dream of adding the cheese, but if you're starved for calcium, it might be well worth it.

Red Beans and Rice

Put the following ingredients in a crock pot or in a pot on the stove:

-One to two cans pinto or kidney beans
-One clove garlic, chopped fine
-1/2 to 1 bay leaf
-Either 2-3 strips bacon (I cook mine first if I'm cooking on the stove) or a ham hock (if using ham hock, cook it and then cut meat off bone to put in beans)
-At least a cup of water with optional boullion to keep it from cooking dry (I'd recommend keeping an eye on it to make sure this doesn't happen)
-Add desired amount of Tabasco (I use loads, but my mother doesn't use any)
-Let cook for 45 minutes on stovetop or two hours in the crock pot (give or take)
-Cook rice
-Ladle beans over rice and serve

Although my mother's recipe calls for ham hocks OR bacon, I always use bacon, as it is slightly cheaper and the rest of the package can be used to flavor other things. Bacon is one of the best flavoring for beans or eggs in existence, as it is hideously cheap (if you only use one or two strips per recipe and your recipe stretchs over several meals or feeds multiple people). It's not that unhealthy if used merely for flavoring. If you're not all that concerned about health, save the grease, as it can be used to grease pans and add a hint of bacon flavoring.

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Staying Healthy

Getting a cold or flu sucks. If you're poor, it sucks worse. Taking a few days off work can be catastrophic or impossible when you really need the money. Medicine is expensive. Stress and not resting make you stay sicker longer.

Anyone have tips for staying healthy? Here are mine:

1. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Figure out how many hours you need to sleep at night in order to not feel tired and get at least that much every night. At the very least, when you start feeling that ache in your sinuses or scratchyness in your throat, go to bed early enough for a crazy sleepfest. For me that's 10 hours before the alarm is set to go off in the morning.

2. If you go to school full time, and your campus has a health center, use it. When I was in school I could get over the counter medicine for $1 - $5 and doctor's appointments were free.

3. I swear by this tea. I drink it when I first get a sign of the tired/sore throat/burning sinuses feeling, and then I sleep as much as I can. I've headed off many a cold that way.

4. Nutrition and exercise are a given. Easier said than done.

5. Don't use antibacterial soaps or sterilize things like crazy around the house. For most people, being around some germs builds a healthy immune system. No, this isn't your excuse to let the dishes fester, but you don't need to be the scary lady in the Lysol commercial.

Newcomer

Hey-lo!
I'm new to the community and have just read all post and I love it. Thanks for all of the ideas, they rock.

Hmmm... a word of wisdom from myself:

Don't EVER underestmate the power of thrift stores and garage sales. I get most of my brand name items at these places. Nothing to joke around about.
;o)

Goodwill is my pirate's booty!

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Cookbook

It is my opinion that a good cookbook is one of the most useful things you can invest in. You can get recipes off of the internet, but a great many of them call for ingredients that you can't possibly afford. I would recommend the More-With-Less Cookbook, because it's designed to make cost effective meals and fully utilize what little you do have. My mother used it for as long as I can remember when my family was just barely scraping by and we always had nutritious, delicious meals. She gave me her old copy and it has served me well. It sells for about $20 on Amazon.com, but you can get used copies for half that price. It's well worth your money.

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On the topic of beer

Beer in your fridge is cheaper than beer from a tap.

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