3

votes

Single person with VERY limited funds and no time to cook

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 05, 2011 at 12:57 PM

I've spent some time looking thru the site and it's full of great info! My situation is unique to anything I've found here-- I'm single, work away from home (cooking facilities) a lot, have limited funds and I don't eat any seafood at all. In looking at some of the menus I'm guessing that these are stay at home folks with a bigger budget. Anyone have any suggestions on what I can make & take with me in a cooler perhaps?

Aa69579f867333b08158c70e25f7daf1

(1826)

on November 07, 2011
at 06:49 PM

Yes, a programmable one in case you're late getting home. Wouldn't want your food to burn! But plop some frozen meat in there, smother with olive oil and herbs and garlic, and 8 hours later (plus a few more on warm) - you have a WONDERFUL DINNER!

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on November 06, 2011
at 04:44 PM

You're doing great -- you're asking good questions, and thinking through answers to find solutions... and that's all anyone can ask for. *S*

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on November 06, 2011
at 04:42 PM

Here's the place I got it. http://www.pump-n-seal.com/

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on November 06, 2011
at 04:42 PM

Been doing it for 9 years without a problem (and this is coming from someone with a very 'touchy' stomach). I keep my kitchen clean, make sure I use fresh storage bags (another reason that I prefer them to re-usable plastic containers), and make sure that I cool them quickly (20 min in the freezer before sticking them in the fridge if I'm not freezing them for longer storage). This past year, I picked up a hand-pump (non-electric) vacuum pump, and vacuum seal some of my bags -- mostly to save space, but that may also help with storage -it was less than 40 bucks, and you can use it on jars, too

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 06, 2011
at 12:03 PM

@HLH, many suggestions I see in the other answers so I won't repeat. Anyone can make good soups and stews and to me they are the best options whether low or high carb or anywhere in between. If you don't have access or want to use a microwave there's this old fashioned device called a thermos, LOL! When I was in grad school I had a short widemouth. Heat stuff in the morning it will still be hot hours later. If you're in a car a lot, you might want to consider a ciggy light converter and a hot pot.

A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

(95)

on November 06, 2011
at 11:35 AM

thank you! I do go to farmer's markets and TJ's... I'm realizing that part of it is the way we've been raised--we eat certain foods at certain times of the day fixed in certain ways. It's hard for me to think about having a sweet potato and meat for breakfast... I'm a very linear/logical thinker so being creative is...not my strong suit! But I'm trying! :-)

A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

(95)

on November 06, 2011
at 11:31 AM

Thank you...I would be concerned about potential food poisoning...have you ever had a problem?

A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

(95)

on November 06, 2011
at 11:29 AM

Thank you! Very helpful!

A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

(95)

on November 06, 2011
at 11:29 AM

Thank you! I'm not very creative so it's hard for me to think "outside the box"!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 06, 2011
at 09:33 AM

B vitamins.....

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 05, 2011
at 10:12 PM

Holy crap! $1.29/lb! I basically went from vegetarian (at home) to buying pastured meat direct from the farmer. I stay away from the meat department in the grocery store (except for Whole Foods) so I don't get sticker shock. I paid $15 for a 2 pound pork shoulder from a local farmer last week.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 09:17 PM

what are the benefits of eating yeast?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 05, 2011
at 08:29 PM

No. 1-2 tsp is not large amount, I think.

9e60e0fadd37eb266279107c4cec5e5f

(100)

on November 05, 2011
at 07:47 PM

Might also be worth investing in a vacuum sealer. Every week or two I make a big batch of chili and freeze it in bags. Whenever I need to eat in a hurry I just heat some water on the stove and pop in a bag for a few minutes. You can also reheat chili @ work by bringing an insulated cooler (1 gallon) full of hot water, and then popping in the bag when you're ready to eat. It will take a little longer but it works.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 05, 2011
at 07:30 PM

maj: Have you considered that eating yeast in large amounts results in hyperuricemia due to the processing of purines? The effect would be transitory, but depending on the dose, could be substantial.

B36613e945134be5813e6526f9a3a86c

(499)

on November 05, 2011
at 06:38 PM

If I could +1 this twice, I would. This is exactly right. Braising and slow-roasting are your best friends.

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on November 05, 2011
at 04:39 PM

I agree. Eat cheap allowed foods (e.g. buy chicken drumsticks, pork too, and graze on farmer markets for cheap veggies), but get a multi-vitamin.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 05, 2011
at 03:52 PM

+1 nice answer really.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 05, 2011
at 03:51 PM

Nice answer....

A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

(95)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:27 PM

I leave early morning and return mid-late evening each day...I don't have a set schedule which also adds challenges. I usually eat breakfast at home. I try to limit microwave use overall but many times I am in my car, so no way to heat anything up. My spending depends on my income (100% commission I get paid when I sell a house) so even that depends. I feel like I'm being difficult while you all are trying to help, but this is what I'm up against! :-/

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:22 PM

A bit more information would be helpful. How many meals per day are you eating away from home? Do you have a way to heat food up at work, or do you need things that can be eaten cold or at room temperature? Limited funds means different things to different people. How much do you generally spend on grocery for the week?

3bad4b0b105bf44d7650e7fdfbe15cbd

(860)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:20 PM

+1 - Buying in bulk and then cooking in bulk is the way to go. My chest freezer is on it's way since I've gotten tired of having to cook every few days.

A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

(95)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:19 PM

I have a freezer.... the question is WHAT do I cook and put in it that I can take with me? Sometimes I don't have access to a microwave (which I try not to use anyways)... I'm a real estate agent and out in my car most of the time...

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on November 05, 2011
at 01:17 PM

When you say work away from home - is that out all day then back again at night, so small cooler with ice pack, or are you gone for several days, so big cooler replenishing with ice? Want to formulate a complete answer for ya :)

  • A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

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12 Answers

3
5e816d3249fd4bceb096d4ae7183df1a

on November 05, 2011
at 04:26 PM

I would recommend making a batch of chili and storing in single serving containers. The ingredients are cheap and it freezes well. If you don't have access to a microwave, maybe you could heat it at home before you leave and store it in an insulated container to keep it warm. The same could apply to some homemade hearty soup.

9e60e0fadd37eb266279107c4cec5e5f

(100)

on November 05, 2011
at 07:47 PM

Might also be worth investing in a vacuum sealer. Every week or two I make a big batch of chili and freeze it in bags. Whenever I need to eat in a hurry I just heat some water on the stove and pop in a bag for a few minutes. You can also reheat chili @ work by bringing an insulated cooler (1 gallon) full of hot water, and then popping in the bag when you're ready to eat. It will take a little longer but it works.

3
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 05, 2011
at 03:56 PM

There are some valuable simple foods.

  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Banana
  • Yogurt

You could also supplement very cheap

  • Vitamin C as powder
  • D3
  • Magnesium
  • Fish oil
  • Brewers or bakers yeast, inactivated.

If you eat those, foods and supplement you could provide many important nutrients and avoid cooking.

You can buy supplements for entire year at once.

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on November 05, 2011
at 04:39 PM

I agree. Eat cheap allowed foods (e.g. buy chicken drumsticks, pork too, and graze on farmer markets for cheap veggies), but get a multi-vitamin.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 05, 2011
at 08:29 PM

No. 1-2 tsp is not large amount, I think.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 06, 2011
at 09:33 AM

B vitamins.....

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on November 05, 2011
at 09:17 PM

what are the benefits of eating yeast?

Medium avatar

(39831)

on November 05, 2011
at 07:30 PM

maj: Have you considered that eating yeast in large amounts results in hyperuricemia due to the processing of purines? The effect would be transitory, but depending on the dose, could be substantial.

2
78972387772c994caa78513a83978437

on November 05, 2011
at 06:47 PM

Two words: SLOW COOKER.

Aa69579f867333b08158c70e25f7daf1

(1826)

on November 07, 2011
at 06:49 PM

Yes, a programmable one in case you're late getting home. Wouldn't want your food to burn! But plop some frozen meat in there, smother with olive oil and herbs and garlic, and 8 hours later (plus a few more on warm) - you have a WONDERFUL DINNER!

2
19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on November 05, 2011
at 06:29 PM

What are you eating now?

I cook soups, stews, chili, etc, in bulk and keep in wide-mouth pint-sized glass Mason jars. I spent 17 dollars for a dozen jars, and I use them all.

Beef stew, pork and chorizo chili, chicken coconut curry, chicken + chorizo and kale soup, pumpkin sausage soup, pulled pork, are just some things that I make. You can prepare a few different ones at a time if you like variety like I do.

Also, meatballs (on shredded cabbage, quickly fried). Super meaty lettuce-free salads. They keep well in the fridge or in your car if it's cold like where I live :-)

Make sure you go heavy on fat and protein when you cook, you don't want to go hungry. Most gas stations have a microwave that you can come in and use. Remove the metal lid before microwaving.

If you're really in a tight budget, you'll need to batch-cook cheap cuts of meat, no way around it. The quick cooking cuts are the most expensive. Prioritize buying meat over vegetables, vegetables are way too expensive and they won't satisfy youu.

http://www.onlinecollege.org/2009/10/13/100-delicious-dirt-cheap-recipes-for-the-starving-student/ Look under one-pot category. http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/budget/ You'll have to cherry pick, but there's some good stuff there.

If you're ever in a money pinch, don't be afraid to stretch your meals with some white rice. Hope some of this helps :-)

A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

(95)

on November 06, 2011
at 11:29 AM

Thank you! Very helpful!

B36613e945134be5813e6526f9a3a86c

(499)

on November 05, 2011
at 06:38 PM

If I could +1 this twice, I would. This is exactly right. Braising and slow-roasting are your best friends.

2
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on November 05, 2011
at 05:11 PM

Boil a dozen eggs and eat one with each meal. Precook meat and freeze and bring for meals away from home.

2
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 05, 2011
at 04:09 PM

Buy meat that's on sale, then cook it in batches and freeze. Each night put one portion in the fridge--you can eat that cold for breakfast. When you leave home, put 1 piece of your frozen meat with fresh veggies, nuts, etc. in your insulated bag and a second portion in your fridge to thaw for that night.

The frozen meat you pack will gradually thaw and keep the other food cool. When you're ready, eat your meal and when you get home there's food in the fridge and you can also eat veggies you have on hand. Cold leftover meat is great!

As a real estate agent, is it possible sometimes to stop at home for lunch or is that out of the question?

A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

(95)

on November 06, 2011
at 11:29 AM

Thank you! I'm not very creative so it's hard for me to think "outside the box"!

1
24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 05, 2011
at 01:10 PM

Chest freezer!!

You can get a chest freezer for between $100-200. They use very little electricity. They are relatively light. When I purchased one I had a friend with me that is physically limited and she was able to help me get mine on and off my truck. If my arms were just a tad longer, I could carry the sucker myself and then some.

Go to a $1 store and get containers.

Shop bulk. Cook big. Freeze. If you want get a vacuum freeze unit, but there are cheaper alternatives. If this were what it is now when I was young and single I cannot imagine the possibilities.

I'm not kidding that you could cook and freeze meals for yourself for 6 months in a day if you planned properly! REALLY!! Supplement with fresh or frozen veggies and you're golden.

Edit to add: You have a micro at work? No need for a cooler to transport - winter, spring, summer or fall.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 05, 2011
at 03:52 PM

+1 nice answer really.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 05, 2011
at 03:51 PM

Nice answer....

A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

(95)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:19 PM

I have a freezer.... the question is WHAT do I cook and put in it that I can take with me? Sometimes I don't have access to a microwave (which I try not to use anyways)... I'm a real estate agent and out in my car most of the time...

3bad4b0b105bf44d7650e7fdfbe15cbd

(860)

on November 05, 2011
at 01:20 PM

+1 - Buying in bulk and then cooking in bulk is the way to go. My chest freezer is on it's way since I've gotten tired of having to cook every few days.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on November 06, 2011
at 12:03 PM

@HLH, many suggestions I see in the other answers so I won't repeat. Anyone can make good soups and stews and to me they are the best options whether low or high carb or anywhere in between. If you don't have access or want to use a microwave there's this old fashioned device called a thermos, LOL! When I was in grad school I had a short widemouth. Heat stuff in the morning it will still be hot hours later. If you're in a car a lot, you might want to consider a ciggy light converter and a hot pot.

0
8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

on November 05, 2011
at 08:44 PM

Chilis, stews, and soups become filling when using more fat like heavy cream, butter, ghee, lard, tallow, coconut milk etc. They also freeze well.

Do you have access to a car?

Can you eat produce seasonally? Tastes better and cheaper! Ex: melon in the summer, squashes and pumpkin in fall/winter.

Is there a Whole Foods or Trader Joes within 40 miles?

Can you pick up pastured meat/dairy at a farm nearby?

Have you asked about organ meats, tallow, and lard with the local butcher and farmer? Sometimes they give these away for free or very low cost.

Do you have access to farmer's markets?

Starchy tubers and canned sardines are cheap. Pastured ground meat, eggs, and butter is the cheapest of pastured foods.

You don't need to eat organic produce unless you're eating the skin. The skin has most of the pesticides. You can peel the skin for things like conventional sweet potato, yams and potatoes So conventional onions, garlic, bananas, avocados, mangos, plantains, etc. are fine!

A 5 cu foot chest freezer will pay for itself in about a month. Buy meat, seafood, and produce on sale and freeze! Meat and seafood will last over a year in a freezer.

Slow cookers and pressure cookers are good investment.

Set cooking days, even if it's only once a week or 3 times a month. Make leftovers (chili, stews, soups especially) to freeze!

http://www.gardeningzone.org/content/content.php/vegetables-that-freeze-well/

Good luck and be creative.

This person was and eats Paleo on $11000/yr salary http://paleo-weightloss.com/paleo-diet/caveman-diet-the-secret-to-living-well-on-11000-a-year/

A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

(95)

on November 06, 2011
at 11:35 AM

thank you! I do go to farmer's markets and TJ's... I'm realizing that part of it is the way we've been raised--we eat certain foods at certain times of the day fixed in certain ways. It's hard for me to think about having a sweet potato and meat for breakfast... I'm a very linear/logical thinker so being creative is...not my strong suit! But I'm trying! :-)

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on November 06, 2011
at 04:44 PM

You're doing great -- you're asking good questions, and thinking through answers to find solutions... and that's all anyone can ask for. *S*

0
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on November 05, 2011
at 08:35 PM

Honestly, if the only issue is not having the facilities to warm something up, you're in good shape. Just follow the info others have provided about slow-cooking chili, stew, etc., and put the container with your lunch on the windshield of your car, or on the footboard if you're running the heat. Personally, I like packing mine in freezer bags -- they tend to warm to the ambient temperature or higher faster than thicker containers.

I haven't heated my lunches at work in the nuker-wave for 9 years now -- I just freeze, then let warm to ambient temperature on the windowsill, or to room temperature in my bag and chow.

We've developed a taste for "hot" food or "cold" food -- but the food provides just as much nutrition at room temperature or slightly warm/cool. No need to have it steaming hot or frigid.

A3bca1c6a1a3fcbad56fae8bb6fb6c1f

(95)

on November 06, 2011
at 11:31 AM

Thank you...I would be concerned about potential food poisoning...have you ever had a problem?

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on November 06, 2011
at 04:42 PM

Here's the place I got it. http://www.pump-n-seal.com/

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on November 06, 2011
at 04:42 PM

Been doing it for 9 years without a problem (and this is coming from someone with a very 'touchy' stomach). I keep my kitchen clean, make sure I use fresh storage bags (another reason that I prefer them to re-usable plastic containers), and make sure that I cool them quickly (20 min in the freezer before sticking them in the fridge if I'm not freezing them for longer storage). This past year, I picked up a hand-pump (non-electric) vacuum pump, and vacuum seal some of my bags -- mostly to save space, but that may also help with storage -it was less than 40 bucks, and you can use it on jars, too

0
B36613e945134be5813e6526f9a3a86c

(499)

on November 05, 2011
at 06:46 PM

Budget cuts of meat are where it's at. Pork shoulder costs about $1.29/lb (not pastured, but still). Dry rub it and roast it for 7-10 hours at 225, and that's a week's worth of delicious, tender, filling pork. Get familiar with slow-cooking methods like braising and slow-roasting. You do need to put in extra time with these cuts, but it's not active time—just time in which your oven or crockpot or stovetop does its thing unbothered.

This is a great Chowhound link about cheap cuts of meat, with lots of ideas: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668666

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 05, 2011
at 10:12 PM

Holy crap! $1.29/lb! I basically went from vegetarian (at home) to buying pastured meat direct from the farmer. I stay away from the meat department in the grocery store (except for Whole Foods) so I don't get sticker shock. I paid $15 for a 2 pound pork shoulder from a local farmer last week.

0
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 05, 2011
at 03:01 PM

Slow cooker recipes work great, you can put almost anything in there.

Also, hard boiled eggs are cheap and travel well. Mashed sweet potatoes also are cheap, easy, and travel well.''

good luck!

0
2b2c2e4aa87e9aa4c99cae48e980f70d

(1059)

on November 05, 2011
at 02:47 PM

Follow the links here for dehydrated chicken, salmon, etc. Just add water.

http://www.heatherlovespaleo.com/prep-work.html

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