Guys, I’ve been doing some math. My current monthly living expenses are about $700 for housing (I could my HOA dues in with it since duh), and if I wanted to move somewhere a lot fucking nicer (not that I don’t like my house, but eventually), I would be looking at closer to $1200 a month. If I did that right now, with how I currently spend, that would be impossible. If I did that in the future, with a roommate, as much as I don’t like that idea, it would be workable. This takes into account a few things: having the full amount I need for a down payment, and having a smaller debt-t0-income ratio. Since my debt isn’t going away, the income part of things will hinge on whatever raises I can earn at work. I’m working on that, by attending career development courses and trying to do a Really Good Job.
So, other than that, I need to pump up my savings. I’m currently saving for $31,000. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Yep. $2,000. Which, fortunately, is double the amount most Americans have in savings, which is also very scary.
I had more but then my car died and then I had to buy a new one. And thus, with that, a lot of my savings dreams got totally crushed. But, I have a car now that won’t die for a long time, and isn’t being driven much, so it’ll last even longer and I will spend even less on gas.
One of my biggest expenses each month is food, because I like to eat often and eat well. I also like to drink. But that’s all going to have to get cut out. And one of the ways I’m going to do that is with Poverty Pasta.
Poverty Pasta is my own invention, and what it basically is, is a recipe for stretching out good things with cheap filler. Except, instead of Ramen or white rice, I’m trying to use whole wheat pasta or brown rice, or on rare occasion, quinoa.
Poverty Pasta is a Choose Your Own Adventure recipe. I think a lot of people do that with soup – what do you have scraps of in the fridge that you can use to build a meal?
But soup blows, mostly.
So, for this week’s (actually like 2 weeks’ worth) Poverty Pasta, here’s what I did:
- WalMart’s clearance section had four boxes of whole wheat linguine marked down to 75 cents each; this recipe uses two – $1.50
- Chuck’s Produce had squash for 69 cents a pound; I used half a medium-large butternut squash that may have been about 2 lbs worth – $1.40
- Safeway had Reduced For Quick Sale bacon for $2.00 – used the whole pack
- They also had RFQS smoked ham lunch meat, and I believe that was about $2.00 as well
- I had half a bottle of Pad Thai sauce that I needed to use up, so that’s probably $1.50
- After having this for breakfast (with two eggs fried on top, 20 cents), I’d say it needs something, like a penny’s worth of Sriracha.
- Peel and cube the butternut into small squares, and lay on a baking sheet with parchment (or not, if you cannot afford parchment then scrubbing a pan never killed anyone, and I’m probably going to learn to go without soon)
- Salt the squash, and then lay the bacon over the top so it’s as covered as you can. Bake until the bacon is crisp and the squash has browned some.
- Boil the pasta in a large pot with salted water. When cooked, throw in some cooking oil or cheap margarine or whatever you can so the noodles don’t stick (I feel like whole wheat gets even gummier than normal semolina pasta so best to avoid)
- Cut up the ham into small pieces.
- When the squash is done, mix everything into the pasta (I used a large mixing bowl to divide it up so I didn’t have an overflowing pot) with the remaining Pad Thai sauce.
- Chill and portion.
I’m making smaller portions than I previously would eat, because I’m learning that I eat until the food is gone, not necessarily when I am full, so my method of portioning them is to put a freezer bag (wash and reuse so your investment lasts) into a tall glass, and then fill the bag that you have propped open LOOSELY with pasta, and then pack down to remove air and seal. I rolled my bags up to get as much air as I could out. The resulting volume is probably about 1-1.5 cups of food but I wasn’t being very precise. There should be enough protein in there for it to be a full meal, and we’ll see how that works.
Since I ate some pasta right after it cooked (I had NOTHING ready so it was my only option lol) and then some for breakfast, my serving quantity might be a bit off, but I’m estimating there are about 12 portions of this in the total recipe.
Total cost of recipe (not precise) – $8.40
Total cost per portion: 70 Cents
If I add two eggs, cook them with oil, and add some hot sauce, then we’re looking at about $1.00 per serving.
The magic of Poverty Pasta is you can use literally anything, as long as you think it will taste good and get enough nutrition. I always include some sort of vegetable, some form of protein, and some form of flavor. Here’s the one I’m planning for next week:
- The remaining linguine – $1.50
- The half jar of SPICY pickled green beans in my fridge – $1.50 (I think)
- The 1/3 jar of Kalamata olives in my fridge – about $1.50 (I think)
- The other pack of bacon in my freezer – $2.00
- Garlic, basil, olive oil, other spices – 50 cents
It should make about the same volume, so for 12 servings, $9.00, or 75 cents per serving – with an egg on top about $1.00 per portion.
My goal is ultimately to get this down to about 50 cents per portion, which through a reduction in portion size, and more bargain hunting for ingredients, might be hard! But eating less dairy, being sparing with meat, and always finding the best deal I can should be good first steps.
Also I got a free sandwich at work today so there’s dinner.