On Your Mark, Get Set, Shop!

On Your Mark, Get Set, Shop!

When I finished my last boat cooking contract, a lot of people asked me if I thought I could still cook on $6 a day. Today I am starting that challenge. Okay, really I started it on January 2nd, but I needed to make sure that what I was doing was: 1. feasible and 2. yummy.

If you want to cook along with me, here’s what you need to buy. In California we are lucky enough to have this place called the 99 Cent Only Store. I discovered it when I lived in San Pedro a few years ago. It kinda rocks. You can get all kinds of plastic containers, audio cables, paper products, you name it – all for only .99 cents. Many of my friends were highly suspect when I said I could cook a whole week’s worth of gourmet meals by just shopping at this store.

And after my January 2nd shopping trip, I realized that it would be tough to sustain a year-long regime of cooking solely with items from this store. For one thing, they don’t have flour. Their cheese offering is limited to cojita and those processed cheeses that contain more high fructose corn syrup than anything else. That said, I did pretty well. Here’s my shopping list. I got all these items for only $34.65.

I should add that I’ve found in my recipe testing that several of the meals make so much food that you’ll have enough left over for 1-2 meals. So if you can’t get these items as cheap as I have, never fear, your average cost over the coming weeks will reach $5 per day. Also note that you will probably have some of these items already in your pantry, like sugar, salt, vinegar and olive oil. But part of my goal is to show how you can slowly build an awesome pantry even on such a small budget.

Now go shop! Tomorrow I’ll post the first recipe.

MEAT: $4
Bar S bun-length smoked sausage (made with chicken, beef and pork)
Farmer John’s classic pork links (or Italian sausage will work well here)
Chicken livers
John Morrell sausage

DAIRY/EGG: $2
Alta Dena sour cream
One dozen eggs

CANNED GOODS: $3
Kidney beans
Whole peeled plum tomatoes
Embasa Salsa Casera (they have a lot of salsa options and some are actually more volume for your $1… literally more bang for your buck, but I really like this one. It tastes surprisingly “fresh.”

SPICES & NUTS & OILS & SUCH $12
Dried ground cumin
Dried ground ginger
Dried ground coriander
Parsley flakes
Maggi chicken bullion
White vinegar
Olive/canola oil blend
Dried cranberries
Dry roasted and salted almonds
Small box of sugar
Box of salt
Marie Calender’s cheese biscuit mix

CARBS: $3
Bag of brown jasmine rice
Loaf of Pacific Bakery French bread
Bag of Guerrero tortillas

FRESH INGREDIENTS: $11
One Kabocha squash (if you can’t find this variety, acorn or butternut will do)
Bag of four red onions (white is also fine)
Bag of three heads of garlic
Bag of six small cucumbers
Bag of red potatoes (you can use white, just not Idaho)
One head of broccoli
One bunch of cilantro
Bag of baby spinach
Bag of carrots
Bag of lemons
Container of 10 jalapenos