Worried about feeding your family? Learn about the cheapest and healthiest foods to buy during tough times

When times are hard, you will be faced with the difficult decision of what to purchase to keep yourself and your family healthy and full. I have put together a list of items that are a must during poor situations. I have learned from personal experience to walk away from any pre-made packaged food as you can truly make everything yourself with raw ingredients. Sure, it will take a bit of time to prepare in the kitchen, but once you start making food for yourself, you will realize that the amount of money that you can save is ridiculous. Think of it this way, When you go shopping, what you pay for is really someone’s time. Someone else took the time to make something for you. Raw ingredients are cheap. If you happen to have the time now, then take a look at how to save money, and keep your family healthy and full by learning to work with cheap and raw ingredients.

Foraging

Before taking a step in the store, take a look at what you can harvest outside. Maybe some of you might feel like this is a crazy thought, but again, is it really? Human beings have been surviving off of the food mother earth graced us with for millions of years. It is only after the industrial revolution that we started to rely on grocery stores and completely forgot that everything we need is out there. Forage your backyard if you have one. Forage the park, a forest trail if you can access one. For example:

Did you know that Dandelion leaves have three times more Calcium, Iron, and Vitamin A than spinach? If you go to the store, you will most definitely see dandelion leaves nicely packaged for you in a clear plastic container. Why not just harvest it yourself? Not only are they eatable, but they are super-crazy healthy. You can make a beverage that resembles coffee with the roots, and you can make a delicious salad with dandelion leaves. Tender young leaves from the inside of the plant are best for salads. While they taste a little bitter, they add flavor variety as well as dense nutrients.

Put them in a soup. Fry them with some rice or saute with some garlic.

You can also Harvest dandelion roots from late fall through early spring for medicinal use, many sources say fall harvest is best.

Another easy to spot herb that you can harvest are clovers. Clovers are also delicious in salads and tossed in tea. The preferable part of this wild edible is the flower. Red clovers are the tastiest of all clovers but white ones are healthy and tasty too. The dried leaves and flowers of white clovers are slightly sweet and can leave behind a faint vanilla-like flavor.

Mint is another common plant that is super easy to grow. I once found some on a hike in the forest, brought them back to my backyard and it basically took over. It is so easy to grow it and it makes lovely teas, salad toppings, and desserts.

Do a little research on foraging and you will be surprised what delicious wonders you have access to for free. Having said that, never forage a plant that you are not absolutely sure of. Some plants can be poisonous and even deadly so care must be taken not to accidentally ingest something that can hurt you.

Beans

Beans have several uses. Not only are they packed with protein, but they also last forever in the cupboard. You can make tons of recipes with them. From using chickpeas to make hummus and falafels, to using black beans to make a delicious spread to put on toast, to making vegetarian burger paddies. You could buy beans in cans, but you get much much more for your money if you buy the dry ones. The process is not that scary once you get to know how to use beans. Just soak them in water the day before you want to cook them. That’s all.

You can also save some of the beans and plant them to make sprouts. (more on sprouts below)

Flour

During tough times, flour is your friend. If you want to make bread, pancakes, pizza or cookies, all you basically need is water, flour and sugar. Of course, other ingredients will make what you are cooking amazing, but if you are broke, you can easily find anything you have in the cupboard, like salt, herbs, garlic, baking soda, sugar, peanut butter, and turn it into something good. There are different kinds of flour and they are all good for cooking different types of foods.

With white flour, one of the survival food I make is dumplings. (check basic flour recipe below)

It steams really easily and you can put whatever you have in the cupboard as a filler, such as tuna, cabbage, vegetables, cheese or meat if you have any. Dumplings are actually pretty simple to make, but they take time, especially the first time. Once you get used to it, you get quicker and quicker.

White flour is also really good to make homemade noodles. Homemade noodles are quite easy to make.( Check the recipe below)

Just mix flour, water, and sugar. You don’t really have to bother with the shape if you don’t know how to do it. Just toss little pieces in boiling water and they will turn into noodles.

Of course, there are a million other things that you can cook with white flour. Take the time to learn and it will be totally worth it.

I find that brown flour is not as good for steaming. It is better for baking and frying. So since this is the healthy kind of flour, I will use it to make pizza dough, bread, muffins, and pancakes. (Check out the easy pizza dough below)

With corn-based flour, you can make delicious South American food like tortillas, arepas and tacos. I grew up in South America and arepas are some of my most favorite foods. All you need to do is mix the dough with water, separate it into patties, fry them for a minute and put them in the oven to perfect the inside. The result is sort of a bread that you can use with any filling you want (recipe on arepas Below)

Sprouts

Growing your own sprouts is easy and they are considered to be a superfood. The sprouting process increases nutrient levels, making sprouts richer in protein, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and vitamins C and K. You can use beans or any eatable seed you have on hand. You can position them at any window ledge that has sunshine coming in and they will start to grow.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are super healthy, have a super long shelf life and keep you full. Nuts are also a good source of dietary fiber and provide a wide range of essential nutrients, including several B group vitamins (including folate), vitamin E, minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium, antioxidant minerals (selenium, manganese and copper). You can also integrate them in your cooking such as when you make cookies or salads. Some nuts can be expensive but not all. You can find peanuts (if not allergic) for very cheap. Sunflower seeds are super healthy and can be bought for relatively cheap as well.

Rice

If you can get rice, this is the Asian survival food. Brown rice is very healthy and is highly recommended but white rice is also really tasty and nice to cook with, (white rice, tuna, cucumber and mayo in a roll make a very nice sushi). Rice stays good in the cupboard for a long time, is not so expensive for the number of meals that you get and the food that you can make with it is quite elaborate. I suggest getting a big bag or rice vs the pre-cooked one. That one is not so healthy and the quantity is much smaller for what you pay. Fried rice is quite the life saver as you can throw any veg you have on hand in the pan. (It is also quite nice with egg.) You can also make easy sushi, plain rice, rice cakes, rice milk (if you don’t have access to regular milk.) This is a favorite in many Asian cultures and can really be tasty. (Check the recipe for rice milk below).

Easy and cheap life saving recipes

Dumplings

Ingredients

Mix the ingredients together until a nice dough forms.

Separate into even balls

Flatten the balls with the base of a cup to make little flat pancakes

Filler: Anything you have in the cupboard or fridge.

Examples:

Take a spoon, put a little filling in the middle of the flattened dumpling dough.

Seal it (you can use water to help you seal the dry part of the dough if it doesn’t stick)

Either fry it, bake it, boil it or steam it.

Homemade noodles

Mix ingredients.

Cut out the shape you want and throw in boiling water. When the noodles float, they should be ready.

For the record, I have done noodles without the eggs in the past and they turned out just fine.

Easy Pizza dough

Mix the yeast, olive oil and water together first

Mix all of the ingredients into a dough

Flatten and cook in the oven. Pizza night!

If you don’t have tomato sauce, garlic and olive oil make a very tasty base.

Arepas

Mix ingredients, and make burger paddy sized dough balls.

Fry the outside. Put in the oven to make sure the inside is done well. Make into a burger or sandwich

Rice milk

Cook the rice in hot (not boiling water for 2 hours)

Add sugar, vanilla to taste.

Why do bad things always happen to me?

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