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The Frugal Beastmaster


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#1 Beast

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 03:17 PM

While it may still be worth debating whether we are in another Great Depression or not, I think the fact that times are tough for many people right now is something that should easily stand on its own, at least they have been for me, lately.

Basically, I've found that I can save alot of money by not eating out, and by not purchasing prepared foods. Having a Pressure Cooker (and lots of jars) on hand, really tips the scale in my favor, if I put it to effective use.

Even if I take the financial part of the equation out, just for health reasons, I feel that preparing your own food from scratch is preferable.

I prefer to hold my meals to a high standard, you won't catch me eating reconstituted ramen with MSG seasoning in even the toughest of times.

There's just something satisfying (besides a full belly and happy tongue) about preparing a good meal for yourself, and saving a bundle of cash at the same time.

Part of the problem for me, is that I'm a single bachelor with no one to cook for on a regular basis but myself. Making single portion meals is somewhat problematic in the storage/freezing of individual portions of meat; chipping apart frozen stuff later demonstrates the necessity of the former method.

The theory I'm working on here, is that I can assemble ingredients, make a big batch of something, can it with my pc/jars, and then have about a month's worth of meals for nearly the price of one.

As this process generally provides me with enough food to last awhile, I don't do it too often. Thus the time to prepare is a cost that shouldn't be overlooked, yet I still find the financial benefits outweigh the costs of time to prepare. Think of the typical wait to get seated, get your menu/glass of water, get your appetizer, get your food, at any restaurant, and you will see that by spending a couple hours preparing a month's worth of food you will actually be saving yourself time as well as money. And yet there remains a surplus of good food. No picking something out that the chef thought would be nice. Prepared just the way you like it, and in portions that are healthy to consume, rather than haveing to take half your 'meal' home in a doggy box (notice we don't have doggy bags anymore? restaurants give you a box- go obesity!)

Ok, that seems like an appropriate amount of hype, now for the gusto:

Edited by Beast, 17 July 2009 - 05:50 AM.


#2 buddy_jonez85

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 03:19 PM

I'm so bad with my money. I eat out like 2-3 times a day. I guess its just cause i'm lazy.

#3 TastyBeverage

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 03:19 PM

What happened to the gusto? It was just starting to get good!

#4 lucysd

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 03:27 PM

hell ya, id be dead without my jellies that i make

wow

did you see how much a jar of organic peanut butter goes for, just a little ass jar is like 5.50 fuck that shit,

#5 hyphaenation

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 03:30 PM

I'm salivating before the pictures ... :rasta:

#6 Beast

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 03:47 PM

This is one of my favorites, easy to prepare, ingredients are cheap, easy to improvise.

I start with a bag of "Carroll Shelby's Original Texas Brand Chili Kit" which is just some spices and masa flour in a bag with recipe. Its only a couple bucks for the kit, and I could save another dollar or so by getting my own spices, but that's getting a little neurotic about the whole thing...

Posted Image

Ingredients (note some improvisation from recipe on spice packet, though it is the basic guide used, I doubled most ingredients and substituted 'chili' and 'cajun' spices and spelt flour for the 2nd spice packet, for instance):

Chili spice packet (contains 4 plastic packages of chili spices, masa flour, cayenne pepper, and salt)

2 lbs ground meat (in this case a blend of elk, beef, pork, chicken, turkey who knows whatelse)
1.6 lbs chopped chicken breast
2 14 oz cans stewed tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
2 16 oz cans beans (kidney, adzuki, pinto, black, whatever you want, I used kidney and adzuki in this batch)
2 large sweet walla walla onions
2 heads garlic
3 serrano peppers
1 habanero pepper
all the large stalks from a bunch of celery
a large heirloom tomato
whole bunch of fresh oyster mushrooms, chopped large
the secret ingredient

24 half pint jars
pressure cooker
skillet and large pots
big spoons
canning funnel
pot holders

takes about 3 hours from start to finish

So its pretty straight forward, brown the meat in a skillet or large pyrex pot, drain off excess fat, there was none in the ground meat, but hte chicken breasts had quite a bit of runoff.
Posted Image

After draining the fat, combine all meat, and mix in the chopped onions, peppers, and garlic (I like my chili molten lava spicey, so I make sure to include all the seeds when chopping my peppers - be careful to wash your hands real good b4 touching your face after handling the habanero). Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes or so:Posted Image

Toss in all the dry spices, I don't hold back, all the cayenne, Everything, and then some usually. Add in the tomato sauce, then refill it with water (I do half a can at a time and give it a good swirl to get all the sauce out) and add the water to the mix. Add in the two 14 oz cans of cooked tomatos, and the heirloom tomato, chopped big. Posted Image

Remember to stir it up off the bottom, but a lil char helps the flavor, imo, so don't worry about it too much...

I deemed this a good point to add in my secret ingredient. I deemed the amount to be roughly 4x the amount I'd normally eat if I was impatient with the first bit and ended up eating too much. Translation = I added in about 1/3-1/2 cup budder: :teeth: Posted Image

I got a little weird here and added in two cups or so of chopped celery Posted Image and another similar amount of chopped oyster mushrooms Posted Image.

The two cans of beans got tossed in at some point, water and all, as well as the flour, approx 1 cup I think it was... Anything else I forgot to mention went in at this time as well.

Remember to stir

Damn this stuff smells good!! Posted Image

After eating a bowl, and wiping the sweat off my face, I got out the canning funnel and a ladle and filled 24 half pint jars to the base of the threads, put on the 2 piece lids rubber side down, loosely, stacked them in my pressure cooker, sealed, and cooked at 15 psi for about 15 minutes, allowed to cool, and then removed, bands tightened and outsides wiped off, there were a few leakages, not all jars were sitting perfectly upright, but it was just a lil goo on the outside of the jars.

Here we are, final product: 24 half pints of primo chili, and just enough of the secret ingredient to put a smile on your face ;)
Posted Image

I don't think I spent more than 36 dollars total, not counting the jars, which puts me at about $1.50 per jar of chili. 4 hours total time including shopping and pressure cooking is a pretty good estimate.

1/2pints of chili at the grocery store are what like $3.50 apiece? a cup of chili at a restaurant is gonna cost you at least that. And no secret ingredient :amazed:, no fancy improv like celery or oyster mushrooms either. Not to mention that almost all of my ingredients are organic, and from local farms. Eating this chili is good for me on so many levels :lol:

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#7 wildburr

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 04:03 PM

Beast you are absolutely right. My wife and I have been canning and freezing fruits and vegetables, sauces and soups and chili since we got married in 1988. We were taught these procedures by my wife's late Grandfather (God rest his soul, he was a wonderful guy) and we have continued throughout the years and are now teaching it to our children and others who are interested. The self satisfaction attained by doing this as well as growing allot of the stuff we can is tremendous. Because money is tight for so many in our country these skills should be learned by all. I feel a step back in time like this can teach self reliance that so many lack today.

Oh yeah, that Carol Shelbys mix makes a pretty good chili.

#8 TastyBeverage

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 04:04 PM

So do you find that the pressure cooking affects the texture/taste of some foods? I cook large amounts of certain foods and freeze them, but i run out of freezer room really fast. It would be nice to be able to store stuff at room temp in a cupboard.

#9 eastwood

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 04:09 PM

I totally agree BM.:eusa_clap

#10 wildburr

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 04:11 PM

Canned food generally does taste different than fresh. The one I feel doesn't work well is canning mixed vegetables instaed of freezing because in makes all of the vegies taste the same, kind of like the ones you find in campbells soups. Freezing for vegetables is generally better IMO taste wise.

#11 TastyBeverage

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 04:31 PM

Thanks Wildburr, good to know. :thumbup:

Good thread beast! I love how everyone has their own special chili recipe. We should have a 'topia chili cookoff one day!

#12 Beast

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 04:33 PM

I've felt in the past that the flavors of this chili improved with subsequent reheatings, in my precanning days, often I'd let it sit on the stove, covered, heating it up everyday to kill anything festering in it :puke: and then have a bowl. I know it sounds bad but it worked.

I have only canned my chili once b4 and I detected no flaws in taste. I've done the same with the next recipe ('Chanko Nabe - Japanese Sumo Wrestler Stew') I'm going to share, and was so impressed with my results that it was the central inspiration to make this a regular practice.

I like that I am able to create almost a month's worth of meals in a small amount of time, for a small amount of money, but am big on flavor and big on convenience, just grab a jar pop it open and in the microwave and there's lunch/dinner.

I also like that this stuff is preserved independently of an external power source, ie not in the freezer. So I can take this stuff with me, anywhere, essentially. Maybe switching to pp5 plastic containers would be better for camping though...

I'm so bad with my money. I eat out like 2-3 times a day. I guess its just cause i'm lazy.


Me to, hence my motivation. I like being lazy, and being bad with money makes me have to work more, depriving me of lazy time. Saving money means you have to work less to meet the same demands, so its in the interest of your slack that you should look for methods of frugality.:rasta:

#13 wildburr

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 05:17 PM

I love how everyone has their own special chili recipe. We should have a 'topia chili cookoff one day!



You bet. Id enter my 5 alarm 3 day ass burn chili. I'm the only one in my house that will eat it (sweating the whole time), too spicy for the wife and kids.:lol:

Beast you are right, It seems that all sauces,chili's and soups do taste better the longer they are stored properly.

#14 lucysd

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 11:03 PM

im trying that on wednsday bm heheheheh sounds amazing, but ill have to omit the butterBOOOOOOOOOOOOO

#15 Beast

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 11:38 PM

That's great Lucy! Don't be afraid of that habanero!

The oyster mushrooms and celery have turned out to be worthy additions. I think a great vegetarian chili could be made by substituting mushrooms for the meat. I've made a good vegetarian miso, and the only way to succeed and have something similar to fish broth based miso is to make it with three different mushrooms in the broth phase instead of the bonito fish flakes. Shitake, oyster, king trumpet, or whatever else is on hand. At least two, like oysters and shitake which are fairly common (at least the vegetarians would know where to look I hope).

#16 lucysd

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 01:53 AM

That's great Lucy! Don't be afraid of that habanero!

The oyster mushrooms and celery have turned out to be worthy additions. I think a great vegetarian chili could be made by substituting mushrooms for the meat. I've made a good vegetarian miso, and the only way to succeed and have something similar to fish broth based miso is to make it with three different mushrooms in the broth phase instead of the bonito fish flakes. Shitake, oyster, king trumpet, or whatever else is on hand. At least two, like oysters and shitake which are fairly common (at least the vegetarians would know where to look I hope).


ha bm habanero thats sooooo kindergarden, i play with bhut jolokias, the real fire hehehehehehe

whats wrong is beasty weasty afraid to get his pampers on fire with the real deal

habanero=wussy

just kidding, but i cant wait to try it
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#17 Envee

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 02:53 PM

Beast: Awesome recipe :D fuckin' saved :D
Lucy: Not everyone likes killing their taste buds :P`
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#18 Beast

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 03:56 PM

I love how everyone has their own special chili recipe. We should have a 'topia chili cookoff one day!


If everyone were to can their chili in half pints as demonstrated above, it would make for an even context for judging. Who gets to be the judge though? Maybe it could be an activity at the Mycotopia Camp at Burning Man 09...

#19 Guest_floppypeter_*

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 06:29 PM

great idea on the bachelor chow BM ! Nice write up.

I'd love to see some other cool pc'd foods

I wonder if Lasagna would PC well ? :lol:

:headbang::bow::headbang:

#20 TastyBeverage

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 11:45 AM

I need to go buy some ground round (and find my fucking camera :horse:) but i'll do a marinara sauce for this thread soon.




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