Food Stamp Diet- Prep week #… what five or six?

So I’ve been preparing for food stamp week for like forever. Advice so far:

Soak your beans on Friday. Cook them on Saturday. Turn them into curry, soup, and burritos on Sunday. Store beans in fridge in a tall pitcher to save space.
Cook two kinds of beans if you can get away with it.
To make sunflower seed milk, make sunflower seed cream (~1 cup per 3 cups hot water), then dilute it as needed. Use for cooking, not for drinking straight.
Buy a variety of breakfast cereal grains in small quantities, ie. a cup each of farina (wheat), grits (corn), oatmeal. I use the sunflower seed cream + some water to make cereal in 2 day batches.

For lunches take a grain (rotate among rice, millet, etc) and a curry (beans + spice + fat + whatever veggie– coconut oil for thai flavor).
Or a wrap– burritos if you have black beans, hummous wrap if you have chick peas.
Or chickpea sandwich (mixed with sushi seaweed- expensive but taste better, or dulse– cheap and gives it an ocean flavor)

I learned the cheapest source of caffeine is pill form at a penny per dose when you buy a two or three month supply at

Hardware you need to be comfortably poor:

A fridge. Gotta cook in bulk or you can’t work your day job, too.
A blender. One of the glass jar. About $20-$30
Pitchers. They hold the beans in the fridge. Cheap.
A big pot for soup, a small pot for porridge, frying pan for curries.
Glass jars to hold your grains, beans, etc.

Next…what food, vitamins and exercise will prophylactically make up for not having health insurance? (Might as well simulate that too!)

Food Stamp Diet- Ghetto Vegan Pancakes

This recipe is a very good vegan pancake recipe. The exact recipe calls for a sweet pancake with spices suitable for a sweet dish, like cinnamon. But I’ve experimented and found that if you drop the spice and sugars (except maybe a teaspoon or two) it works fine for savory pancakes. I use less salt than called for.

Vegan pancakes are hard to flip. Unless you know the secrets. One secret is to not flip them. If you can flip them, wait until there top of the pancake has changed color from the wet batter color to the darker “cooked” color.

Add a melted solid fat to the batter. I’ve used palm oil (vegan margarine sticks) and coconut oil. They both perform much better than no solid fats at all. I usually still include some liquid oil.

Most recipes call for 1/2 cup of batter per pancake, which would make a 7-8 inch pancake. I find 1/3 cup is a more typical maximum size before flipping problems occur.

Making it Ghetto Style.
So lets assume we are poor and living on a food stamp diet. The flour is cheap, fake milk is not and solid vegan fats are entirely tropical (palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter) or it’s shit you shouldn’t eat– hydrogenated oil, or it isn’t vegan…e.g. dairy butter.

Margarine is available just about anywhere, and sometimes it is vegan & not hydrogenated. It’s carefully engineered to be spreadable, so melting it doesn’t really play to it’s strengths.

Untested Crazy Idea
I haven’t tested cocoa butter, but I’ve read recipes for home-made vegan butter that used cocoa butter. But it cost $13-$20 a lb and it seems to only be available by mail order– not even my local co-op has it, so it wouldn’t be very ghetto to make cocoa butter pancakes…but chocolate is easy to find, albeit still about $16 a lb in bar form. You can get 70% chocolate– melted with say 50% liquid vegetable oil, a half of a bar would provide the sugar and the solid vegetable fat. And the pancakes would taste intensely of chocolate. But I haven’t tried it.

Fake Milk
So far I’ve tried pancakes with soy milk, almond milk, sunflower seed milk– all store bought varieties. They all work fine. The sort of fake milk you use doesn’t seem to matter. I’ve also tried making pancakes with apple cider instead of milk– it works, but not as well as a nut milk. To get the cost of nut milk down, one has to make it at home. Pancakes seem to be a good application for homemade milk– the pulp wouldn’t get wasted. Ghetto fake milk is sunflower seed milk, since it is by far the cheapest nut or seed you can make milk out of, except if and when peanuts become cheaper.

The old pancake tips still apply, use a tiny drop to test if the pan is hot enough yet. Watch for bubbles to form– bubbles stop forming, it’s getting closer. Crispy edges are also a sign of doneness. If the pancakes are sticking, try to lift up all the edges before attempting a flip. Very little oil on the fry pan– don’t add oil as you go unless you want greasy pancakes. More butter & milk will make for a pancake more like a Swedish pancake. More flour will eventually make fluffy pancakes that may be hard to flip, hard to cook in the middle and act more like “pan biscuits” than pan cakes. And if you have the time, you can use yeast instead for the source of bubbles, but yeast is all around harder to work with. (But it will give you different texture, more like very thin bread)

Planning a food stamp diet

There’s levels of realism. What would it be like if I (Matthew Martin) was poor enough to qualify for food stamps. I’d approach it like a college educated, lefty food snob would approach it. But with less money.

Or I could imagine, what would it be like if I were that poor, and I was the sort of person who was that poor, working at minimum wage, drop out, alcohol and tobacco addictions that get in the way of food shopping, and maybe a taste for salty, junky, fast foods. I’m not going to threaten my health. And those sort of people aren’t going to read my blog anyhow. So I’m going to imagine I’m me, and I’m imaging what it would be like to have to eat on such a small budget– $4 or so per head.

So here are my constraints:
Food inventories will be ran down to minimal levels leading into the experiment so as not to waste existing stocks of food.
Laborious cooking is restricted to Sunday.
Food on other days is restricted to quick to make or left overs.
Cooking is restricted to the equipment you can get for cheap at walmart or a thrift store– a low speed blender, frying pan, rice cooker, etc.
V*gan diet.
Has to be healthy. Got a nursing mom in the house.
$5.80 per head per day.
I’m not going off caffeine, but I won’t use my espresso machine. I can use my mokka pot if I want ’cause those are cheap. I’ll probably do 2 bags worth of tea, since that is about 20 cents.
Spices from the spice rack are okay if they are cheap spices- parsley, garlic, etc, without buying them specifically for the experiment. No cardamom.

No corn syrup, white bread, white flour, hydrogenated oils. And just to make it really hard, everything has to be organic. And since the urban poor tend to live far from a store with organic food, I’ll take public transit to the other side of town to get it (instead of walking up the street to my coop)

And maybe I’ll work out some more of the details tomorrow.