Whatever It Takes


This week has become a real test to whether or not I am serious about this. This is not the first time I have tried to reduce debt, which is why I’m blogging it now; if I fail, it’s in front of many people this time. It is not that public opinion drives me to do things, but at least if I fail this time I can’t do it quietly where nobody sees.

Tuesday my bank account went to about ten bucks, due to the mistake of budgeting monthly and not bi-weekly. Now, I will fix this mistake for the future, but that left me 4 days of having to eat and get gasoline. On ten dollars.

I had enough fuel on Tuesday to get me to work 2 more days. This meant that yesterday, I had to take the bus in. The bus route from home to work (25 miles) has six (6) transfers and takes right under 2 hours to make. Crazy, no? I’d love to ride the bus more often if it didn’t take so much longer (30 mins to drive). That’s Atlanta for you. The bus only costs about $1.50 each way, which is probably half of what I’d pay for gasoline. Also, have you ever went to the bank to withdraw $3.00 in cash? I got some pretty funny looks. It was only slightly embarrassing, but I had the upper hand (it was my money, and those tellers are probably deep in debt doing nothing about it anyway).

Now, this left me $7 to eat on for 6 meals (I had breakfast covered already). One meal was covered via an old (I mean old!) TV dinner in the freezer. It was nasty, and I’ll never do it again, but it sufficed. So, I was left with $1 per meal for 6 meals. This was difficult, but not impossible. I had frozen hamburger patties, chicken broth, mushrooms, and milk in the pantry. I bought some egg noodles and some canned vegetables with my $6, and made an extremely faux beef stroganoff that has last me well. I have two meals left of it, enough for today, until I get paid tomorrow.

But the thing is–I could have, and in the past would have— put food expense on a credit card that wasn’t maxed out. But that one little step is a step backwards, and one I am determined not to make again. I had to endure 3 days of not the greatest food, but it worked out. If I wasn’t motivated before, I am now. I’m not used to having to sacrifice much, and this was a good test, one which I passed. Granted, there is only $0.56 left in my checking account, but I know I can do it from now on, even if it means sacrificing a little. I know I can do whatever it takes.

Note: For those interested in how I made a faux beef stroganoff out of minimal ingredients for cheap, I’ll post a comment about it.

One thought on “Whatever It Takes

  1. Ok, so my faux beef stroganoff went as follows (I don’t do strict recipes, so you’ll have to experiment like I did to get it right):

    Take some butter (maybe half a stick) and melt it in a pot. Add some diced onions and cook them until they turn clear, maybe 5 mins. Add some flour, maybe a half a cup or so, and cook about 5-10 minutes. Pour in some chicken broth (I used about 1-1.5 cups), stirring it into the flour mixture. Get rid of any lumps. Now, pour in some milk a little at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency. It should be thinner than Campbell’s condensed cream of mushroom, but thicker than something you’d use for soup. If you go too far, add some flour and cook longer. You can use cream too, with probably better results.

    In the meantime, wash and dice your mushrooms (I think I had 10 oz) and select some seasonings. I think I used tarragon, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and some thyme. Season the soup mixture, and put the diced mushrooms in there. Cook until the mushrooms are tender. I also used a “masher” (Not sure what the technical term is, but I use it to mash potatoes) when the mushrooms tenderized to mash up as many mushrooms as possible. An alternative might be a very fine dice.

    While all that is going on, take some hamburger and brown it. I was using frozen patties, so I had to thaw them first and break them apart. Season the meat with salt and pepper, and some garlic. When it is browned, drain any grease and mix it into the soup mixture. Add some sour cream, about a half cup or more depending on your liking. While the mixture is cooking, cook a package of wide egg noodles (or I suppose any macaroni would do). Serve the mixture over noodles. I also cooked some corn, and green beans to go with it.

    As far as amounts, I probably had about 25 oz (3/4 liter) of soup, a little under two pounds of hamburger (pre-cooked), a full package of egg noodles (12 or 16oz, cannot remember; it’s the large bag).

    Most of all, you’ll have to experiment with it. It took me awhile to get it right, or nearly right, and it wound up being good enough that I’ll likely do it again sometime with the correct ingredients. I only had to buy egg noodles, but I think if you bought all the raw ingredients, it’d be around $6-7 for 7-8 meals worth of it. Not a bad deal.

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