Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My first Poverty Post

This is my first actually entry in Bossy's Poverty Party post category. I don't usually have that much to say about the ridiculous nature of the economics in the country other than how it affects my family, but today I saw something so bizarre, so ridiculous that I just had to comment.

I was napping on the sofa this morning when I heard a huge boom and crash upstairs. The cats were at it again, and had knocked the Girl's lamp off her bedside table. Fully awakened, I turned on the TV while I made some phone calls. The View was on, and the last segment they had Padma Lakshmi of Top Chef and three winning Top Chefs present what they called economic dinners for a family of 4.

Oh, I like economic dinners. I perked up to watch the segment. The first chef had some frenchy veal and fancy mushroom meal, only he used chicken instead of veal. How inventive. How did he ever think of chicken? The side dish was a beet salad, and after I was done puking (I HATE beets with all the passion I can render) and a dessert, his economic meal came to over $20. Hmmm.

The next chef had some breaded chicken meal with a fancy salad, garlic bread and haricot verte beans. His meal came to about $18.

The last chef, and the one that won the 'challange' was a woman who presented a "greek pizza" with feta, tomatoes, fresh herbs and something else I can't even remember. Her dessert was a greek yogurt and fresh strawberries (in January!) with greek honey drizzled all over it. Cost of her dinner? $27.


How unrealistic can these people be? Nobody can feed a family of 4 economically with those costs. If you were to spend $27/night for dinner, you would spend $810 just on dinner per month. Now add breakfast, lunch and snacks and you're talking about $1600 a month for food. That is not only NOT economical, it's ridiculously extravagant. Who the hell spends that kind of money on daily dinners?

An economical dinner is a box of pasta, some homemade sauce, and a green salad. Total cost, maybe $8. Maybe less. Probably less depending upon how you make your sauce and if you buy in bulk or not.

It really pisses me off that people are using the economic crisis to push their crap when it isn't helpful, and makes you feel guilty that you're not rising to this level of 'caring'. I don't like it when the unrealistic is presented as helpful. It isn't helpful to have someone show a dinner that costs over $20 for a family of four.

Have these jerks never heard of tuna casserole, turkey meat loaf, and grilled cheese with tomato soup. THOSE are economical meals.

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Blogger Daisy said...

I made tuna casserole tonight. I'm amazed at what passes for "frugal" in the television world. It's just unreal.

27/1/09 9:57 PM  
Blogger tfey123 said...

I absolutely love your blogs. My mom turned me on to them, she's an avid reader. I think your life is fascinating, and I just started a blog myself.
Good luck with everything and best wishes.

27/1/09 10:40 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Tfey, now I'm curious. Who is your mom? Congrats on your new blog. There are other teens blogging. Really there are. Just gotta look for them!

27/1/09 11:15 PM  
Blogger Suldog said...

Their motto would be "Let them eat cake" I suppose.

I lived on Ramen noodles and frozen snow peas for a short while. About two bucks a day. Not the most amazingly healthy thing going, but it got me through.

28/1/09 8:47 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

You know, you should send a link to this post to the show. I think they're forgetting that not everyone who watches is going to shell out $27 for one meal, multiplied by 30 or 31 days in the month.

When I think economical dinners, I think like you - pasta, tuna casserole, stuff that doesn't cost $20+. Once in awhile is great, but not every night or I wouldn't be able to afford to eat the entire month.

28/1/09 3:47 PM  
Blogger Ranchmom said...

Oh I love it. I have never read any "economic meal" article in a magazine, or seen one on t.v. that has *anything* to do with reality. INSANE. We have been economically challenged for years and eat just fine, thank you, and eat healthy meals, thank you, but $20 or $27 for a family of four? I feel extravegent when I buy a roast for $3/pound

28/1/09 5:12 PM  
OpenID chloefieri said...

You don't have to eat tuna casserole or mac/cheese from a box to eat economically, but geeze, you do have to learn to eat what's seasonal and local! Fresh herbs? Strawberries? Haricots verte?

The fresh beets are at least somewhat seasonal if you live somewhere where the ground doesn't freeze. Too bad you don't like them.:) Our weekly dinner menu includes kind of dried bean dish twice a week, pasta (tossed with sauce made from garden surplus in the summer and canned) at least once a week, hearty soup (also made when vegs are free or cheap), waffles or pancakes, and once a week meat or chicken or rarely fish because it's so expensive. We stay pretty healthy, so I'm not complaining, but I do drool over some of the recipes and menus you post.

28/1/09 7:13 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Tonight we had chili. I used 1 lb of ground turkey from a larger package that I divided up into 1 lb servings. I can whole tomatoes, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can rotel, 2 cans red beans. 1 onion, some fresh cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic, spices.

HUGE pot that could serve 20 people a nice big dinner. Total cost, way way less than $20.

Oh, and I made fresh tortilla chips from a big stack of corn tortillas I had in the freezer. In olive oil. With a tad bit of salt.

28/1/09 7:51 PM  
Blogger hschinske said...

My food budget (and I mean food only, doesn't include toilet paper or cleaning supplies or any of that, nor coffee, nor beer) is $20 per DAY for a family of five. I don't always quite hit that, but it's not an unreasonable target.

28/1/09 7:53 PM  
Blogger Whalehead King said...

If you want to eat inexpensively and reasonbly healthily, just trawl the grocers's aisles and pick up what is freshest and on sale. Don't take any advice from a television. This is just as true in the kitchen as in any other aspect of your life.

28/1/09 8:11 PM  
Blogger Lost In Splendor said...

I completely agree with you. I feel like a lot of these people have no idea how much some families are struggling. Spending $27 on dinner is expensive! They really should keep it to themselves.

29/1/09 12:01 PM  
Blogger Storm, The Psychotic Housewife said...

Um yeah that sounds sooo economical. And here I feel guilty when I post/make a recipe that cracks the $5 mark.

30/1/09 2:44 AM  

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