Cheap Chow

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Cheap Chow[edit]

Some of these recipes are designed to easily feed many members of the underground at a low price. By avoiding expensive processed packaged foods, trace back of labels and cartons is reduced, leaving less of an evidence trail, and also benefiting your health. Moreover, you reduce unnecessary use of cardboard, plastic bags, and inks. If your food comes from your own greenhouse, field, or pet chickens and goats you won't rely on the cruel and fragile CorpGov food supply chain.

We have split the page and moved the more portable recipes to the Roadside Chow section, so be sure to check that out for more road tested guerilla recipes.

Spanish/Latin American[edit]

Spanish Beans and Rice[edit]

Beans and rice are complete protein food with plenty of carbohydrates and a little fat too, if this is all you can afford you will do fine, plus it packs well dry for traveling. For road rations if you get the chance boil up the beans and rice on a stove until soft, drain, and dry at around 200F(100C) for around an hour spread on an oven pan, it should dry into hard brittle clumps, these will soften much more quickly than raw beans and rice, then you can add flavorings. If you are really pinched for time fry the beans in a pan for a bit or cook in pressure cooker, this makes it soften much faster in a regular boiling pot. A bit of hot sauce makes the basic recipe interesting, or...

Making Spanish rice gives this complete but boring vegan food a little kick.

  • Boil up and soak your dry beans soak overnight, discard this water, pre-boiling while you prep the rice speeds things up
  • Stir fry the rice until you see a little browning on the tips or edges
  • Add tomato sauce, beans, salt, and your favorite spices
  • Slow cook until beans are soft, pressure cook for 30-45 minutes at 15psi, or pour hot into a Thermos container and let the stored heat soften the beans reboiling as required


Find out if there is a Latino supermarket or open air market in your area. These types of places will often sell large amounts of tortillas in various sizes for very little money, often cheaper than you can make them. They are tough, flexible and a good source of starch that you can wrap almost anything in. A good idea is to combine leftover foodstuff into various chili-like recipes or stir-fries and wrap them in tortillas. This also can cut down on mess (no plates) if your eating on the run, or simply don't have the resources (water) to clean dishes all the time. An aluminum tortilla press is cheap at most stores catering to the Mexican community.

People in Mexico have been making the corn tortilla for generations from dried ground corn masa:

  • 4 cups masa or corn flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2.5 cups hot water

Flour Tortillas are also enjoyed in Mexican cuisine.

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 to 1/3 cup vegetable oil, lard, or shortening
  • 1 cup warm water

The dough should be just a little sticky adjust water and oil for best results. Break flour dough into balls and allow dough to rest for about 10 min to strengthen it. Roll or tortilla-press both types into thin discs and stack floured or between plastic or paper. Cook on a hot dry fry pan, flip every 30 sec until it puffs a little and brown marks start to show. With flour tortillas the thinner you make them the stronger they are, less oil makes them stronger too.


for masa you will need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds (1 quart) dried white field corn
  • 2 tbs. "cal" slaked lime (mineral not the citrus fruit)

Wash the dried corn and drain. Mix the lime into 2qt water and boil until dissolved. Boil corn 2 min. for tortilla flour or 15 min for tamale masa. Place corn in colander and rub between hands under flowing water until hulled and white; if you don't clean the corn kernels well they will have a disgusting lime flavor. Grind or crush the corn in a mortar or grinder. Make several of these batches and freeze them flat in tied plastic shopping bags.


Hard work and long preparation but a good cheap way for a poor sympathizer to feed a hungry squad of activists. Don't waste your time on a small batch- the same effort goes into a huge batch. These are portable in their husk and save well if sealed in a freezer, as one batch can last a week or two.

Boil just expired meat(or however you got it) for two hours until very soft (if meat is your thing) and save the stock for a soup. When done, shred meat with your hands. Substitute shredded TVP, spicy stir fry, sliced mushroom, or tofu for the meat to vegify the recipe. Experiment, but don't boil them. Knead in 1/2 cup oil, 6 Tbs chili powder, 3 Tbs cumin, 1 Tbs black pepper, and 2 Tbs salt that you have been warming (not frying) in a pan. You can experiment with the chili powder if you are fickle with spiciness.

Put corn husks into warm water to soften for two hours. Now put the 2 lbs. of Masa in a large bowl and add the following: dry 3 Tbs paprika, 3 Tbs salt, 1 Tbs cumin seeds, 3 Tbs Chili Powder, 3 Tbs fine dried garlic. Mix well dry and add 2 cup oil. Take about 1/2 cup of this dough and spear it into a corn husk, add 1 Tbs meat and wrap up fold over the end. Steam the whole batch for two hours or pressure cook in a steam basket for 30 min at 15psi, when done the dough should be firm.

Refried Beans[edit]

Get a sack of dried pinto beans, take 3 cups of raw beans and remove any dirt, bad beans, and pebbles then rinse the beans off in a strainer or colander. Add your beans to a pot of cold water several inches above the beans, and soak overnight. Add 1/4 onion chopped, 1 crushed jalapeño pepper, 4 Tbs salt and 1 tsp garlic (crushed and shelled) or other spices and flavors you like. Bring to boil and simmer for 1/2 hour or more (three hours is a typical simmer if you were unable to overnight soak), you will know the beans are ready when the skins just start to split or when they are soft. Strain the water out of the beans. Place 1/4 cup oil into your wok or fry pan. When the oil is hot but not smoking, start adding beans. They only need 3-4 min in the fry until they are easy to smash, then add hot water to this mash until it is your preferred refried bean thickness.

Pan-Asian, Wok-Cooking, and Rice[edit]

Wok Cooking[edit]

Our friends in China have long been enslaved by successive forms of government. Their poverty survival can be a lesson to us, especially how they cook in a fuel and food efficient style using the traditional wok. As the wok is probably the most versatile tool you can carry for cooking, unless you are a solo backpacker it is worth the weight in your gear.

Forget what you are used to eating in Asian restaurants, these menus full of fried sugary treats are typically reserved for the past and current privileged class. Instead we will focus on the cooking style which is centered around preparing whatever food is available.

Tools in Order of Need[edit]

Look at an Asian market for best prices

  • uncoated carbon-steel wok (non-stick coating burns/wears out quickly)
  • wok spatula/shovel, steel
  • cutting board
  • bamboo chopsticks
  • bamboo stackable steamer
  • carbon steel chopper cleaver (sharpens better than stainless) and cutting board or mat
  • fry skimmer (metal web ladle)
  • bamboo wok scrubber brush
  • serving ladle

Stir Fry[edit]

Add a few tablespoons of peanut, canola, sunflower, or other high temperature oil to the bottom of a seasoned wok, heat until a drop of water sizzles. Add hard vegetables which require the most cooking first like garlic or onion, as these cook you can add vegetables, spices, and meats in order of their required cooking time. Don't overload the wok to where the heat source doesn't support a sizzle sound. Get the hottest flame possible and cook quickly; constantly turning the mix. At the end about 30 seconds before you kill the flame you can add sugar and soy sauce or a teaspoon of corn flour/corn starch to thicken the sauce. Serve over noodles or rice.

Peanuts fry up nicely from raw in their red skins, they should be a bit browned and kept separate until served. Cayenne peppers are often stir-fried separately before a fancy meal and add heat to the cooking oil even after they are removed. Be sure to have a powerful stove or stir frying won't work quite right, air blown charcoal, a powerful gas or electric stove top, or a mountaineering stove work well but a hot plate is on the weak side. Flat bottom woks are for electrical stoves and round bottom with a wok ring are used with gas.

Some recipes call for deep frying meats which have tempura or starch paste coatings, these should be allowed to drain their oil as you quickly stir fry the rest of the vegetables or sauce.

Water Fry[edit]

A quarter cup of water and a lid are usually enough to quickly thaw and cook medium size frozen meats in your wok. As the water boils off break up the meat and add oil, spices, and vegetables to finish the cooking. Quicker from frozen but not always as tasty as fresh stir fry.

Deep Fry[edit]

Oil is expensive but tasty, and it will help you get enough fats for the week if you have abandoned a western diet. Be careful to keep the oil temperature low enough, watching the bubbles once you are experienced or use a candy thermometer to help you keep it to about 350F. Filter cooled used oil with paper towel or a piece of cloth and save the used oil in a jar for later reuse.


To make tempura mix the following in a bowl.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Quickly mix leaving a lumpy mixture, use chopsticks to dip your veggies into the tempura batter and drop into oil until golden brown.

Pot Sticker[edit]

The wrapper used for pot stickers can be made by mixing a 2-1 ratio of white flour to boiling water. Mix until smooth and knead when cooled. Roll flat and sprinkle with corn starch to keep from sticking. Roll with rolling pin until about 1-2mm thick.

  • 1 cup - Boiling Water
  • 2 cups - All Purpose Flour
  • Cornstarch (to prevent wrappers from sticking together)

For pot stickers, which are a 4 inch circle of thicker wrapper with a tablespoon of stir fried meat and cabbage or other filling folded in half and pinched shut at the edge, wetting the edge with a few drops of water often helps, now it looks like a fat pocket. Steam and freeze in a plastic bag and cook later or stir fry several pot stickers in wok with a tablespoon of oil until brown spots start to show on the outside. Serve with a bowl of soy sauce with a dash of sesame oil, some also add rice vinegar or cayenne pepper oil for dipping sauce. Pot stickers are a treat and take a bit of work to make compared to simple stir fry, if you are investing the time make a big batch and freeze the extra.

Wonton and Egg Roll[edit]

Wonton wrapper

  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup water, as needed
  • Extra flour as needed
  • Corn Starch or baking sheets to prevent sticking

Mix egg 1/4 cup water and salt, add to bowl containing the flour and knead until smooth. Add water or flour to get the right moisture. Sprinkls corn starch and use a rolling pin to make very thin. Wontons are used for steamed or fried pouches of food or used as noodles in soup.

Egg rolls are the wonton wrapper rolled thin and filled with stir fried meat spiced with ginger and garlic and fresh shredded carrot and cabbage. Cut 7x7 inch squares of wrapper and add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of filling, wet the edges to help them stick when closing, be sure to fold over the sides of the roll. Oil fry until golden brown and allow to cool on a drip rack or paper towel. A good dipping sauce is to heat pineapple juice and catsup with a bit of corn starch as thickener for a sweet and sour sauce, add vinegar garlic and sugar as needed, in a pinch heated sugar and vinegar will work.


A bamboo or metal steamer can be used to steam fish, meat, vegetables and even small breads and cakes quicker than a traditional oven. An alternative to bamboo is to use a perforated steamer disc and the wok lid to keep the steam in, tilt the lid or get one with a vent so there is room for steam to escape.

Steamed buns are made by making a sweet bread dough and adding a tablespoon of stir fry to a disk of risen and punched down bread, bunch to the bottom and pinch shut, put the ball on a piece of baking paper or foil and let rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes, steam for 15 min. hom-bows can be wrapped in cling-wrap plastic after steaming and frozen, to reheat microwave in the plastic, steam heat, or put under your jacket and eat warm.

Cleaning and Seasoning Your Wok[edit]

Clean with hot water and a wok brush, do not use soap as this will strip the nonstick seasoning coat of cured oil. To season stir fry a meal of non disintegrating vegetables with a tablespoon or two of peanut, canola, or other high temperature oil, some meat is ok after the veggies are beginning to soften, potatoes will break up and stick to your wok and are best steamed, boiled in soup or deep fried as chips/fries.


Experimentation will lead to success with Asian food. Use fresh or dried garlic, ginger root, black pepper, anise, cinnamon, cloves, soy sauce, white pepper and whole cayenne pepper or whatever sounds good to you. The Thai add lemon grass, coconut milk or meat, peanuts, and curry, best served on rice noodles. Look around at the local herbs at the roadside for other flavors. Restaurants put in a little corn starch (1tsp.) in the last minute of stir-fry to thicken watery sauces.

Chinese Pancake Wrap[edit]

Easy enough to make and minimal ingredients required, this can be used to make a roll up meal or a base for fancy meals like mu-shu.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 to 1 cup boiling water, as needed
  • 3 tablespoons sesame or other oil, or as needed

Mix boiling water and flour stirring the whole time. Knead until you have smooth dough, cover and let dough rest for 30 minutes. Cut the dough in half on floured surface, roll each half out until it is 1/4-inch thick. Cut into 3-inch circles of dough with a clean can. Brush or sponge 1/2 teaspoon of sesame(sesame oil tastes better) or other oil over one side of 2 dough circles. Sandwich the circles, so that the oiled sides are together. Roll out the double pancakes with rolling pin to 6-inch circles. Cover rolled out circles with damp towel to keep the rest moist while you cook them. Heat a dry heavy frying pan or wok over low heat. Cook pancake pairs one pair at a time until browned on both sides. Remove the paired pancakes from the pan and pull them apart. These can be frozen and reheated but are best served fresh.


You can buy frozen, prepackaged bags of shelled or unshelled soy beans, called edamame. For under three dollars you can have a pound of one of the best sources for near-complete protein (it contains most of the various proteins you can't produce on your own). You just bring 6 cups of water with a pinch of salt to a boil, add the edamame, let it boil again for 5-7 minutes, and then drain. Rinse with cool water and then add salt (preferably rock salt). You may need to add more salt later. Buying the pre-shelled edamame sometimes saves you money, as you get a pound of just the beans, not a pound of both beans and shells.


A favorite among vegans, tempeh is used a protein substitute taking the place of meat, it is a fermented soy product which unlike tofu retains the whole bean leading to much less loss of total nutrition in processing. Tempeh is Indonesian in origin. There is a website giving away the starter for the shipping price [[1]] Unfortunately it appears that air culturing the beans wont work, but if you keep a bit of the sample culture alive by having a constant fermentation going you should do fine. Tempeh is more nutritious than unfermented soybeans.

To make 1kg tempeh you need the following ingredients:

  • 600 g whole dry soybeans
  • 5 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon (about 5g) tempeh starter


Rice which is available in large sacks is one inexpensive way to get your travel food. Be sure to wash in cold water several times in your pot or clean bucket while agitating until water comes clear for better flavor, dumping out the cloudy water after each wash, fill water about 1.5 cm over the level of the rice inside a pot, make a depression with your finger in the center, cover with the lid and run up to boiling. Once a boil is going, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 min. The rice should have holes with very small bubbles popping from them when you open the pot. Mix and serve in about 5 min with a protein food. Short grain rice prepared like this is perfect for making sushi rolls wrapped in dried seaweed sheets.

Fried rice is made by stir frying one cup dry rice with 1 tablespoon oil until it has a little bit of brown colour on the edges. Mix in two cups water and let it boil down. Stir-fry some veggies and an egg in a separate pan. Once the veggies are just a little before being perfect, add your cooked rice with some oil and a teaspoon or more of soysauce. Stir and mix in the pan until golden brown. This is a bit quicker recipe than the regular rice.

A good recipe is cook the rice, brown ground beef (hamburger, about 1 lb to 1 c of dry rice) and mix together with sauces and seasoning, such as jalapeño salsa which can be got in cans.


Also known as "wheat meat", seitan is a meat substitute that is made from gluten extracted from whole wheat flour. According to legend, it was invented by Buddhist monks to keep the younger monks from sneaking off into town when they started craving meat. It is sold today in Chinese groceries, often labeled as "Mock Duck"

The following is a recipe from the Wikibooks Cookbook:

  • 1. Add 2 cups water to 10 oz (280g) high-gluten wheat flour (such as bread flour).
  • 2. Knead together until well-combined and elastic. It is advisable to keep hands wet so that the gluten doesn't stick to the hands.
  • 3. Cover with water and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • 4. Knead under water until water is cloudy; dump cloudy water and replace with clear, cold water. In the beginning the dough can still easily dissolve underwater so it is advisable to only cautiously squeeze it against the bowl. Later you might find it easier to knead over the water, squeezing out the water, and only to dip the mass into the water to wash off the starch, if the mass contains too much water you easily wash out gluten as well. The enriched water can be used to gain the insoluble starch, which settles on the bottom of the container, and what remains can serve as a base for grain milk.
  • 5. Continue kneading and replacing water until water remains clear after kneading.
  • 6. Divide gluten mass into loaf- or roll-shaped halves. At this point, there are several things you can add to the mass.
  • 6.1. Adding soy sauce is recommended; this is traditional in the making of seitan.
  • 6.2. Spices. For example, the seitan can simulate Italian sausage by adding the correct spices, or adding poultry seasoning can make the seitan more similar to chicken or turkey.
  • 6.3. Adding nutritional yeast is recommended, particularly if those consuming the seitan are vegetarian, and especially vegan. The B12 in nutritional yeast is a vitamin that is usually obtained through meats, eggs and/or dairy products.
  • 7. Place halves in pot, cover with vegetable broth or dashi.
  • 8. Bring to a boil.
  • 9. Reduce heat to simmer; simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
  • 10. Remove from heat and serve as desired or use in place of meat.

A faster but more expensive way is to use gluten flour (also called "vital wheat gluten") and mix water into it. The gluten flour doesn't require rinsing.

Unused portions of Seitan can be kept in broth under refrigeration for up to a week, or can be frozen (drained from broth) for up to a month.

This will make approximately 28 oz (790g) of gluten. Because of their high protein content, gluten "steaks" can be grilled and fried to good effect.


Pasta is cheap and is used in many easy recipes. Pasta in soup, cakes and traditional noodle and sauce dishes are all good for stretching your budget. Get vegetable or whole wheat pasta if you can. It doesn't cost much more and it's a whole lot healthier.

Egg Noodles[edit]

The following is taken from the Wikibooks Cookbook:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 to 6 tablespoons of water
  • 1-2 teaspoon of olive oil (optional)

On a smooth surface, heap flour. Push a hole in the center of the flour (it should look like a volcano). Break egg into flour (add oil now if you choose to do so - it will change the flavor and texture). Either knead with hands or mix with a fork. Slowly add water one teaspoon at a time while kneading the dough. You probably will not need all six tablespoons of water (though you may possibly need more). Knead dough until it has a consistent texture. Divide dough into manageable sections. Select one section at a time and keep the rest covered. Roll each section to desired thickness and cut into noodles with a knife. These noodles can be laid out to dry for later use or dropped immediately into a boiling pot of water. Cook to taste. They are good with a variety of sauces. If making a lasagna noodle, just roll sheets of this dough to fit the pan and dry, you should if possible dry it in a preheated toaster oven for around five minutes, this reduces the cooling time considerably with lasagna and other pastas that are not boiled in a pot.

Garlic Bread[edit]

Any white or wheat bread (including day old hot dog rolls) can be garlic bread. Mix softened butter, chopped garlic and (optionally) some chopped parsley or any other green herb, and spread the bread with this. Place on aluminum foil and warm in an oven until the butter melts, or flip the bread face down and fry it with butter and garlic in a pan.

Jewish Noodle Cake[edit]

From the dirt poverty of the Polish ghettos to the near starvation of turn of the century Jerusalem this is a cheap and exotic way to cook your noodles. Boil up and drain spaghetti or whatever pasta is on sale, add a few eggs to bind and sugar or salt to match your tastes. For sweet kugel, add dried fruits and raisins. For real Jerusalem kugel flavor boil and drain 250 grams of spaghetti type noodles, in another pot evenly pour 3/4 cup sugar into 2/3 cup pre-heated oil (when you start to see heat waves in the oil) and let cook until you see browned sugar begin to rise and bubble from under the white (about 8 min watch carefully or it will burn), mix the drained noodles into the cooked sugar/oil mix and add 2-3 eggs mixing in 1/2 tsp salt and between 1/2 to 1 1/2 tsp black pepper. Bake either mix in covered pan at 250F for 30-40 min.

Italian Red Sauce[edit]

For good general use pasta/pizza sauce mix, start with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and quickly fry some smashed and shelled garlic in it, add tomato paste, pepper, basil, oregano, salt and a some red wine or real grape juice; mix and simmer until thickened and tasty. Most of these herbs can be seeded and grown like wild weeds; maybe you can hide other weed in with them! This sauce can be diluted with water for soup: add pasta or small dough balls and veggies, then season to taste.

Don't get stressed if you only have some dumpster veggies and 20 minutes to cook everything, ripe or overripe tomatoes with the bad parts cut off can be added to an onion or garlic stir fry and smashed with your fork when they get really soft, this improvisation will work as a great substitute for most Italian dishes and pizza, much tastier than the canned tomato paste, add other spices to your preference.

Tomato Paste[edit]

Tomato paste for storage or big cook-ups can be made from your greenhouse tomatoes, Cut an X in the bottoms and drop into boiling water for 2-3min, then dump drained tomatoes into cold water to help peel skins, cut out seeds, boil chunks with 1/2tsp salt per Liter for an hour. Stir to avoid burning, crush then strain, cook for two to three hours on low stirring until a thick paste. This is great to freeze in plastic bags or preserve in jars, see Farm It.

Tomato sauce is even easier, slice up tomatoes add some water and allow to boil until it turns into a sauce, stir occasionally, add spices, herbs, wine, grape juice, olives, pepper, salt, pepper, what ever you think will make it taste better, slow cooking over a low fire will improve the flavour and concentrate the sauce.

Misc. Meal Staples and Snacks[edit]

Potato and Roots[edit]

The potato and most vegetables can either be microwaved after poking several times with a fork for around 8 min or more or boiled for 20-30 min. Easy to carry once cool eat like an apple with pepper, Tabasco, or soy sauce. One of the cheapest meals you can buy.

Don't waste money on instant mashed potatoes unless you are backpacking. You can skin and boil several potatoes together until they are soft and mash them yourself. Once mashed, you can add salt, pepper, and/or butter to taste. Mashed potatoes go well with gravy made by cooking scrap meat in water and then adding cornstarch or any other thickening agent and pepper. Try to eat the skins which contain most of the vitamins.

Small whole potatoes are boiled in a can or pot with your stinger for about 20 minutes. Watch the water level.

Tough Meat[edit]

Roadkill, meat scraps, or cheap meat is often very tough and stringy. If meat is your thing here is a way to make it edible even if you can only afford junk. From 60-65C (150F) the collagen that makes tough fibers in meat converts to gelatin soft and tasty, at higher temperatures above 100C (210F) the cellular sugars and amino acids combine which toughens up forever and is difficult to chew and digest. Getting over 70C (160F) will kill bacteria. Overnight heating a stew just below boil or roasting in the oven at the indicated temperatures will both preserve moisture content and soften the meat. If you are feeling fancy you can torch off or grille the meat to give it a outer crust.

Another method is to use a "meat tenderizer mallet", which is a small metal or wooden hammer with a flat face that has lots of little pyramids on it. It looks like a tiny version of a medieval weapon, but you can use it to break up the fibers of tough cuts of meat.

In Asian cooking we just slice thinly with a sharp knife or cleaver and stir fry cutting the stringy fibers short.

If possible cook your meat or poultry over rice and veggies or stew it so you will not waste any fats or juices.

Ground meat (beef or turkey) can be extended by kneading wheat germ into it.


If you grow or buy in bulk, popcorn is a cheap and easy snack. Try mixing in spices, adding dry whey, and/or using a bit of oil to make the stuff stick. Carmel corn is made by heating up butter (or oil) and melting in brown sugar. Add a tablespoon of each until you have the right consistency. It helps to have a friend mix with a spoon while you pour. Popcorn can also be eaten as a cereal, just like the pilgrims did! Add milk and sugar if you want to give it a try. Stale popcorn also works as a cereal. An air popper can be run for a long time by dropping a little corn in every thirty seconds or so. This is good for large popping operations. Pop a huge trash bag full if you are on a support team and take out to your activists. If you have access to a microwave oven, don't bother with those pre-packaged bags. Pour a small amount of popcorn and if you like a spoonful of butter or margarine into a large glass bowl and put a glass plate on top of it. If you're poping the corn dry, pour a small amount into a paper (NOT plastic!) bag and fold the top over. If there is a "POPCORN" setting in the oven, use that. If not, put it on HIGH and shut it off three seconds after the last kernel pops.

Indian/South Asian[edit]

Lentil Curry with Chapitis Bread[edit]

This is an inexpensive meal which tastes great feeds 3-4 adults and costs around a dollar. Cooking the lentils either requires several hours on low simmer or about 45 minutes if you have a pressure cooker. Tools:

  • 4l soup pot, pressure cooker, or #10 coffee can
  • fry pan or flat metal over fire,
  • flame or heat source powerful enough to dry bake bread
  • flat surface and way to roll or flatten dough

You will want to start by cooking your lentils.

  • 2-3 cups dry lentils
  • 1-3 tbsp cumin to taste
  • 1 tbsp tumeric to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp pepper and or garlic
  • 1-3tbsp salt
  • 3 tbsp oil (more optional for added fats in cold weather)
  • Optional up to 50% or more sliced potatoes, carrots, eggplant, and other favorite meats or vegetables to taste.

Add all ingredients and add water to at least 2-3cm above the level of the ingredients. You will need to continue to add water if slow cooking in a pot or can, a pressure cooker is fast and wont evaporate away much water. Cook for 45 minutes in a pressure cooker or four hours at a low simmer in a pot, the lentils should be very soft almost falling apart. Add water if the lentils are finished but a bit tough or dry and cook for additional 20 min.

Once the lentils are started cooking you can prepare your chapatis dough.

  • 4 cu white or sifted wheat flour with bran/germ separated
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp oil, ghee, or butter
  • 1 1/2 cu hot water

Add dry ingredients and oil, mix in hot water knead into a ball and let rest covered for 10 min. Roll into a long stick and cut into 24 sections. Roll sections into flat circles on a clean surface sprinkled with flour. Allow dough balls to rest and cool for 10-20 min on flour covered surface. roll balls into thin circles of dough sized to fit your fry pan or hot metal surface.

Lay circles of dough onto dry fry pan or surface it should take about 60 sec for dough to puff bubbles let them grow for 30 sec and flip, allow to cook for 30-60 seconds. Add finished chapatis to a stack and cover so they stay warm and soft.

You can eat your lentils and other curry food with the chapatis bread using it like a spoon or a burrito wrap.


Tomato and Cheese Soup on the Cheap[edit]

This recipe will use free to obtain items and will feed about 2 or 3 people. To feed more just multiply the portions by the number of people you're looking to feed.

  • 5 packets of tomato ketchup
  • 5 packets of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 packet of crushed red pepper
  • 2 packets of salt
  • 2 packets of pepper
  • 3 cups of water
    • (All the packets can be obtained at most condiment bars like at Target or convenience stores)

You need to bring the water just to a simmering boil and then add the ingredients and make sure that they all dissolve into the water. This makes a tasty and nourishing soup that is great when served with some homemade bread. It might not be Campbell's but when it costs you nothing, it's Mmm-Mmm Good! And it's better than no meal at all. You could crank this recipe up by adding a little real meat and cheese secured from free samples in the deli or thicken it up by adding potato flakes or flour as it boils.

This type of cooking is not new. During the (first) Great Depression of the 1930's, many of the poor would make soup at the condiment station at an automat (a type of cafeteria) with ketchup, hot water (normally used tor making tea), salt and pepper. In the days of the Reagan Administration, the US government tried to have ketchup and relish declared "vegetables" to boost school lunch nutritional standards.

Split pea soup[edit]

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1-pound bag split peas, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 1/2 pound smoked ham hock, a good meaty hambone, or just diced ham (Vegetarians can substitute tofu and add liquid smoke for flavor)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, water, or combination
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, saute onion, celery and carrots over medium-high heat. Add peas and ham hock and cover with stock by a couple inches. Bring to a simmer and cook about 1 hour until soup is thick and peas have almost disintegrated but not quite. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Remove ham hock and let cool. Pull meat from ham hock bone and shred. Garnish with ham and pepper. This soup is healthy, filling, delicious and about as cheap as it gets.

Oats and Grains[edit]

Energy Bars[edit]

When out on a bike trip or at a demonstration, nothing beats that wilted weak feeling like our energy bars.

  • 1 cup non-instant rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 soy protein powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter or tahini paste
  • 1 cup nuts or dried fruit of your choice/chopped
  • 1 cup dark or white chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup honey or brown rice syrup

Form into a cake and cut up or make cookies like discs, freeze, no baking required, although some of us prefer the crunchy taste when we cook them dry, they also last longer that way. Wrap in foil then plastic wrap so they will last a few weeks without drying out, as long as they don't mold. Spices like ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and cocoa add variety. Add tea or coffee beans raw or roasted or instant powder to the mix to eat on days where you don't have time to make your favorite wake up drink.

If you must improvise mix some sort of starch grain for medium boost, a protein like bean powder, a fat like oil or margerine for compressed calories, and a sugar for quick energy and to help bind everything. Rolled oats, peanut butter, and brown sugar would be fine on a budget.

Whole Kernel Wheat[edit]

Popular with Mormons and survivalist types you might also find whole kernel wheat in railroad cars or on farms. Wheat especially the hard red winter variety, used in breads, is high in protein and keeps for many years if properly stored. The soft white variety is better for making noodles and pasta.

For vitamin C on an all wheat ration sprout some wheat kernels in a damp sponge or shallow container.

A quality grain grinder is an expensive but worthwhile investment. Minimum price is around $100 for a Corona beer makers stone grain mill, better grinders use steel burs and can cost around $300 but can be connected to an electric motor. We knew a vegan traveler with survivalist dreams who for years carried a handheld manual coffee grinder for whole wheat, he rarely used it since it was so much work, maybe he finally figured a way to turn it with his bicycle tire. Inexpensive soft metal burr hand mills usually work fine until the first pebble mixed into the grain is ground through them, then the burrs get dulled and are mostly useless, take the time to carefully inspect the wheat you are grinding for foreign objects.

If you just cant find a grinder, pound with two stones for a crude flour or porridge, you can also boil it up whole in soup or like rice.


Those little packets of "Instant Oatmeal" may be nice, but they add up the costs something fierce. You can also buy big boxes of quick oats if you have a safe place to store them. They are also pumped full of sugar which isn't a sustaining source of energy. Buy a big box of loose oatmeal, and make your own by putting 1/3 to 1/2 cup (or if you're really hungry, a full cup) of dry oatmeal into a bowl, then add an equal amount of hot (but not boiling) water. Cover the bowl with a plate, wait a few minutes, and remove the plate. Hot oatmeal! If it's too thick, add more water. Want spices, fruits or flavors? Add them yourself! Get creative!

Quick oats can be cheaply made by running whole oatmeal through a food processor or blade type electric coffee grinder until it looks like quick oats from the store.

Oatmeal can also be eaten cold with milk and sugar, or mixed in with yogurt.


Long a staple of working class people in the USA's Deep South, grits are a type of porridge made from white corn or hominy (which itself is made from hard kernel corn dried on the cob then removed and soaked in a solution of baking soda, lime, or wood ash). It makes a good side dish or can be eaten for breakfast. You can find grits in the cereal section in larger supermarkets, often near the oatmeal.

To serve 2 to 4 people, you can prepare Quick Grits in a small saucepan by adding 1/2 cup of dried (but not instant) grits into 1 1/2 cups of water and stirring over a flame it until it simmers (For a single serving, use 1/4 to 1/3 cup grits to 1 cup of water). It first appears watery, but thickens as it absorbs the water. Instant Grits (in the little packets) can be made by adding boiling water and stirring. For an authentic flavor, you can add butter, bacon bits or shredded cheddar cheese. A word of warning: Grits can be very thick, so if it is made in a microwave oven, it can splatter if it bubbles.


If you want some granola cereal but can't afford it, all you need is an oven or fry pan and some bulk oatmeal, water, and sugar for minimum but the additional ingredients make it nicer.

  • 3 cups raw oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup water or enough to make it damp
  • 3/4 cup sugar, honey, or maple syrup, more or less to taste
  • 1 pinch salt(optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil, shortening, margarine, or butter optional to enhance crisping
  • cinnamon as wanted
  • 3/4 cup dried fruit, nuts, seeds, raisins, etc

Mix ingredients in a bowl except fruit and raisins, use your hands and squeeze as you mix it to help get the moisture mixed in. Bake for one hour at 150C mixing with a spatula every 15 minutes or until dry and browned to your liking. Add fruit and raisins after the granola has cooled.

Cooking in a fry pan requires more attention, care must be taken to constantly stir and keep the temperature down so you toast and don't burn the oatmeal, a good indicator that the pan is too hot is if the sugar stuck to the bottom of the pan turns very dark or smokes.

Simple Cookies[edit]

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

You can add 1/2 cup rolled oats cutting 1/2 cup flour out of the recipe, or add 3/4 cup peanut butter and a bit more sugar to taste, as always carefully add the flour last so you can adjust consistency of the dough. Raisins, roasted nuts, and chocolate chips or candy bar chunks are all good to add to the recipe. Without eggs these get a little tough if they dry out in the oven but are quite edible. If you don't have eggs you will need to add a bit more water or if you have an apple or a banana you can substitute some mashed fruits for eggs. Bake at 390F/200C for 8-10 min. and keep an eye on them. You can also try using a covered greased fry pan, solar reflector oven, or even a coffee can with a 60W incandescent light bulb wired into it, like the Easy-Bake toy ovens.

Biscuit Mix[edit]

Taken from Wikibooks' Cookbook, this is a substitute for those "instant baking mixes" you see in supermarkets.

  • 2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup (80g) shortening
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) powdered milk
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup (80ml-120ml) water

Blend together dry ingredients and store if you like, when ready to cook cut in shortening to make mixture as granular as possible. Use as you would for "Bisquik" style recipes.

To make biscuits, add 2 cups of mix to 1/2 cup water or milk, knead no more than 5 times (or it will be too tough), roll flat to about 3/4 inch (2 cm), and cut into biscuit shapes (A clean drinking glass will do). Bake on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes at 450 F (230 C).


Bread takes time to rise but is delicious and inexpensive to make. You can make with as little as flour, sourdough culture or yeast, and water, but salt, sugar, eggs, and oil help add flavor and nutrition. As you add eggs remove an equivalent amount of water, an easy way to do this is fill the measuring cup with available eggs then finish with water. Using yeast means that you do not have to air culture a bowl of flour paste into sourdough, which takes several days. If it is just too cold in your food prep area to keep a culture active or even to let bread rise (try a closed cardboard box with a small wick candle inside, placed in a fireplace for fire safety) try our pancake or cake recipe.

Mix sugar, warm water, and yeast into one large bowl and let it proof (reproduce) while working the other ingredients. Let it proof a long time for a strong yeasty flavor. Once you have a thriving bubbling yeast bowl, you can mix it into the bread bowl with the eggs, flour, oil, eggs, salt, and more sugar if you want a sweet bread. Lots of olive oil and herbs makes a tasty foccacia. Of course if you want to make a granola, fruity, or nutty bread go nuts, ground beans are a great way to balance the amino acids for full nutrition. Try this first and then experiment to your liking:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (feels warm to hand, not burning hot)
  • 1 Tbps sugar
  • 1 tps salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 Tbs yeast

Once you have your bread and punched it down you are ready to make a loaf. Let it rise again and bake it at 350F(180C) until it starts to brown on top. If you make a funky loaf at first, try again, as you will develop a feel for the consistency of a dough after a few tries. Ground whole wheat flour or sourdough leavening take more time to soften and rise especially in a cold place, you should mix your dough wet and sticky in the morning and let it rise covered in a bowl all day maybe even longer in winter, it will be much softer and lighter than if you use the quick recipes we mention.

Bread rolled into long sticks is a quicker way to cook your bread, they are also easier if you want to dip into a sauce or spread.

Beer Bread[edit]

Another easy recipe for very fast but real tasty bread contains only three ingredients, at least two of which you're likely to have around:

  • 3 c. self rising flour
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 12 fluid ounces beer (which provides the yeast flavor)

Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl, pour into a greased bread pan or casserole dish, and bake for 30-40 minutes in a preheated 350F oven. Darker beers, such as a stout like Guinness, give the bread a richer flavor; but any kind of beer will do. (Don't worry about getting drunk from this. As the beer bakes, the alcohol evaporates.)

Self-Rising Flour[edit]

You can turn all-purpose flour into self-rising flour by adding 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt to each cup of flour and sifting it with a fork.


See Pancakes under "Roadside Chow"

Sourdough Bread[edit]

Mix 1/2 cup of room temperature water and 1/2 cup flour in a jar, use half of the starter in pancakes or something every day during startup so you don't waste and add back 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup flour mix, try to keep the starter between 80F and 100F (30-38C) too cold and it will take forever, too hot and it will die. After two to five days it will be bubbly and beer or yeasty smelling, you have a starter. You can jump start a sourdough culture by begging a pinch of yeast from a bakery and adding it to the flour paste or adding a few unwashed organic grape skins or using organic wheat flour which are higher in natural yeast. Now keep it alive warm, damp, and covered with a cloth, mix once or twice a day, just keep using and feeding it flour and water. It is OK to refrigerate it once it is running, you can use the cloth held on with a rubber band or punch a hole in the lid to allow ventilation.

To make sourdough bread, mix one cup of water and one cup of water and 1/2 cup starter and let proof (bio-populate) overnight, this is called the proof sponge. Now you can use the proof sponge instead of yeast substituting out one cup of flour and water from the bread recipe. Be sure to add some of the proof sponge and some flour and water back into your starter every time you bake bread to replace what came out for proofing. If possible keep some sourdough starter in a cold place like a refrigerator or outside in winter so you don't have to feed it every day, just once a week or so, you can pour off the clear or dark liquid on top if you want to, it is high in alcohol but disgusting. It will take much longer for this bread to rise than hyperactive store yeast but it will have a soft rich tasty sourdough flavor.


For dim-sum buns, make your dough by adding 1/4 cup sugar and 2 Tbs oil to the basic bread recipe. Roll and flatten dough into discs six inches wide, add a filling using 1Tbs of sweet stir fry per bun, twist the buns shut and make that side the bottom. Let the buns rise for about half an hour, steam for 10-20 min on wax paper or baking sheet squares. Wrap in cling plastic and freeze for storage, to reheat microwave or steam the wrapped bun.

Steam is also a way to bake whole loafs but it will have a different consistency then regular bread softer with a delicate white crust. If you find dry stale bread you can revive it by steaming for ten minutes and then a quick run in a hot oven.


For pizza crust, let rise then roll or throw a flat disc onto a pan and let rise covered for 1/2 hour, then bake for 10 min at 200F. Remove crust from oven add sauce, cheese, and toppings now bake again until the toppings and cheese are done. Look above in Italian cooking for the sauce recipe and below in Dairy for DIY Mozzarella cheese.

Store Loaf[edit]

A nice loaf of store-bought bread can also make a rather nutritious, albeit boring meal. If you pay attention to what you buy, you can get a loaf that, if you eat enough slices, will fulfill the overwhelming majority of your nutritional needs. Most chain supermarkets will place loaves of day-old bread or pastries from the bakery section on sale. Be sure to check this area if your local store has one.

If you come across a large stash of day old bread while dumpster diving and are unable to give away or eat all of the wealth put the loaves or buns out in the hot sun and let them dry hard while keeping the birds away. Dry bread can last up to a few weeks and can be steamed back to softness, eaten dipped in soup, or used to make french toast. Hang your bag of bread to prevent mice from getting at your stash.

War Cake[edit]

As Marie Antoinette is reputed to have said to the poor French lower classes who were without bread and revolting against the crown; "Let them eat cake". Our cake is quicker than bread to prepare, and can be baked in many ways even if you are without an oven or gas. The recipe below is based on one from the 1930's often called "Depression Cake" (Originally it was made without butter, eggs or milk, since those were hardest to come by at that time). It can be modified using less sugar and adding vegetable chunks and soft corn if you like to eat it with a regular meal. You can remove the baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and vinegar and use baking powder (2 tsp) but remember that baking powder is very moisture sensitive and can go flat. No rising agents lead to a cake that is heavy and tough. Shaved chocolate bar can be used like cocoa but is not as strong flavored. The other flavors and spices can be added if they are available. Cut and wrap a sheet cake for a days food on the move.

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil, shortening, unsalted margarine, or butter
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 cup cold water, or cold brewed coffee, or fruit juice (juice can substitute for some or all sugar)
  • You can mix an egg or two into the second cup of water (in the measuring cup) for a softer cake.
  • Any or a mix of - vanilla, almond or lemon extract; sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice); unsweetened cocoa; chocolate chips, chunks, or shavings; dry or chunk fruits and berries; ground or chopped nuts; citrus peel shavings; freeze dried coffee; peanut butter; raisins, prunes.

Rub oil on your frying pan, folded aluminum foil or clean paper tray, or 9-by-13 inch baking pan and evenly sprinkle down some flour to coat the bottom (to prevent sticking). Preheat oven to 350F or prepare coals. Mix dry ingredients together first and then quickly add all of the liquid ingredients, mix only as long as it takes to get a smooth mixture. Pour batter into your pan and immediately begin cooking. Bake, steam, or place your pan above a fire or coals or a hot plate on a low setting with a lid or cover until a toothpick or fork comes out clean when poked into the middle of the cake, between 20 min to an hour depending on thickness and ingredients. Wait 20 min to cool then serve, cut up and wrap, or frost. Good sweet spices include cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and some also use anise and fennel seed. Adding freeze dried coffee to chocolate cake is great for waking up before midnight actions.

With the alternative cooking methods practice is required and don't be surprised if you get a hard bottom crust if you cook over a fire. You could also try putting the batter into folded foil pockets or leaf wraps and put at the edge of the red hot coals, oil the inside of the foil if possible and fill less than half full since the cake will rise when cooking.

An easy glaze frosting, like what is on a donut, is made by simmering water or orange juice, starch, and sugar for a minute or two. Frosting is made with butter or oil and powdered sugar. You can add cocoa if you like. Frosting keeps the cake fresh longer by making a barrier for escaping moisture.

Hardtack Crackers[edit]

See Hardtack crackers in Roadside Chow.

Baking Powder Substitute[edit]

In case the store is out or you forgot to get it.

  • 2 parts Cream of Tartar (NOT Tartar Sauce!)
  • 1 part Baking Soda
  • 1 part Cornstarch

Combine, store in an airtight container, and keep refrigerated.


A good way to cook a veggie stew or meat is inside a pie crust. For fruit pies just boil fruit even if it is a little green or overripe with a some water until the "stew" gets thick, you may add sugar and sweet spices if you like but it should be fine without. If you are camped out make your pie in a greased and floured dutch oven or clay pot placed in a pile of low coals. Also try a closed BBQ grill or on a rack above coals with a can or cookie tin over it to hold the heat in, try to get a good reusable pie tin and cover with a plate.

Pie Shell[edit]

For a standard pie shell, take 1 cup of flour, 1/3 cup shortening, 3 Tbsp water and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cut the shortening into the flour in a bowl then add the salt and water one tablespoon at a a time. Then roll flat with a rolling pin. This should be enough for a 9 inch pie, top and bottom. If you can only get oil you will have to experiment for best results, cook little test circles of pie crust on a piece of foil until you find a good mix for your available ingredients.

Another recipe is taken from a Civil War era cookbook (reproduced verbatim):

Boil six good-sized mealy potatoes, and mash them fine, add salt, a spoonful of butter, and two of water, while they are hot, then work in flour enough for making a paste to roll out, or put into two or three spoonfuls cream, and no butter or water. This is a good crust for hot pies or dumplings.

Mock Apple Pie[edit]

This was a staple for Pioneer families when fresh fruit was rare, and was even published on boxes of "Ritz" crackers for many years. It was very popular in World War 2 when most apples were processed for food for the soldiers. You'll need a 9 inch pie pan and pie crust.

  • 36 or so crackers, broken into crumbs (about 1 3/4 cups) {Snack crackers like "Ritz" or their clones are best, but saltines can be used}
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar or other sweetener
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine (or, in a pinch, cooking oil)
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar (NOT Tartar Sauce!)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Grated peel of one lemon (if you have it)

Rub oil on the inside of the pie pan, roll out half the pastry shell and put the crumbs in. Heat the water in a saucepan and add the sugar and cream of tartar. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon peel and juice and let cool until it forms a syrup. Pour the syrup over the crumbs.

Dot the filling with butter/margarine/oil and sprinkle the cinnamon. Roll out the remaining pastry over the pie, pinch the sides to close the shell and cut a small slice in the top to let the steam out.

Bake until the pie shell is crisp and golden (about 30 minutes at 425 F/220 C). Let cool and serve.

Cheese and Dairy[edit]

Sour Milk[edit]

If you want to prevent your "just gone bad" milk from curdling, keep adding a little baking soda to it and mix until the "bad" smell is gone, this will save it for another day or two.

A far better use of sour milk though is to use it as a rising agent, in any cake, biscuit, or pancake recipe that includes milk you can add 1/2 tsp of baking soda(sodium bicarbonate) to the recipe and then not worry about the baking powder, the baking soda reacts with the lactic acid in the spoiled milk and makes very tasty fluffy pancakes from your rescued milk. If your batter still tastes sour you can add a pinch or more as required baking soda, your tongue will tell. Sour milk subs great in any recipe requiring buttermilk. So don't let that curdled gloppy mess that your roommate is about to throw out frighten you, save this delicious and useful recipe ingredient!

Powdered Milk and Eggs[edit]

Powdered eggs and milk are a great way to assure yourself protein and several nutrients when you need to store food or travel light. Dry eggs are good for egg substitute in most recipes. Dried milk is easy to quick mix with water using a clear walled plastic ketchup squirter, Give it a few good shakes to break up the lumps, the squirt bottle keeps undissolved lumps from getting mixed in with your coffee or cereal. 1/4-cup of milk powder to 1 cup of water makes one cup of milk. Powdered eggs reconstitute at different ratios so check the packaging. When using powdered milk and eggs in a recipe dont forget to add the missing water when mixing everything.


You can store eggs for long periods from six months and beyond using this trick, it is important to use the freshest eggs possible, so either get them from the hen or catch them when the supermarket truck arrives, hours count here. Rub raw eggs with Vaseline or petroleum jelly from the drug store, don't miss any spots and place in a plastic bag, suck the air out of the bag, store in a dark padded box. When you come to use the preserved raw eggs crack eggs into a cup one at a time, you will know if one has gone bad by the stink, this doesn't indicate any problem with other eggs.

Egg Substitute[edit]

(From Kyle Bravo's Making Stuff and Doing Things)

Don't expect to make an omlet with this. It's in case you're out of eggs for baking or if you and your comrades are vegan:

  • 1/2 tsp Potato Starch
  • 1/2 tsp Corn Starch
  • 1/2 tsp Tapioca Flour
  • 5 tsp Water
  • 1 tsp Vegetable Oil

Mix all together before you use it. This will equal one egg.

Mozzarella Cheese[edit]

A great way to feed yourself and friends pizza for almost free is using the expired milk you find in the dumpster in a way that preserves it. Most often you need an insider in the dairy department at the supermarket to either give it to you or at least dumpster it in the cartons instead of slashing the jugs and pouring the milk into the sewer. Expired milk has only a few good days left, but it is perfect for making all kinds of cheeses, even if the milk is beginning to turn and curd a bit on its own you can still use it but flavor may suffer if it has gone too far. Rennet tablets are available at many grocery stores, especially the hippy earth muffin ones, and will keep about a year in your pack or three years in the freezer. If they are getting weak use an additional tablet.

Note: Traditional rennet is made from the stomach linings of calves, but vegetarian rennet is made from either fungal microbes or vegetable sources like melons, safflower, fig leaves and thistles.

  • 1 gallon - 2%, 1%, or skim milk (whole milk is too high in fat)
  • 1/2 - rennet tablet
  • 1/4 cup - cool chlorine-free water (bottled spring water or carbon filtered)
  • 2 tsp - citric acid
  • 1 tsp -salt (optional)
  • 1 - thermometer (optional)

Crush the rennet and stir to dissolve in the chlorine free water. Pour milk into a non-reactive pot (no aluminum or cast iron, the acids will either add aluminum or rust to your cheese) stainless steel, Pyrex, or non stick works good. Place the pot over medium heat, and stir the the citric acid into the milk, heat milk to 88°F, you will begin to see the milk curd. At 88°F, add the rennet/water solution and continue stirring slowly every few minutes until the milk reaches 105°F then remove from heat. Large curds will appear and begin to separate from the whey (the clear liquid). With a slotted spoon or mesh strainer, scoop the curd into a large glass bowl. (If it's still too liquid, let it set for a few more minutes). Squeeze the curds gently and pour off as much whey as possible. You can wrap the curds in a handkerchief or nylon stocking to help squeeze out moisture. Heating in a microwave if available on high for a minute, this will soften and help remove additional whey so it is stretchable. Reheat the whey over medium heat and let it heat to about 175°F. You can sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons salt into the cheese while kneading and stretching it. The cheese will become stretchy, smooth and shiny. If it is difficult to stretch and breaks easily, dip cheese ball into the hot whey for a few seconds to make it warm and pliable. Then pick it up again and stretch it into a long rope. Fold over and stretch again. When cheese is cool enough to touch, knead it like bread dough until smooth. When you can stretch it like taffy, it is done. Shape it into a log or golf-size balls, then store in a solution of 2 teaspoons salt to 1 cup water, rolled into tiny balls or cooled and shredded you can use it as cheese on your hobo pizzas.

If you are able, you can use the whey in other recipes or once cool drink it straight. Whey is actually very nutritious and high in protein, so don't just waste it. In a serious pinch we have heard of using a cup of vinegar or lemon juice to curdle the gallon of milk but the results are not as tasty and your cheese will have a sour flavor.


Take a bucket of warm salted milk or cream and add rennet to start curdling, keep the mix around 98-100F until curdling is done an electric blanket will do the job. Place curds in a nylon stocking and squeeze out extra water, compress using weights into a shape mold with a wood lid and bottom, for a few hours to days inside your refrigerator until as dry/dense as you like. Dip in liquid wax and keep cool if you want it to age and become sharp.

Cream Cheese[edit]

Yogurt and sour cream become a spreadable cheese when they are put in a nylon stocking and hung in the fridge over a bowl for a day or two.

Sour Cream[edit]

Skim off the cream from separated milk (homogenized milk can be frozen and un-frozen to help it separate or make a centrifuge) and add a splash of live cultured buttermilk to the cream. Let stand out in a warm place for 24 hours (75-80F) or until thick (an electric blanket might do the trick). Save a bit of sour cream in your jar to use as a starter for your next batch. The leftover milk from this is called skim milk.


Yogurt is nutritious, cheap, healthy and delicious. It is easier than ever to make yogurt because much of today's yogurt comes with the active cultures still alive, and you can use these cultures to make your own yogurt. Almost any with active cultures works great: just mix some in with whole milk, put it in a large pot, and heat it until it feels warm, an electric blanket or next to a radiator should work too. In a few hours you'll be eating something much cheaper, tastier and healthier than buying it from a tub. Eating some every day can also prevent digestive problems.

As an aside acidophilus powder (the good active bacteria in yogurt) from a health food store or plain yogurt (no sugar) has been known to kill yeast infections in some people if used several times a day.

Parmesan Cheese[edit]

The real block stuff that you have to grind is much better than what is in the shake can for topping your food but both types work for making improvised cream sauces and they pack well for the road. You can try substituting brewers yeast to see if you like the switch, as the yeast actually has more protein.

If you want to make a kind of parmesan cheese follow the above instructions for mozarella cheese then wrap in a clean cheesecloth or nylon stocking and refrigerate or hang in a cool dry place protected from bugs. Once the cheese is hard all the way through wrap in a plastic bag or dip in wax, the longer it is stored once wrapped tight the sharper the flavor will become.


Fruit Juices[edit]

There is no better way to save money and stay hydrated than by watering down your juice! Although the taste takes a few days to grow accustomed to, the benefits are tremendous. Everyone likes to have some flavor in their drinks, as demonstrated by the terrible trends of powdered drink mixes and "flavoured water," so why not try to be smarter about it?. Treat any standard $3.00 bottle of juice like a $15.00 bottle of concentrate- mixing 1 part juice to 4-5 parts water, experiment to figure out what's best for you. You'll soon learn that a bottle of juice can last you weeks, and will keep you less thirsty throughout the day.

Fruit from the dumpster of a market is often bruised and not appealing for consumption raw, but it is well suited for juicing, don't forget to wash it off first.

If you're at a restaurant and have a limited budget, order water with lemon. It's almost always free, and will add some flavor to your beverage. Furthermore, lemon is a natural source of various vitamins and is good for digestion.


Sun Tea is a cheap and easy way to have nice iced tea. Just take a couple of quarts of water in a sealed, clear jug, add any type of loose or bagged tea (about a tablespoon or two per jug), set out in the sun for a few hours, and then refrigerate. You can steal as many packets of tea as you could want from coffee stations all over the country, in convenience stores, churches, etc. This is healthier than buying manufactured tea from Lipton or other sources that use acids and preservatives in their concoctions. If you can't stand unsweetened tea, try adding lemon. If you still can't stand it, add some sugar. The sooner you can prevent your children and/or yourself from becoming dependent on sugar, the healthier they will become.

When you or a friend are visiting England, or you come across a store selling British foods, be sure to stock up on tea; you won't know the difference until you have had a quality tea, but you will be disgusted by European and American teas once you have tasted quality. If you are pulling an all-nighter, there is no better buzz than proper English tea.

An absolutely free and nutritious tea can be made from pine needles. Pick a small fistful of pine needles from a nearby tree (use the greener living ones on the branches, not the brown\gray dead ones on the ground), break them in two and boil in water. Pine needle tea actually tastes pretty good, and pine needles by weight contain more Vitamin C than lemons or limes. Great in the wintertime.

Coffee Substitutes[edit]

A simple teaspoon of molasses in a mug of hot water makes a great substitute for decaffeinated coffee. It's already sweetened and very rich to the taste.

Chicory can be ground and brewed or used as a coffee extender. Acorns, after they've been peeled and roasted, can be used the same way, but won't taste as good. Roasted barley grains can be kept whole and steeped like tea.

Dandelion or catsear roots can also be roasted and ground as a substitute for coffee. To do this you're going to need a shovel, as dandelion root can often grow to around 30cm deep. Dig up the dandelions and wash them until clean, than either grate, chop or blend into a small sizable chunk. Some people leave them to dry out or, first cut the roots into chip form and dehydrate, this makes the roasting process easier. To roast, put on a lined tray in an oven at 200 degrees Celsius and roast until dark brown and dry both inside and out the root(around half hour). Like coffee though, the roast really depends on personal taste so experiment. The root can no be further ground and mixed with chicory or coffee for steeping.


Don't buy pre-made lemonade or lemonade powders! For a version that's better and cheaper, get a clean 2 liter soda bottle or a 1/2 gallon pitcher. Pour in 2 cups of warm water, add 1 cup of sugar (or other appropriate sweetener like Stevia), then put the cap on and shake (or stir) until the sugar dissolves completely. Then add 1 cup of lemon juice (The reconstituted stuff from the discount stores works perfectly if it is real) and four cups of cold water, shake/stir again, and enjoy. Add washed and crushed throw away strawberries to upgrade to strawberry lemonade, and/or add homemade vodka (see Free High School) for a little zing. For a cool middle eastern flavor add crushed mint leaves for mint tea.

This can also be made for free at a convenience store beverage station using the lemon packets meant for tea, and the sugar meant for the coffee. Furthermore, while attending a restaurant, order a water with lemon (which is usually perfectly free at a sit-down place of any sort) and mix in a few packets of sugar from the table.


Mixing fruit, ice, and either milk or yogurt in a blender is a good way to get a solid serving of both fruit and dairy in a cool, refreshing beverage. You can also sneak in a carrot or bit of tomato to discreetly add some more minerals and vitamins without disrupting the flavor. The natural sugars of the fruit should be enough to give your smoothies the right amount of sweetness to encourage kids to partake, as well.