Poorfag Cooking

Many of the threads on /ck/ are about cooking cheap. Why not conglomerate all that info here?

This is intended to be a guide that will help you independantly cook cheap and very healthy dishes, while using the most out of everything that you cook buy.

I'll make the following assumptions for this:

Philosophy of Poorfag Cooking

Think like the peasant you are. Since we figured out cooking we've been having to scrounge around for things to slide down our throats so we don't die. When beginning your journey as a penny-pinching poorfag, think about how the poorest of the poor throughout history ate.

1: Don't worry about the small stuff!

In terms of recipe and instructions, you can cook food horribly and it will still be eatable. Good cooking skill comes from practice and listening to advice. It's better to try than worry about the details too much, or not cook at all!

2: Buy in season and unprocessed

Getting food in season makes sense economically. See seasonalfoodguide.org if you can't figure it out yourself.

Also, it's healthiest and usually cheapest to buy unprocessed food. Instead of rice-a-roni, buy actual rice. Instead of instant oatmeal, buy rolled oats. There's utility in some processed food like frozen veggies or crackers and such, but this is a general guideline.

3: Experiment and be flexible

Like point 1 said, you can make disgusting food and it should still be somewhat eatable. After cooking for a month or so regularaly, you should be able to understand how not to royally fuck up a dish. Then start experimenting with whatever veggies are available.

This is important because you never know what food you will or will not have on hand at any time unless you inventory your food stock.

4: Get on food stamps

If you own property, get paid at a job, or buy anything with sales tax, you're paying the government to run food assistance programs. There's no reason not to see if you are elligable or sign up for it. Go here if you live in the US.

The Holy Trifecta: Rice, Chicken, Veggies

This is the trifecta of cheap food, and should provide most nutrients at a great price.

The Veggie meta

The Rice Meta

Rice may be the cheapest thing to eat. There's a reason chinese peasants are have been eating this stuff for so long. It's smart to cook more rice than you think you need, since you can make leftovers into fried rice or congee.

Cooked Rice

This process was mostly taken from Wikibooks:Cookbook:Boiling Rice. You need to experiment to get the amounts and time correct. Here's the technique that works for Basmati rice:

  1. Measure the rice into a saucepan that is at least four times as big as the amount of rice you need.
  2. Wash the rice: nearly fill the saucepan with water, and stir the rice. The water should become somewhat cloudy as some of the starch is washed off the rice. Drain the water, and repeat a few times until the water is (almost) clear.
  3. Drain the rice. You don't have to be too exact about this.
  4. Add cold water to the pan - about double the volume of the rice.
  5. Add a pinch of salt (amount depending on the amount of rice) and any other flavourings. A crushed cinnamon blade or a star anise is nice.
  6. Bring the rice to the boil, cover the pan, and let it simmer for ten minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat, and let the rice stand for five minutes to absorb any remaining water and become soft.
  8. This technique works for different kinds of rice but you need to work out by trial and error how much water to add, and how long to let the rice simmer. Instead of water you can use stock to flavour the rice.

It's in my opinion that buying a rice cooker is worth the money for convenience. I'd recommend something that can handle 5 cups of uncooked rice, 8+ if you have more people eating rice on the regular. I've had good experience with Aroma cookers. If you're going to spend the money on one, make sure it has a steam tray and digital display.

Fried Rice

Making fried rice is typically taking leftover rice, refrigerating it overnight, and frying it with leftover veggies and maybe some meat. If you can't wait for leftover rice, cook some and leave it spread out on a pan by a window for 15 minutes to dry it out.

  1. Get a large pan hot and put some oil in there, raise to medium-high heat. Put a little more than you think you'd need.
  2. Add fragrants like cumin seed or garlic, cook for 20-30 seconds
  3. Add rice, stir for a bit
  4. Add small-cut veggies, meats, and soy sauce, as well as any spices. Add onions toward the end.


This is the traditional rice breakfast. You just need to boil some leftover rice.

I don't have much of a method personally for it, just getting a pot of water at a hot simmer and throwing leftover rice in it until it becomes more like a porridge. I'll typically add cinnamon, sugar, and a bit of salt for something savory.

The Chicken Meta

The key for the chicken is to use every bit of it that you can. At one end of the chicken meta is the chicken tendie, which has no bones and is simply breaded meat. On the other end is buying a raw, whole chicken. Buying an entire chicken is the most cost-effective by many orders of magnitude.

Oven-Cooked Chicken

As for cooking it, follow this procedure. I'll assume the chicken is already eviscerated.

  1. Remove chicken from packaging, and remove any packaged organs like liver or gizzard.
  2. Spread seasoning on chicken and under chicken skin. I personally like to put some yellow mexican chicken rub I found at my grocery store for $3 a bottle. You can also add spices like rosemary, pepper, basil, cumin, parsley, or garlic powder.
  3. Optional: Veggie this up! Put a celary stick in the chicken's cavity hole, or put the chicken on a bed of veggies on the pan (I've found carrots and potatoes to work well)
  4. Preheat oven to 350F/175C, put chicken in the oven on a pan for about an hour or until it looks nice and golden brown.
  5. Optional but highly recommended: Buy a kitchen thermometer and make sure the chicken is internally at 165F/75C or higher.
  6. Either try to pull apart this chicken with your bare hands, or cut it up and save it for later.

Making Chicken Stock

Save all those bones and organs! Whatever's left of the chicken can be used to make stock. In basic terms, you're putting chickenstuff into a pot of boiling water with spices and veggies, then simmering for 4+ hours, then straining and saving the liquid. This stock can be used for making more tasty rice, chicken-flavored soups, and much more.

  1. Get the biggest pot you have, fill it with water, and get it boiling.
  2. Lower the temp to a simmer, and put in your chickenstuff and pan drippings if you have any.
  3. Put in a chopped onion, carrot, and stick of celery, then some spices like basil, rosemary, sage, or whatever you think would taste decent. This is known as the mirepoix. To save money, you can put edible veggie scraps like celery leaves in here.
  4. Simmer for about three hours. A good stock is traditionally clear, but unless you're going to pay attention to your stock and sift oft the float that rises to the top it's probably going to be cloudy.
  5. Use immediately, or store in fridge or freezer.