Skip to content

How to Be Poor #1: Fine Dining


Choices, Choices

Welcome to the first entry in a line of articles I’m calling, “How to Be Poor”!  I will be showing you how to be in your twenties, poorer than poor, and still have a pretty awesome time. A true guide to making lemonade. I feel I’m something of an authority in the subject, because for the most part, my lineage is full of poor bastards, but we know how to have fun with it.

First I will walk you through one way to get through the main problem you run into with a very thin wallet: food. After you pay rent on your crappy apartment and your insane gas bill there isn’t much wiggle room for other necessities, huh? You must be creative, as my dude Al Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Right? So forget the fact that you know you don’t have the means to eat what you really want to eat and use your imagination to make a similar treat for yourself. I think that makes sense.

Tonight’s Cuisine:  Pesto Pasta w/ Garlic Bread

Say you’re paycheck doesn’t come in until Friday night and it’s Thursday afternoon. You went ahead and spent the small remainder from your previous check on beer because someone on craigslist said they’d buy the television you posted for sale and you got excited. That person never showed up with the money that was supposed to buy the groceries on Wednesday. Now your girlfriend is pissed and you both are hungry. In a strikingly similar situation my girlfriend and I found ourselves in a couple of weeks ago, we were able to do some pretty serious MacGyver-ing with our paltry supplies.

We have four pieces of bread, a box of macaroni but no milk or butter and some various spices lying about the cupboard. In the right hands these are the makings of a fine cuisine. As it turns out, our poor, crafty hands are just the right hands. The old lady is a fine cook as well, she knows how to make macaroni tastes pretty damn good. But, our problem is the lack of milk or butter to make the cheese powder form into cheese liquid, right? Wrong. The next step in this process is where some people may find a hard time working themselves up to, as it may be construed as “wrong”, or maybe “illegal”. If you’re a religious person, or if you believe in Karma like I don’t, you may not be cut out for this.

What you need to do is go to the grocery store and find their bulk section. I recommend the larger chain operations and not your locally owned grocer, to lower your guilt meter. Grab a few pine nuts out of the bin, not even a half cup, then head to wherever they keep their basil. Put the leaf or paste or whatever form you find the basil in into the same hand as the few pine nuts. Then insert your hand into your pocket, dispensing them into the pocket and then walk out the door. It truly is as simple as that. Call me a bad guy for stealing, but it’s not like I’m stealing TV sets or iPods or candy from children, OK?  If you do feel like you need to even out your Karma, maybe try doing something nice for someone. I feel that recycling my plastics fully makes up for and then some for a few pine nuts.


Depending on if you have the benefit of a wonderful cooking girlfriend, this is where you may retire to the living room to listen to Willie Nelson and wish you had more beer. But I paid attention to the preparation for the sake of my single duders out there. Step one, make the macaroni noodles. Don’t cook too long or they will be mushy and that sucks. Step two, remember to keep the pack of cheese powder from the box of mac n’ cheese, because the next time you do have the proper accessories to make the cheese sauce, you can double your cheese and have a turbo Mac n’ Cheese dish!

Step three, inherit a crappy old blender from a grandmother or aunt or from out by the dumpster. If these aren’t possibilities, you can use plain ol’ elbow grease and mash up the pine nuts and basil with a big wooden spoon or something. Ideally you would also have some olive oil to set it off completely, but you probably do not, so a little water is fine to loosen the shit up. Blend these ingredients to a paste, maybe throwing in a little black pepper or some garlic if that’s your thing. Mix sauce into noodles.Step four, make that garlic bread. Now, once again we are lacking butter, the central ingredient. That’s OK,  just toss some garlic or whatever spices you have on top of the bread and cook it in the oven. It’ll will taste fine without butter. Or if you’re lazy, toast your bread in the toaster and spread some of the leftover pesto sauce onto it.  Or if you’re extremely lazy, just eat the damn bread out the bag.

Step five, dig in! You’ll find that it taste more or less the same as it would with your preferred pasta noodles and ingredients. At least marginally similar. The important thing is, your belly’s full for the night. And you didn’t have to sell your TV yet, so now you can cap the dinner by retiring to the divan and watch your VHS copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 01.11.2012 1:43 pm

    Very amusing article. Being good at making do with little money is a universally useful skill too!

  2. 01.11.2012 9:17 pm

    Thanks, brotha! I consider myself something of a maverick in the field.

  3. 01.13.2012 3:32 pm

    Funny article! Very resourceful of you.

  4. playfulpups permalink
    01.13.2012 9:39 pm

    Love it!! Although I am thankfully out of those poor 20’s, I remember being that college student surviving on little to nothing…well, actually, I suppose I survived with help from the parents..(Thanks Mom and Dad for never letting me resort to Pine Nut stealing!) 🙂 .Anyways- great read!

  5. 01.15.2012 8:45 am

    Dude! You STOLE pine nuts?! Looool!!
    No judgement from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: