The Last Days: a kitchen before payday. A photo essay.

Alternate title: how to survive the last days of the pay period.
Alternate alternate title: Inside a Peace Corps Kitchen

It’s that awful time of month again. No, not that time. It’s the other awful, the right-before-we-finally-get-paid-for-the-month time.

In an average month, it’s a pretty tight budget. We get a living allowance to cover all expenses: rent, food, transportation. However, it’s pretty basic and doesn’t do much to cover, say, feminine hygiene products or protein powder. So we budget and splurge and budget again! It’s a great exercise in priorities.

But this month, my priority was a week-long trip to Medellin to get away from the MOSQUITOS and see a new piece of my host country!

Medellin was a great experience (pending blog: how to see Medellin when you’re broke) but now I’m back home and trying to survive the last few days until pay period. Until I can buy toilet paper.

This means I’m getting creative in the kitchen, trying to use available resources to eat healthfully until payday. (Important note: when you’re broke, it’s easy to fall back on the cheap stuff. Here, that means white bread rolls and fried street food.)

The trick has been to dedicate time and effort (gasp!) to plan ahead a bit and try new things, like the toaster oven!

Using existing resources and my last precious pesos, here are a few of my latest meals!

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Black Bean Burgers: all ingredients I had on hand!
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Stuffed Eggplant: spaghetti sauce, brown rice and mozzarella, all in the toaster oven!
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Eggplant Pizzas: used another 1/4 of the eggplant for pizza crusts in the toaster. Used the extra veggies to scramble with an egg to get some protein. Still have 1/4 of the eggplant for a 3rd meal!!
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Oat Cakes! These are four ingredients: oats, banana, egg and cinnamon!
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Arepas: when in Rome….make corn cakes! Top these pan-toasted babies with a fried egg, or salsa, or peanut butter (don’t tell any Colombians I said that, though)
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Okay, I cheated, I didn’t make this! But it was free (and priceless) because I got free lunch when I biked with my friend to his aunt’s house. It COULD be a budget meal, though–sancocho is just veggies, meat chunks and a good broth base. And lime!
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Black Beans: my personal favorite. Black beans and any toppings you can come up with! I add green chilis when I can (aka when they come in a care package.)

 

And the greatest accomplishment of all, I didn’t even have to post a single photo of the two staple budget foods: lentils and oatmeal! I think we’ll survive, indeed.

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