With prices soaring to new heights, many of us can’t help but reflect on what we’re spending for food and contemplate ways to still make amazing food on an extremely tight budget. This isn’t a new issue for humans and luckily we can look to our ancestors for inspiration.

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According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s been 30 years since food ate up this much of our income, and we see it every day in the grocery store, at restaurants, and even at the drive-thru.

This is a problem I don’t think is going away any time soon, but we still need to eat.

But there is no need to compromise on taste, flavor, and enjoyment of food.

You still can make amazing food on an extremely tight budget!

Collage of pasta fagioli, polpette di pane, baccala Napoletana, and pasta e ceci.

Modern day cucina povera

The Italian phrase, cucina povera, translates to “poor kitchen” and is a concept that isn’t limited to Italians, rather it transcends cultures and time.

It relies on using inexpensive ingredients, often pantry-stable ones, and not letting anything go to waste.

Stale bread wouldn’t be discarded, rather it would be used to make polpette di pane, or panzanella salad.

Meals classified as cucina povera often include some type of legume and a grain; rarely will any meat fall into this category, unless it’s the innards, also known as offal.

These meals are ones that many Italian-American families make regularly, especially during Lent when many are fasting and abstaining from meat on Fridays, or the entire Lenten season.

Some of the more well-known grain and legume meals include pasta fagioli, pasta e ceci, and pasta e lenticchie and while each differs slightly, they all have one thing in common: they’re amazing meals that are budget-friendly.

In this episode we discuss the problem at hand, talk through solutions, including buying in bulk (Costco), using leftovers in new ways, and some of our favorite budget-friendly meals.

Jim holding plate with Italian pastry and Tara holding pack of Italian Croissants.

Taste tests are back

Last year we recorded a few product taste tests on our main channel, and we’ve decided to bring them back, but in a different way.

We’ll use the end of each podcast episode to try a new food or drink and let you know what we think of them.

In this episode, we’re taste-testing a packaged Italian pastry similar to a cornetto, and one of my homemade zeppole di San Giuseppe. Listen to find out what we think!

Resources

If you enjoyed the Amazing Food on an Extremely Tight Budget Plus Italian Pastry Taste Test Episode, leave us a comment below and let us know!  

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