Stocking the Broke-Ass Pantry: What You Need on Hand to Get by on Nathan

Broke-Ass hears you. You’ve asked to get real simple–not comme il faut at the eponymous yuppie maga-log. You want the Basics of Broke-Ass Living. Since Broke-Ass is nothing if not your humble servant, let us begin with that most primal of needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy: nourishment.

The first and most important principle of feeding your family the Broke-Ass way is this: Shop as little as possible, and buy what only what you must, as cheaply as possible. Let’s unpack this principle a smidge before we get down to business.

Cutting down on marketing means you not only have more time to earn a damn living, but it also compels you to make–or grow–the stuff that you would have bought pre-made or grown when you did make a damn living. For example, back when Broke-Ass was rich, she bought the following items regularly and with impunity: scones with walnuts and crystallized ginger; Eli’s Health Loaf bread; granola with flaxseed and cocoa nibs; Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products; Greek yogurt; artesenal mozzarella; rarefied iced teas; tea bags in faux Englishy-looking tins; organic fresh herbs (and beets; cucumbers; squash; green beans; eggplant; spinach; kale; tomatoes; and sundry elite lettuces); face cream from her favorite place in the whole wide world, the Beauty Level at Bergdorf’s (please, friends, when the time comes, scatter Broke-Ass’ ashes near the Jo Malone counter); fancy soaps with French everything; devil-may-care expensive hair-care shmutz; and all manner of indigenous bottled sauces from islands all over the great wide world of ours.

No mas. Now, she makes or grows all of it at Rancho del Broke-Ass. Important reminder: Living the life of little house in the ghetto is not something Broke-Ass has elected to do because she is some aging, sanctimonious trust-fund Generation X hipster who sits on panels at non-profit conferences lecturing baby boomers on how to live “sustainably.” She does this because SHE DOES NOT HAVE MONEY. Does that make her “lifestyle” “sustainable”? Yes. Does she give a rats ass? Not particularly. It would feel rather fun and frivolous to buy a fucking LOAF OF BREAD.

Okay. Let’s start with the pantry. Babydolls, you will find below Broke-Ass’ full-proof shopping list of must-have items for the Broke-Ass Pantry. If you stock these foodstuffs, you will always be able to make a nutritious, delicious meal for a family of five for under $10. What’s more, such meals will not make you feel like a loser who has to feed her children bland, junky bullshit because you’re poor. The meals you will serve will be fashionably peasant-like, rustic–Mediterranean. For thousands of years, the poor people of this world have always been able to make what appears to be the dregs of the food-chain absolutely mouthwatering. They didn’t go to Brown, for Christssakes. They just used their fucking heads and made do. If they could figure out how to do it, so can you.

All these items, except for olive oil, can and should be picked up from Costco. Sorry, locavores: pantry items for poor folk need to be cheap (fruit and veggies are a different story, but Broke-Ass will cover that later). Olive oil is the only thing you should splurge on: Go to Whole Foods or Fairway, and just suck it up. You’ll be bummed out if you don’t. So, herewith, the list:

Raw almonds



Dried beans (Broke-Ass favors the white ones, but black are always good, too–get both.)



Whole wheat flour; baking soda; baking powder; active, dry yeast; organic sugar (yes, they carry it)

Canned tomatoes (whole, peeled)

Grains (basmati rice; quinoa; wild rice; oatmeal; organic flaxseed–get it all)

Dried fruit (dates; apricots; prunes. Sometimes, they have mixed bags. If not, get all these)


White Distilled Vinegar

Butter (stick what you don’t need in the freezer)

Chicken; ground turkey; pork shoulder (again–freezer)

Parmesan and manchego, in big blocks

Spices: sea salt; cinnamon; tumeric; garlic granules; oregano; basil; thyme; curry; ginger

That’s it. With greens and fresh milk, a family of five can live off this pantry for at least six months. Next time, Broke-Ass will tell you how. A big kiss on the keppie!


About brokeassgrouch

I'm goddamned broke and grouchy. I live in the middle of the damned ghetto and raise chickens for eggs; grow all my own vegetables and fruit; bake the bread and make the cleaning products. Why? Because I fucking have to, that's why! That's what you do when you're fucking poor! You have to make the shit yourself, dumb-ass! Broke-Ass Grouch is sick of all you Bennington and RISD trustafarians yapping about your "urban farming co-ops" and your "carbon conscious lifestyle" and your "green choices" in the Times Styles section and every alternapress periodical that you can pick up for free in every eye-wateringly expensive, edgy bakery or green-market. Maybe when you have a trust fund, you can make "choices" or have a "lifestyle" or "decide" how to "spend" your "money." Excuse me, but Mama is just trying to feed her kids over here, you little shits. And stop spraying your art-school graffiti on the fence of the vacant lot across the street from my house. I know who you are, and I'm telling my friend Keith (who lives in the projects) that it was you who painted that cartoon of the African mask. So what can I tell you? I don't fucking know. I know a lot about being broke, sure as Bob's your fucking uncle. I know about how useless an Ivy League degree is when you're flat-ass broke. I know how to unclog a drain with baking soda and vinegar, and I know how to make my own CHEESE, for fuck's sake. You tell me.
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3 Responses to Stocking the Broke-Ass Pantry: What You Need on Hand to Get by on Nathan

  1. Andrea Rashish says:

    I love you broke-ass grouch. You are a goddess. And you make me feel ever so much better about how broke (and yes, grouchy) I am especially since my friends are, um, not.

  2. tati says:

    really enjoyed reading your post. looks like your family gets the same fare as mine 🙂

  3. Pingback: It’s Fall, Babydolls: And That Calls for More Beans. And Pesto. | Ask a Broke-Ass Grouch

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