If you know me, you know this: I am always thinking about my next meal. This is partly because I’m a planner, but also because I love food. It’s not uncommon for me to turn to my boyfriend during breakfast on a Sunday and ask what he thinks we should have for dinner Thursday.
I am keenly aware that this is a privilege. According to Hunger Free Colorado, about one in eight Coloradans don’t know where their next meal is coming from. That’s about 12 percent of the state that struggles with hunger and not having enough money to buy food.
Many Denver VOICE vendors are in this group. When they can’t make it to one of the free meals offered by the shelters and day centers, they often rely on frozen food, typically purchased at dollar stores, which they cook in convenience store microwaves. Needless to say, these microwave meals can be lacking in nutrition.
A quick Google search will give you plenty of information on how to feed a family on a shoestring budget, but almost all of those recipes require something most people experiencing homelessness don’t have: a kitchen. Making a nutritious meal for four people for less than $10? No problem. Making a nutritious meal for four people for less than $10 with no stovetop and no refrigerator? That’s more difficult.
We posed a recipe challenge to Liz Farrall, sous chef at the Denver ramen joint Uncle. (Side note: VOICE vendors eat a lot of ramen. It is not as good as the ramen Farrall cooks on a daily basis.) We asked her to teach us how to feed four people a healthy meal for under $10. And then we asked if she could do it using only a microwave. Farrall came through, and we had a ton of fun last month testing—and eating—her instructions.
We hope you enjoy our food feature this month. If you decide to make any of these recipes, let us know how they turn out. Just remember, to be truly authentic you need to cook your food in a 7-Eleven microwave. ■