Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fancy Foods for the Brooklyn Bitch on a Budget


Ever since my trip to Paris this winter, I have been thoroughly swept up in the notion of being able to entertain on a moment’s notice. There is something so romantic about the idea of keeping an emergency supply of “the good stuff”, especially when you can really elevate your diet and only spend $7-10. Sure, my friends are dropping by for PBR and watching Bravo reruns without their pants instead of drinking wine and talking about politics, but that doesn’t mean we can’t feel like fancy pants Brooklynites when doing so.

A common misconception about entertaining is that it’s an expensive, antiquated practice that has gone the way of smoking while pregnant and Jiffy Pop. However, I’ve learned that stocking up on a few basic pantry essentials can make even the brokest bitch on a budget feel like a fancy-ass hipster. Below are some of my tried-and-true favorites for entertaining at the drop of a hat- whether meeting with a potential new client/collaborator, hosting a quick snack sesh before you hit the bars with your lady friends, or things to stock your cabinets with before you go on vacation, to ensure a spoil-free stash when you return. Without further ado, I present you with a list of Fancy Foods for any Budget. Or: Things to Keep on Hand when your parents drop in for a surprise visit, or when you really want to impress an out-of-town friend.

Fancy food on a budget.
1.    Jar of artichokes. A tiny can will feed 4-6 people, and will run about $1.50 if you opt for a generic supermarket brand. Don’t have that option? Scope the canned veggie options for whole artichoke hearts.
2.   Jar of roasted red peppers. Whatever you don’t finish as a snack will taste delicious on your sandwich for work the next morning.
3.   Short, crusty baguette. Most supermarkets offer shorter versions of their storemade bread for half-price if you’re buying at the end of the day. If you happen to pick up a loaf for dinner and don’t get around to eating the whole thing, simply slice and store in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. Pop in the toaster oven for a few minutes to re-heat and enjoy in all their crusty glory.
4.   Olive oil. While we would encourage a brand or variety slightly more upscale than that of a Goya bottle from the store situation, we understand that beggers can’t be choosers. Even a low-quality olive oil like this generic brand will look fancy if it’s put in a little bowl to swirl your crusty baguette in.
5.   Olives. You don’t have to hit the Garden of Eden olive bar for tasty olives. A jar of green and a jar of black, mixed together, can serve as a perfect party snack- and you can pick up these cans during Shop Rite’s Can Can sale for under $1 a pop. An amazing thing about olives is that they pretty much never go bad, plus they come in a wide variety of colors and tastes.
6.   A tiny piece of fancy cheese. My favorite place to pick this up is at Whole Foods, where tiny hunks of cheese that were shaved off the larger portions are sold for $2-3. This is my favorite way to sample the cheeses that usually run $14-20/lb and are thus very far out of my price range.

What are some of your favorite fancy-sounding but not-so-fancy-priced foods for when you’d like a treat?  We’d love to hear! Share your favs below by leaving a comment, sending an email to bbonabudget (at) gmail (dot) com, or Tweeting us @bbonabudget!

Totally Bitchin’ Throwback: Gowanus on a Budget

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