You are a young, talented musician, artist, filmmaker, journalist, blogger, etc. Whatever you are, if you’re young and creative, you are most likely also completely broke. If you are reading this I assume you own a computer, most likely some form of Macbook, so you got that covered. You’ve also got your wit, talent, and whatever you need to create and are only lacking the funds to keep your head above water. I don’t know what your financial situation is, and I’m not going to assume, but I will tell you that the last thing you need to be worrying about is sustenance. Food costs so much money. It’s stupid. In a perfect world food would… Well never mind, we don’t live in that world. Buying food is literally flushing money down the toilet (think about it). So here are a few crumb-snatcher tips to capitalize on the resources that are readily available and save a few bucks along the way. But before we dive in, throw your health concerns out the window now. We’re broke remember? Eating healthy is for rich jerks.
Lets start off at Taco Bell. There are a few snack maneuvers you can pull at Taco Bell, the first being: The Donation Game. You know the game, it’s on the counter in most Taco Bell restaurants and involves a few spinning tiers you must pass a coin through before landing it on the small red bottom plate and winning a prize. At Taco Bell the prize is food. And lucky for us the best prize of all (the burrito) requires a quarter (quarters are the best coins to use for this game because they are the largest, and heaviest.) Now, most people think this game is a waste of money. On the contrary, this game is your best fwend, your saving grace, and most importantly, this game is dinner for about 75 cents! The trick to this game is hidden, guarded ancient sacred knowledge, and I’m about to drop it on your head. The first trick begins with the insert slots, there are three: Small (first), medium (middle), and large (last, and closest to you) You want to befriend the middle, medium slot. Screw the other two, they’re worthless. Start by positioning the tiers so that your quarter can fall gracefully from the middle slot to the second to last (winning) tier. Forget all other tiers, you only need to pay attention to the bottom two (see example A below). Next, the drop. Don’t just toss your quarter through the middle slot and cross your grimy fingers, this is brain surgery! Insert your quarter as far into the middle slot as you can, tilting the quarter away from you and subsequently making this precious coins decent as flat as possible, without flipping (see example B). Once your quarter is properly properly in place, remove your finger upward quickly, eliminating any extra force that could cause your quarter to flip. If you perform this step correctly, your quarter should fall square onto the second to bottom tier. We’re in business! Next, is the tricky part, this next step is a science and skill that needs to be perfected, everybody has their own style for this next maneuver but proper form is key to filling your belly. You want to jerk the rotating tier wheel at the top towards the position of the winning tier, and then back to its original position in a quick, snappy, singular motion that will cause the quarter to be jerked off the tier it is on and onto the winning tier. Once you perfect this, you’re golden. You don’t need to buy anything before playing this glorious snack provider, and there are no rules regulating how many times you are allowed to win in succession. You can also feel good that the quarter you used to snatch some disgusting, nasty, delicious calories away from the The Bell and into your tummy went to cure cancer or whatever.
Okay, so now you are full of like, three burritos or whatever, but don’t leave yet! You are going to be hungry later, because that’s how life works, and we are going to be making soup. Before stepping out that door, head over to the condiment counter and commandeer as many salsa packets as you can get away with. They are free, so don’t feel bad, but maybe make sure nobody is looking. Now you can leave. This may sound hella gross, but it’s good. I promise. You are also going to need a pack of Top Ramen™ and some plain, unsweetened corn flakes. Here’s the scoop; boil 2/3 of however much water the ramen packet says to boil, and use your hard earned hot sauce packets for the remaining 1/3. If you are like me, and most other super broke people I know, if there is one thing you have an abundance of, it is an abnormally large stash of spices in your cupboard, but no food to spice. Time to put those spices to use. Add whatever you want to this nasty, delicious goop you are boiling, go wild! Have fun with it! What else are those spices going to spice? Then add the ramen block (I normally don’t use the spice pack that comes with the ramen block, but if your cupboard spice game is kinda hurt, use the provided spice packet.) Once your ramen is cooked, pour all this into a bowl, if you did it right, it should be less of a soup and more like a gelatinous stew. Lastly, add the corn flakes and enjoy. And, CELEBRATE! You have turned what would once have been a mere snack into a full blown meal! You’ll most likely be full off of this for the rest of the day and it only cost like, a dollar…
This next one is going to require flipping some couch cushions. You need five bucks, but it’s totally worth the scrounge. We are headed to Little Caesars. You ever heard of the Hot ‘N Ready? It’s a full blown, legit, medium pepperoni (or cheese if you’re a wuss) pizza for five bucks. You hand ‘em a handful of change, they hand you a pizza, and you’re out. But before you leave, ask for a bag of cheese. Grated cheese. They WILL give it to you, and believe it or not it is not an uncommon request, so don’t feel weird. This piping hot cheesy delicacy is ten slices of grub, that can last up to two full days. Here’s how you do it right though. Eat the first couple slices until you are full. Cool, now you are full. Throw the remainder in the fridge. Okay, it’s tomorrow afternoon and your hungry again. Yank that square box out of the fridge. Also, what else is in your fridge? Some weird soft broccoli that is about to go bad in like two seconds ago? Cut it up and put it on the cold pizza. What the hell kind of weird pseudo-vegatable has that old potato morphed into? Who cares. Cut it up, and put it on the pizza. Do this with whatever you can. Get creative. A little unknown fact of life is that oven heat kills all germs, and that fact suddenly turns all the gross shit in your fridge into delicious snacks again. Throw whatever you can find on that pizza. Everything tastes good on pizza and everything can be transformed into a topping. BBQ chips? That’s a topping. Those left over corn flakes from yesterdays soup? That’s a topping. Load it up then find that bag of grated cheese you embarrassingly asked for yesterday and cover your masterpiece in it. This will hold it in place, and also tickle your taste buds at the same time. Never before has grated cheese been so utilitarian, and suddenly you will have a newfound respect for cheddar. Pop that sucker in the oven until the new ‘glory’ cheese is melted and enjoy. If you did this correct you should have two servings, one for now, and one for later. (If you used suspect toppings, you might want to re-heat your second serving.)
Next up, the Chipotle trick. Now this trick is a little sketchy and a tad bit shady, but when times are tough it comes in handy. It also requires that one button up shirt you have crammed somewhere under your bed, another person, and a bit of acting, but it works (only once at each restaurant though). Call Chipotle sometime after lunch on a business day and tell them you had recently called in an order for pick up for ‘your office’ and that your colleagues were extremely dissatisfied with the end burrito product. Say the meat was undercooked, I dunno, again, get creative. Ask to talk to a manager about this. Their policy is to replace your order. Drive there with your friend and send ‘em on in. Now it’s on your friend. Have your friend wear that nice button shirt (Or at least look semi professional) have him ask to speak with the manager you spoke with on the phone to receive your ‘replacement’ order. They are going to ask for a receipt, but your friend doesn’t have it because he is an ‘intern’ at your company. With a bit of luck, some persistence, and a bit of confident acting, your friend should be able to walk out with a bag full of burritos. Before you start thinking that this is totally stealing (it is, I know, I know), just think about it for a second. We’re talking about the McDonalds start-up corporation that throws away hundreds of messed up burritos daily. We are talking about the same company that will give you a free burrito if you walk in there on Halloween with tinfoil on your head and say you are going as a burrito (another lesser known seasonal crumb-snatcher maneuver). We are talking about Chipotle here. And besides, you are totally broke, and it only works one time. Live a little. Consider it a donation to the ‘arts’.
There are a few other tricks I want to share in closing. If you need coffee in the morning, don’t spend three dollars. Screw that. Spend $1.50 and get two shots of espresso over ice. Head over to the condiment counter, fill the cup up with milk. Pop the lid off that chocolate powder shaker and pour it on in. Now you got a mocha. If you ever get REALLY desperate, I have found that chugging two glasses of water and eating a slice of bread will tide you over for about two hours. Ketchup and boiled water makes an excellent base for soup and serve as the ocean for your almost rotting fish vegetable. Overall, the moral is this; if you are broke, you are going to have to get creative, but filling your belly should be the last of your worries. Sketchy recipes are your best friend.