The onset of the deadly COVID-19 has caused life as we know it in Jamaica to change drastically. Many people are now out of work and there seems to be no end in sight. But it is during times like these when the resolve and true grit of Jamaicans come to the fore.

Among the expenditures many households have had to cut back on is food. However, reducing your food bill doesn’t have to mean consuming less appetising meals.

Loop News will attempt to look into ways you can ‘tun you hand make fashion’ in the face of the harsh economic times that may befall us.

Here goes

1.     Ackee and butter beans – Although a part of our national dish, saltfish has long been an expensive commodity and things may even get worse in terms of the price of this imported product, while there is always plenty of ackees. A great substitute can be butter beans. If seasoned properly, ackee and butter beans make a delectable meal which can feed the whole family.

2.     Callaloo and bread – Rice may also be hard to come by if things continue to be on lockdown and the borders remain closed. Calaloo is a great source of iron and can be had with a loaf of bread when steamed with the right blend of tomatoes, onion, escallion, pepper and thyme.

3.     Sardines – Sardines have long been known to be a rich source of protein and is relatively cheap. This already cooked meal can be spruced up with raw onions, pepper and vinegar, and had with crackers to keep away the pangs of hunger.

4.     Corned Beef – ‘Mi full a bully beef’ is a famous line from the song ‘Wild Gilbert’ by Lovindeer. After the passage of the monster hurricane, Gilbert, many food items were non-existent as the country struggled to recover. Corned beef was one item that was in plentiful supply and many persons made use of it in a variety of culinary methods. Remember, it is precooked and can make sandwiches, eaten with crackers and steamed down with a variety of vegetables. Just a note though, the official name is corned beef. Bully Beef was a brand that was popular in Jamaica in the 1970s and the name has stuck with the product among Jamaicans since then.

5.   The good old wash – A few limes, grapefruit and/or sour oranges are great to make a jug of wash which can and has been used as a substitute for purchasing manufactured drinks that are sometimes imported. To be fair, ‘wash’ is even more refreshing and thirst quenching.

6.  Chicken back – Known as the ‘ghetto steak’, chicken back is a relatively cheap commodity that can be cooked in a variety of ways and will be able to feed many mouths. One way is to chop it finely, fry it and add cabbage and carrots to make a chicken back chop suey.

7.   Seasoned rice – here again we can add ackee, chicken back and other vegetables to two pounds of rice to make a delectable meal of seasoned rice.

8. Know how to swell the rice – some people have a gift of steaming two pounds of rice and in the end it swells and seems to be able to feed many mouths. Learn to swell the rice by steaming it over a low fire and not cooking it.

9.  Bulgur – Once seen as the food of the poor and underprivileged, bulgur is beginning to make a comeback. This wheat by product is protein-filled and can be added to rice, cooked as porridge and steamed as a meat substitute. In these hard times, head for the bulgur and learn how to make it work.

10. Tin Boom – Tinned Mackerel, popularly known as ‘tin boom’ in Jamaica, has always been a favourite and will continue to be in these tough times. You already know how to fix this one we guess. Continue cooking up a storm and bracing for the harsh times if the COVID crisis continues for much longer.

11. Oats and milk – The ‘ghetto cereal’, this has been a favourite among those who may not be able to afford a box of Kellogg’s in the supermarket. No box milk, no problem; you can substitute it with condensed milk and water.


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