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Poor food is what kids who live in the bottom 15% of the family income range have to eat. Poor food's not bad food or boring food - it just takes a little more imagination and skill to turn into a dining experience. Week-old bread, for example, makes lousy sandwiches, but it still makes good french toast. If you pour milk on it and sprinkle it with brown sugar, it can either be a tasty yet nutritious breakfast or a satisfying dessert.

When I was little, winter meant Campbell's Cream of Tomato Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (another way to put slightly stale bread to good use) for lunch, followed by a good dose of cod liver oil before we went back to school. I must have needed it, because I still remember the rich, oily flavor with fondness. We ate lots of meat loaf, another excellent poor food because it provides all the nutritional value of meat at a fraction of the cost of a half-decent roast.

The staple poor food is pasta, which is very high in calories, and almost as cheap as chocolate bars. Kraft Dinner is the world's best-known American food for a reason - I was told once by someone who has since moved to a foreign country and is now deceased (not from eating Kraft dinner) that Kraft uses a "special" seasoning which turns kids into such passionate fans they will happily eat it every day. This seasoning, apparently obtained from a source expert foodologists describe only as "South America," is also said to be used by a well-known fast food chain whose mascots include an evil clown and a housebreaker.

If your mom can cook, then poor food can be great food. My mom always had homemade stew or soup on the stove, and there is absolutely =nothing= tastier than bread fresh out of the oven. And that's a place poor kids have it over rich kids. Rich kids' moms don't make bread. They think bread comes from the store.

Poor food is a testament to the resourcefulness and creativity of moms everywhere. And it's worth considering that some of the best restaurant food recipies started out as a way of saving on the grocery bill.

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