World's cheapest - and worst - sandwich?
the cheapest edible meal: the "toast sandwich," which is found in Mrs. Beeton's legendary text on housekeeping and entertaining. The meal consists of a toasted slice of bread, with a dab of butter plus salt and pepper, between two other slices of bread. It clocks in at 330 calories, and 7.5 pence - or about 12 cents US.
This has to be the most depressing sandwich of all time. What a sad lunch that would be, as you sprinkle salt and pepper on the slice of toast before putting it between two slices of bread.
I guess that puts it as the polar opposite of another British sandwich, the famed "shooter's sandwich," which is an ever-popular entrant at online foodie hangouts like Reddit's /r/food board. The shooter's sandwich is basically a Panini sandwich with a steak, sautee'd mushrooms, and shallots on a loaf of crusty bread. It looks absolutely mouth-watering, and is considered by some to be "the world's best sandwich."
The toast sandwich also recalls to mind an abomination put forth by M.F.K. Fisher in her seminal Depression-era book on cooking, How To Cook A Wolf. Dubbed "Sludge," the recipe is found in a chapter titled "How to Keep Alive." It is basically a porridge with a base of whole grain cereal (like oatmeal), some ground beef, and assorted vegetables (whatever you can find cheap). This brave food blogger ventured into Sludge territory, and reports back that "It looked like a sad soup, but it smelled fairly magnificent."
The question of what's the cheapest food is a contentious one. If the benchmark to beat is 330 calories and 12 cents, that leaves even the Dollar Menu at McDonald's (most people's vote for "cheapest calories per dollar") far beyond our budget. We're in desperation territory here, which means having to do a lot of math gymnastics to break down the per-meal prices.
For example, yesterday at the grocery store I paid $4.99 for a 5lb bag of brown rice. The label informs me that one serving is ¼ cup dry, of which there are approximately 50 per bag, or 9 cents per serving. Each serving has 170 calories.
I also bought a tub of margarine for $1.79. Each tub has 30 servings of 1T apiece, or 5 cents apiece. Each serving has 50 calories.
So my original contender for "cheapest meal," one serving of brown rice with one serving of margarine, actually clocks in at only 220 calories, and costs 14 cents. Damn, this is harder than I thought!