October 7, 2011

Eating on $150 a week

So our newfound single earner status is fantastic for our family AND it creates an opportunity for us to really embrace simple living, eating at home, and frugality.

Our old budget for groceries is disgusting.  I won't even say it because it is embarrassingly large and our restaurant budget was huge too.  No wonder I haven't taken off that much baby weight.  I was eating half my salary!

We've cut our food budget by hundreds of dollars.  In fact, our entire "spending" budget (outside of regular bills) is less than our grocery budget from just one month ago.

Our challenge is eating mostly organic, anti-cancer, whole foods (that taste good), on a teensy food budget.  I know our budget of $150 a week is probably more than a lot of people's, but it means a big cut in what we usually spend.

Next week, we're going to shop at our farmer's markets (Sunday and Wednesday), but it was raining this week, so we had to go to the store.

Taking $100 cash, we went to our neighborhood produce market that carries a good bit of organic produce.  Armed with a shopping list for the 5 greens casseroles I was making this week, we came out having spent $94. 

This may not seem like a ton of food for almost $100, but along with what we have in our cupboard, this should keep us fed for the week.  Our plan was to make nice dinners and eat leftovers for lunch with fruit and vegis for snacks.

1) Pasture raised local chicken $11.  The Organic version was close to $20, so we asked the clerk if there were pesticides used on the non-organic and they said no, but that the field is just not certified organic.  A lot of what we eat from the farmer's market is pesticide free, but not "certified organic," so we figured we'd be happy to save $10 on a chicken that was pesticide free, too.  I'll roast the chicken, we'll eat the breasts for one meal, boil the remainder all day long,  and use the stock for casseroles and soups.  Back to the basics, folks.

2) Greens.  I got a bunch of recipes where greens were the primary ingredient in a casserole which is right up my alley (for our new anti-cancer diet way of life).  We have kale, collards, and red chard (cheaper than a rainbow bunch and the same price as the green version).

3) Organic carrots and celery, plus non-organic onions and garlic.  All mostly for flavor in soups and other dishes.

4) Bananas and Oatmeal.  We found the rolled oats in this package to be MUCH cheaper than a Quaker box and they come organic, unlike the Quaker version.  T loves oatmeal, and rather than using brown sugar like we used to, the anti-cancer solution is using banana as sweetener, and it is fantastic!  *Another baby oatmeal trick is to add frozen blueberries after it is in the bowl to cool it down.  It works wonders, makes it purple, and provides a bunch of anti-oxidants.

5) Mushrooms for one of the recipes to replace sausage.

6) Organic cheeses (Parmesan and skim mozzarella). The pre-grated Parmesan was actually cheaper by the oz than the chunk!  I was preparing myself to have to grate all that cheese!

7) Pre-cooked organic polenta.  This was probably a budgeting fail, but I've learned my lesson and from now on I'll be making my own polenta from cornmeal.

8) I love fruit, and pears were $1.89 a lb for organic, so that is the fruit of the week!  I used to pick up snacks for my 8 hours in the car each week to and from my Sacramento office, but with no budget for that, fruit is going to have to suffice.  Tim was totally horrified by how many pears I was picking up, but we only have like 6 left (out of 20), so my estimate was correct.

9) Dried white beans and red beans.  The recipes call for white beans, but they only had a few left.  I wanted to buy canned, but the BPA free cans (Edens brand, I think) were $2.75 each, which just didn't make sense financially, so I bought red and white dried beans, and it'll have to do.

Its already Friday and we have tons of food left over, have really enjoyed eating at home as a family, and have eaten really well.

Recipes to come!

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