Follow our family's weekly vegetarian menu, access recipes, and download weekly grocery lists, during my quest to get our weekly grocery bill down to $70 per week, while supporting local agriculture and eating healthy organic foods!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Project food Budget: 3 weeks missing

The last 3 weeks have been a big transitional time for me. We sold our espresso stand, withdrew from the dinner swap, started looking for part time work, spoke at a rally at the Capitol, made some tough dietary choices, and got back into the groove of being home in the mornings with the sweet moody toddler. :) All in all life is busy but good... and this blog always takes the first hit.

The budget has stayed steady around $80-85.

I miss the dinner swap, but we had to focus on our family for a while, instead of the dinner swap. Since then I have decided to stop eating dairy and oil. I don't think these dietary restrictions would work well for the dinner swap. I am happy to announce that the other participants are still going strong, and they are all really enjoying it.

I do hate to admit, the dinner swap actually cost a bit more than doing all my cooking at home. I am really not sure why that was the case. It was only a difference of about $10, but we are at a very frugal  point, so it made a difference to us. We are also not getting left over coffee from our espresso stand, so that is another item to add to the list, and it will end up adding about $8/week.

My husband and I sat down and made a list all the meals I make, which he enjoys. The list was 25 meals long! I was pretty happy about it. When we first met, I only really knew how to cook two things, stir fry and fajitas. We made a deal that I will stick to these basics, while I get to experiment with new recipes twice a week. Here is a great find for a quick, healthy summer recipe!

Rachael Ray's No Cook Lasagna
No Cook Oatmeal

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Project vegetable garden!!

Spent: $50.53

This is the first garden I have planted since I was a teenager. I have always had the impression that the start up cost of a garden was huge. I was expecting $150. I decided not to go with a raised bed, as that would cost more for the lumber and extra soil. I only had to buy 3 bags of compost, and I mixed it with the dirt in the garden spot. It was a lot of work though. I tilled the plots with a hand spade... during a drought! Terrible idea. Although I guess it did save me money on supplies. I have two small beds. One has red and yellow bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, sun gold tomatoes, sweet basil, African blue basil. I have a trail of mint lining the sidewalk and a pot full of cilantro. The other bed has sugar baby water melons, Asian black water melons, and two varieties of  heirloom squash. Hopefully everything will grow well and the soil is not to clay ridden! That is actually my biggest worry. I am going to keep track of the production of the gardens in relation to average  market value of the produce to see how long it take for me to make the money back, and if it actually starts saving us money. 

Project Food Budget: Week 12

Goal: $70/ week - $ 280/month
Actual: 82.09 week- $341/month OVER $61

The Breakdown:

  • $15 1/2 CSA share
  • $31.59 Dinner Swap
  • $35.5 Staples
Dinner Swap Menu:
  • Kimbap (Korean style sushi rolls) with steamed Asian greens
  • Lentil and Butternut squash soup with side salad
  • Whole wheat pasta and veggies with creamy pesto sauce w/ home garden side salad and hibiscus tea
  • Minestrone soup and dinner rolls. 
  • Cacciatore
  • Lemon chive pasta with garlic roasted broccoli 
Additional meals/items:
  • carrot bread
  • home made tortillas
    • 2 cups whole wheat white flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 TBL coconut oil
    • 2/3 cup warm water
    • Mix all dry ingredients, add wet ingredients and  mix thoroughly. Add more water by the tablespoon if mixture is too dry. Kneed for several minutes and let rise for 30. Cut into 8-10 pieces and roll out. Cook in hot skillet flip when bubbles form. 
  • Fajitas
I really thought I was going to be right around $100 this week. I am not really sure how I stayed so close to the budget. I did buy extra items to make a special dinner for Easter. I think without those items I would have been on target. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Project Food Budget: Week 11

Goal : $70/week- $280/month
Actual: $87.48 - $258.91/month

The Breakdown:
  • $15 for 1/2 CSA share
  • $23.74 Dinner Swap meal
  • $43.98 Staples
  • $4.76 dog food ingredients
Dinner Swap Menu
  • Sweet potato and kale quesadillas w/ home made tortillas
  • Potato, apple, (veggie) sausage and sage casserole and salad
  • Spinach and mushroom quiche and roasted tomato soup
  • Fettuccine and white beans
  • Chickpea salad sandwiches and pasta
  • Vegetable biscuits and gravy with mashed potatoes and green beans
Additional recipes:
  • I tried my hand at solar cooking. The recipe was amazing. The solar oven made of random things laying around my house... ummm... not real great. So I am going to tweak it and try again! This recipe for solar cookies, with about 1/4 c of cocoa added is (as I said) amazing! I finished cooking them in the conventional indoor oven. :) 

  • I also decided I did not like the carrot bread recipe I have been using and found a new one. It is quite possibly the best bread I have ever made. I would definitely suggest trying it! I also threw it on the skillet for a minute to heat it up and then added a tad of butter and some fresh crushed garlic.. Yumm!
Dinner swap meal: sweet potato and kale quesadillas with home made tortillas and smoky pinto beans
  • 12 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 lbs dry pinto beans
  • 5 lb whole wheat white flour
  • coconut oil
  • chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 3 onions
  • 5 lbs Monterey jack cheese
  • peanut butter
  • oranges
  • black beans
  • lemons
  • limes
  • tortillas
  • eggs
  • cheese
  • pinto beans
  • cottage cheese
  • honey
  • cheese
  • cliff bars
I am on track to go approximately $50 over budget this month. I have $21.09 left to stay under the monthly budget. $15 of which is already spent for my CSA share.  Being that I have used almost all our grains, I don't think $6 will make it.

I have been $15-$20 over budget every week. I have decided once it comes time to renew my CSA, I am going to try to do a work share. That would shave off $15-30 per week and bring be right down to my goal. This won't happen until June though. We are also going to start a garden. I have not really done so before, so it will be a grand experiment. What in life isn't?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Project Food Budget: Week 10

Goal : $70/week -$280/month
Actual: $86.18/week- $171.43/month

Dinner swap menu: 
  • Edemame, peas and quinoa topped with blue cheese and cocoa beet cookies 
  • Spinach and mushroom enchiladas with black beans and flan
  • Carrot and ginger soup, croissants, broccoli slaw, hibiscus tea and chocolate raisin cookies
  • Vegetable noodle stir fry
  • Rice, dal and sateed veggies and chocolate chip zuchinni bread
  • Stuffed bell peppers with garlic bread and salad
The break down: 
  •  $15 1/2 CSA share
  •  $27.22 dinner swap meal
  •  $37.70 staples

  • salad mix
  • spinach
  • scallions
  • kale
  • radishes
  • beets
  • carrots
  • bok choy
  • rainbow chard
  • lettuce
  • dandelion greens
Dinner Swap: Edamame, peas, and quinoa topped with blue cheese and cocoa beet cookies
  • 5 bags of shelled edamame
  • 5 bags green peas
  • 4 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • 8 oz crumbled Gorgonzola blue cheese
  • 3 white onions
  • dry milk
  • peanut butter
  • butter
  • 2 lbs Monterey jack cheese
  • cornstarch
  • garbanzo beans
  • key limes
  • lemons
  • vinegar
  • cliff bars
  • tortillas
  • ancho chili powder
  • smoked salt
  • organic red delicious apples

 Thumbs up to these recipes:

I am going to reach my $70/week goal!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Project Food Budget: Week 9

Goal: $70/week - $280/month
Actual: $85.25

I am at a plateau with the budgeting that feels a lot like when you are trying to loose weight and your weight loss was great until you get to that last 10 lbs. I seem to be hovering around $85/week. I just want to squeeze that last $15 off our budget. I suppose I will keep on keepin' on. 

I thought the overage was due to choosing expensive dishes to make on my night of the dinner swap, but after doing the math, I only spent $30 total on my dinner. I don't want to go crazy and make really expensive dishes, but I also want to make sure they are getting high quality, delicious food. This week I made the pesto-infused sun-dried tomato stew with oatmeal dinner rolls. 

Dinner Swap Menu:

Additional meals:

  • Vegetable and tofu stir fry
  • Beans and greens
  • Carrot Bread
  • Breakfast apple pie
    • preheat oven to 400 degrees. Skin and cut 4 apples into chunks.  Place in sauce pan and fill with enough water to cover 1/3 to 1/2 way up the apples. Mix 2 tsp of cinnamon and cook on low until the apples are slightly tender. In a separate bowl, Mix 2 cups of old fashioned oats with 1/4-1/3 c honey and 1 cup of almond meal. Mix well until it makes a stiff mixture and all oats are covered. Lightly grease casserole dish and sprinkle  1/3  of oat, honey mixture in the bottom of the dish, top with cooked apples in liquid, top off with remaining oat mixture and bake for 15 mins. 
One of the participants in the dinner swap is splitting the CSA share with me. Which is amazing. We only have to cook one dinner a night for our own families, and a couple lunches. A huge portion of the share would go to waste. The half share works perfectly. I am able to pick it up on Friday nights, Saturday is the day we must cook for ourselves. This means fresh veggies for that meal. I don't have to lean on frozen veggies after all. :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Actual Cost of Food

       Living in Texas (in what I can only imagine the most expensive utility district in the nation) has made me acutely aware that the price at the bottom of my grocery sales receipt is not the entire cost of my food. I am sure we have all thought about it in one way or another. Is it really cheaper to go to multiple grocery stores, to get the best deals, if the stores are on opposite sides of town? Is it really cheaper to buy dried beans vs. canned beans if dried beans require a lot of water and hours of electricity or gas use? I don't know. I do feel they are valid questions. While figuring out how much money you are spending on gas to drive between stores seems fairly straight forward. I think it is more difficult to figure out the cost of cooking and prepping your food.
        One thing I think we can all agree on, is using your stove and oven in the middle of summer when it is 100 degrees outside heats your house, and makes your air conditioner work more frequently and harder. I wish I knew how to calculate the actual cost. I can only imagine it is pretty significant. I also know it is completely unbearable to be in our house after cooking a meal in the summer. It usually stays that way well into the night.
        I began having a desire to stop cooking indoors during the late spring/summer months last year. I found very expensive solar ovens, and formulated a plan to get a tall table, and portable electric burners to use outside when cooking. None of that came to fruition. This year I am going to act on it. I am going to keep the indoor cooking to an absolute minimum. I am going to learn how to grill, which means actually using the copy of The New Vegetarian Grill, I bought last year. I have started looking at DIY solar oven plans. I plan to have one made by the end of April. Then I can watch as lower energy bills roll in.
       As a side note, I find it really funny and a tad ridiculous when you look for seasonal summer recipes that call for you to preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  There is nothing seasonal about that.