Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Well, the day didn't go exactly as planned. I had planned out my food for the day, including lunch, then didn't get back home until after 3. I had planned to take my lunch with me, but didn't have time/make time/get around to it. While I'm not one of those who say they can go all day without getting hungry, I was starving, either. I had a hard boiled egg and a huge (1 qt) glass of water when I got home and that was enough.
I did the first round of shopping yesterday, since I was going by the stores anyway on my way back. I had studied the grocery ads on line, prepared a price book, made out a grocery list, and everything. And left it all at home. Grrrrr! I didn't plan on getting very much anyway, since there were few things that I wanted on sale. It did mean that I couldn't fill in the prices in my price book so I don't know how much I spent on things I "bought" from my pantry and freezer.
Here's what I did buy -
10 lb bag of chicken leg quarters - $5.90
6 cans of coconut milk @ 1.48 = 8.88
26 oz frozen chopped spinach - 1.98
1 lb frozen chopped broccoli - .98
cinnamon, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper - $2.88
Total - 20.62
In case you're wondering about the coconut milk, I use it instead of cream in recipes, tea, etc. It's supposed to be good for us (the kind of saturated fat is good for us), and it's actually cheaper than whipping cream, if I buy it at Walmart.
celery (3 hearts) - 2.48
2 lbs fresh broccoli florets - 3.98
2 lbs cheddar cheese - 6.28
Total - 12.64
The frozen broccoli is, of course, cheaper, but I prefer the fresh most of the time. The frozen is better in cream of broccoli soup, though. It used to come in a 3 pound bag at Sam's, and I never quite made it though the whole bag before it went bad. The 2 pound bag is a much better size for me, though of course they raised the price per pound when they went to the smaller bag.
Fortunately I didn't make it to Aldi yesterday, since they have some good deals on veggies starting today. I'll pick up some onions and mushrooms, and "buy" some zucchini and peppers from the fridge at the Aldi price.
Tuesday's food -
B - 3 eggs scrambled in 2 T butter
L (very late) - 1 hard boiled egg
S - skin from 10 lbs of chicken leg quarters, meat from 2 small leg quarters, 1 can of green beans, 1 T chicken drippings
Actually, I cheated a bit. I had some okra that I didn't get used up before this challenge started, and I really had that instead of the green beans. But I definitely wouldn't have bought the okra on a food stamp budget, so I'm counting a can of green beans instead.
Very rough estimate of actual food costs for day - $2.50. Which is higher than it should be. I did not plan to eat the leg quarters. The skin would have been enough. So I'll have to make it up later.
Oops! I was thinking it was about $1.50 per day, not $1.50 per meal! so my $2.50 is great.
Monday, October 15, 2012
I had forgotten how much cheaper food was in Idaho than it is here in Indiana, and how much food I was able to "stockpile" in January and February. It's a good thing, too, because I also forgot that I have invited 4 people over for dinner on Thursday! I've just heard from one of them, and she is coming. I think it will be fairly inexpensive, though I haven't priced it out yet. I'm planning to serve Pumpkin Hominy Chili (I got some big (for pie pumpkins) pie pumpkins at the Farmers Market for $2 each, and Juanita's Mexican Style Hominy, which is low carb, is also cheap. Unfortunately, ground beef isn't on sale this week. Maybe it will go on sale when the new ads come out on Wednesday.), coleslaw, and corn bread muffins. The corn bread muffins are for the guests, of course, not for me! Even though it will be fairly inexpensive, just the fact that I'll be serving extra people makes it more expensive than just serving me, so it's good to have stuff "leftover" from this winter.
At the end of February, I had the following foods left:
25 oz bacon
4 oz Bar-S franks
5 T butter
12 c cabbage
38 oz carrots
32 oz cheddar
4 c cooked chicken
45 T cream
1 oz cream cheese
15 T salad dressing
2 oz frozen broccoli
40 oz hamburger
1 c hominy
15 T mayo
2 oz mushrooms
2 oz onions
52 oz pork chops
80 oz pork roast
16 T sour cream
11 oz sunflower seeds
5 c homemade chicken broth
and some spices, which I didn't really track, other than to make sure I bought some of everything I used
As I said, I got some real bargains! When I have done this before, I happened, quite by accident, to start in a week with some great sales. No such luck this time.
Naypooie, that's $130 per person average actual or $200 per person maximum benefit. It's a bit less for additional people, so the maximum benefit for a family of 4, for example, is less than $800.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Someone asked on one of the teams I belong to when I would be back and posting again. Well, here I am! I'm going to start doing a Food Stamp Challenge today, with absolutely no preparation or planning. I don't even know what's on sale this week, since I've been doing almost all my shopping at the Farmers Market this summer.
I just checked and the maximum monthly food stamps allotment for 10/11-9/12 was $200. Yikes! That's a lot more than I pay, I think, even getting most of my food at the Farmers Market, which, contrary to what you so frequently hear, is an expensive place to shop. That's assuming you have no income, though. Most people get a lot less than that. According to Feeding America, the average food stamp benefit was $130. It didn't say what period that was for, but some of the citations were from 2011, so I assume it's pretty current, at least in the last year or two.
So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go with the $130 per month limit, starting today. No, I'll start tomorrow, and today I'll use up the stuff in the fridge that I wouldn't have been able to buy on the FS budget. I am going to do an "actual" challenge, and really eat what my budget and menus allow. Well, sort of. I'm not going to duplicate buying stuff I already have, but will price it at current prices. So for example, I'm going to make chili for Friday night, using hamburger I bought at the Farmers Market. I'll price it at the current market price, not at what I paid for it. Things like that. I am going to assume that I have leftover whatever I had leftover after I quit doing the Challenge in the spring. After all, it is reasonable to expect that there would be a few things left over from the previous month (though most households run out of Food Stamps by the third week of the month, according to Feeding America). Other than that, if I don't "buy" it this month, I don't eat it. I'm going to give myself the full $130 for the month beginning tomorrow, 10/16 and running through 11/15. This is so I can do some bulk buying. One of the fallacies of the way a lot of people do a Food Stamps Challenge is to only do the Challenge for a week (or frequently just for 5 days), which means buying everything in little bitty bits, which is so much more expensive. I would like to stick with it through the middle of December, and see if I can squeeze a Thanksgiving dinner out of it, too, though that may be pretty ambitious. Unless I figure that I'm going to get a Thanksgiving basket from the Salvation Army or something like that.
So, that's the plan. As before, I'll be posting recipes on SparkRecipes, and my menus on my Nutrition Tracker. Anyone else want to come along for the ride?
Friday, March 23, 2012
I’ve grossed folks on the team forum out with my talk of variety meats, so I’ll move to here and talk about them, instead.
“Variety meats.” Sounds a lot better than “offal,” doesn’t it? Or “innards.” Or even “organ meat.” But they’re all pretty much the same thing. The parts that we here in America don’t eat much of any more. Which is a shame, especially for those of us who are counting our pennies.
Organ meats are generally inexpensive, particularly when you consider that there is usually little waste on them. No bones, and stuff like that. And many of them are extra nutritious, so you can eat less of them and still get a lot of nutrition. And, if you can get over the yuck factor, some of them aren’t too bad. And some are even good.
The most common organ meat here in the States is probably liver. Well, maybe poultry hearts and gizzards, but people don’t often buy them alone or make a meal of them. For that it’s probably liver. Like liver pates, and liver and onion. But they’re another story.
For now, back to that pig’s eye. No, I don’t eat eyeballs, though they are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world. And were here in the States, too, a hundred years or so ago. I even have instructions in one of my cookbooks from the 1800s on how to carve them for serving. But I did have pig ears last night, and they were quite good.
First, some nutritional and cost information. According to fitday.com, a pound of raw pig ears, simmered, has 700 calories, 46 grams of fat, 1 carb, and 67 grams of protein. It has 8% of your RDA of calcium, 12% of niacin, 10% of phosphorus, 27% of selenium, 35% of iron, 17% of riboflavin, and small amounts of other stuff.
I get most of my pork from a local farmer, who raises them on pasture and pretty much organically. The ears are sold two to a package, and a package averages about a pound. He charges $2 per pound, so one ear is about $1. Apparently his pigs have big ears; fitday seems to figure almost 4 ears to a pound.
Here’s how I cooked them.
1 pound pig ears
Some thyme, parsley, marjoram, cloves, and a bay leaf
1 tablespoon bacon grease
1 tablespoon mustard (I used some with horseradish because that’s what I had)
10 grams pork rind crumbs
Check the ears for hairs that may have been missed when they butchered. If you find any, shave them off using a disposable razor.
Put the ears and the seasonings in a slow cooker and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 3 hours total. Remove from the liquid and put them on a cookie sheet. If they have curled up, which they probably will have, flatten them out and then put another cookie sheet on top, with a couple of cans of something to hold it down and keep the ears flat. Leave them for a couple of hours.
Heat oven to 400. Mix the bacon grease and the mustard, and smear it on both sides of the cold, flattened ears. Press the pork rind crumbs on to both sides of the ears. Bake the ears for about 20 minutes. Cut them in ¼” slices and serve.
I tossed some broccoli with bacon grease and roasted it with the ears. Coleslaw would also be good with this.
Total cost for the meal was about $1.50.
Monday, March 19, 2012
I found my sprouting jar today. Not that I was looking for it or that it was lost, I just happened to come across it. It reminded me that home grown sprouts are a good, cheap, nutritious veggie, especially in the winter when it can be hard to get local produce.
The local co-op here has several different kinds of sprouting seeds, including alfalfa, mustard, broccoli, mung bean, and some others that I don't remember. When you look at the price for the sprouting seeds, remember that they are going to grow like crazy. A tablespoon or two of seeds may make a quart or more of sprouts. Be sure to get seeds for eating as sprouts. The kind for planting may have been soaked or sprayed or otherwise contaminated with chemicals designed to make them grow better in the ground and/or not to go bad before they're planted.
Rather than try to give directions for growing sprouts, here are a couple of links to directions.
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