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.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
I spent all but 8 cents of my $100 for February, plus the $2.10 carried over from January, but I have quite a bit leftover, including a lot of meat but practically no vegetables.
Here's what I bought:
1 lb asparagus @ .99/lb
4 lb cabbage @.58/lb
4 lbs carrots @.39/lb
1 lb frozen broccoli @.78/lb
1 lb frozen cauliflower @ 1.22/lb
2 cans green beans @.68/can
1 can hominy @ 1.29/can
2 heads lettuce @ .69/head
2 lbs onions @ .25/lb
1 lb onions @ .33/lb
1 red pepper @ .68 each
1 can tomatoes @.59/can
1 can turnip greens @.10/can
3 lb bacon ends & pieces @4.50/3 lb box
12 oz Bar-S franks @ .68/12 oz
10 lbs chicken leg quarters @ 5.90/10 lbs
72 eggs @ 1.72/18 count box
5 lbs hamburger @2.29/lb
10 lbs pork chops @ 1.49/lb
5 lbs pork roast @ 1.49/lb
1 can salmon @2.49/can
3 cans tuna @.50/can
4 lbs cheddar @4.98/2 lb block
2 qt whipping cream @3.62/qt
1 pint sour cream @1.52/pint
cinnamon – 50 cents
curry powder – 50 cents
poultry seasoning – 50 cents
Dijon mustard – 2.00
3 bottles dressing @2.50/bottle
1.2 lb flax seed @1.00/lb
1 lb sunflower seeds @1.58/lb
And here's what I have left at the end of the month:
12 c cabbage
38 oz carrots
2 oz frozen broccoli
1 c canned hominy
2 oz onion
25 oz bacon ends and pieces
4 oz Bar-S frank
4 c (or leg quarters) cooked chicken
40 oz hamburger
52 oz pork loin chops
5 lbs pork roast
5 T butter
32 oz cheddar
45 T whipping cream
1 T cream cheese
16 T sour cream
15 T salad dressing
15 T mayo
11 oz sunflower seeds
5 c homemade chicken broth
I didn't actually run the numbers to get the averages, but eye-balling my daily food tracker results, I'd say I averaged about 1600-1700 calories per day, 90-100 grams of protein, 20-25 net carbs, and 15 or so grams of fiber. Close to a pound of meat (raw weight, with bones and such) per day, more if you include the eggs and cheese in there somehow. And close to a pound of veggies (before peeling, etc.) per day.
Pretty good results, huh? Of course, you have to remember that this is all on paper. You should probably figure a 10% or allowance for goofs and slips and things like that. And remember that I have all the conveniences of a fully equipped kitchen with working stove, oven, microwave, toaster oven, crockpot, etc. A large fridge and two deep freezes so I can buy in quantity and save stuff and can cook in quantity and freeze it. And lots of freezer containers and pots and pans and such. And lots of time and a car so I can easily get to whichever store has things the cheapest. And I haven't included the cost of transportation to and from the stores. I know it would be a lot different if I were working a couple of jobs to try to make ends meet, raising a family, lived in a part of town that had no big discount grocery stores, had to walk or take a bus to the stores, didn't have working appliances or good pots and pans, etc.
But I hope you are getting some ideas for how to do low carb cheaply. Not necessarily interestingly, but cheaply. And these are all recipes that either I make for myself or have bookmarked to make for myself sometime.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
I said a couple of days ago that I got back after having been gone for 2-1/2 months and found a couple of dozen eggs in the fridge that I was afraid to eat. So I bought a dozen and a half at Walmart yesterday, and another 2 dozen at the Farmers Market this morning. (The FM isn't real budget friendly, but in real life I do get a lot of stuff there. I have a sort of mental limit of paying up to twice as much for the "real" food there - mostly organic, definitely local and fresher - as I would in the grocery store. For purposes of the Food Stamp Challenge, though, I use store prices.) Then I got home and was trying to figure out how to get rid of the old eggs when I remembered that the test for whether they are still good is to see if they float. If they float, they're not good. So I tried floating all the old eggs and they all floated. Maybe because they were all from the FM right before I left so they're less than 3 months old? Anyway, I now have 5-1/2 dozen eggs! I made sure I know which are the oldest and I'll eat them first. But I'll definitely be eating a lot of eggs for the foreseeable future!
By the way, don't forget that Easter is coming up and you should be able to get eggs on sale. Really stock up on them. They keep a long time as long as they've been kept in the fridge and not cooked. Or they say you can freeze them by taking them out of the shell and mixing them up so the whites and yolks are well mixed, then putting them in ice cube trays. One ice cube is about one egg. I've never tried this. Also, you can make and freeze quiche. I usually divide them up into individual servings before freezing them, but that's just for me. If you're cooking for a family you could freeze the quiche whole. And don't forget breakfast burritos, which can be frozen with scrambled eggs inside. I've done those in the past, in my pre-low carb days. If scrambled eggs will freeze ok in burritos, seems like there should be a way to freeze scrambled eggs outside of burritos, too. Come to think of it, seems like I recently saw a recipe for Breakfast Bowls that said they could be frozen. I'll have to look it up.
You might be able to find medium size eggs especially cheap this time of year. As I understand it, hens tend to lay smaller eggs in the spring so there are more of the medium ones available.
Any ideas for using and/or storing eggs?
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