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Monday, June 22, 2009

$5.00 Grocery Budget aka Praise of Pantry

I fervently hope, Dear Readers, that you do not expect an explanation of how I combined coupons with store specials (a la The Grocery Game and free imitations thereof)to save 95% on groceries. Luckily, I was not in a financial bind either, forcing me to subsist on stale staples in my cupboard. In fact, my accomplishment was completely inadvertent: I got to the end of the week and realized that all I had bought was a gallon of milk and a few plums.

So, what did we eat this week?

2 dinners: I made a Greek macaroni and cheese that I retrieved from one of those Best American Recipes compilations. Basically, macaroni, sauce made just of milk and feta, cherry tomatoes, and spinach. I had the macaroni; the feta was from a large stash bought at Sam's Club (feta is an extremely good deal at the warehouse stores); cherry tomatoes were bought the previous week for $0.99; spinach was the last of our garden chard.

2 dinners: African peanut chicken soup. This is an Elizabeth Rozin recipe that I clipped from Gourmet more than 20 years ago. You can also find it in her Ethnic Cuisine. I had a bunch of chicken breasts on the bone (bought on sale natch) and I defrosted the lot and poached them. The soup consists of broth, onions (had) and peppers (garden), canned tomatoes (had), peanut butter and rice (had these). Oh, and some of the chicken of course. And red pepper flakes. This is soooooooo good.

1 meal: That Diana Kennedy Syrian chicken in yogurt sauce I posted a while ago. We make yogurt; had the onions. Used a bit of the chicken. Served with garden tomatoes.

1 meal: I found a single cup of lentils and so made that yummy "Food of the Poor" I posted about a while back. Needless to say, I had the rice. One truc involved roasting all our onions on that dread occasion when we had to turn on the oven. I used the onions in all the above concoctions. We had this with tomatoes too.

I can't remember what the seventh dinner consisted of. For lunch we had sandwiches made of tomatoes and our wonderful bread. Sometimes with cheese. Tomatoes are from our garden and will be kaput shortly. So we are living it up. For breakfast we had oatmeal, which we stock up on when we hit Whole Foods. We had some kind of fruit left from the previous week--can't remember what.

MY POINT? (That's what my dear children say). Cooking from the pantry and freezer (stocked with food on sale) is great--both when you are feeling poor and when you're not; when you are very busy or not; whenever. These meals would have been relatively cheap no matter when I bought the ingredients. They were very cheap because I had stocked up when the items were on sale!


sallymandy said...

I love stories like this. Thanks for the reminder and inspiration. I just wish my twelve year old would deign to eat yummy fare like that. It all sounds delicious.

Tomatoes from the garden make everything better. They're almost like a condiment. Not that I HAVE garden tomatoes, but I've been enjoying some that other people grew.

Great post!

(and thank you, FS, for the compliment about "restraint" w.r.t. wardrobe refashioning. I think I know what you mean.)

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

You certainly didn't deprive the family. All of that sounds delicious.

My tomatoes are just now starting to take off. They were waiting for the heat to kick in I suppose.

Duchesse said...

We eat all the tomatoes we can hold while they're good! A tomato sandwich with a little arugala, and home-made mayo is fabulous. Must go make one now.

Frugal Scholar said...

@sallymandy--Feta is so salty that it is a favorite of every child I know.

@Cubicle--Our tomatoes will be finished soon. So sad.

@Duchesse--Got to try some arugula.