July 23, 2009

I finally made it to the Connecticut Natural Food Mart
and here is what I got for $46.26

Not included in this picture but included in the total spent was
2 bottles of Nesquick chocolate milk (helper rewards)
One large tomato
One large green pepper
It doesn't seem like a lot of food for $46 does it.
Food is so expensive.
But this is a great deal for this area.
For example, the cucumbers were $0.33 each.
The tomatoes were $0.89 per pound.
Was the savings enough to warrant the gas a used to get there and back?
Here's the thing.
This stuff is FRESH.
Do you see all of those green beans?
They are GREEN. And spotless.
The green beans in my local grocery store were faded and "banged up".
From one head of romaine and one head of red leaf lettuce, I got a huge bowl of greens (and I tore them in small pieces).
For lunch I had a sandwich with one slice of turkey on whole wheat bread with some mayo (can't give up the mayo) and sliced green pepper and tomato.
The pepper was so crispy. The veggies were so yummy.
I cut up part of a cucumber tonight. It was so crispy and fresh. Much better than what I am getting in the grocery stores around here.
I say it was worth the trip.

July 22, 2009

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

I bought a new pressure cooker yesterday. I already have one but this one is narrower so it fits on my stove's burner, is heavier, and has more safety features. It also cost less than half of what I paid for the first one. I paid $30 at BJ's for this one:

I justified my purchase by deciding that since we do not want to eat as much meat, and my husband went to all of the trouble to fix our freezer, and my mother in-law gave me a Foodsaver, I would cook dried beans and freeze them for future use. Canned beans have sodium and do cost more, even if they are much cheaper than filet mignon.

So it is on its maiden voyage now. And I'm not sure if I am using it right. Fortunately, if it doesn't turn out right, I have wasted less than a dollar's worth of chick peas, as opposed to $15 worth of filet mignon.

The steam is barely escaping the pressure release valve. The burner is on low (or nearly low). But that's what the instructions were. So we will see. I am checking after an hour of cooking because when it got going the pressure was really high and I am hoping I don't run out of water. If it looks okay it has to go another 20 minutes. This is without prior soaking.

I know I can also use a crockpot and then I don't need to babysit it, but who wants a crock pot on all day in the summer? Besides, this is less electricity.

My hour is up and I am letting the pressure decrease on its own. I don't like running cold water over the pot, it just goes against my grain.

I love chick peas. Of course I love canned chick peas with the sodium, but I'm hoping I learn to adjust. I've been making a salad out of my dinners lately. I used to do this when I was on Weight Watchers. I'm not losing weight because I am not doing the other t
hings I need to do, such as not eat junk food, but it's a start!

Anyway, for example, yesterday I baked chicken breasts and made rice, peas, and a salad. So, I filled my plate with a layer of salad, sprinkled on some rice, peas, and cut up chicken. Topped with two tablespoons of dressing.

Once the salad warmed up just slightly and the cooked food cooled down to lukewarm, it was absolutely delicious.

I have leftovers for dinner tonight.

Guess what else I discovered?

This is good stuff. Full of chocolaty flavor, but not full of fat. (Still has calories though...)

It was on sale this week, will have to buy more before next week!

Checked my chick peas. They still need more time to cook, but there was plenty of water, so I am starting up the pressure cooker again for another 20 minutes. I think that's all it will need because they were edible (and not bad considering there is no salt).

Tomorrow my goal is to finally make it to the natural food store. I also want to make black beans in the pressure cooker and make a salad with the black beans and leftover chicken for dinner. I will have to buy the black beans though. That's one thing I do not have in storage.

One thing I want to try this summer but haven't yet: smoothies. I have some (over)ripe bananas in the freezer just waiting for their moment in the spotlight.

I also want to grind up some of my white wheat at my mother's house (she has an electric grinder, I just have a hand held one that I have never used) and bake some cookies etc.

Some day I will try baking bread, but right now I am not that motivated because it is summer. My mother in-law offered me her bread maker and I turned her down. I am kicking myself now.

Enough rambling for one day.


Next time I will soak my beans first, which should cut the cooking time by about 1/3. Why use all that electricity?

July 21, 2009

Week of July 20th 2009

S pent: BJ's $71.88, Olivers $73.35
B reakfast: chocolate chip pancakes
L unch: sandwiches, frozen pizza (everyone gets their own)
D inner: sea scallops, marinated, skewered, & grilled (something different)
rice & orzo
grilled carrots & zucchini
green salad
C ost cutting: used romaine hearts in salad instead of bagged, pre-washed. grated own carrots instead of buying grated carrot. Bought sea scallops and Newman's dressing on sale.

S pent: $0 Weekly Total: $145.23
B reakfast: chocolate donuts (healthy, I know. It was a summertime treat)
L unch: sandwiches (everyone gets their own)
D inner: baked chicken breasts with Parmesan cheese
basmati rice
green salad
C ost cutting: used up greens, chicken breasts bought in bulk, rice on hand. Donuts purchased at warehouse store instead of Dunkin Donuts

S pent: $9.92 Weekly Total: $155.15
B reakfast: cereal, leftover donuts
L unch: sandwiches, spaghettios (everyone gets their own)
D inner: leftovers for some of us, Taco Bell for others. Oh, well.
C ost cutting: leftovers!
Spent: $46.26 at the Natural Food Store and $14.63 at my local grocery store Weekly Total: $216.04
Breakfast: bagel, cereal, leftover pancakes (everyone fended for themselves)
Lunch: sandwiches, spaghettios
Dinner: frozen pizzas, hot dogs, black bean & chicken salad, corn on the cob
Cost Cutting: used leftover chicken from Tuesday for the salad
Spent: $0 Weekly Total: $216.04
Breakfast: leftover pancakes, cereal, cooked granola
Lunch: sandwiches, spaghettios (got to get Patrick to eat more variety)
Dinner: leftover pork tenderloin from the freezer, green beans, egg noodles w/ gravy, green salad
Cost Cutting: using leftovers
Spent: $8.46 at Dunkin Donuts (an emotional reaction) Weekly Total: $224.50
Breakfast: donuts etc
Lunch: sandwiches, spaghettios

What Am I Going To Make For Dinner NOW???

Dinner is my nemesis. Actually, FOOD is my nemesis but we won't go there. I can't decide on a food plan because of my many sided food personality. There's the comfort food side of me like in Taste of Home. I've considered once a month cooking. I've tried E-mealz. I have my favorite blogs that feature scrumptious recipes for comfort food.
Then there is the side of me that wants to eat the whole grains, dark leafy greens, yellow & orange veggies, and legumes laden meals. The Reversing Heart Disease kind of food plan. The, if I eat this way I will be forever skinny food plan.
Then there is the part of me that wants to be able to feed my family of five (including two teenagers now, thank heavens one is a girl...) on $75 a week (instead of $300+).
So how do I reconcile all of these sides of me without blowing a gasket, or responding "I have no idea" when my kids ask me what's for dinner? This is getting on my nerves. I will gladly clean 20 toilets and fold 100 loads of laundry if I didn't have to decide what to have for dinner EVER AGAIN.
So do you want to read about my latest program? It is called the TAKE EVERYTHING I WROTE ABOVE AND INCORPORATE IT INTO ONE PROGRAM PROGRAM. And here is how it works:
  1. I read the grocery store flyers (which come on different days and include different weekly schedules, if I wasn't already crazy enough
  2. I look at what I have in my freezer/pantry/food storage
  3. I try to choose healthy items from the sales flyers
  4. I look through one or two of my THOUSANDS of cookbooks for inspiration
  5. I loosely come up with a week's worth of meals
  6. I write a shopping list
  7. I go to my warehouse store, grocery store, and natural food store
  8. I wash all of my fruit, salad makings, etc so that they get used
  10. Try to include: something different, something comforting, fish, chicken, legumes, a variety of veggies.
  11. I learn from my experience in finding new (and cheaper) ways to prepare even healthier foods
  12. And I do all of this PRAYERFULLY, seeking the Lord's guidance.

Sounds easy, right? Well anyway, we'll see, we'll just have to see...

So today I looked at the flyers and I went to the warehouse store and the grocery store. Tomorrow I plan on going to the natural food store.

So far I spent $200, but that includes $32 on a new pressure cooker and $30 on a new pillow, so make that $138.

As for meats, I only bought 1 pound of sea scallops for tonight and a large package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the warehouse store. I am going to go back to get a roast because of this recipe, but then I hope to fill out the rest of the week with beans and stuff in the freezer (leftovers of this and that).

As far as grains, I did not buy any. I have half a bag of potatoes and tons of pasta. I have even more tons of rice. Plus I have containers of various specialty rices and couscous etc. So I won't be buying any starches (other than bread) for awhile. Tonight I used up one of my specialty rices.

Tomorrow I will go to the natural food store to buy fresh fruits and veggies. I will try not to overbuy. It is so easy to do because everything looks wonderful and it takes me forever and a day to get there and back and so why waste the trip? Well, I don't want to waste the food... So I will try to buy a variety but not a large quanity to get us through a week.

Meanwhile, I hope to have enough breakfast and lunch foods to get us through the week... I'm really going to try to make us stick to eating what we have on hand.

Oh, and one more strategy, keeping track.