September Budget Data and More!

September’s food budget came in just under the wire…sort of. I’ll explain in a bit. First of all, let me apologize for the sketchy formatting of the Google doc spreadsheet. It’s not nearly as versatile as a proper Excel sheet, but conversion and posting are relatively quick and painless, and that’s what I’m going for these days. Tomorrow I’m going to take a look at how transportation cost factors into this as well.

Also, here’s the menu from last week.

Notice that there is one more non-meat dinner than last week; I’m trying to both lower the cost and raise the healthiness of our dinners without putting anyone into shock or trying anything impossible. I’m also trying to use what we have on hand, augmenting it as necessary with supermarket additions. The diced chicken in Sunday’s dinner came from the roast chicken on Friday night, which came from the freezer. I’ve got chicken stew from the remainder in the crock pot right now. The 2-lb. bag of frozen peas I bought last week found its way into roughly half of last week’s dinners. However, we’re taking this week off from baked beans due to Impending Monotony. I wanted to make the chicken stew for Saturday night’s dinner, but I didn’t have any carrots, and it was one of those things to try and buy some-it just didn’t happen until Sunday. I wish that chickpeas, dry beans, and lentils didn’t take so much advance planning and cook time, as I’ve got plenty around. I’ll need to look into that.

Speaking of monotony, I’m cutting back on the oatmeal to twice a week, and never twice in a row. I’m also adding three ‘cold cereal’ breakfasts this week, both to buy myself some time in the mornings and avoid an insurrection by the whole fam-dam. We’re paying 80 cents per dozen for eggs right now, so more frittatas are in order. I need to find out where they’re coming from, though.

I didn’t bother with my lunch, as it was mostly either dinner leftovers or an extended snack break. We don’t eat lunch together during the week, as The Boys are having school lunches and My Dear Wife is either toting leftovers, raiding her office snack stash, or-gasp-buying something on-campus! Those are worthy angles of exploration, to be sure, and I intend to tackle them-but not today.

As for our going over-budget on food for the month, here’s what happened: apples. first of all, Our Local University has an organic farm which sells fresh apples and pears from its orchard, as well as fresh produce on-campus and at the local farmer’s market . I’ve dropped probably $20 at the orchard this month on some incredible Bartlett pears, pear cider, and Macintosh apples, and loved every second of it.

Another apple-related expenditure happened the weekend before last. We went apple-picking north of town and came back with 50 pounds of Cortlands for…wait for it…twenty dollars. Oh, yes, we did. Even figuring the cost of gas to get up there, it came to 60 cents per pound. we even got to press our own cider for $4 per gallon, not that it lasted long. So, those apples are going to get stored, stashed, chopped, frozen, baked, stewed, sauced, and eaten all winter, and cheaply enough that I might be able to buy a food mill or a corer-peeler to help me process them.

We are fortunate indeed to live in an area where such resources are available, and to be resourceful enough to find and take advantage of them. I just barely had an apple-picking bag in the back of the car:

Now, who wants pie?


About poorlocavore

Welcome to one family's journey towards a smaller food-mile footprint on a small food budget. How do our choices affect the environment, and what influences our choices? Read on and find out what I'm learning.
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6 Responses to September Budget Data and More!

  1. Joyce says:

    The Cortlands were a good choice, as they keep their form and texture during cooking, and they are great for just munching. They make good desserts. I am working on a recipe you might want to try, but have not thoroughly tested it. Later.

  2. Jane K. says:

    RE: dried beans. Pressure cooker! (I know that this sounds like an expense… but consider looking around–Craigslist?) Any amount of soaking before cooking them–even 15-20 mins–or not, and bammo! In 20-30 minutes and much less for some, beans are ready to go. And, you can easily infuse flavor with aromatics in the water, more effectively than with regular boiling.

    Fagor makes affordable pressure cookers (though an investment, for sure), and I know that they were the ‘rage’ a couple of years ago, so maybe there are some floating around. Also, I don’t know if you have Freecycle in your neck of the woods, but that’s a great way to get stuff, esp. if you can stand to be patient.

    • poorlocavore says:

      That’s an interesting idea. Are they very energy-efficient? My mom used one way back when, and I’ve seen them from time to time at yard sales and such. As for Craigslist, I’ve been surprised by how very little there is listed for sale around here. We’re in a medium-sized town, but it’s pretty much the only one of any size for many miles, and I haven’t looked for a Freecycle group in the area. I’ll put it on my mental ‘things-to-look-for’ list. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Paul says:

    We cook beans in our solar oven. I found a commercially produced Sun Oven at the thrift store for $18 several years ago, and it’s been our workhorse for cooking beans. You can make one just as easily out of cardboard boxes and scavenged glass, (Freecycle for old storm doors/windows). Here in the Southwest, only in the very depths of winter does solar cooking become a little titchy. It might be more difficult in the northwest.

    I love steel cut oats, and I just found some in bulk at the Sunflower Market for .50 a pound, so I bought thirty pounds of it. I use a three cup Zojirushi ricemaker, and time it to be ready when I wake up. The cheap rice maker we used to have never worked well for us. The expensive ones are, well, expensive. Our current one cost us $126 from Amazon, but I’m convinced it saves us enough money to pay for itself. I’m the only one in the family that really lives off oatmeal every morning, but I’m eating .50 a pound oats rather than $2.50 a pound granola. I also usually cook a half-cup of rice for my lunch — since I’m the SAHD here — and stir fry some chard from our garden to go with it. Then, we often use rice in our dinners, so the rice maker is churning out some portion of three meals a day during many weeks.

    Rice, unfortunately, is not local to New Mexico, and I’m not sure where the steel cut oats come from. I make my own Kefir to pour on the oats, but the milk for it is from Kroger. Since I keep bees, the honey to sweeten it is free and comes straight from the backyard.

    .80 a dozen is good for eggs. Our farmer’s market charges $3.5 a dozen. Trader Joe’s has cage-free eggs for $1.19 a dozen. Kroger, (operating under the name Smith’s), has them on sale for .89 a dozen right now.

    • poorlocavore says:

      A solar cooker…hmmm. Cheap for sure, but how long does it take? That’s my main issue with dried legumes-the time factor. Although garbanzos in the crockpot worked out well; I started them in the morning, then finished the dish with rice, spice, and eggplant mid-afternoon, and it was all ready for supper.

      We had a rice cooker years ago, and couldn’t get the hang of it. Maybe I’ll try again if I can find one. My big thing with breakfast is one meal for everyone, so I’m not bouncing around too much in the morning, and I found that none of us are willing to have the same thing every day. That’s a state of contentment we have yet to approach, let alone reach. But .50 per pound for the oats is a super deal.

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