Week 1: Tackling the Grocery Store with $55 in Cash
- Day 1: Toasted Barley with Mixed Vegetables (Betty Crocker’s New Choices Cookbook); Brussels Sprouts with Brown Butter and Slivered Almonds; Chocolate Bread Pudding
- Day 2: Broccoli Noodle Casserole (The Big Book of Casseroles); Tossed Green Salad with Assorted Vegetables and Dillon French Dressing
- Day 3: Zucchini Cakes (Grazing Along the Crooked Road), Carrot or Vegetable Soup, Apple Kuchen
- Day 4: Lentil Soup (Almost Vegetarian), Tossed Salad with Ranch Dressing, Bread
- Day 5: Ravioli with Herbed Ricotta Filling (How To Cook Without a Book); Tossed Salad
These meals will, of course, be intertwined with the ever-popular “clean out the fridge” extravaganzas that allow us to find out exactly what’s been lurking behind that head of cauliflower.
I headed to the grocery store yesterday with a big list of ingredients, dinner menus for 5 nights, and $55 cash in my pocket. I was wearing old glasses & bummy clothes, bearing a strong resemblance to a homeless person.
I shopped at Marc’s, which is a fabulous Cleveland-area grocery store that’s right around the corner. They have great deals, but they don’t take debit or credit cards, so I had to make do with the cash on hand. So as I put things in my cart, I wrote down the cost of each item on my shopping list, and then added it all up before I went to the checkout. I then found I was at least $5 over, so had to go around putting non-critical items back on the shelves (which, I have to say, was slightly humiliating – and probably was made more so by my attire).
At one point, I was standing in front of the stuffing display simply AGONIZING over the 50-cent variance between Pepperidge Farm and no-name stuffing mixes. Finally, I said “Girl, step AWAY from the STUFFING!” I decided to make my own herbed fresh bread crumbs (which will probably be better, and healthier, in the zucchini fritters anyway). The other tense moment was when I discovered that Marc’s was out of chunk Parmesan (which, while expensive initially, lasts an almost uncanny period of time when you grate it yourself!). So I had to choose between Asiago ($4.18 for something that wasn’t quite what I wanted) and pre-grated Parmesan ($1.99 for something that I know is a rip-off). Based on my cash flow situation, in this case I had to go with the Parmesan. I wasn’t willing to drive over to Giant Eagle just for cheese.
Purchased: (items in italics are things that are staples in our household but not needed for any particular recipe this week)
- Naan bread ($2.36), grated Parmesan ($1.98), frozen broccoli ($1.89), frozen Brussels sprouts ($1.89), garbanzo beans ($0.89), mini chocolate chips ($2.34), ricotta cheese ($2.29), cottage cheese ($1.99), brown rice ($2.00), green onions ($0.99), parsnips ($1.69), zucchini ($1.28), whipping cream ($2.00), 2% milk ($1.89), chocolate soy milk ($3.18), vanilla soy milk ($3.18), romaine lettuce ($1.67), wonton wrappers ($1.99), turnips ($1.69), spinach ($1.50), bananas ($1.14), green pepper ($0.80), egg noodles ($1.50), cucumber ($0.50), colby-jack cheese ($1.34), whole wheat bread ($1.67).
- GRAND TOTAL: $45.55 (Total for recipe ingredients: $34.44)
(Just a note: Granted, I’m only cooking for a family of two. However, most of the recipes I’m making serve 4 to 6, and most of the ingredients I’ve purchased will be applied to more than one recipe.)
Already On Hand:
- Barley, carrots, vegetable stock and bouillon, dried dill, olive oil, butter, stale chocolate cupcakes, eggs, lentils, onion, celery, apples, flour, herbs & spices
In the next post: Day 1 – Toasted Barley with Mixed Vegetables, Brussels Sprouts with Brown Butter and Slivered Almonds, Chocolate Bread Pudding