Archive for the 'Progress' category

Week 6 Progress

July 21, 2013 10:57 am

This week, we had a lot leftover from our gloriously bountiful CSA share, so we only spent $72 on food! We spent $50 (69%) at the markets and $22 (31%) at the grocery store. That’s not our best percentage break down, but when we consider that we consumed TONS of yellow squash, broccoli, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, garlic, green onion, carrots, and cabbage that were all left over from last week’s CSA share (thus not factoring into this week’s spending total), I think we did pretty well at eating local this week!

This week’s big success was the Spicy tomato, cabbage, and pinto bean stew. I took one of my old, over-processed recipes and adapted it to use local and whole food ingredients.

We ate a huge variety of veggies, and tons of them, and cut down on our fatty dairy this week, so I’d say we did some pretty healthy eating. You know, to balance all the drinking we (I) did this week. (Hey – we were celebrating!)

We did not tackle the meat goal this week, to give our tummies a break after a few weeks of travel. We focused on vegetables and feel back to normal, finally!

I think we’re finally getting the hang of this 🙂

goat cheese pasta with squash and broccoli

Goat cheese pasta with sauteed squash and broccoli, a Friday night dinner with Maia and the Doctor

Return to WI and Weeks 4 & 5 Progress!

July 12, 2013 4:14 pm

We’re back!

We just had two amazing weeks with our family in NC (and a bit in Baltimore) and we are back home and ready to roll! I want to tell you more about our awesome trip, but we have a lot of business to attend to, so let’s get down to it.

First, our progress for week 4 (which was a loooong time ago now):

Goal 1) To eat fresh local food! With 87% of our food $$ spent at the market, we did better than usual!

Goal 2) Eat healthy! Feta & broccoli pasta, black bean quesadillas, pulled pork  with roasted potatoes & kale, margherita pizza, & salads here and there. I think we did pretty well.

Goal 3) Don’t break the bank! We spent $85 this week: $74 at the market only $11 at the grocery store! So, we definitely did pretty well this week! However, we overspent last week, and therefore had a lot to finish including pepper jack, RP’s pasta, broccoli, soy sausage, sour cream, and other odds and ends. On the other hand, we did entertain twice again this week and have a ton of pulled pork in the freezer! So, looking across the last four weeks, we’ve averaged $95/week. Considering how much we used to spend on food, that’s not bad for us.

Goal 4) Learn more about buying local meat! We bought a pork shoulder – hooray! Next time, we’ll try a less fatty meat. But, boy, it was good 🙂

That Saturday (which was technically the next week) we bought a ton of goodies and made market-based portable meals and snacks and goodies for three for our drive down to NC. Three? Yes, three. We picked up BiL John on our way through Chicago and gained some nice company for our long drive.

Okay, glad that’s wrapped up. Now we can start a new week!

We got home on Sunday night and the fridge was EMPTY. I mean EMPTY. Good thing the freezer wasn’t! Remember all of that feta and broccoli pasta I made the week before we left? I saved all of the unused broccoli stems and some of the florets in a big plastic freezer bag. No one really wants to eat stems, even though they’re just as tasty as florets. But, in a broccoli soup – no  one minds! So, Monday’s dinner was broccoli soup, made from leftover broccoli parts, chicken broth from the store, and a few left over carrots I found the fridge. I made some parmesan croutons from the few slices of bread I’d stuck in the freezer before we left and a lonely lump of parm.  Cheap and easy! I also grabbed the pulled pork from the freezer and we’ve been enjoying it with Tuesday’s CSA bounty:

CSA july 7

We got some GREAT stuff! Green beans, broccoli, snap peas, sun gold tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, yellow summer squash, garlic, green onion, and lettuce! How’s that for $8.75 worth of veggies?!

Then on Wednesday, I went to the market again:

Market Bounty 7.10

I bought a dozen very large eggs ($4), two seconds tomatoes and a pretty tomato from Don’s ($3.20), more snap peas for picnic snacking ($2), a bunch of basil for a pasta salad ($1), a bunch of garlic for said pasta salad ($2), and one splurge: a hunk of 3-year white cheddar from (who else?) Farmer John’s cheese – .8lb for $8.75. But, let me tell you, this stuff is freakin’ delicious.

Many of these things went into a picnic dinner we had with our friends that night, as an early celebration of Glenn’s birthday!! (Man – he’s getting old!) I didn’t take a SINGLE PICTURE, but here’s that yummy pasta salad I made.

And now, it’s already Friday. Already time for a progress post! Since you’re only getting this one post this week, I’ll make it brief.

It was a weird week that started with an empty fridge on a Monday. And we got a number of random items from friends (the ricotta, some heavy cream, a head of cabbage, etc.)  So, I’m not sure that it should “count”. But, we spent $33 at the market and $43 at the grocery store (yikes! some of that was for our picnic, though). Including the CSA share, we spent about 49% locally. Not the greatest week, but it was a weird one. On the bright side, we have a TON of leftover veggies for next week!

Progress: Week 3 and Market Bounty

June 15, 2013 5:43 pm

Goal 1) To eat fresh local food! Yes we did! About 76% of our food dollars went to a local vendor this week.

Goal 2) Eat healthy! I think I was particularly successful on this front with the kale and sausage soup and the black bean burritos. The saag paneer was a little fatty, but you can’t go wrong with all those greens.

Goal 3) Don’t break the bank! Okay, this is what I was worried about this week. Remember our market bounty? I went a little crazy! Well, it felt that way after spending $67 at only one market. I’d hoped that the inexpensive CSA veggies ($8.75/box) would even things out, but then we went to two more markets (and spent $9) and two grocery stories. That’s $85 at the markets along with $22 at Woodman’s  and a $6 block of paneer from the indian store. Oh, I wish I’d planned better! And made my own paneer!

In my defense, I also cooked for my girlfriends in the middle of the week with an extra $10ish of ingredients. If we’d gone out to eat, I would have spent at least that much on just myself. I took little from my freezer this week. And, I have RP’s pasta, broccoli, kale, and most of the pepper jack leftover from last week. (The result of a lack of planning!) I think if you take all of that into account, I think the extra $$ was not wasted and I’m okay with that.

I did reflect on some ways to cut down my spending. First, I need to buy less at the first market we go to so we have room to buy at other markets! This requires planning 🙂 For example, I bought 3 RP’s pastas at one time last week – WAY more than we needed. In the end, I was glad because it meant I could cook for my friends with ingredients I had on hand. Second, I think some things are just worth getting at the store.  I feel pretty strongly about buying happy local meat, but happy local tortillas? It ain’t gonna happen again, I’m sorry. Also, as much as I love RP’s pasta and will continue to buy it, I’m going to supplement the good stuff with less expensive store-bought pastas for very basic dishes in which there are other local ingredients to shine. The way I see it is buying some of the more processed goods at the grocery store will free me up to buy more whole foods locally. I have to make some choices to make this work for me, and that’s one of them (for now, at least).

Goal 4) Learn more about buying local meat! Hooray for chicken brats! The andouille sausage was super good, and by cooking it in that stew, it stretched across several mealtimes. We really enjoyed this, but at $7 for a 12 oz package, I would probably be better off buying ground chicken from them at $7.50/lb, since I took the casings off anyways! But really, I should get more comfortable with other, whole cuts of meat that are much less expensive. I swung from whole chicken all the way to brats and I needed a happy medium. We’ll call that a success once you see this weeks market bounty!!

 June 15th

 Garlic ($2), feta ($4.25), sugar snap peas ($3), sun gold tomatos ($3), 3.4lbs of bone-in pork shoulder aka boston butt (teehee! $17), potatoes (yay!!!! $6), strawberries ($4), cottage cheese ($3.75), black turtle beans ($3), and my breakfast ($3.50). We got more Chip Magnet salsa too ($7), I don’t know why it didn’t make it into the picture! And Glenn got some sort of muffin that he ate so fast that I barely caught a glimpse of it at the market. And onwards into the fourth week of the challenge!

Week 2 Progress (Good!) & Week 3 Bounty (Large!)

June 8, 2013 1:17 pm

Another week has gone by, and it’s time to reflect on this weeks’ progress! Let’s see how we did.

Goal 1) To eat fresh local food! We did a lot of this, but I also used some stuff I already had, again. In the colcannon, I used up some potatoes that had been hanging around my fridge for a while and towards the end of the week, I pulled out some stuffed shells that had been in the freezer for I-don’t-remember-how-long. Somehow, that always seems like a good indicator that we should eat it soon! One success this week was popcorn. I am obsessed with popcorn and we have made popcorn on the stove with local kernels every single day this week!! I even took a bag of it to the IMAX for the new Star Trek movie (shhh – don’t tell, but it was WAY better than theatre popcorn!) Yum!

Goal 2) Eat healthy! We did okay here… maybe some of our meals were a little more oily than others. I’m really missing curries, but we just haven’t gotten a lot of amenable veggies yet. Perhaps I will get around to making a spinach curry next week.

Goal 3) Don’t break the bank! We spent just a little more than last week, which is amazing considering I bought a whole chicken in addition to all of those veggies. I am sure that pulling the stuffed shells out of the freezer contributed to this. All together I spent $93 on groceries, about $65 at the market and $28 at the grocery store. That means I’m doing just a little better at spending food dollars at the market than I did last week 🙂

Goal 4) Learn more about buying local meat! Definitely met this goal. Glenn bought a whole chicken, and I cooked it (with some success). I learned that I probably can’t deal with buying a whole chicken again until one of my gracious friends wants to come over and show me what to do. Until then, I will stick to more manageable meat purchases.

All-in-all it was a good week, I’d say!

We went to the markets again this morning (of course!). I REALLY wanted to go downtown, but I just couldn’t handle it on my crutches (yup, I’m still using those dumb crutches). But, the westside and hilldale markets were really easy to get around, and they are all just sweethearts. Want to see our market bounty for this week? Of course you do! (So did the girls, you’ll notice.)

June 8

Did you notice that this was a more expensive bounty than usual? Three (count’em) types of pasta (hey – they were cheaper if I bought more and they’re good until August), jam, salsa, peanut butter, AND sortofexpensive tortillas?! Yes, I did. Also note that we bought a block of pepper jack (not one of my favorites), a tub of cottage cheese, and a tub of goat cheese despite the fact that I have over half a lb of cheese left from previous bounties *sigh*. Why did I allow myself to go overboard like this? (Actually – I reigned myself in from also buying cheese curds and beef sticks, if you can believe it.) I had no plan!!

“WHAT, NO PLAN?!”

“yes. no plan.” whoops!

At first, I was excited. Look at all this stuff! It’s going to be a great week! And then I realized how much I spent…$67 in total today. That’s more than we’ve ever spent on food at the market, in a whole week. And this, this is the problem with not planning. Overspending and an overabundance of high-fat dairy! This does not bode well for half of my goals this week, but we’ll just have to see how this week unfolds. Perhaps some of these ingredients will get saved for future endeavors. Glenn had to remind me, again – this is a learning experience. If I’m thoughtful, by the end of the week I will have developed some new strategies for meeting my goals. We shall see 🙂