Monday, July 12, 2010

Some thoughts on food

It seems unlikely that we'll return to this experiment. At least, not in the sense that it started.

Paying so much attention to food like I did in January-April has really changed the way that I look at my food now. My opinions have changed, my preferences have evolved.

We eat dairy, we eat meat, and yes, we most definitely eat gluten. We are lucky enough that we can spend more than $83/week if we want to.

We used to shop at Whole Foods. We still do, but we also have been shopping at PCC. However, because it is summer and produce here in the Northwest is available and delicious, we have begun buying what we can at the Farmers' Market.

What this means is that each week I plan meals and make a grocery list. I've been paying special attention to planning meals in season, but I don't always hold myself to that. We start each grocery shopping trip by going to the market. There we see what the farmers in our area have available and purchase as many things from our list that we can.

Our meat we buy from a local butcher.

Our dairy (especially our milk and butter) we have been getting mostly from Golden Glen Creamery (available at our farmers markets, as well as at PCC and Whole Foods).

This weekend we're taking a trip about an hour north to check out a farm that grows their own tea.

I even discovered that I can source saffron (!!) from a farm in Washington.

This experiment may have worn on me but it has given me a deeper appreciation for the food I prepare. It encouraged me to read more as well and I'm doing what I can to be a more conscious eater. On top of buying local, we've also been trying to stay meatless on Mondays.

We're even growing (in containers) some plants to use in the kitchen.

This style of eating that we've adopted isn't for everyone, and that's fine. I also don't want to come off sounding preachy. This feels right to me and when it doesn't anymore I'll stop.

Two books I've really enjoyed that have helped to encourage my eating habits are as follows:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Food Matters by Mark Bittman

Monday, May 3, 2010


You'll notice I haven't posted about what the May challenge is. That's because there isn't one.

Alex and I are tired. Planning a different style of meals each month is difficult, particularly if your kitchen isn't equipped for that lifestyle.

This experiment has definitely changed the way I think about the food I eat. But I needed a break from this because my relationship with the food I was cooking was deteriorating. I love to cook, and part of the reason why I love it is because it gives me freedom to explore. Being restrained took the fun out of it for me.

Alex needed a break because he was just tired of the changing diet each month.

I don't know if we'll pick this project back up. Definitely not in May or June. Maybe July, but I don't know for certain. And in the fall, I'm starting graduate school (in addition to working) so my time is going to be limited enough without having to figure out a different way of eating.

So we'll see. For now, we're taking a hiatus.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Food Stamp Budget: A summary

Our grocery shopping is done for this week. Assuming we don't need to buy more (and we shouldn't) I can now give you a breakdown for the month.

Not counting the week that was a wash because I was sick, based on a maximum benefit for food stamps in King County, we had $245 to spend on food. We spent $183.44, leaving us with $61.46 left for the month.

Week One:
Spaghetti with Sauce, Italian Sausage, Homemade Baguette
Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Tomato Soup
Fusilli with Creamy Pancetta and Pea Sauce
Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes
Sandwiches with apples for lunch
Lemon blueberry muffins for breakfast

Week Two:
Wash, I was sick

Week Three:
Pork tacos with homemade corn tortillas
Buttermilk Oven "Fried" Chicken, Roasted Asparagus
Barbecued Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes
Sandwiches with apples for lunch
Lemon blueberry muffins for breakfast

Week Four:
Shrimp tacos with homemade corn tortillas, Mexican rice
Spaghetti with sauce and Italian sausage
Oriental Steak with Asparagus and Wild Rice Pilaf
Parmesan Chicken and Rice
Sandwiches with apples for lunch
Lemon blueberry muffins for breakfast

As food goes, this isn't an unusual month for us. I suppose we wouldn't have sandwiches as often for lunch, but we might. It just depends on my whims. And, other than our spice cabinet and other pantry items being off-limits, this wasn't terribly hard. We do typically go out to eat more often than we did this month, but, overall, it wasn't that bad. I think the hardest thing, at least for Alex, was that we couldn't buy alcohol (so no beer with his tacos!).

I'm grateful that we make enough money to buy what we want and eat what we want. But it's nice to know that, with a little effort, if we had to stick to a budget for food we could do so and eat how we like.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A wash

I have to say, last week we came in on budget. We had great meals planned. Everything should have gone well.

Then I woke up Monday with a sore throat. By Monday night I was freezing and exhausted. Tuesday morning I woke up with a fever of nearly 102. It was pretty much downhill from there. Strep throat knocked me off my feet, and not in a good way. I got antibiotics on Wednesday, but I haven't been interested in eating since last weekend. Today is the first day I have really even thought about it.

I'll be honest. We didn't hold to the meal plan. When you're sick like I was, it's a matter of what your body can handle as well as what you want. I said from the beginning that our health was most important. So I allowed myself to eat on whim.

We're back on track for this week. The medicine is doing its job, and I've been fever-free for over 24-hours. (Fever started Monday, didn't go away until Friday morning). I feel wrung through the wringer. But as of this morning, we were on plan.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Food Stamp: Week Two

We went to the grocery store tonight to save ourselves some time tomorrow (we have errands to run out of the city). We spent $68.59 at QFC, and we're counting $6.50 as pantry items (corn masa, some spices, sesame oil).

Here's some of the menu for week two:
Raspberry Muffins
Shrimp Tacos
Panko crusted chicken with brussels sprout slaw
Pork tenderloin with homemade bbq sauce and roasted vegetables

As for week one, here was the breakdown:
$69.58 at QFC
$2.39 for extra milk (at QFC)
$3.62 for extra apples (produce stand near my work)
Total: $75.59, $8.41 left

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lesson to be learned:

Don't always try to get the best price.

I know that sounds silly, but hear me out.

We wanted to have apples with lunch. Fujis at the grocery store were $1.99/lb (and they were big apples). There was another apple that was $1.79/lb. I'd never heard of it, but I figured an apple was an apple so I got it because it was cheaper.

Now we will be eating the cost of them rather than the apples. They're terrible.

I used some of our leftover money for the week to buy better apples. The fruit stand across from my work was selling fujis for $0.89/lb. I used $3.62, leaving us with $10.80 for the week.

Lesson learned.

First week: menu

We spent $69.58 at the grocery store, leaving us with $14.42 for the rest of the week. Alex happily pointed out that we could probably have pho or order a pizza if we wanted.

I wanted to share with you the meals we're having this week so that you know that we're still eating well, despite cutting spending. (Our bill included coffee and flavored syrup, so our food costs were even lower!)

Saturday night, Alex made some baguettes, and we had Spaghetti (with Italian sausage cooked into the sauce) and roasted garlic bread.

Sunday morning, we had French toast with leftover baguette.

For breakfast this week, we're having lemon blueberry muffins.

Our dinners this week include: a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with tomato soup (one of my favorite comfort meals), pasta with creamy pancetta and pea sauce, and stove-top macaroni and cheese with roasted tomatoes.

It's a pretty gluten heavy week, but we're celebrating since we can eat it again.