I went on my first full-on budget grocery shopping trip this morning. This is what $25.97 bought me at Martin’s:
Not particularly impressive at first sight, is it? Please note that 6 of those dollars went towards canned food for my geriatric, tooth-challenged cat. $24/month for canned food alone. She’s killing me! Not to mention dry food and litter for the whole crew. That’s like two really nice bottles of bordeaux I’m spending on these thankless critters. Good thing I adore them, that’s all I’ve got to say.
So what does this haul get me? A week’s worth of yogurt and granola bars for breakfast, veggies to add to my soup for lunch, and salmon & flour tortillas for fish tacos at night. Add to that a few rollovers from last week, including potatoes, eggs, and corn tortillas, and I have a decent dinner selection over the course of 7 days. There’s definitely no one starving in this household.
After only one week, I can tell that the secret to my food budgeting success will be lunch. And my greatest ally is the potato. It’s a food I never tire of if it is successfully concealed. It transforms itself so easily and costs mere pennies (about $1/pound here). In case you’re interested in trying an unbelievably easy formula for any veggie soup, I reduced every soup recipe I had down to the following:
Bring 4 cups of broth or reconstituted bouillon to a boil and add 3 average russets, diced (I like to leave the skin on for vitamins and texture). Cook until tender.
For veggie soup base: Drain potatoes but keep the broth. Throw potatoes into food processor and whirl around until pureed. Slowly add back the broth. Also add a few tablespoons of butter or cream for creaminess, and extra broth or water to thin to your liking, and ta da! Four servings of creamy potato soup for about $1.
For chowder soup base: Do same as above but only puree 1/2 of the potatoes. Add back all the broth and the remaining chopped potatoes, but don’t puree. Just stir. Instant chowder.
Then you just add whatever herbs and spices (lots of salt and pepper for me) you like. Last week I took 1/2 the batch and added roasted garlic, sauteed onions and sage. To the other half I added the garlic and onions, plus diced chipotle peppers and smoked paprika. And this week I’m making chowder with corn and parsley, and a soup with spinach and indian spices. Seriously, there is no end!
I’m really not much of a cook, and I realize this is hardly haute cuisine. But sure beats the heck out of overpriced processed deli sandwiches in my book. For me, it’s about a $5/work day savings for lunch alone, which adds up to a whopping $100/month. Just think of all the wine THAT would buy!