As our economy heads into a tailspin, I've been thinking a lot about what this means for our family. Ever since I had Bunny in 2002, we've learned to basically live on one income. My work as a freelancer isn't always steady so we view anything above and beyond my husband's salary as icing on the cake. We've been living on a budget for six years now, so as people around me tighten their belts yet again, I thought I'd add a little twist to my weekly meal plans: I'll share how much I spent (roughly) on groceries for the week, and I'll also share some lunchbox and snack ideas. Of course I share these ideas (the weekly meal plans, lunchbox, and snack ideas) hoping that you will do the same since I get so much inspiration from all of you. If it takes a village to raise a child, maybe we can pull together to share some economical tips on how to continue to feed our families healthfully, locally, organically...without breaking the bank.
Lately, I've been doing lots of our grocery shopping at a small, local market in Silicon Valley called Milk Pail Market, pictured above. (For me eating locally also means supporting local grocery stores as much as possible.) It's the kind of market that carries an abundance of local produce including an absolutely dizzying selection of fruit (maybe a little banged up or bruised) and hundreds of different kinds of imported cheeses and a plethora of dairy items. It caters to an ethnic population (lots of items appeal to Asians or the growing Russian population in our area) so prices are reasonable. It also has quite a following among people who love to bake so their freezers are chock-full of bread dough, unbaked croissants and pizza crusts, and bulk items like cream cheese, farmer's cheese, butter, and heavy whipping cream sold by the quart.
This week, I spent $65 on:
cage-free vegetarian-fed brown eggs
a wedge of Pecorino Romano
2 containers of crumbled imported French chevre (reduced for quick sale)*
a 6-ounce hunk of "gourmet" cream cheese (reduced for quick sale)*
1 container of buffalo mozzarella in water (reduced for quick sale)*
1 lb of unsalted butter
2 packages of veal pelmeny
2 packages of dried pasta
couscous from the bulk bin
dried white beans from the bulk bin
a loaf of whole grain bread
a container of cherry tomatoes
an English cucumber
8 russet potatoes (my girls are on a baked potato kick)
a 5lb bag of organic apples
*all of these "expire" in October, so the "specials" section is a great place to shop in this market
With all of that, and supplementing things I already had at home, here's what I plan on cooking this week:
- Monday—Bratwurst w/ sauteed onions, cauliflower soup (a staple in our house, also--fascinated by Sam's experiments!), baked potatoes, salad (the chevre goes on the salad)
- Tuesday—Italian pasta and bean soup
- Wednesday—Shakshouka and couscous
- Thursday—Russian sweet and sour cabbage soup and pelmeny on the side
- Friday—Saturday I will be attending West Coast Green so I'm not sure what I'll do to make sure my family is eating.
Yes, it's a lot of soup (because we are a family of soup freaks), but my aim is to freeze a batch of each kind for a later meal.
In terms of healthy school lunches, here are some of the things I've been packing in Bunny's lunchbox (Lucky for me, she actually could eat the same thing every day without complaint. She likes "regularity."):
- peanut butter and honey sandwiches
- Swiss cheese sandwiches
- tomato, cucumber, and cream cheese sandwiches (she likes to eat what Frances in "Bread and Jam for Frances" eats for lunch)
- hummus and whole wheat pita
- little containers of snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and or carrot sticks
- yogurt tubes (frozen)
- cut up cheese and crackers
- cut up apples (she has two wiggly front teeth and can't eat whole fruits)
- thermoses full of soup or leftover pasta
- tofu cubes, rice balls, and little packages of nori
I've been buying her favorite "sweet and salty nut" granola bars, but this week, to save a little more moolah, I am going to start making my own using a recipe from 101 Cookbooks.
Whew! That was a blog-ful, but I hope it was helpful. What are you cooking and packing this week?