Budget Day 27: Take-out

Just a quick post today because we still have SOOO much left to do to prepare for our Halloween party tonight! Since we are super busy with all of that I decided not to make a production out of dinner last night, and we didn’t have enough leftovers to make a meal. So we ordered some takeout for the first time in (what felt like) years. I actually heard myself explaining to my 5-year-old that “take-out is when you go pick the food up from the restaurant and eat it at home.”

We got the idea from some coupons that my daughter brought home from school. After quickly sifting through the stack I threw away a bunch of discounts to fast food and ice cream places. But, one coupon to a place called “Noodles & Company” stood out to me because I wondered if they had any dishes made with 100% whole grain noodles. I gave them a call and was somewhat surprised (but pleased) to learn that you could substitute whole-wheat linguini in any dish. So we decided to give them a shot. When I went to pick up our order  I realized it was not a very formal place, and that it was basically set up like a Moe’s or Qdoba except serving noodles. It didn’t have a drive-thru or anything like that, but I wondered if this was more of a “fast food” type place than I originally thought.

I got home and soon after we dug right into our Pad Thai and Curry dishes we were quickly reminded why we never get take-out. Continue Reading »

Budget Day 25: Food Stamps, Earth Fare, and Halloween

Just guess how much money our family of four would have available to spend on food if we were getting food stamp benefits (which by the way has been renamed to SNAP)? $167/week. Yep, that is $42 more a week than what we are currently spending during this little 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget project. In all fairness we are also allowing ourselves to spend $20/week on eating out. But, even if we included that additional money (which we’ve barely used so far) it would still mean we fall $22 short of a family on food stamps. Must be nice…an extra 20 bucks or more a week would feel like a lot of money right now!

So back to what I’ve been buying on this super tight budget… As I mentioned the other day I got some items from Trader Joe’s, but I was not able to buy everything on my list. So I went to Earth Fare yesterday and tried to spend the least amount of money possible, which turned out to be $12.33. Not too bad, if I do say so myself. And here is what I got… Continue Reading »

Recipe: Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Recipe - Sweet Potatoes and Apples from 100 Days of Real Food.jpgI tried to think of a more creative name for this dish, but I guess the title just has to remain as simple as the recipe itself. This side item is the best combination of quick, easy, tasty, inexpensive, and in-season produce (at least here in North Carolina at the moment). I think the sweetness of the potatoes should please most kids…my daughters definitely thought it was a hit. Below is the basic recipe, but if you are a chef who likes to experiment I think it could also be good with a little cinnamon and a touch of honey. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it and enjoy!

Continue Reading »

Budget Day 23: Trader Joe’s

I finally tried to do some “real food” budget shopping at Trader Joe’s. I was unfortunately short on time, but once I started shopping I realized it didn’t matter because it is one SMALL store. There is a practically a whole aisle dedicated to wine (which, don’t get me wrong, I love) and another aisle mostly dedicated to frozen pre-made food (which I basically skipped). So that left me with 2 aisles and the produce section. My immediate thought was that they could not possibly sell all the things on my list with so few products. So should we start with what I did spend $58.73 on…or with all the things on my list that I was unable to buy? Well, I know how much people seem to like this store so I will be nice…here is what I got (which was mostly organic):

  • Bananas $1.16
  • Green grapes $2.99
  • Whole raw cashews $5.49
  • Raisins $2.69
  • Mushrooms $1.99
  • Two pears $1.38 Continue Reading »

Budget Day 21: Week 3 and Halloween

Finally…we had our matzo ball soup tonight. It was long awaited since it was originally on my plan for Wednesday of last week. Oh well, better late than never! My whole family loves this soup though (especially the dumplings which are made out of 2-ingredient whole-wheat matzo crackers) so it was well worth the wait. Last night I was off the hook and didn’t have to make a big dinner because it was one of the lovely times that someone else hosted dinner club! It was a fabulous evening and the timing couldn’t have been better since our fridge was feeling rather empty.

The farmer’s market on Saturday morning did help give our food supply a little boost to get us through the weekend though. Here’s what I got for $16.50… Continue Reading »

Budget Day 19: Slim Pickings

I am just being honest here…it feels like we have absolutely NO food in our house. We are somehow still surviving and managing to find things to eat, but man is it desolate. It usually gets down to slim pickings by the end of the budget week, but this time it already started feeling this way on Thursday (with 3 more days to go!). I think it is especially noticeable this time because we are out of some key staples like eggs, cheese, and chicken broth. It seems like whenever I am in a bind my go-to meals are things like quesadillas, quiche, scrambled eggs, pizza, or soup, and it is tough to make those things with so many missing ingredients!

So last night I struggled to think of a meal (since my matzo ball soup plan got messed up due to my poor planning), and I ended up making some bread/nut stuffing, butternut squash gratin, and some greens from our garden. The stuffing had a good flavor, but it was a little dry. The greens were okay for greens. And the butternut squash was AWFUL! None of us liked it and it even provoked my 3-year-old’s (very well rehearsed) gag reflex. I am not quite sure what I am going to do with the leftovers…maybe make a facial mask out of it if I can somehow stand the smell. Continue Reading »