Budget Day 36: Scrounging

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Tonight I attempted to be creative with what we had on hand instead of going to the store (even though I normally go on Monday’s since it is the start of my $125 budget week). At first, we were actually going to have a decent dinner of quiche until some lovely errands and laundry caused me to run out of time to wait for it to bake. So I opted for a quick broccoli/cheese omelet, and no one seemed to mind the change in plans except for my 5-year-old. I guess I made the mistake of originally telling her we were going to have quiche, but she normally loves eggs so we of course told her to eat what she was served because that’s what was for dinner!

I am sort of planning to make a run to the store tomorrow, but I am wondering if we could manage to survive if I try to wait even one more day. Of course we would “survive”, but would the monotonous food be too difficult to bear? One of my biggest roadblocks is that we are also almost out of cheese! I know everyone gives me a hard time about how much we buy/eat/like cheese….are we really the only ones out there with the desire for dairy?

Here are some preliminary ideas that I have for dinner tomorrow if I can once again only use what we have on hand: fried rice (green beans, brown rice, some egg), pasta (I even have some cream and could make a yummy alfredo sauce, but that wouldn’t be a very balanced meal!), something with dried beans (which would mean I would need to have a plan and start soaking them tonight). I think I already have lunch covered tomorrow so I am tempted to take on the challenge and put off going to the store as long as I can. So we will see what happens!

Since yesterday was the last day of a budget week here is how things ended with less than 25 cents left…

Last night my husband ran to Harris Teeter (our closest store) because we really wanted to make some pizza for dinner, and we had everything we needed except for the cheese (imagine that!). It was certainly was nice of him to make the trip to the store for us, but on that trip my husband proceeded to have a “cheese offense” that was quite possibly even worse than the colored cheese incident. He bought pre-grated cheese! I know we only had a little more than $2 to spend, but spending it on pre-grated cheese that is drenched in a powdery additive to keep it from sticking together? Yuck. And unfortunately we had no choice but to eat it. I can certainly think of many worse things to eat, but I still didn’t like that we had to resort to nasty powdery cheese. Isn’t it funny how what was once the norm around here has suddenly become totally unacceptable?

On one final note I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I actually went away on a quick girls trip this weekend! Girls meaning adult “girls” …not with my daughters! So I of course dipped into our “travel budget” for 2 dinners and one lunch out for myself. I brought along my own breakfast from home. I ordered the most real food possible while I was away, which on the first night included a baked potato soup (which they said was made in house and did not have sugar in it) and a salad. Lunch the following day was crab cakes (which of course had a small bit of white bread crumbs in it), and dinner on the last night consisted of a salad, local baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and veggies. My husband and our “little” girls survived just fine on our real food budget in my absence. My husband actually knows his way around a kitchen so they chowed down on some delicious homemade tomato bisque soup (which we had leftover for lunch today), a pasta dish, and pb&j’s among other things. I certainly enjoyed my little break from the kitchen while I was away!

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21 comments to Budget Day 36: Scrounging

  • LauraElle

    Hey, care to post the recipe for the tomato bisque? Thanks!

  • Stephanie

    Have you guys thought about down-sizing the amount of milk you drink? By a half gallon or gallon a week? Every little bit helps. We actually just learned in our health class that drinking to much, as well as consuming too much protein, can actually cause bone problems later on down the road.

    On another note, I decided to go grocery shopping and forget the majority of the organic stuff this week (not all but most)…just to see what I would spend. Granted I did have a few staples to buy, but wouldn’t you know I actually spent more on non-organic foods this go round than when I go shopping for mostly organic. At best I broke even. Cheese…well any type of dairy is hard for us too. AND I am trying to lose weight, so it is hard to tell myself no about dairy, since we don’t do fat-free either, for the same reasons you mentioned. :) Have a great week!

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      I know it may be hard for some to believe, but we already did cut back on milk. I used to buy 8 – half gallon jugs and now I only buy 7. Since the “milk man” comes once a week we’ve decided this means we cannot drink more than 1 half gallon jug a day and there are many days it is gone by the end of lunch or even breakfast. On those days we have to give our daughters water for the rest of the day when they are thirsty. It is not just them though, I LOVE milk too and have a lot with breakfast (in my cereal and to drink) and we use it in recipes (pancakes, oatmeal, quiche) and I use 3/4 cup in my mocha on most days. So surprisingly enough a half a gallon can go very quickly when you have 4 big milk drinkers in one house and we already feel like we’ve cut back as much as we can!

      Also, I love to hear that you didn’t feel like you saved when buying conventional because when it comes down to it I would prefer to buy everything organic! Although I couldn’t help but notice that there was a bag of conventional flour more than twice the size (and for the same price) as the organic bag that I bought at Bi-Lo the other day. So I guess it just depends!

  • Jenniffer

    I know you are struggling but you’re doing a great job. My poor husband has had to put up with me becoming a vegetarian since March (I still eat wild caught fish) and a real food nutt, so it’s been a challenge aroud here as well…and on a budget. Following you has been encouraging and inspirational, and hopefully you have received encouragement from your readers as well:)

    My mom knew I wanted a bread machine (since it’s faster) and she actually found one for $6.00 at a thrift store. I will be trying it for the first time tomorrow. I kept telling my husband that I would make him bread for his sandwiches, and then I wouldn’t and he’d end up buying the stuff that makes my toes curl when I read the ingredients. Have you ever considered a bread machine? The cost of the ingredients are close to nothing…a lot less than $5.00/loaf, and a lot of them make more than just bread. Just a thought;)

    Keep up the great work…and oh… that tomato bisque recipe would be greatly appreciated:)

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      Thanks so much for the comment and for the encouragement!! :) I know our husbands really do suffer sometimes when we are the ones making the food decisions. I had an aversion to meat during my second pregnancy so just by default my husband ate mostly vegetarian during that time too (and he was not a fan!). Also, I have considered a bread machine…I am thinking it might be on my xmas list this year so we will see!! I hope yours works out for you.

  • Dana

    After reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal Vegetable Miracle I was inspired to make cheese. Her family makes mozzarella cheese all the time using supplies from New England Cheese Making Supply Co
    This would be one option for reducing your cheese budget and having cheese whenever you want it! Plus your girls could get involved. They have a mozzarelle and ricotta kit for beginners.


    • 100 Days of Real Food

      My husband listened to that book on CD and told me all about the cheese making…I am a little tempted to try it since we love cheese so much! Thanks for the info :)

  • Joan

    You always seem to get good deals at the farmers market. Which one do you go to?

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      The Matthews Farmer’s Market…every Saturday morning! It is the largest grower’s only market in the area so everything is 100% local.

  • sherry

    Stephanie, cheese can definitely be a good addition to a weight loss diet, but make sure it is the protein source and not a condiment. That’s the key to balancing the calories, macaroni and cheese is supposed to be a main dish served with a vegetable, not a side dish served with meat as one example.

  • Laurin

    I have been dying for a tomato bisque recipe! So I’m with everyone else when I beg you to post the recipe! That would be so greatly appreciated!

  • For what it’s worth, I’ve read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and a book called Building Bone Vitality that discusses (in depth) what Stephanie was talking about. Now I’m reading Nina Planck’s Real Food. Dairy purest believe that whole, unpasteurized, unhomogenized dairy from pastured cows is best. Based on what I’ve read so far, I have to agree with them. I also agree with another one of your readers (who commented on another post), that since you aren’t eating much meat these days, it can be a good healthy source of protein for your family. I do believe in moderation with all things though and I completely agree with Sherry that it should be the main dish (but only if it’s good quality). I personally prefer my dairy in the form of milk, cream and butter and less in the form of cheese. It’s salty and not nearly as good for you. As a matter of fact, one possible reason that cheese is such a huge part of the American diet, might be due the fact that conventional farmers had to figure out what to do with all of the surplus milk fat left over from the skim and low fat milk we’ve been demanding. Most cheeses today are the processed junk food version of dairy.

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      I agree that you have to be careful about what kind of cheese you buy, but I have to admit that our desire for cheese really has nothing to do with what is best for us (or not)…we just like how it tastes and love so many meals where cheese happens to be a big component! Cheese is for some reason my 3-year-old’s most favorite food in the world and she has even woken up on the middle of the night before and asked us for cheese (as well as asked for some with her breakfast on many occasions!) LOL. On one side I am relieved she is not obsessed with something like cheetos or some other form of disgusting junk, but instead asking me for straight-up white cheese which is relatively whole. Our budget is actually helping to keep our cheese consumption in check though simply because we can’t afford to buy as much as we used too! :)

  • Hey I also love cheese, so you’ll never hear any judgment from me about buying it! haha

    Also, your daughter sounds like my boyfriend when he comes home & I’ve changed the dinner plans. “Awww, I was really excited for tacoooooos” ;)

  • kammy

    We eat ridiculous amounts of cheese in this house, too! Actually, my husband is the one who eats most of it–but all of my kids love it.
    We don’t eat as healthy as you guys do, but I do try to buy local/organic as much as possible. We try to stick to a budget, as well. I know it sounds boring, but have you ever thought about setting certain nights to have a sort of “theme”? I know when we were on a tighter budget, we did at least one night per week where the dinner was “brinner”–breakfast for dinner. We’d have eggs/omelets/or huevos rancheros (beans, eggs, salsa, tortillas). We also have a “burrito and movie night” every Wednesday (my son actually invented this). It’s nice to have set meals for the week–makes shopping a bit easier.
    Anyhow, love your blog. I get lots of good ideas from it. Thanks!

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      You know what…I have actually thought about having a themed night b/c I’ve heard of families doing pizza every Friday or something like that. And I agree that it would make meal planning for the week a lot easier. I just wonder if I could manage to have the right ingredients on hand each week (even if they are cheap ingredients) since this budget is feeling so tight lately!

  • Liz

    What kind of preserves to you like to buy to make PB&J’s? Are there any ingredients you look for when shopping that you don’t want in your preserves? I was shopping for some last night and some have fruit syrup, juice concentrate, etc. I’m trying to eat only real food and was just wondering how you decide on which preserves to purchase. Thanks so much!

    • 100 Days of Real Food

      I look for preserves/jelly sweetened with fruit juice concentrate instead of sugar or corn syrup. I can usually find at least one option that fits the bill at each grocery store so it sounds like you are on the right track!

  • cheese, milk, yogurt, sour cream, are all staples in my house. My husband, oldest son (9), and I are always joking that we need our own cow!!

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