Pizza - it's my secret budget weapon. For $1.06 and the price of a pizza stone, I can make two large pizza crusts better than just about any I could find in Knoxville. Friday nights are pizza night in our house and we do this for two reasons. One - it's a fun tradition and it's a cheap one. Two - homemade pizzas taste so freakin' good and they're fun to make. I'll make a post next week with the pizza crust recipe we use and a couple of topping suggestions. For the Eat on $30 challenge, we stayed pretty basic. We went with a homemade sauce, mozzarella cheese, onions and homemade turkey sausage.
Thoughts on the food I ate yesterday: I'm missing our usual sweet tea that we drink with most meals - a lot. I also am having cravings for the crappiest candy imaginable - things like Laffy Taffy and Nerds. I had a dream about Lemonheads. I don't even want to try to interpret that.
Thoughts on the Eat on $30 Challenge so far: Again - I'm using a pizza stone. You can make pizza without it but I think the results are far better with it. I also find myself skipping ingredients so I don't have to account for the cost. I had no idea how much a garlic clove should cost because we grow our own garlic. I didn't want to run down to Krogers just to see how much it cost so I left it out.
Breakdown of costs:
Pizza crust cost: 3 cups flour: 51¢ 2 tbsp olive oil: 40¢ 1 tbsp yeast: 15¢ Total Cost: $1.06 for two crusts
Breakfast: Scrambled free-range eggs, bread, fair trade coffee and local organic milk Lunch: Hamburger Stroganoff over penne pasta Dinner: Homemade pizza with homemade sauce, cheese and turkey sausage Dessert: Snickerdoodle Blondie - 2
I feel like I never have enough time in the day. I'm horrible at time management so I'm sure that's part of my problem. I'd love to be one of those women who wake up in the morning and have a list of things done by 9am. Of course, that involves getting up by 8am so I may be reaching a bit in wanting that level of organization.
I also have a lot of demands on my time. I run my own business with my husband and while I love being my own boss, when you work from home, it's hard to delineate where work stops and home begins. I own more cats than I'm willing to admit to most people, several who have medical conditions and I feel like I've spent weeks of my life just scooping litter boxes. I have a rather large garden by urban yard standards and I try to produce and preserve as much of our food as we can. This involves lots of canning. We have a house that was built in 1894 that will one day be gorgeous. Right now, it's missing things like walls, plumbing in some areas and is a bit decrepit. Lots of time goes into fixing it up. My husband and I talk about kids but I'll admit that I feel so crunched for time now and I know how much time kids take!
However, no matter how rushed I feel, I have an abundance of time when you compare it to a lot of people on food stamps. I work from home so it's easy for me to let a pot of stock simmer all day. Eating a meal of leftovers involves no planning. No figuring out how to get it to work and heat it up. I have time to bake my own bread and preserve my own food. Granted - I make the time for that but I'm not having to work two jobs to get by. It's not a choice between me baking bread or working an extra job so my kids can have clothes to wear.
I've got lots of ways to save time: I make extra and freeze it. My freezer right now holds containers of gumbo, Hopping John, spaghetti sauce, mushroom-wine sauce, chicken stock, frozen pizza dough & a bag of breadcrumbs. Whenever I make something that might freeze well, I usually double the recipe so that I have some to eat later. I also have a list of quick, easy meals that are made from wholesome ingredients but come together in a flash. I always have pasta on hand and I make use of a slow cooker and pressure cooker. But these tips might not be helpful to someone who doesn't have the extra money to buy food in bulk. You have to first own a pressure cooker or a slow cooker. I bought a chest freezer so I'd have space to save leftovers - that was a serious upfront investment.
What it comes down to is that there's no way I could do this challenge and not cheat. No matter how closely I count my pennies or follow my planned meal plan, there's no way this even begins to approximate the choices and considerations that someone who lives this budget on a daily basis has to deal with. I knew that when I started this challenge but I don't think I really KNEW that. It's become a lot clearer to me that no matter how strictly I follow this challenge, I can't really follow it because I'm not really living this life.
PS - I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post. My data card got corrupted and all my pics were corrupted as well.
Thoughts on the food I ate yesterday: I often make Beef Stroganoff with hamburger. It's a great way to use ground beef and make it different. I've never really followed a recipe before but I had to with this challenge. I needed to know the exact cost to make sure our budget could swing it. So I turned to SimplyRecipes.com because I knew Elise had posted a recipe for this dish recently and I knew her recipe would be great. It was wonderful. Instead of winging it, I'll probably use her recipe in the future. Normally, I'd serve this dish over egg noodles but since I had penne pasta and it was cheaper, I used that.
Thoughts on the Eat on $30 Challenge so far: I've been thinking a lot about the time component of this challenge. The amount of time it takes to make sure that we don't go over our budget - the calculating out every last thing. But even though that's a pain, I'm lucky because if we do go over our budget, it just means I've screwed up this challenge. It doesn't mean I won't be able to pay my electric bill. Calculating out my costs isn't personal to me because the consequences aren't very dire. Granted - I want to not go over my budget but if I do, all I lose is a little bit of pride. That's a pretty small price to pay in comparison to someone who doesn't have the leeway in their budget.
Just a quick recap for
day four of the challenge. I'll have a longer post tomorrow with some
thoughts on why time is such an issue in doing this challenge.
Thoughts on the food I
ate on Day Four:
I had dinner all ready to
go - or so I thought. Every couple of months, I make a huge batch
of caramelized onions that I partition out and freeze to use in
french onion soup or to add to pastas and pizza. I could have sworn that
I had several in my freezer but after freezing my hands off looking, I realized
I was out. Instead, since it was such a crazy day, I made BLTs again.
It looks like we're going to have an earlier fall this year so finding
ways to eat those ripe garden tomatoes is no hardship.
Thoughts on the Eat on
$30 Challenge so far: I'm really glad I'm doing this challenge. But I'm already
prowling the net for recipes to make when this challenge is over. This
isn't a way of life for me - that's something I'm trying to keep in mind.
Everything I'm doing is much harder for people who have even less money
to spend and don't see an end in sight to their day-to-day challenge.
Breakdown of costs:
Need to add another loaf
of bread to the budget - 92¢
free-range eggs, bread, fair trade coffee and local organic milk Lunch: Sandwiches with Nduja, mozzarella &
tomato from garden Dinner: BLTs Dessert: Snickerdoodle Blondie - 2
I actually would have found staying on my Eat on $30 budget very easy to stay for the rest of this week. Despite the fact that I have a cast-iron stomach and have only had food poisoning one other time in my life, I'm pretty sure a visit to the value menu at a local fast food restaurant did me some serious wrong. You know the old adage - Feed a cold, starve a fever? Well my husband has always sworn that I live by the adage, Feed a cold, feed a fever, Just fricken' feed me! He says I'm the only person he's ever seen vomit and then cry because they were so hungry. But food was the last thing I wanted to think about all day Friday.
This started me thinking though. Sure - staying on budget would have been fairly simple because a diet of toast and chicken stock isn't expensive. But it's not that easy. From Thursday night through Saturday morning, I couldn't work. Luckily, my husband was able to pick up my slack but what would have happened if I had had to call in sick to work? It's very likely that without education and experience, I'd be working an hourly wage job and not going into work would have meant giving up that money. That is if I hadn't gotten fired. In an economy like this, workers are easily replaced. It also scared me to think what would have happened if this had been something more serious. I'm self-employed and don't have health insurance right now. What would I have done if I needed a doctor's care? Luckily, our budget could have handled a trip to our local urgent care facility but what if it couldn't? What would I have done?
Regardless, I don't really feel like I gave the Eat on $30 a fair shake so starting tomorrow, I'll be finishing up my weekly meal plan. This means I'll post what I ate on Wednesday tomorrow and I'll finish up the challenge Wednesday night. As you can imagine, I'll be eating at home for the remainder of the challenge!