Even though we don't live in a wealthy area (random people sitting on my garden wall-check, used condom on the sidewalk-check, empty malt beverage bottles routinely stuck in my flower border-check), we're lucky enough to have a fairly decent-sized grocery store within a 15 minute walk. No - we don't have the olive bar or an extensive organic selection like grocery stores in more prosperous areas of our city but we do have what many here refer to as the Fellini Krogers. One trip shopping there and you'll understand why. I once had the mind blowing experience of listening to the muzak version of "Master and Servant" by Depeche Mode while a man in a woman's flowered nightgown shopped nearby. Our local foods co-op is only 15 minutes away. We can buy local eggs, milk and produce and they have a decent selection of bulk foods as well. They'll have even more of a selection when they move a few blocks away and expand over the next couple of years.
I'm lucky though. In a lot of poorer areas in Knoxville, the only local markets are neighborhood corner stores where the food tends to be more expensive and whole foods are few and far between. I ran down to our local corner store today and was able to find a few fruits like apples and bananas but they were overpriced and looked way past their prime. Beyond snack type food like Easy Cheese, there were a few convenience meal products but very little in the way of whole foods. The most nutritious meal I could put together was some spaghetti noodles and jarred sauce but those were at least 50% more expensive than they were at our grocery store. Similarly, in some of the more remote areas of Grainger County, TN, there's one grocery store and that's it. Forget about trying to buy organic produce or trying to shop around for the best price.
I'm also lucky because we own a car. Granted, neither one is very impressive but they run (knock on wood!) and get us where we need to go. I'm able to shop sales if I need to and drive to the grocery store. Yes - we do have some mass transit in our city but it's pretty pitiful and I can't imagine trying to carry a load of grocery bags and wrangle a couple of small children.
Another advantage we have that a lot of people don't is that we own our house. Granted - it's ancient and under renovation and because of our budget, renovating it is taking us a long time. We're hoping to get walls in the rooms that are lacking them this year and we might even go crazy and put in storm windows to keep the winter breeze from tussling our hair. But we own our house and that gives us a fairly decent space to store food. I have a Rubbermaid tote full of pasta that I bought when it was on sale a couple of months ago. I've got a creepy cellar where I can store our canned goods and things like potatoes and apples.
More importantly, we have a YARD! I think I drove our realtor crazy when we were house hunting because having a yard with sun was of utmost importance for us. The first year we were in the house, we put in two raised beds and we've been increasing them every year since. Gardening can be an expensive hobby but every year, Marcus and I grow over 1000 tomato, eggplant and pepper seedlings to sell at our local farmers market. This income funds our gardening and allows us to eat the localest local food that ever localed! It also makes it a lot less expensive to eat tons of organic produce. I'm a very strong proponent of backyard "victory" gardens and we preserve a lot of our food to eat during the fall and winter. But again - we have a backyard where we can do that and we have the time to do that. It's very easy to run out back and weed a bed while I'm on hold with a business associate.
It's very easy to take for granted the access most of us have to nutritious foods. But a lot of people lack this access and I wish we did more in our society to address that. One thing I'm thrilled about is that our downtown farmers' market began to accept food stamps this year! This is a wonderful opportunity for people to get their hands on fruits and vegetables and I'm thrilled the Market Square Farmer's Market is doing this!
Thoughts on the food I ate yesterday:
I love chorizo scrambled eggs. A little bit adds a lot of flavor and you don't have to add any oil to the pan when you add the eggs.
I love my Penzeys Double Strength vanilla but if I had another kind, I would have used it in the Snickerdoodle Blondie's I made. Using it added a whopping $1 to the cost of the dessert.
My sandwich contained Nduja that I bought from Boccalone while in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. Anita from Married with Dinner suggested it and I only wish I had bought three more. It's wonderful because the tiniest amount gives tons of flavor and it spreads so nicely, especially if the bread is warm. Yes - it's not inexpensive but I use so little that it's economical in my book. My stomach and wallet are happy.
Free-range grass-fed ground beef is worth the extra cost to me. I don't have to worry about E. coli in my food and it just plain tastes so much better.
Thoughts on the Eat on $30 Challenge so far:
I hate calculating every single penny. Not so much the calculation but the research of having to account for everything. I had no idea how much baking powder was so I was stuck until my husband went down to Krogers and got the price. I'm so grateful that I don't have to calculate everything down to the penny in my normal life. But it also has made me aware that there are ways I can cut costs without missing it. I do love my Penzeys vanilla but I'm going to buy some vanilla beans and try making my own. The Nduja? Worth every penny - so much so that I'm thinking of ordering some.
Breakdown of costs:
I baked bread and rather than try to figure out the amount of bread we use each day, I'm just adding this loaf to yesterday and I won't factor that cost in for each meal.
Breakfast: Chorizo scrambled free-range eggs, bread, fair trade coffee and local organic milk
Lunch: Sandwiches with Nduja, mozzarella & tomato from garden, Snickerdoodle Blondie
Dinner: Hamburger patty from local grass-fed beef, brown sugar roasted local, organic winter squash & sautéed local, organic cabbage
Dessert: Snickerdoodle Blondie
2 cups all-purpose flour: 30¢
1 cup King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour: 21¢
1/4 tsp yeast: 4¢
1 tsp salt: n/a
4 oz beer: 37¢
Snickerdoodle Blondies(will post recipe soon!):
1 1/3 cup flour: 20¢
1 tsp baking powder: 2¢
1 tsp kosher salt: n/a
1 cup packed brown sugar: 33¢
1/2 cup butter: 93¢
1 local free-range egg: 19¢
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract - $1
1 1/2 tsp sugar: 3¢
1 3/4 tsp cinnamon: 33¢
TOTAL: $3.03 (16 pieces) - going to add these individually to the days we eat them.
3 Eggs: 57¢
1/2 oz Chorizo: 44¢
6 tbsp milk: 18¢
3 tbsp coffee: 33¢
1 organic local apple: 70¢
1/2 oz of Nduja: 57¢
2 oz tomatoes: 20¢
1 oz mozzarella cheese: 14¢
1/2 lb hamburger: $1.73
1.5 lbs winter squash: 1.94¢
2 tbsp butter: 24¢
.8 lb sautéed cabbage: 71¢
1 tbsp brown sugar: 2¢
Snickerdoodle Blondie: 19¢
Sweet precious wine: 72¢
GRAND TOTAL FOR THE DAY: $9.79
Our daily budget is $8.57 so we went over a bit but we also won't have to factor in bread for the next few days.
Here are a list of the other wonderful bloggers participating in this project! If you decide to follow along on Twitter the hashtag is #EatOn30:
- Tami of Running with Tweezers - Twitter @runwithtweezers
- Betty Joan of Trouble With Toast - Twitter @bettyjoan
- Carrie Neal of carrienealland - Twitter @carrienealland
- Paula of Bell'alimento - Twitter @bellalimento
- The Broke Socialite - Twitter @brokesocialite
- Jimmy of Eat It Atlanta - Twitter @EatItAtlanta
- Robert of WhizKid Sound - Twitter @rdyson
- Jen of Use Real Butter - Twitter @userealbutter
- Mike's $30 Project Blog - Twitter @boutte
- Zach of Mise en Face - Twitter @drzachary
- Hailey of Hail’s Kitchen - Twitter @hailskitchen
- Susan of Doughmesstic - Twitter @doughmesstic
- Frugal Hostess - Twitter @frugalhostess
- Diana of Spain in Iowa Twitter @dianabauman