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Recipes within my $135 monthly grocery budget

April 24, 2008

Awhile ago, I stumbled upon a cooking blog called SugarLaws. There are probably many other fantastic cooking blogs out there, but this one is the only one I currently read. She has similar taste in food as I do (except she actually knows how to put a recipe together), so almost every recipe I read I think “I want to try that!”

While the blog isn’t focused on finances, I rarely find odd ingredients that require me to spend $7 on a small bottle of some sauce that I only need for one recipe. Everything is really natural, normal ingredients combined in delicious ways. For example, today she wrote about Strawberry Banana Bread, a very healthy (no sugar) and delicious looking recipe that contains “fresh fruit, 100% whole wheat flour, a smidge of honey for sweetness, and some sour cream. It doesn’t get any more simple than that, and trust me, these are shockingly good.” Even though I only have $8 left in my grocery budget for the month, I could probably buy some strawberries, bananas, and sour cream and make some this weekend.

Or how about Goat cheese soufflés? I admit mine did not really turn out as beautifully as hers. She promised soufflés were easy, but I tried to half the recipe and I used whole wheat flour, which may have confused things. I also didn’t ever get “soft peaks” in my egg whites beating by hand, which probably was a problem. Luckily, I still have half the goat cheese, so I could take another shot if I want. Regardless, the cost of this recipe for me was less than $5 for six servings:
Goat Cheese: $2.49 for 5 oz
Parsley (I cheated and used dried parsley. Not as delicious, but frugal): Negligible. Let’s say $0.10
2 c milk: $0.60
3 Tbs Flour:
Negligible. Let’s say $0.25
6 large eggs: $0.75
butter, salt: Let’s just say another $0.75

Here’s another dish that looks delish: Sunchoke Panzanella. It is a more expensive dish at about $10 for 3-4 servings, but it still can fit into my monthly grocery budget. If you can get a better deal on your cherry tomatoes, the price will drop.
2 pints Cherry tomatoes: $4.60
Sunchokes: I still have to locate these. Actually, I’d never even heard of them until this recipe. I did a quick google, and was directed to an article in a pf blog I already read, which suggests they could be as little as $2/lb if I go to a market. She says she saw them at Trader Joe’s, but the one near my house didn’t have them. I think it is smaller than average store.
Sourdough Bread, 4 slices: I’ll estimate $1.50. I bought a whole loaf for $2.69.
3 Shallots: 1.49
Basil Leaves: $0.50 ($2 for a large bunch of them)
2 tbs Balsamic Vinegar: I didn’t have any, so I paid $3.50 for 33.8 oz. That means that 2 Tbs was about $.10
6 Tbs EVOO: Hmm, let’s just say $0.30?
Salt and pepper: Negligible, $.10

I have to be careful when buying fresh ingredients, otherwise I end up with half a bag of wilted spinach (or similar). Since I got a whole bunch of basil for the above recipe and didn’t need it all, I also bought some tomatoes and mozzarella to make these sandwiches (which also use the balsamic vinegar). That is my lunch for the day, and I’m way excited! Mozzarella, tomato and basil is a great combination–it also could be made into a salad. I paid $4 for a hunk of mozzarella (I think I meant to pick a less expensive block) and $2 for 5 roma tomatoes. I used the basil leaves purchased for above recipe, so maybe $1 or $1.50. I’m also using sourdough bread, just because I didn’t want to buy two loaves. I should get many sandwiches out of this, or maybe I’ll try the salad (but I’d probably need more tomatoes for that). Isn’t it beautiful how I picked two recipes that overlap so I can reuse ingredients? That is a skill I generally lack, so I’m pretty proud of myself for that!

So despite my insistence that I’m a food failure, I am improving, thanks to great recipes I find online. I still lack the inventiveness to pull random ingredients from the fridge and whip up a delicious creation, but I can’t be blessed in everything, right? Please share any of your favorite (or newly discovered) recipes with me!!!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 24, 2008 10:55 am

    I think I’m more or less like you. I love finding new recipes, but have no creativity required to invent a dish of my own. I started a “Recipes” tab on my page with a few recipes that I can make myself and are goood (at least I think so). There’s only 3 so far though.

    I’m definitely checking out her page and trying the Strawberry Banana muffins! (Inexpensive AND healthy?!! I gotta try it!) Thanks for the links!

  2. jay permalink
    April 24, 2008 5:46 pm

    Whole Foods carries sunchokes.

  3. April 24, 2008 6:25 pm

    Some times sunchokes are labeled Jerusalem artichokes

  4. April 25, 2008 9:23 am

    I’m so sorry to hear the souffles didn’t turn out well! The egg-whipping was probably the problem — they won’t rise unless they’re beaten to at least soft peaks (some recipes call for stiff peaks, although I think that’s unnecessarily time-consuming). I find it very difficult to whip eggs in recipes like this by hand — in my cooking class, we whipped eggs for souffles by hand with a whisk, but we’d have to pass the bowl off to other students when our arms got too tired! At home, I have a little handheld mixer that I bought for about $35 on Amazon that helps enourmously!

    Also, a tip about preserving fresh basil and other herbs — you can chop them up really finely and place about a teaspoon in each cube of an ice cube tray. Then, fill the tray with water and freeze it. Once they’re frozen, put them in a little plastic bag in your freezer and date it. They’re good for about three months, and you can then just toss the ice cubes into soups or sauces for a little bit of fresh herb goodness! I can never go though an entire bag of herbs before they start to turn, so I do this all the time. You lose a bit in texture, but the flavor is still great!

  5. April 25, 2008 11:38 am

    Thanks Katy! I have a cheap hand mixer and will give it another shot with the rest of the goat cheese. I’m determined!

    Great tip about the basil! I put mine in the fridge and it quickly got wilted, then I realized it wasn’t stored in the refrigerated section of trader joes… I will figure out this cooking stuff eventually!


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