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Week 5 - Wednesday - 31 days

White Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, and Romaine SaladWe spend most of today getting ready to leave tomorrow. There is work to finish and loose ends to tie up. I have to take the cats to the vet. There's a lot of laundry. I have a long list that I worry will never get finished in time. One of the things I want to do is to clear out the refrigerator before we leave.

Lunch today is Tex-Mex Chili from way back in Week 2 via my freezer. I warm the last of the cornbread in the oven, we have it with butter.

Dinner is just as easy as lunch was: I stir-fry the last of the sugar snap peas in olive oil and garlic, and add a little fresh oregano from the plant on my deck before I serve it. For the main course, I just warm up the rest of the White Beans with Rosemary—and then freeze what's left for a lunch when we get back. We use the remaining lettuce for a crisp romaine salad. I finished up a bottle of wine last night, so tonight I drink a beer with dinner, and it's quite good. After months of sampling Jesse's various beers, I think I may finally be developing a taste for the stuff.

I spend the evening preserving what I have left in the refrigerator. I portion the yogurt into an ice cube tray to use for making more when I get home. I squeeze the juice from the last lemon and put it in the other half of the ice cube tray, then I pop it in the freezer. I chop parsley and freeze it in a plastic bag (as one of you suggested I do)—it will be handy to have around for making stock, and probably lots of other things, too.

I have some pre-project carrots in addition to the carrots left from last week's box. I decide to make 3 kinds of carrot pickles to use them all up (another reader suggestion): that Thai recipe (this time with the proper rice wine vinegar); the carrot pickles with dill I liked so much before; and a new recipe. I'm looking forward to sampling the results when I get home. (One pound of carrots, by the way, roughly translates into a 1-quart jar, if it's a matchstick cut. The slices sit more compactly and take up about 2/3 of a jar.)

And with that, for the first time ever, my crisper is empty before I leave.

When I started this project 4 1/2 weeks ago, I had no idea what I was getting into. "I wonder if I could eat well on a really limited budget," I wondered. "I wonder if I'm as thrifty as I think I am." When I decided to put my experiment online, I couldn't have imagined how much time I would spend weighing little jars of spices, or how many times I'd go to the store (once a day!) the first week to get prices.

It's been worth every minute, because I also never imagined that I would attract such an interested, involved, and genuinely helpful community in such a short time. It's been a great pleasure—and I'm not finished yet.

I won't be able to do the final calculations until I get home a week from now, of course. After I get home, after I go over the spreadsheet again, after I weigh all those little jars of spices again, I'll post a summary.

What I can tell you is that I was able to feed us on this budget. And I ate well doing it. Thank you for your interest, your support, and your many suggestions. I'll be back in about a week. Since I won't be chronicling every single meal I eat, I hope I'll have time to delve deeper into a few of the issue that have been raised in the last month. I'll continue writing about the way I eat and the way I cook. And I'll let you know how those pickles turned out.

I doubt if I'll be motivated to post while I'm travelling, but in the meantime, I've scheduled some links to tide you over while I'm gone, including a couple of reader recipes (and one really decadent one from one of my favorite food bloggers). But for now, it's nearly midnight and I still haven't packed. I'll talk to you soon.

Tuesday total: $3.17. Remaining weekly allowance: $6.97

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I have LOVED reading your food stamp diet adventures. I'm sorry your experiment is coming to an end, because I really would love to keep reading these tales.

No, thank YOU for such an interesting, informative, well written (and inspiring!) month. You were partly the reason I've decided to embark on a "buy nothing" month for June.

I have loved reading about your adventures too. It has inspired my family to change the way we eat. We've had to find ways to adapt the concepts to our lives, which involve three small children and leave for less time for cooking.

But it turns out that it doesn't take much time to put up beans or whole grains to soak overnight. And they're so inexpensive to buy that way, that I don't mind cooking them even if we don't have a specific plan in mind to use them. Well, it turns out that if you have big containers of cooked beans or grains in the refrigerator ahead of meal time, then you find ways to incorporate them easily into the meal. And that takes less time and less money than cooking some convenience food at the last minute.

I've loved reading your posts - - and I've loved reading all the people responding, posting recipes and ideas. Even if your experience is over, is there a way that this community can live on? A discussion forum with places for chatting and recipes might be all we need. If Rebecca can't host it, what about Google Groups?

One of my favorite parts of this project has been the reader suggestions, too. I plan to keep writing here - just not every single day. I hope to keep learning from my readers (who have given me so many wonderful new-to-me ideas).

Love your project - it's amazing what it is possible to spend on food when you stop planning, and buy on impulse. Amazing too how much we waste every day. Several years back my sister was living on a very tight budget - she is an obsessive planner and managed to feed herself for $10AUS/week. Later, when she had a bit more cash, she moved up to $12-$15 a week (and would occasionally manage to invite people to dinner!!) and ate mostly organic. She would buy organic soybeans, make her own soymilk (between 7 and 15cents per litre), turn half of it into a block of tofu, and use the grounds to make bread. She grew her own herbs,made her own sprouts, ate a lot of beans etc (was vegan, so no dairy or eggs). She would shop at a co-op (food in bulk) and buy only what she needed. Now she's living with her partner in a house he built himself from stone he dug out of his land (total cost I think was $1500) and they live almost entirely on the food from their permaculture garden (and barter for what they can't grow). I think it's wonderful to see people challenging the expectations of society :)

I just discovered your writings, and am completely intrigued. I have long wanted to write a pamphlet to help teach others how to cook and eat well on a limited budget. Now you have done just that.This information needs to be disseminated to those who really need it. Thank you. And don't stop.

Thank you. I do intend to take this up again once my obligations for this month are completed - and I get my computer back from the shop.

What a fascinating read! Really, like a good book you just can't put down.

I cooked up some of those lovely beans and lentils for supper this evening and added the splash of red wine vinegar from your recipe. Looks like it is going to be a new hit around here! Thanks a bunch. =)

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about this project

» How did it begin?
» Week 1: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Photos | Summary: Under budget - $3.20
» Week 2: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Photos | Summary: Under budget - $13.34
» Week 3: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Photos | Summary: Under budget - $7.15
» Week 4: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Photos | Summary: Under budget - $6.41
» Week 5: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Photos

other food challenges

» Above Average Jane
» The Eat Local Challenge
» The April 2007 Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge
» Half-Changed World
» Slow Food for Low and Moderate Income People
» Tinotopia's Food Stamp Diet

other food projects

Food is a Munition of War: living for one month on UK WWII rations

blogging by the book

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