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Week 1 - Tuesday - Convenience Food

Couscous fixings Today is relatively easy. Besides coffee, I have two warmed-up corn muffins for breakfast. Jesse rarely eats breakfast, so I usually send 1/2 cup of peanuts with him when I pack his lunch in case he gets hungry mid-morning, and I do that today. I also pack a cup of last night's chili, a corn muffin, and a shredded carrot salad: 1 carrot, shredded, and 1 TB of white wine vinegar. You may like it better with a little less vinegar, so start with 1 tsp and add until it tastes good to you. I will have the same thing for lunch.

Tonight I try a new recipe for dinner, and I couldn't be more pleased. It's one I found a few weeks ago when searching the Web for "carrot" "recipe", so desperate have I been to use up the backlog in my crisper.

It's from the Food Network: Couscous with Carrots and Raisins. Even this meal will hardly make a dent in the carrots, but I'm willing to take what I can. Of course, I don't have golden raisins on hand, so I use the regular Thompson raisins in my pantry. I'll serve it with the salad greens left from before the trip and my Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing.

It is very good. As a bonus, it's ready in 20 minutes and, except for couscous, uses ingredients I almost always have on hand. If I make a point of keeping couscous in the cupboard, this dish will be even faster and easier than pasta for those nights when I'm out of time, or there's no food in the house.

Everyone needs a little stock of recipes that can be made from pantry staples and take only a little time to prepare. I love to cook, and I can arrange my day as I please. But even I find myself opting for takeout or a trip to our neighborhood pizza parlor at the end of an exhausting day.

The Thrifty Food Plan, of course, makes no provisions for exhaustion, and maybe it shouldn't. But whenever I'm on the bus and see a mother on her way home from work with her two kids, clutching a big McDonald's bag, I always understand her desire to grab something quick and cheap at the end of a long day and the beginning of homework-baths-bed.

I make a mental note to buy some couscous when I'm at the store again—and can spend what I please.

Tuesday total: $7.63. Remaining weekly allowance: $38.80 .

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Another way to use up carrots: shred them, add a little orange juice and a pinch of sugar/honey/whatever sweetener you use. Don't use much of the juice and sweetener, just enough to toss them in and flavor them. If they soak a little in the fridge this way, the flavor gets better.

My husband swears by onions and bulgar wheat with the lentils, too. And it's a second day dish for him that he eats cold in a sandwich with chopped tomatoes and cucumbers.

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» 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

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