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Week 1 - Sunday - Day of Reckoning

Eggs and Greek Potatoes Our brunch this morning is good: a grapefruit, 3 scrambled eggs, toast, and Greek-style potatoes. I use a recipe from an old Cook's Illustrated—two potatoes, two cloves of garlic, the lemon juice left over from Thursday night's risotto, and some fresh oregano snipped from the plant on the back deck.

Buying fresh herbs at the store drives me nuts. Sometimes I can keep them fresh for a week or so by wrapping the stems in a wet paper towel and putting all of it in a plastic bag in the crisper (witness the cilantro, which is still going strong!). Fresh basil, I am told, is best kept at room temperature in a glass of water, like a bouquet—but in very hot weather I find that method leads to some rot. If I'm very focused, I can get through half a bunch of fresh herbs, sometimes more, before it goes bad. But as often as not I end up throwing at least a third into the compost bin before I can use it all.

I tried to grow parsley last year, but it never really got big enough for me to harvest. I'm going to try again this year:unless I make tabbouleh, parsley is one herb I never ever can use enough of in a store-sized bunch. It's a pleasure to go to the back porch and harvest a bit of fresh (and "free") food. Not free, of course, because I paid for the plant and the pot and the monthly fertilizer. But I'm not counting it into my food costs: that's why I have it, to avoid buying an expensive little bundle of green only to throw away a sodden bundle of black in two weeks time.

As Jesse washes the brunch dishes, he asks, "Pizza tonight?" This is our usual Sunday meal, and he needs to know which dishes he should wash now and which to put into the dishwasher.

I consider. It does sound good. But what will America think if we have pizza twice in one week?

After a day of struggling with blogging software and additional math, I'm ready for a meal that doesn't take much thought or emotional energy. Does that sound funny? But for me, new recipes do take some emotional energy. I have to think hard about what I'm doing, and I never know until the end whether I am doing it right. But there is mozzerella cheese and sauce waiting in the freezer and I've made this recipe a hundred times, so it feels like fast-food and comfort food combined.

My pizza sauce is quite easy, by the way, and very good I think. The good Dr. Levine has adopted it for his own in his great pizza-making quest. For a 12-inch pizza, it makes 3 servings at 34 cents each (something I didn't know before this week). You don't have to cook it ahead of time, and it freezes well. Try it the next time you want to make pizza at home.

So pizza it is. I finish off this week's bottle with a smaller-than-usual glass of wine. I'm so tired, I don't want any more.

The tally this week will be a little off. [Prices have now been corrected.] The coffee price is wrong—I usually stock up on organic, fair trade coffee when it's on sale, and freeze it. No coffee was on sale this week, so I'm used the regular price as a placeholder. Of course, herbs and spices won't be added in until the very end. But the trend is very encouraging. From my two-person weekly allowance of $74, I spent $69.62 $70.80. I have a remaining balance of $4.38 $3.20. Not bad for my first week.

Non-organic food we consumed this week: Peanuts, arborio rice, converted rice, sesame seeds, pecorino cheese, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, canola oil, olive oil, raspberry jam, sugar, brown sugar, salt, pepper, ground chipotle, dried dill, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, baking powder, baking soda, yeast, tea, red wine, white wine, and beer.

Sunday total: $6.59. Remaining weekly allowance: $3.20. See the Week 1 Summary for the final accounting.

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Rebecca - when your fresh herbs are starting to go, chop them and bag them and put them in the freezer. It's not as good as truly fresh, but it will work just fine in soups and sauces and casseroles.

I'm really enjoying your blog!! I've been threatening to keep a similar blog for awhile now, glad you beat me to it :-)



I wish you would start one! Even if you only posted once or twice a week, I'm sure people would be interested in hearing about the things you cook and the strategies you use for keeping costs down.

For fresh basil, this is what I do to store it in the freezer: Dice the fresh herbs. Crush with a dab of olive oil and place 1 Tbsp per cube in an ice cube tray (you may wish to add a bit more oil there). When frozen, place cubes in a ziploc bag and wash your ice cube tray. This maintains the fresh-basil flavor, and gives you recipe-sized amounts as well.

I do this, and use my dehydrator; between the two I can grow a year's worth of basil in a 19" pot.

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» 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
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» 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

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