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Week 2 - Wednesday - More Accounting

Barley Soup with Pecorino Cheese I've discovered the biggest drawback of this project: accounting for my time and expenses. Somehow I seem to spend every extra minute of every day adding things to my spreadsheet, making corrections, rethinking some part of my accounting method. I'm sure I'm using the most inefficient method ever invented to track things—and somehow, no matter how many times I'm at the store, I forget to mark down the price of one item. In poring over my spreadsheet making adjustments, and adding the last prices to the last items, I found my initial figures to be significantly wrong! I'm still under budget—but by $3.20, not $8.54, as I originally thought. (My Week 1 summary is here.)

Since the original intent was to simply document what we eat and see what it adds up to, I'm faced with a decision. Shall I continue to just cook like I normally do and see where I land? Or do I need to make some adjustments to make sure that I come in under budget?

But the challenge has me by the throat by now, and whether I intend to or not, I'm going to be mindful of the more extravagantly-priced items.

My CSA box this week consists of asparagus, a fresh red onion, another bunch of carrots, salad mix, sugar snap peas, strawberries (yum!), and summer squash! I don't think I remember getting asparagus and summer squash in the same box before.

Breakfast this morning is muesli & yogurt and coffee. Lunch is chickpeas and chapatis and an orange for me, and Carrot Soup, toast, and an orange for him. The weather has turned cool again. Or rather, mornings and nights are cool. Afternoons are warm.

My previously scheduled soup is on the menu again, and after last night's fiasco it's a blessedly simple meal to make. I rearrange the recipe, of course, and since I'm out of celery I use a bit of celery seed instead. Grated pecorino cheese on each serving and a nice salad and we have plenty to eat.

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Rebecca, this is a wonderful project and I really appreciate the time spent and thoughtfulness as to your methods. My husband and I are trying to live on a tighter budget and it is always difficult to make these choices. Especially when you REALLY want to go out for Thai...

I think it is sad that many people think that a cheap meal will also be unhealthy (fast food, overly processed food) or that it is the only choice. I hope your project will help to dispel those myths. A family truly in a bind could use your work as a starting point and maybe choose to make non-organic choices to fall within a budget more, yet still be healthy. But it is very difficult for busy families to expend the energy to figure all of this out at times and I think it's great that you have been making that point. Good food for people shouldn't be hard.

I'll add my thanks too. Having a child has prompted me to take the leap to buying organic, and here I thought I just had to swallow the higher grocery bill. I love your ideas for making yogurt and freezing vegetable stock in muffin tins. I'm hoping you're going to cook some beans from scratch--that's something I've always been too intimidated to do.

Thanks, both of you. I've been wanting to share the way I cook for a long time now. I'm glad to find so many people are interested.

Alison, cooking beans is easy, it just takes time. One smart way to approach it is to cook a batch and then freeze in smaller amounts. And I'll be posting the directions for cooking beans in a pressure cooker, a technique that (I read) takes minutes, not hours!

Hmmmm...I am enjoying reading about your project. But I have to say that this is definitely not how people spend money on food. If I have $70 to go to the grocery store with for a week's worth of food, I take my $70 and I go shopping. Once it's spent, it's gone. While I am interested in how this project turns out for you, all this weighing and pricing of portions doesn't capture what it's like in the real world to eat on $70 a week.

Well, of course, I don't usually weigh and price everything out, either. And doing it is taking more time than actually shopping and cooking!

But this is the way I usually cook, and these are the meals I fix, so that part is realistic.

I'm like you: I usually get my list and go to the store and buy things. Sometimes I spend a lot and sometimes I spend very little - but usually on those weeks, I'm relying on what I stocked up on in the weeks before. For this project, though, I'm weighing and charging myself for even the things that are already in the house.

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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

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