When I started this series last week, I didn’t think about how many posts I’d have over the holiday weekend for the reviews and giveaways I wanted to do, so finding time to squeeze this post in has been a little difficult! From here on out, I plan on having the Real Budget, Real Food Storage post every Monday.
First, the good news… Jeff got a job! He interviewed for two different positions last Monday and the day before Thanksgiving, one of the companies called and offered him a part-time position. Honestly, we were very excited about it. He loves engineering, so he was so happy about it. After a very long year, he’s back at work a couple of days a week. So, for now, our budget has stabilized but remains very tight since he’s only part-time. I had allotted only $200-250 for food this month, and we still need to stick to that budget for now. We’ll re-evaluate once we see how everything shakes out. We’re working to re-build our emergency fund (a la Dave Ramsey) so I’m ok with things being very tight for a while.
I purchased 6 pounds of sweet potatoes, a head of celery, one pound of ground turkey (for the cat), 1 butternut squash, 2 packs of broccoli, 2 pounds of brussels sprouts, 5 dozen eggs and a pack of cranberries for $19.02 from Aldi’s. That is literally all we spent on food that first week. Everything else we ate came out of our food storage.
We ate chicken, ground beef and green beans out of the freezer. I used chicken backs and saved up bones and chicken feet out of the freezer to make stock. I had dried cranberries to put into our sweet potato casserole, the fresh being reserved for chutney. I made mayo from items on hand for the broccoli salad, and I even made Pumpkin Poppers for our Thanksgiving dessert using items from storage. The grains to make flour, the almond meal, the nuts all came from storage. For the holiday, my Mom brought ham, deviled eggs and enough sides that it required two trips to the car. She left all of the leftovers here and we ate on it all weekend. I also made a double batch of meatloaf the night before Thanksgiving and we ate on that, as well. We finally finished all of the leftover odds and ends the following Monday at lunch.
Week two, we walked into some good deals we couldn’t turn down. Jeff swung by the salvage store while running another errand to see if they had any natural bacon (they were out) for a dish I was testing. He noticed they had Buy-One-Get-One-Free on the pumpkins, so he took a look. These huge pumpkins were $1.50 each.
Now, here’s the thing you have to understand- this salvage store is pretty inconvenient in terms of parking. You have to park on the street, the buggies are tiny and have to be taken back to the store when you’re done. The salvage store, called Amazing Savings, is inside a flea-market type building. So no automatic doors to make it easy and a long distance to get to the car, then you get to play dodgeball while you load everything into the car while dealing with a busy, downtown street. Despite all of this, he got me the eight biggest pumpkins he could find and he toted them all out to the car. That’s what I call love. He knew I’d be thrilled. I’m processing two or three pumpkins a day to go into our storage. However, pumpkin never lasts long at our house. We’ll probably have it gone by the end of December, we eat it so often. I teach how I process and store pumpkin for long-term food storage as part of our Real Food Cooking School.
Then I did my usual errands for the week. I ran by Aldis- yes, I know it’s not organic, it’s not local, but it’s what we can afford right now. They had sweet potatoes for 8 cents a pound and cranberries for 49 cents per 12-ounce bag. I couldn’t turn those down. I purchased 33 pounds of sweet potatoes, 14 bags of cranberries, brussels sprouts, abag of pears, 5 dozen eggs and broccoli for $22.47. We also picked up our bi-weekly raw milk. So our total spent for week two was $61.88. We put the pumpkins, the 33 pounds of sweet potatoes and the 10.5 pounds of cranberries, a total of $22.21, back into food storage. Even though I spent more than I wanted, I was still thrilled with the results. That’s the cheapest I’ve gotten sweet potatoes in over 10 years.
I’m trying to decide what to do with the cranberries and sweet potatoes. I’m probably going to dehydrate the sweet potatoes. Then I can re-constitute them and make mashed sweet potatoes, which is popular with my kids. We’ll also put some in the root cellar to use in the casserole I enjoy. The cranberries will see some frozen, some dehydrated, some canned, some lacto-fermented and probably some used fresh.
A Funny Thing Happened…
For Thanksgiving, I made two sweet potato casseroles with a crumble topping. One grain-free, and one gluten-free but with grain flour. I was the last to fix my plate, as we served ourselves from the stove. When I got up there, I discovered that everyone had mis-understood what I said, and they all got themselves the grain-free casserole. Oops! I didn’t say anything and I sat down and we ate. It wasn’t until after the meal that I told them they had eaten my grain-free version. They all complimented it. Score!
The truth is that the last week has been a terrible blur on the personal front. We lost our beloved cat Tuesday night, our website host has gone MIA and the new host can’t complete the transfer because the FTP from the old host won’t stay up. The website isn’t working right, it keeps going up and down. Plus we’re in the middle of trying to launch a new project that was supposed to debut last Monday, but the website problems have delayed that a while. I totally forgot about writing down what we were eating, and I’m too tired and out of strength to remember everything we did. I’ll pick back up with recording our menus come Sunday, when week three begins.
The good news is that I did develop two recipes this week, and they’ll both be on the blog soon.