I’m spending at least an hour each evening planning and budgeting meals for the next day – far more time than I thought. Ordinarily, I carry my lunch to work, so I’m used to a fair amount of planning – but not at this level.
I thought since I eat mostly whole foods (and no meat), that vegetables, beans, and grains would all be cheaper choices, and I could just combine them as I pleased. That has not been the case.
I priced out a zucchini last night for dinner, from our Prairieland CSA share. To be fair, I acted as if I bought it in a store, thinking that someone on SNAP would not have $400 to buy a CSA share at the beginning of the year. The small zucchini was $1. I can eat a lot of zucchini, usually more than one… sauteed with a little olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil… Yes, I am fantasizing about fresh vegetables.
I’m reminded of a scene from Food, Inc. The family is shopping for produce, weighing apples to decide how many they can get for a dollar. They put them back when they realize they can only get two. Later, they go through a drive through and order burgers from the Dollar Menu. It was incredible to me at the time, that someone would trade wholesome, real food for burgers from the Dollar Menu. I’m sure it happens all the time.
Today’s breakfast was about the same as yesterday (minus the soy milk) and was still filling. Because I ate it later in the morning and had a large glass of water, I wasn’t very hungry by lunch. I had packed 2 cups of lentil soup, an apple, and some pretzels, but only ate the apple and pretzels on the way to a meeting. In a moment of hunger, on the way back to the office, I snagged a donut – oops. But I counted it toward my total for the day, based on the current price of donuts at the supermarket from which they came.
It turns out the donut was comparable in price to the soup, and actually lower in calories. Quicker to grab on the go, but certainly not as nutritious. I saved the soup for Wednesday.
Because I had significant change left over for the day, I enjoyed a larger serving of black bean tacos, and a side salad with some luxurious-tasting guacamole and salsa. I still had quite a bit left over at the end of the day, but I was satisfied from all the protein and whole grains at dinner.
- oatmeal, 1/2 cup: .08
- applesauce, 1/4 cup: .08
- raisins, 1/8 cup: .08
- Breakfast total: $ .24
- donut: .50
- pretzels: .12
- organic apple: .60
- Lunch total: $1.22
- 2 sprouted grain tortillas: .44
- scrambled tofu: 1.00
- 1/2 cup black beans: .16
- chopped onion: .04
- 1 cup iceberg lettuce: .21
- 2 tbsp guacamole: .26
- 1 tbsp salsa: .08
- Dinner total: $2.19
Day 3 total: $3.65 (up $ .86 for the week)
Fruit/Vegetable servings: 4
I always pay attention to prices when I shop, but not as judiciously as I do now. Why is a bag of yellow potatoes $1 more than a bag of white potatoes?