Friday, August 22, 2008

Frugal Food

It's been a busy couple of weeks...I've had lots of blog topics swirling in my head, but not enough time to sit down and write. Even tonight it's way too late and I really should be sleeping, but Chuck's watching CSI: NY and I figured I'd share a few pictures while I'm still up.

July's Harris Teeter runs during Triple Coupon Days were especially fruitful this time around. In two days I went to three different Harris Teeters. I found out last time around that often the items with matching coupons get gone quickly, so this gave me more of an opportunity to get the different items. Here's what I was able to get for free:

Here's the fruit of all three shopping trips...almost $200 value for $50!

In addition to taking advantage of Harris Teeter's major sales every other month or so, we also use Angel Food Ministries most months to save on groceries. A different menu comes out each month with specials for boxes of meats and fruits & veggies. If you haven't tried it before, it's definitely worth checking out. The website allows you to search for a distribution site near you. If you have questions about how it works, I'd be happy to answer questions.

Although it's necessary for us to keep our grocery bill as low as possible, I try to balance that with the importance of a healthy diet. Recently I found out about a lady who sells eggs from her own chickens in our community. My mom and I are now buying eggs from her on a regular basis. Not only are these healthier, they're also cheap - $1.50/dozen.

At the beginning of the summer I found out about a small farmer's market every Thursday afternoon near my office. My coworkers and I have been walking over there each week to get fresh fruits and veggies. Often it's local produce and although it's priced a little higher than the sale prices at the grocery store, I've found that it's defintely worth the few pennies extra for the fabulous quality. I've purchased the best pear and canteloupe I've ever had from this farmer!

This week I tried out yet another money-saving, health promoting option. My coworker's husband works in a larger city where there is a large daily farmer's market. There is a local farm that has a store there on a regular basis. The farm owners send out a weekly email on Sundays to those on their mailing list with a list of available produce, both organic and non-organic, with prices. You order by sending them an email on Mondays, then your order is available for pickup on Wednesdays or Thursdays. I took some time Monday to pick out this week's order and estimated that the cost would be around $30. I figured this wasn't too bad since I hadn't been grocery shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables on a large scale in awhile. Turns out that my box only was $25! Here's what I ordered this week:

My order included: 3 ears of corn, 1 lb of grapes, 1 lb organic baby carrots, 2 organic zucchini, 1 small pineapple, 2 organic pink lady apples, 2 golden delicious apples, 2 bartlett pears, 2 red plums, 6 organic freestone peaches, 3 lbs white onions, 4 sweet potatoes, and 4 organic russett baking potatoes.

I was SO excited when I got the box! Not only is the produce fresh, but some of it is organic (at non-organic prices) and I didn't have to spend time shopping for it! I specifically chose the organic version of the "dirty dozen" when I had an option and I was thrilled that the price difference was not so much that I felt like I couldn't afford to make that healthy choice. I am making a concerted effort to add more fruits and vegetables to our diet, so this option is going to make an incredible difference in our meals. It is so much easier to snack on healthy options when it's easy to have them available. I think in the future I won't need to buy this much at one time because if I plan my meals for the week I'll know exactly what we need instead of guessing like I did this week. But I'm really looking forward to having this option for healthy foods!

So I'm pumped about all these options for lower food costs during a time when food costs keep rising! But what's better than cheap?...FREE!

Although I didn't get any pictures, Kathy and I spent two afternoons recently picking blueberries. A friend at church called to say that one of her friends had blueberry bushes that were overflowing and needed to be picked. We headed over there in a heartbeat. Although blueberries aren't my favorite, I do know how rich they are in antioxidants and I know how expensive they are at the grocery store, so I couldn't pass this opportunity up! We spent an hour two different days picking from 4 or 5 large bushes and probably go 5-6 cups each. I've frozen mine and have been eating them with omlets for dinner. (Yes, I'm one of those people that LOVES breakfast for dinner). I'll probably use them later for blueberry muffins too. Chuck doesn't like them at all, so I'll get them all to myself.

Also this weekend we spent an evening at my parent's house. They had a garden for the first time in awhile this year, so we were able to reap the fruit of their labor while they were gone on vacation. From their garden we got tomatoes and peppers. Kathy also gave me okra, cucumbers, and green beans. Here's a sampling of our free produce of late:

I wasn't sure what to do with all the cucumbers (not pictured...we ate them all!), but I found this recipe for a Cucumber and Red Onion Salad on the Nourishing Gourmet website and tried it out. We went to an Olympics Opening Ceremony cookout with friends, and this was my addition to the food. Although I would never think to make a salad like this on my own (way too fancy-seeming), it was fabulous and I'll probably make it again soon! It had a wonderful flavor, despite the fact that the cucumbers were a little bitter. Definitely worth trying out!

Well I think that's all that's new in the realm of food in the Taylor Household. Tomorrow we're headed to a big furniture sale hosted by a big home builder company that's trying to get rid of their model house furniture. We're already coming home with a stainless steel dishwasher ($1200 value...we paid $100) and a new microwave for $30 (ours is 25+ years old...really!), but we're hoping to find some sort of day bed or futon to put in our guest bedroom so our guests don't have to sleep on an air mattress on the floor. We had a full sized bed in there originally, but it takes up so much room that there's not space for our desk and computer too. So wish us luck in the bargain hunting department tomorrow! :)

1 comment:

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

That salad sounds yummy! Thanks for sharing.