Monday, April 21, 2008

Frugal, Healthy, Environmental Meals

Food is a really big part of our budget, and of our lives. We are working hard at making our vegetable garden, despite the fact that I'm pretty sure it's not in my DNA to do so. I enjoying cooking (sometimes) and experimenting with new recipes. I'm very aware of the Weight Watchers way of living ("it's a lifestyle, not a diet") and try to work with that. I want to buy organic, and local, to save our bodies and the planet. And I want to do it all on a budget.

Easier said than done.

Food takes a lot of time. This weekend, as I mentioned, I went through Cooking Light's most recent issues (they tend to use seasonal ingredients, one advantage of getting a monthly recipe magazine) and picked recipes. I like their "Superfast" section because I don't want to cook all day.

I went to Trader Joe's - the cheapest store around here, and I like them - and got ingredients.

But it's not cheap, even when I'm trying.

Today I made a one dish meal that breaks down as follows:

$1 orzo pasta
$8 chicken (free range organic)
$1 arugla (organic)
$2 cherry tomatoes (from
$1 basil (organic)
$0 oregano (it overwintered in a pot - hurrah! we put vermicompost on it and it's thriving)
$1 yellow pepper (not organic, not local...sigh)
$.50 red onion (also not organic or local)

So not including salt, pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar (all of which I had in my pantry) this dish, which feeds six (we'll have it for lunch AND dinner today, with leftovers for lunch tomorrow), costs $14.50. And I have to figure out more recipes to use up the basil, peppers, and arugula, because I have lots of leftovers (not included in the costs above) and if they go to waste that's no good.

It is so hard to do this properly. It does get easier over time, but I struggle. I don't want to eliminate the beautiful flavors of fresh herbs. And I don't usually buy tomatoes out of season but I was just craving them - I haven't had any in a couple of months. And the peppers are SO expensive when they're not organic.

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