Saturday, August 11, 2012

Frugal Food Challenge, Part 1

The Challenge: Following back-to-back weekends hosting parties, and the associated higher food bills, it's time for some budget austerity in our home. We've still got some ingredients left on hand from the gatherings and last Tuesday's community supported agriculture box (CSA), including some homemade pesto carrots, parsnips, green peppers, beets, eggplant and fresh mozzarella. I've also got some of the cold Zucchini Cucumber Soup I made yesterday. Making good use of what's on hand is key to a frugal shopping strategy, not to mention the moral virtues of not wasting.

Adding to the challenge, I've got two days in a row midweek when I won't be home to cook. One of those days also happens to be our CSA pickup day, so there's that element of unpredictability.

The Initial Plan: I'm thinking tonight (Saturday) I'll make pesto pizza with the mozzarella I have on hand, along with a salad. I simply use the ready made crusts from Whole Foods which are allergy safe for our son (he likes his with just olive oil and soy cheese!). Tomorrow I'm thinking I'll find a meat to grill, preferably on sale, and serve it with some faro (have a good bit on hand) tossed with grilled root veggies (mostly the parsnips and carrots, I think the beets might be a bit funky thrown in there). I'll aim to make enough of that to simply reheat the leftovers for another meal.

still have some good cheese on hand to use!
The rest of the week, I'll keep things a bit looser, and see how much is left after my weekend cooking. My rough plan for Monday is to either do some kind of pasta with remaining veggies and mozzarella, or perhaps some bean burritos with some grilled peppers and onions. I'll get one meat I can freeze for use later in the week, along with what rolls in through the CSA. I find balancing a plan and flexibility is key for keeping things under budget and using things up. Planning too many meals can lead to things going bad before we get a chance to eat or freeze them.

So that's the game plan...any ideas on what to do with what I have on hand? Strategies for frugal shopping that doesn't sacrifice on taste and health?