Monday, January 16, 2012

Cooking for a Food Blog without Breaking the Bank

As I was reading over at Yummy Mummy Club Food, I found this post by Sharon talking about getting to see all the great recipes coming into the site.  She suggested that someone cook along and try them because that would be so much fun!

"Yes, it would," I'm thinking on one hand, but then the other part of me is thinking, "OH MY LORD the pressure to make sure they are all amazing! GAH!"

That's just because I'm a perfectionist when it comes to food, I think.  A comment really caught my attention-someone said that if they had the grocery budget, they'd really have fun with that. So, let me let you in on a few things here.  Firstly, I don't have a huge grocery budget.  Or rather, I don't think it's huge-I try to keep our weekly groceries, including all our household cleaners and toiletries, to around $200-$250 a week.  Meal planning, buying some things in bulk and having a deep freeze help, too.  I've become really good at taking bits of things left over from other recipes and incorporating them into new ones, so nothing gets wasted, too.  Over the last few years I've learned this because at first, I was spending more money on groceries than I was making writing, which was ridiculous.

How does it work?  What am I making this week? And how do I find the TIME?

Monday: Chicken/Bacon arugula sandwiches, home made coleslaw, roasted yam bites

The bacon was on sale-I'll portion it out for a recipe next week, the cabbage left over from the week before, and I'll use arugula in salads.

Tuesday:  Tomato Chick pea sauce with feta and fried eggs, salad from the night before, home made pitas.  (Fast-I'm going out that night!)

Sounds weird, I know-but really very good.  I have leftover feta from a week or so ago that will fit nicely with this. Plus the canned beans, tomatoes, and eggs are super cheap.  If you make your own pitas it's really cheap as well.

Wednesday:  Turkey Shepherd's Pie and salad (a little longer time commitment)

I've been planning to blog this one forever, but it always gets thwarted somehow.  It's a family favorite and I'm always happy to make it.  Lots of veggies! It's pretty inexpensive, except the ground turkey can be a bit costly.  The rest, however, is all veggies so it's inexpensive that way.

Thursday: Chicken in Vinegar (braised chicken dish) with bread and salad (This one needs to be slow braised, so I need to prep ahead and it won't be done until 6pm)

Cut up whole chickens were on sale, and I happened to have most of the other ingredients so this was a no-brainer.  Plus it will give us leftovers for Friday!  I bought a bottle of wine to use in this, and I may have a glass, but I'll also freeze some for another week.

Friday:  For me and Kev: Vegetarian Curry with rice.  For Hubs: Leftover Chicken (Lazy Friday, a.k.a no time commitment. I just need to pull from the freezer)

I had the vegetables leftover from last week, so I used them to make the curry on the weekend and tucked it into the freezer.

Weekend:  Leftovers and freezer meals

Baked Goods:  Cranberry squares, Sunflower Whole Wheat Baguettes,  and toffee cookies
The cranberries were picked up on sale after Christmas, as well as the toffee bits. If you have a well stocked baking pantry it's never really that expensive to whip up a batch of cookies.

Time is a whole different issue.  I admit, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  Tonight I wasn't that well organized and dinner seemed to take forever.  I know I can do better, and Tomorrow night I will.  In fact, I have to because I need to be out at an event at 6pm.  Often I get off work at 3pm, I'm home by 3:30, and I start cooking by 3:45 to get dinner on the table by 5:00 or 5:30.  I often prep things ahead of time, or have things in the freezer that help me out, or will choose recipes that don't require a long time commitment.  It's a balancing act!

PS.  And yes, they are all going to be blogged at some point, don't worry.

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