Summer Plan Update

This week was pretty good for me, in terms of using things up. I used up the blueberries (as you saw), and so my frozen fruit supply is dwindling. That's good; it means I'm making lots of progress there. I've still got the cranberries, the mango (which I just thawed, either to eat by itself or for mango muffins for my study group this afternoon), the mixed fruit bag, bananas and lemon rinds. I feel pretty comfortable with the way this has gone. However, it turned out I have quite a lot of canned fruit (I had completely forgotten how delicious canned pineapple is, by the way). Which I'm fine with, since I probably will not buy tons of fresh fruit as a result. Totally different animals, but that's okay. I put some fruit in the freezer, in the form of the grapefruit curd and blueberries. There's so much of it that there's no way I'll eat it all before it goes bad. So I portioned it out and froze the portions, leaving enough in the fridge for me to munch on during this coming week.

In terms of the frozen veggies, I have plans for the whole onions this week (but as per usual, we'll see how my motivation levels look later on), and so I have pumpkin, peas and corn left to use. Not bad, not bad.

I used some whole wheat flour, which you saw already, and I made the dough for the Brazilian breads, though I haven't actually baked any yet. The flour "stared" at me every time I walked in the kitchen because I finally measured out what I needed, so there was an open bowl of flour on the counter. Isn't that lovely? Turned out I had the exact amount of tapioca for two batches of the breads, but I only make one.

I cooked up the last of the white beans, so that's something. I have a bit of them left to eat, so I think they'll go into a tuna salad. I'm still good on other kinds of beans, lentils, and assorted grains. I don't have any millet, which I really wish I had, but that's okay. Why I'm craving millet is beyond me.

I also used up all of the egg whites in the freezer, so that's good (my intention was to make something nice with them, but in reality I put some in my matzot brei and I fried the rest since it occurred to me I like fried egg whites with salt and pepper). Also, the hot dogs got thawed and eaten (which you already know). I haven't used any of the other meats, but that's quite alright. Oh, and I used the last of the frozen pizza sauce. So there's that. Additionally, one of the two jars of yeast in the freezer is nearly empty, which means I've been baking, at least a little bit. So that's good too. And all the hamburger buns in the freezer have now been used up. Some with hot dogs, and some eaten by Francis in the form of his beloved peanut butter sandwiches. I still have about a half loaf of bread to eat that's in there. Additionally, some of the pitas I bought this week will probably make it into the freezer in the next day or two, since it appears they'll go bad before I'm actually done eating them.

This week was by far the most difficult for me, in terms of shopping. I was out of olives, so I decided I'd do my weekly shopping at Phoenicia this time. Scary. Normally I can't make it out of there for under $60, especially when faced with the olive bar. However, I knew they sell cans of those delicious, buttery Israeli olives, and I wanted them. Also, I wanted some more pita bread. Or another kind of Arabic bread. I didn't really care which, and my choice was going to be made based on which one I could get the most of for the least amount of money, since they always make all the breads fresh there, I wasn't constrained by flavour/staleness issues. I want to be able to make more pita nachos, makdous sandwiches and other assorted treats of that type. Plus, I was thinking the upcoming tuna-bean salad would be good as a wrap. But still. This place is like a treasure trove of everything I could possibly have a food fantasy about. Everything. It's pretty easy to stick to a budget when there's nothing to be surprised and delighted by the presence of. There, they have all my favourite dried fruits, fresh fruits, veggies, breads, pastries, cheeses, yogurt, drinks, olives, beans, grains, canned delights... Everything. I could live in that store for years without ever yearning for daylight.

So, anyway. You can see why I was a little nervous about going. I simply didn't trust myself in this store, and it's fair not to have trusted myself. It took an iron will to get out of there without spending the budget for the rest of the summer. But I was pretty good. I had a list, and I aimed to stick to it. I did touch everything in the store, and I spent a really long time peering at the lamb hearts, but ultimately I passed them by (seriously, when I'm looking at organ meat with extreme longing, I really do need to focus on increasing the fat in my diet). I also paused at the olive bar, but the smell was overwhelmingly delightful so I wandered off before I broke down and bought everything.

This week, it finally happened. I managed to go a full 8 (?) weeks without going over budget, but this week did me in. Had I not made that rule that I didn't get to carry forward any unspent monies from week to week (which is not a rule I'd have if I truly could only afford $10/week instead of doing this as a pantry/freezer cleaning exercise and means of conserving savings), I wouldn't have gone over. Not by a long shot. But because I have that rule, I did. Basically what happened is that I went to Phoenicia, bought my groceries, left, traveled through the rivers that used to be roads (I mean that literally; the streets were SO flooded when I did my shopping), and remembered I'd forgotten I needed a bell pepper. But I only have $0.38 left to spend. So, I went to Fiesta and got one, and it put me over. By 12 cents. That is lame. I think if I was going to fail a week, I should've failed it big (i.e., with the addition of junk food), not by a few pennies. But, it still means I only get $9.88 for next week. On the plus side, I didn't buy any junk food this week.

So here's what I spent:


20 ounce can of olives - $1.99
23 ounce can of pickles - $1.89
Celery - $0.69
Red onions (2) - $0.56
Ginger root (.59 pound; I wanted to make crystallised ginger and ginger ale-ish drink, which I actually managed to do with half the ginger) - $0.88
Ricotta salata (0.5288 pounds) - $2.11
9 loaves large pita - $1.50

Total: $9.62


1 bell pepper - $0.50

Total $0.50

Grand total: $10.12


  1. If you were really stuck with that amount of money, I'm sure you would have swapped the (expensive) bell pepper for something else. Even at risk of changing the flavor. Still, 8 weeks is nothing to sniff at, and by only 12 cents? Srsly not bad.

  2. You're absolutely right. I considered just not getting it and not having the bell pepper as part of the flavour (since I looked at alternatives that would change the flavour but give the crunch, like cucumber, and they were about the same cost). But then I just decided to go ahead and get it anyway. I think if I was carrying forward my positive balances, I'd probably have an extra dollar or two to work with, which would've made it stay well w/in the budget. And of course, if I was really stuck w/ that amount of money I'd have just done without. My first time in college I pretty much always went without, if it'd put me over budget. It's cool to see though, that almost 15 years after my first time in college it's still possible to swing these tiny amounts of money we eat on.

    You're right though - I was really disappointed that my want of the pepper put me over, but it's good to have that perspective that 12 cents over really isn't too bad at all. Plus, I'll make it up this week for sure.

  3. I am in awe at your prices. I'm born and raised and still live in Hawaii, where prices are easily 2x-3x higher than that. I try to subsidize by growing stuff, but that option only goes so far when you have no yard space and can only container garden!

  4. Daystrike,

    The nice thing about living in a Southern state is that we have relatively consistently inexpensive food (since pretty much everything I need grows here or nearby). When I lived in places where it snowed, the food costs were higher. I'm assuming as isolated as Hawaii is, the same would hold true. Even, however, with your food costs being 2-3x more than mine, you could still try to cut your food budget down to $20-40/week instead of $10/week and it should still give you a way of saving money on your food. I know $10/week doesn't work for most people, but it can still serve as a model for reducing food budgets in a more general sense.


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