Friday, March 5, 2010

Grocery Challenge

I love to read. I would pretty much rather read than do anything else (and too much, I do). Lately I've been following a few more blogs than usual, you know how it goes, you read your friends favorite sites, etc. It's so interesting to see other writing styles, the trends in the food world, and in a voyeuristic way, to peer into the world of someone else. I think that's the reason I enjoy reading so much, for me it's an escape. Let's face it, I am beyond blessed and I don't really need an escape, but I've been struggling a little bit lately. I always notice around this time of year I become weary of winter, weary of gray, and craving an escape. Usually Rob and I are able to vacation for nearly a week sometime in the spring. This year he is taking a ski trip and I'm feeling a little wistful (that's a lie, it's really just a step below envy) that I don't have an escape to look forward to.

I know, I promised you the short story and here it is: I keep reading about these grocery challenges. The suggestion is to start by cleaning out your pantry and eating everything that has been stockpiled for months/years. While I agree that this is probably a pretty economical way to get free groceries for a week, I'm not that committed. We require so much produce that it's hard for me to deprive my kids of that just to clean out my [five] cupboards. And, really, I don't have too much that's just sitting around. The other problem with this is that while I consider myself kind of frugal, I don't have a budget for food. I do put a priority on local meats, dairy, and produce (though that's mostly in the summer for obvious reasons).

What I wanted to share with you today were my purchases at our downtown "Farmer's Market". This is where I shop for my meats (pork and beef). My boys really dislike chicken, so we eat more of this than anything else. I realize that sometimes it is more expensive to eat locally, but if you're willing to make one extra stop, (and if it's important to serve your family local meat) it might be worth the time and effort. (and I kind of think that my butcher shop has great prices, way less than our chain grocery, I know where it's coming from!)

Here is what I bought today: (I did buy less because Rob will be gone)
3/4 lb sliced sweet bologna (my butcher makes it)
1 ham slice
1 1/2 lb arm roast
1 lb ground sausage
1 doz eggs
1 pt pickled beets (they do this in-house as well)
1/2 lb stew meat
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 qt local apple (stayman winesap)
my total= $29.55

add this to my total today at Price-Rite= $64.80
I'll need to get milk at Perrydell -1 1/2 gal (approx)=$5.00
that's less than $100.00!
I'm going to try to not go the grocery store this week, but if I need to stock up on produce, it's worth "losing a challenge" with myself. By the way, these pics are from the market, but in the fall. Now the choices are: potatoes, beets, turnips, cabbage, and apples. sigh.

Here's what I plan on making:
-Roast beef, mashed potatoes, and steamed corn (frozen from the summer)
-Ham, baked sweet potato, and green beans (frozen from the summer)
-Chili-topped baked potatoes, broccoli, applesauce (frozen from the summer)
-Cheeseburgers, oven fries, grilled zucchini
-Penne with bacon, shrimp, and peas in a cream sauce (I have leftover bacon and shrimp in the freezer)
-a dinner at my mom's :)
-spaghetti squash with sausage, mushrooms, and onions with marinara sauce

what do you think?


  1. OK. I didn't finish reading your post, but I have to ask you... "Where IS it coming from?" Is it locally grown cattle and pigs?

    Now, I'll finish reading your post. :)

  2. Your menu sounds great! Can I come over for dinner? :)

  3. Hi Kirsten,
    Just popping over from the link you left on Flamingo's blog. I've joined the grocery challenge too (all the way from Australia).

    What is an arm roast? I'm sure we have something comparable here. American and Australian are two completely different languages sometimes! And how do you freeze your own corn? I've never done it and would love to give it a try.

    Your planned meals sound delicious!

  4. Hello "Quilting"!
    here is something I found online...maybe you'll be familiar with some of the other roasts listed?

    arm roast = arm pot roast = arm chuck roast = chuck arm roast = round bone pot roast = round bone roast Notes: This is just a butcher's blade away from the shoulder roast, and the main difference between the two is that the arm roast has a round bone in it and is slightly more tender. You can use this for a pot roast, or cut it up for stew meat, but it's too tough to cook with dry heat. A steak cut from this roast is called an arm steak. Substitutes: shoulder roast OR bottom round OR cross rib roast

    I like it because it's tender, but not as fatty as a chuck roast

    good luck on the grocery challenge!

  5. Knocker: pork is from E-town, and they get their beef from Nell's....
    that's as far as I wanted to ask questions! :)

  6. Pot Roast isn't done a lot here, and I've never seen a beef roast with bone in it. I think this must be what we call blade steak but they take the bone out here. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  7. I've been noticing all these challenges as well on various blogs. However, like you, my most expensive luxury is my grocery bill. I will forego laundry detergent until absolutely necessary in order to buy really good olive oil. I'm like that. And also like you, I HAVE to buy produce every week, have to. That, and milk since Curt drinks so darn much of it. However, I have been trying to "empty" out my cupboards and fridge of anything that lasts longer than a few weeks simple because I don't like clutter. I have no idea where I'm going with this response, if only to say-- I try to stick between $50-$100 a week on groceries (depending on how much I need) and that's buying mostly locally grown/organic/non-processed foods). I think that's pretty good, don't you?

  8. Abbie...that's a great budget! I admit, our local produce is expensive, but I totally prioritize that and I love supporting my favorite local farmer (I worked at his roadside stand for ten years).
    Quilting...sorry, I forgot the second part of your comment! to freeze corn is laborious, but you'll be so happy you did it! You simply blanch the full ears for 2minutes, then shock in ice water...when the ears are cool, slice the kernels, bag (only when totally cool!!) and freeze. That is the only corn we eat-
    if that didn't make sense, let me know and I'll give you more specific instrucions

  9. I figured when you didnt answer Kirsten you thought I could go to the trouble of googling (which I did- and I'm not sure why that thought didnt occur to me BEFORE I asked..)

    Thanks for responding, I'm going to give it a go, as soon as I see a lot of cheap corn.

  10. hey there!! well 1st off...thanks for doing the challenge! it's funny because i am like you with the reading thing. i've had this idea for awhile and procrastinated and then all of the sudden i see it exploding everywhere! i love getting inspired!

    i love your blog! you make everything sound so delish!

    do you go to the central market? we used to live a few blocks from there and i miss that. we live close to the eastern now but i don't usually shop on fridays, although i may change my plan to start that on a normal basis. i'm very inconsistent about going there.

    too funny about the earring thing! i forgot all about that!!

    btw, i see your comment regarding corn. we put a ton of corn away every year. we don't eat canned or store frozen corn just doesn't count as corn:)

  11. Actually, I go to Farmer's Market on Penn St...
    a little bit of a "forgotten" place, but I shop at Ilyes' and get my pork and hamburger there (and sometimes produce if I don't want to make another stop at my regular produce place...
    in the summer).
    I've never been to Eastern mkt...kinda like Wegmans, I'm afraid to shop there and see what my total would be! :)
    thanks for your comment--