Friday, November 15, 2013

100 Days of Real Food--Day 25: My Budgeting Technique

I started talking last week about eating real food on a budget.  In the first post, I talked about finding somewhere local which for whatever reason has real/clean food for a better price--Asian or other "ethnic" supermarkets, bulk stores, etc.

This time, I thought I'd show you in detail how I go about saving money on purchases, and also optimizing the food I have.

I usually make half of recipes, unless it's something that can't easily be halved (like bread for instance), because I don't really want to have 6-8 servings that I have to eat in a few days.  So I also often have unused portions of things like diced or crushed tomatoes, since unfortunately, the only size cans they seem to come in is large!

In the past, before I started this 100 Days of Real Food, I would probably have forgotten all about the part can of diced tomatoes in my fridge, until at some future time I decided to clean out the fridge and saw it among all the other things I forgot about.

How much food and money have I thrown away in all these years?  I have no idea, though I hear that the average person wastes 40% of what they buy, and that doesn't even include the food wasted before it even gets to our kitchens.  Isn't that crazy?!  Check out this article by David Suzuki, "How to End Food Waste".  Also click here for 5 ways to end food waste.

Fresh things still to use:

Container egg whites (1/2)
Kale I'm going to make kale chips out of this today or tomorrow
Romaine hearts (almost 3)
Tortillas (8/10) will use 1 1/2 tortillas with lunch, so 6 1/2 left
Chicken broth (1/2 tetra pack)
Herbs--dill, parsley, cilantro, chives
Butternut squash (1/2) will use half of this with lunch, so 1/4 left
Spaghetti squash (1 small)
Acorn squash (1)
Tempeh (2 packs)
Carnation 2% condensed milk (1/2 can)
Sugar snap peas (about 10)
Mushrooms (most of a pack)
Zucchini (2 baby)
Red bell pepper (3/4)
Carrots (most of bag)
Onions (2)
Greek yogurt (1/2)
Apples (4 small)

Stuff still in the freezer:

Bananas (3)
Fruit (blueberry, strawberry)
Shrimp (1 1/2 bags) will use 1/4 bag with lunch
Whole wheat pizza crusts (5 single thin-crust balls)
Beef, strips (about 1 lb)

So obviously I need to use the fresh stuff first, and of that the stuff that will go bad first...first!

I have today and Monday off (needed some down time!) so I'm able to actually make my lunch when I intend to eat it!

Oh wait, here's what I made for breakfast:

It's a whole-grain waffle with frozen blueberries and a drizzle of honey. :)

Anyway, for lunch I'm making pumpkin shrimp roti.  It's not authentic because I use tortillas (or pita if I have that) instead of real roti, but the pumpkin/shrimp mixture is pretty authentic.

Other than the AMAZING flavour, the best thing about it is it's the easiest thing in the world to make!  You can find the recipe here.

Pause to eat my lunch...

Back to budgeting and using up food!

I see that I have carnation milk, chicken broth, and mushrooms.  At first I thought I'd make fettuccine Alfredo again, but now I think I may make chicken pot pie!  I love pot pies, but I've never made one before.  Sounds like fun!

I found this recipe, which also uses some of the ingredients I already have: yogurt, parsley, eggs, carrots, 2% milk (carnation), and onions!  I can half the filling recipe, but I'm not going to mess with the crust.  What I'll do is freeze half of the crust recipe!!

Pause to do some

Tomorrow, I'm going to make the temeh gyro recipe from that I've been meaning to try
for the past couple of weeks.  Every time I go to make it, I'm reminded that I have to marinate the tempeh strips for at least 4 hours, or even overnight.  DOH!  So THIS AFTERNOON (aka just now) I sliced the tempeh and it's marinating in the fridge.  Look at me go!  Preparation is key!

With the frozen bananas I think I'll make banana muffins (yum, and I use honey instead of sugar!), as it's always a good idea to have tasty snacks around.

What else is on tap for next week?  Don't stay tuned!

Recipe: Authentic (Ish) Pumpkin Roti

This recipe is really tasty, not at all expensive, and easy to boot!

Authentic (Ish) Pumpkin Roti

For a hearty single serving or 2 smaller servings you will need:

About 2 cups of some kind of winter squash (I like butternut, but pumpkin is good too)
About 1 small white or yellow onion, diced
10 large frozen shrimp, thawed and diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
Teensy bit of sambal oelek (traditionally use small very hot pepper)
Sea salt to taste (just a dash unless you want to use more)
Spritz of oil
Black pepper (just a wee bit) optional
Roti, whole-grain tortilla or whole-gain pita (about 1.5 or so)

In a medium pot over medium heat, heat healthy oil of your choice (olive, coconut or safflower--I
used safflower this time) and throw in onions, garlic, sambal oelek, salt and pepper.  Saute quickly and then lower temperature to low, and cover.  Allow the onions to "sweat", stirring occasionally, until they're turning a little translucent.  Don't allow them to brown.

Cooked onions + squash

When the onions are finished, raise the temp to medium-low (depending on your oven) and add the winter squash cubes, and cover again.  Stir every 5 minutes or so, helping the cubes along as they break down.  When the squash is nearly cooked, add the shrimp, and fold it into the squash.  Cover and cook for about another 5 minutes, or until all the shrimp have turned white and pink.  If there's any grey, or if they appear translucent at all, they're not quite cooked.  

Shrimp added - still raw
When it's finished, place it into a bowl.  Using small pieces of bread, scoop the mixture with your hands, and eat!  You can use a spoon to put it on the pieces if you like, but it's more fun the other way. :)

What's left after I finished eating - forgot to take a before pic! lol

This recipe re-heats really well, just be sure not to over-heat it, so that the shrimp don't overcook and get tough.