Thursday, February 26, 2009

This Week's Shopping List

Sometimes, menus just come to me. I look in the fridge and see what's left, and there are obvious solutions that will carry me through most of the coming week, if not all of it. This week was not at all like that. I stared at the wall for what seemed like an eternity, having no clue what to make. It's times like these that I usually come up with my most creative ideas, and I think that's what happened this week (you be the judge).

Lunch: Coconut Shrimp Quinoa "Risotto"

- Homemade veggie burgers with alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes and avocado with sweet potato and yukon gold latke crisps
- Whole wheat penne with mahi mahi, grape tomatoes, brussels sprouts and feta
- Watercress salad with mango and shredded chicken served with pan fried potstickers

The menu above is the final menu for the week, but it started out a little differently. I had planned to use lettuce for the burgers, and mixed in with the watercress salad, but I found some very inexpensive alfalfa sprouts, grown locally, so I nixed the lettuce idea while shopping. In the penne, I had planned to use blanched green beans, but since none were available, I went with the more seasonal option which I hadn't though of before, brussels sprouts. Finally, I had intended to use canned pineapple chunks in the watercress salad, but when I saw the price tag, I thought twice about that, and decided to use some frozen mango that was already sitting in the freezer at home. Pineapple would have worked better, but the mango was still very good.

It's so important to go shopping with an open, creative mind. Looking just for what you need, and ignoring the rest of what's available, will undoubtedly leave you spending more money, and eating a narrower variety of foods. Look around. Check out the prices of different options, the look or feel of the produce, where the stuff came from (distance does a number on food quality, and the environment). Then, make your decisions and adapt your recipes. There is some skill involved in doing this easily, but it's something anyone can master with practice.

This is the shopping list for this week (* indicates non-organic):
bok choy
cremini mushrooms
lettuce (changed to alfalfa)
yukon gold potatoes
sweet potatoes
grape tomatoes
green beans (changed to brussels sprouts)
granny smith apples (1.69/lb. sale)
braeburn apples (1.29/lb. sale)
green lentils
kalamata olives
pineapple chunks (changed to mango ... already at home)
cashew butter
boneless chicken breasts (6.99/lb. sale)
orange juice*
burger buns

Most of the changes I made to the list were due to price or unavailability. In addition to those items already mentioned, I was also unable to get the braeburn apples which were on sale. That turned out to be a blessing. My local health food store happened to have gala apples on sale for $0.99/lb. ... even better! We also spotted cereal on sale at the more distant health food store, so I bought a couple boxes of that.

Price-wise, this was a bit of a hefty week. I admit that I splurged a bit with some fancy veggies, like watercress, mushrooms, and brussels sprouts, and we did buy two varieties of cheese this week, and two packages of chicken (which will be used in future weeks), and a $15 jar of cashew butter. That last one is a killer, and something I've put off for quite some time, but since my husband doesn't eat shellfish, which was on the lunch menu this week, I needed to get him something he could make for himself without much trouble (enter cashew butter sandwiches).

The total for the week came to $119.15, which is only $3.35 less than our weekly budget. That means, our deficit is still lingering around $55. Next week, it will most certainly go up, even substantially, as our order from Neshaminy Valley will be in. Being that we will not be putting another order in for a good 3 months or so, the order is quite large. To help the budget along, we might need to do something drastic for next week's menu.

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