Wednesday, October 14, 2009

19 things Eat on 30 has Taught Me


I wanted to share why I joined Eat on 30. This project created by Tami of running with tweezers is to bring awareness to American poverty period. The numbers are sobering.

• At some point during the year, 1 in 5 Americans receives food assistance from 1 or more of the 15 programs providing help.
• In 2009, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will help feed 31 million people per month. The average monthly benefit? $101.
• Between March 2007 and March 2008, the global price of food rose 43%. 1 billion people - 1/6th of the world's population - live on $1 per day.
Those in America on food stamps get is less than a fancy coffee drink or significantly less than a fancy cocktail per day. When you break down what you spend per serving, or the cost of your food per day, you are likely spending significantly more. And, if so, you are lucky, and might consider a donation to your local food bank. Alright, off my soapbox.

Today, I missed breakfast. We ate chili for lunch and dinner. We spent 5.13 for the day (including my husband’s dirty water hot dog when he forgot lunch.) Since I was without a recipe for the day, I thought I might share 19 ancillary benefits I have learned.

1. Have an easy standardized, affordable breakfast every day. This way we are benefiting from the economics of bulk but without falling into the possibility of wasteful bulk purchasing. Our breakfasts are oatmeal made with milk from our ½ gallon purchased the other day.

2. Make breakfast fool-proof. Sleepiness might keep you from preparing it; and then halfway to work, Bialys will call you loudly.

3. Purchase items in the bulk section of the nature foods store. Prepackaged organic oatmeal is costly.

4. Buy organic vegetable based on the dirty dozen.

5. Buy seasonal vegetables. Our gang this week are beets, carrots, onions, cabbage, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Yes, it does read like a who’s who of the Russian steppe. But, those folks survived on truly nothing in winters that would make a Yeti wear woolies.

6. Go ahead and get the almost spoiled vegetables but only in moderation. I bought one almost spoiled eggplant and used it immediately.

7. If you are buying a vegetable make sure that you aren’t leaving any parts at the store. For carrots, keep the leaves for salads or stocks. Beets keep the greens to eat as a side dish (as we did on Monday.

8. Use things smartly. Mr. Chicken was breast for dinner the first night, the back meat chili second night, and bones will be broth for risotto on the fourth night.

9. Don’t stand on ceremony about the bones. With just the family around, I decided to debone the roasted chicken and plate our dinners, so that I could immediately start the slow-cooker for the stock. Sure it didn’t look as proud as a cock on a platter, but my family loves me for more than my food styling.

10. Figure out ways to exact as much flavor as possible. The peels of the onions, the skin of the carrots, the skins of the beets were all roasted for different parts of the meals throughout the week; they become part of the stock. The stock was brown and lovely.

11. Don’t completely deprive yourself. I choose not to live without caffeine. Chocolate maybe, but caffeine no. One cup (maybe two) but not three this week.

12. Prioritize. I mentioned yesterday, I don’t know how you could buy meat and cheese on this budget. Going through our budget and accounting for EVERY cent, I realized I could buy cheese but only a little. Make the choices that work for you. I can’t afford grassfed meat so I won’t buy any. But, I really feel like cheese will elevate some of the foods so go with it.

13. Make some stuff. We decided to make our own bread (the same one we did last week from Ruhlman’s Ratio) and yoghurt. Homemade yogurt is way cheaper and it is a serious staple in our family. That step alone saved us big bucks.

14. Prep a number of dinners in one fell swoop. No I don’t work for the Food Network, but it is true. We were less apt to get take out tonight even though we were busy b/c everything was prepped ahead of time.

15. Use that slow-cooker. I have it planned for the two busy nights this week.

16. Don’t cook too much. Seems counterintuitive, but if you make too much it just goes to waste. And, really, if you are making the same breakfast and snack everyday, you can’t also eat the same dinner every night. Boredom will drive you to get a pizza.

17. Eat communally. If you are the kind of person who cooks too much, go with it. If you are short on freezer space work together with another family and splits costs and preparation times. We have been doing that with my Mom. For the same prep time and little extra cost in ingredients (one and ¼ carrot vs two), we can feed 3 adults.

18. Just because it comes in a vat that you can crawl into doesn’t mean you are saving money…bulk stores aren’t always cheaper. And, if you don’t use it all you aren’t saving money. So put down that pallet of apples, Dad.

19. DON’T FORGET YOUR LUNCH AT HOME. This is our hardest one. Mornings are super hectic and while you can set aside your clothes and put your briefcase in the car the night before, it’s not like you want your yogurt to fester there all night long. We have tried signs on the door, but it is getting to the point I wonder if we should put a tattoo on our hands.

And if you are still with me, go over and look at the entries from the rest of the #eaton30 gang.

Carrie Neal - also from Atlanta - is blogging at carrienealland and tweets under@carrienealland
Susan is our newest participant! Her blog Doughmesstic is just great. She's on Twitter - @doughmesstic
The amazing and fabulous Jen - who blogs from Colorado at Use Real Butter - can be followed @userealbutter
Paula of the gorgeous blog bell'alimento is taking part! Follow her on twitter@bellalimento
The Broke Socialite of the eponymously named blog can be followed@brokesocialite
Betty Joan is a fellow Atlantan who blogs at Trouble With Toast . You can find her on Twitter @bettyjoan.
Atlanta food blogger Jimmy of Eat It Atlanta will be taking part in a crash course week before a wedding he has to be in. Follow him @EatItAtlanta.
Robert - @rdyson on Twitter - is also taking part from Atlanta. Check out his bloghere.
Mike - who took part last time and made a blog especially for the challenge - will be doing it again. You can also follow him @boutte.
Zach is kicking off a new blog with this challenge - Mise en Face. Follow him@drzachary.
Kristina will be taking place from Tennessee via her blog and@TNlocavore
Another Susan, this time of Frugal Hostess, tweets @frugalhostess
Diana of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa is on Twitter @dianabauman
Hailey of Hail’s Kitchen blogs and tweets from Utah - @hailskitchen
Joining the party today is Maybelle's Mom who blogs at Feeding Maybelle. You can find her on Twitter @feedingmaybelle
Also newly taking part is Atlantan Biz, who blogs at Wisfulfillment.



Heather said...

as an attorney who works exclusively with poverty law clients, hunger issues are incredibly important to me. if people ate just one or two affordable meals per week, they could donate $5 or $10 a week to a food bank or shelter and still save $. shelters can stretch that into meals for one or two people - who are so in need of that nutrition and comfort. i can't imagine my clients having to wonder where there next meal is coming from on top of all the other problems they're dealing with. i'm lucky the shelters in my area take good of their residents, but not all places have those resources.

Grace said...

bravo! what a wonderful list--i appreciate the time and effort you put into making it. my biggest amen? #19. i can't even count how many times i've forgotten my lunch. :)

Diana Bauman said...

What a great follow up on your eaton30! I have so much I've learned as well!

girlichef said...

This is the first I've heard of Eat on 30...what a fabulous introduction (for me)! I adore your writing and always end up bookmarking so I can get back and read it a few more times. Lovely post :D

lisaiscooking said...

It's interesting that cooking inexpensively takes more time and creativity. Sounds like you're doing great so far.

Good luck with the rest of the challenge!

Sophie said...

I need more slow cooker recipes! Beans are always affordable, so chili is an awesome affordable meal. Eat on 30 sounds like quite the challenge, but your tips make it sound do-able :D!

farida said...

What an interesting post. I have learned quite a few things. I must use some of the tips, especially one about breakfast, as I tend to skip it.

Joan Nova said...

Kudos! Interesting list and photos, both though-provoking.

Paula - bell'alimento said...

What a great summary to a great week! All valid valid points! The don't forget your lunch is a big one (LOL hubs walked out this morning & forgot his, even though we're not technically on the challenge any longer I still dropped it by for him today while I was running errands) Some things we're going to keep doing! It just makes so much sense!

maybelle's mom said...

thanks all. Sophie, the slowcooker is tough for me too. I don't like to eat too much meat so I am learning to cook vegetarian in it.