After my foray to the PSU farmers' market yesterday, we have $66.91 remaining in our grocery account to get us through the final week of our Food Stamp Challenge. I only spent $32 at the market, buying enough vegetables for the coming week—cauliflower, radishes, purple kale, leeks, potatoes, miner's lettuce and shiitake mushrooms—plus a dozen farm-fresh eggs ($6). Can we make it to Easter on $67? If we're careful, I think we can.
We've been far from perfect, but we've done our best to make up for our lapses. For instance, after our 3-day vacation in Seattle, we deducted $51 from our account. (Our budget is $526 per month so that works out to $17 a day for the month of March). Don and I have each had a few business lunches or dinners that fell outside our food stamp budget, but we've made up for the missed home-cooked meals by having friends and family over for dinner. Thursday we had Don's aunt Bridget over for pizza and salad. (Homemade pizza is a great budget meal, by the way, and typically we have plenty of leftovers for the next day's lunch.) Wednesday, we had our dear friend Julia over for a breakfast of veggie omelettes, toast, and blueberry-kale smoothies.
Don and I are both looking forward to this Challenge being over. Not because we've felt particularly deprived. In fact, we've been eating more organic food than we ordinarily do—and many of our meals have been downright inspired. However, there are certain ingredients, we're finding, that are sub-par—or entirely unavailable—when they're organic. We both miss queso fresco (which, at least in Oregon, doesn't come certified organic) and are looking forward to having a wider selection of cheese in general. (The organic mozzarella we bought for pizza earlier this week had an odd taste and texture to it.) Don complained that the organic flour tortillas he bought at Trader Joe's the other day were dry and stuck together, making them tear as he separated them. We each have a list of things we want to buy starting April 1st. For Don, it'll be root beer and Morningstar veggie sausages; Madeleine can't wait for the return of her favorite "chunky feta" salad dressing. As for me, I'm hankering for bagels (as far as I can tell, there are no organic bagels in Portland) and beer. (We've been sparing about buying organic beer over the last 5 weeks both because beer is a luxury when you're on a budget but also because you can't buy alcoholic beverages with foods stamps!)
I'll leave you with an image of a satisfying lunch I made earlier this week—no recipe required. I had planned on having leftover mac and cheese with peas (we always keep bags of peas and corn in the freezer), but after rooting around in the fridge, realized Don had swiped it for his lunch. Instead, I roasted a sweet potato with some olive oil and garlic, made a big salad, and scattered some walnuts, the sweet potato pieces, and a handful of cannellini beans over the top. A piece of toast completed the meal. Total cost? $3, probably less.