Project Food Budget / My Healthy Budget: February Month 4 / Week 3

Project: Food Budget Weekly total: $132.55

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal, home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and spices/herbs.

There’s two of us eating 3 (mostly) meals per day. My husband occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

February – Month Four, Week One

This week, I’ve spent $132.55, with a monthly total so far of $324.94, leaving $75.06 for the last week of February.

Thanks to a lil re-enforcement last week from my budget buddies, I’ve decided, NOT to automatically include the total CSA meat delivery every month. Instead I’ll be applying the meat as it is consumed, which should be easy to track, since I receive a printed invoice from the farm.

This will be a good opportunity to use some of the meat that’s accumulated in my freezer from prior deliveries, and catch up on much-needed pantry purchases. Plus I feel like I’ve been skimping on veggies and fruit.

Spending Details

Dining Out: $37.00
Groceries: $95.55

Whole Foods Market (Fri, 2/17) $76.44: (3) organic whole chickens, Pacific Oat Beverage, Pacific Almond Beverage, (2lb) Lundberg basmati brown rice, (1lb) 365 Pinto beans, (1lb) 365 Quinoa, sheep’s milk Pecorino cheese, large tub Brown Cow whole yogurt, (2) 365 canned organic tomatoes, bulk barley, (3) Newman’s Own dark chocolate, bananas, 4lb bag o’ navel oranges, organic pears, celery root (local), beet bulbs (local), turnip (local), organic mustard greens, organic celery, organic cabbage, organic fennel, organic parsnips (local), organic bok choy.

I used several coupons: Newmans Own chocolate, 365 beans, Lundberg rice, Brown Cow yogurt, Pacific beverages.

Market Basket (Monday, 2/20) $19.11: 2 bags of shell-on pistachios, 12ct bag of oranges, baby portabella mushrooms, bananas

All in all, I felt good this week, and I am fully confident that I will be able to stick to my budget. I wish I could say that I’d even be under budget, but my pantry still needs some replenishing, so for next few weeks, I’ll probably spend every available penny! :)

Week of Meals

  • Thursday: Dinner out (Chinese)
  • Friday: Leftover frozen boneless pork ribs w/ wheat Bulgar and cabbage, carrot, fennel, celery slaw
  • Saturday: Slow oven-braised pork butt shoulder w/ side of white rice & lentils and roasted beets & carrots.
  • Sunday: Chicken soup with homemade broth and winter vegetables over white rice & lentils
  • Monday: Pasta topped with tomato sauce
  • Tuesday: Wheat berries mixed with ricotta, feta and emmenthaler cheeses, over sautéed mustard greens & green beans, topped with salsa
  • Wednesday: Bread baked with salsa, roasted red peppers, mustard greens, & pecorino rolled inside

I had a big cook weekend to replenish the freezer. Friday, I threw one of my organic chickens into the crockpot, and it was fall-off-the-bone scrumptious. Saturday – I had a beef chuck roast in the electric slow cooker and a pork butt roast in the oven. I froze 5 small packs of meat for future meals. Sunday, I made my free veggie/chicken stock using the bones from the crockpot chicken and my saved freezer veg scrapes. I then made a huge batch of chicken soup, enough to freeze 3 quart containers, plus extra for dinner and lunches.

Want to Join the Project Food Budget?

It still amazes me how much I’ve learned (and continue to learn) in just a few months by participating in the Project Food Budget! It’s never too late to join us!

project food budget

If you’d like to participate, get the details and let Emily know you’re on board!

Here’s who else is budgeting this week:

Eating From the Freezer

I have decided to try to eat what’s in my freezer before purchasing any more meat or seafood.

I have lovely scallops, shrimp, boneless chicken, whole chicken, ground beef, etc. and I think it’s important to save some money and just concentrate on eating what’s there first.

So far so good! I roasted a chicken on Sunday, and it’s given us 6 meals! 4 dinners (including soup!) and 2 lunches!

I can’t believe that I haven’t been to Whole Foods since the end of August! I did shop at the local Market Basket grocery store to pick up a few things, I desperately needed a bag of King Arthur white whole wheat flour, yogurt, and some bananas.

This week, I’m glad that there isn’t much on sale again at Whole Foods. I’ll just pick up a few necessities at Market Basket, and grab all my produce from the local farms and from my CSA share at Farmer Daves.

With our lower meat consumption, I could actually be sustained for a few weeks, and possibly not need to visit Whole Foods until October. Wow, now wouldn’t that be a feat!

But for now, one week at a time!

Roasting Tomatoes and Drying Celery Leaves

Went to a local farm in a neighboring town and picked up 6 lb gorgeous tomatoes ($1.75lb) along with a big celery with tons and tons of leaves ($1) and two small pickling cukes ($1). All for under $13.50!

As soon as I returned home, I washed and chopped the tomatoes into halves/large chunks and put them in the oven to slow roast @ 260F.

Never ever throw away fresh celery leaves when you buy them fresh at the farm or farmer’s market. They dry out so easily in a low oven and will keep in a air-tight container for awhile. Use like any dry herb, for soups, sauces, etc. Penzey’s Spices charges over $8 for a 4 oz bag of celery flakes and the dried leaves work just as well!

Just tear off most of the deep green celery leaves (thin stalks too), rinse and spin dry. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and into the (260F) oven. I had mine drying along with the tomatoes.

Watch the celery leaves in the oven, remove when they get crispy and can crumble completely in your hands. It takes about 30 – 45 minutes. Then allow to cool (only takes a few minutes) and crumble the leaves and stems into an air-tight container or plastic baggie. They keep for awhile, but will lose flavor the longer you keep, just like other dried herbs.

Back to the tomatoes. It’s about 2-3 hours to roast the tomatoes, and once they’re all roasted to sweet goodness, allow them to cool. I transferred into quart freezer bags, ready to use in the winter months when I’m longing for fresh tomato sauce! You can also freeze fresh (uncooked) tomatoes. I just core them and freeze them whole. Works great!

I’ll probably buy more tomatoes from this farm and freeze those raw, but this time, I wanted to get them roasted up first.

Oh it will be soo nice to have summer tomatoes available for my tomato sauce in February…if they last that long!

Freezing Raw Tomatoes

Maria, my Facebook buddy, informed me that you can indeed freeze raw whole tomatoes…awesome!

I wish I knew this BEFORE picking up my CSA veggie share this week, as there was a “take as many as you can use” box of free “seconds” tomatoes that were bruised or gouged! I didn’t take any because I didn’t want to overload myself with too many tomatoes, as there were several already in the share.

yes it's possible to freeze tomatoes raw

So, I googled, and it looks like you can freeze raw tomatoes either whole or in pieces.

Continue reading “Freezing Raw Tomatoes”