September 4th, 2010

The Cost of Food pt. 2: Spending less

I wanted to post about a new method of quick-breakfast-making that I’ve found, but my method of getting photos off my computer is to use Brian’s card reader and it’s not working.  So I hope you enjoy part 2 of “The Cost of Food” and maybe share your methods of cutting food costs in the comments!

In part one of this “mini series” I discussed how I discovered the very painful way after moving to Massachusetts that food is just dang expensive here.  Or at least much moreso than where I used to live, Ohio.  I started experimenting with different meals and decided that if I could keep each one under $2 per person for vegetarian meals and $3 per person for meat & fish meals, I was doing ok.  I could eat shrimp or steak more cheaply than a much less tasty meal at McDonald’s.  In this part, I’ll show you how I keep those meals at or under budget.

The key to accomplishing pretty much everything, especially saving money, is to be organized.  I use the following methods to take control of my food expenses:

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July 10th, 2010

The Cost of Food pt. 1

I’ve only lived in Massachusetts for almost a year now, and I’ve only recently gotten the hang of the cost of food out here compared to Ohio. Verdict: it’s just more expensive. I was frustrated that our monthly grocery bill was hovering around $300 for two people. That might not seem like much for some couples, but as I’ve mentioned before, I am a miser to the nth degree.  I want to be able to feed my boyfriend and myself delicious, relatively healthy food and not break the bank to do so.  Am I asking too much? Well I thought I might be, since I do everything I can to save money and still spend that much on food.  Until I accepted the fact that food is just that much more expensive out here.

When I was trying to figure out how my grocery bill was so high, I began figuring out how much each meal costs me to make.  I don’t take staples into consideration, because I keep them on hand anyway.  I only count things I bought specifically for each meal.  I divide how much each item costs by the number of servings it will…serve…and then add up all the items and that’s the cost of each meal per serving.  If I bought an ingredient as 2 for 1, I take the cost of it and divide it by 2, then divide that by the number of servings.  This way is more accurate since I essentially paid half price for it.

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September 29th, 2009

Update from the Design-front

In my last post (in the comments I think) I mentioned that I am currently working on a not-for-profit design project that will be really good for my portfolio. Now that things have calmed down a little, I can do some ‘splaining.

I found the band, Doug Ratner & the Watchmen, via Craigslist. They were looking for a band promoter, and although I have no idea how to do that, I replied to the ad and offered my design services, pro bono. Band promotion is something in which I’m really interested, and I don’t have any of it in my portfolio. I thought this would give me something for that, and some good experience. Of course, “free” is a magic word, and Doug replied saying, “let’s meet up!”

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September 23rd, 2009

Roasted Pumpkin & Tomato Soup, and a decision

Roasted Pumpkin & Tomato Soup

Roasted Pumpkin & Tomato Soup

I made the soup pictured above Sunday before work.  It took some time, mainly because it requires you to peel and slice a small pumpkin, and the one we had was a bit hard.  I made Brian take care of that (and the onions) while I did everything else.  It was definitely worth both our efforts though!

It’s a great early-autumn dish, using the last vestiges of summer tomatoes with the newly-appearing pumpkins at the farmer’s markets.  It’s also very hearty and filling, especially with the homemade Buttermilk Honey Wheat Bread pictured next to it.  And the color is gorgeous! We were surprised by the flavor, expecting it to be very pumpkin-y, but it turned out really savory and delicious.  There’s just the right amount of garlic, with the salt, pepper, and onions rounding out the slightly sweet pumpkin and acidic tomatoes.

The recipe came from a thin book called, Let’s Cook Soups, by Carole Clements.  At first glance it doesn’t seem like much, but when you start thumbing through the recipes, you find some very colorful soups including this one, Fresh Tomato Soup, Spinach Soup, Golden Vegetable Soup with Green Lentils, and many more.  It also has the classics: Beef and Vegetable Soup, French Onion Soup (made the real way, not just with beef broth), Minestrone, etc.  Each recipe includes a gorgeous photo of the finished product, along with two or three “step” photos.  Another bonus: ingredients and temperatures are given in different values.  For instance, this soup calls for “900g/2lb peeled pumpkin sliced 2cm/3/4 inch thick.”  WOW!

Overall, I love this book and although this was my first recipe from it, I’m planning on trying them all.  “Roasted Garlic and Potato” is actually on my menu for later this week, and I can’t wait! In the mean time, I really hope you try this recipe, because even if it takes a bit of preparation, it’s super easy (other than the fact that our pumpkin was rather stubborn).  You can also substitute butternut or acorn squash for the pumpkin, for more ease, or if pumpkin isn’t really to your taste.

I’ll post the recipe after the cut, but first! I have made a very big decision.  The other day I was thinking about the things I want in life, and realized that I’m not on the track to get them.  I’m 24, still don’t have my bachelor’s degree (although I really have been trying hard for that, but things keep getting in the way), and I’m working as a restaurant hostess.  This is not where I want to be in life, and it is not helping me get where I want.  I’m on a fast track to nowhere.  I can’t keep waiting for things to fall into place; I need to do it myself.  I hate my job, mostly because it sucks up my time when I could be working on the things that really matter to me, and focusing on getting a good design job.  I need to redo my resume and portfolio, and start marketing myself, but I never have time to around work and taking care of the house.  So I’m going to quit my job! It sounds irresponsible, quitting and being unemployed because I don’t like what I’m doing with my life, but it’s what I need to do to have the time to…do what I need to do.  Brian and I talked about it, and he’s encouraging me in it.  I need to focus on what’s important for my future, and working where I am is truly holding me back.  So I’m going to quit soon, although I haven’t decided yet when, and I’ll do whatever odd jobs I can to make some money while situating myself for a career in design.  Wish me luck!

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