Monday, August 02, 2010

Self Imposed Project: Food.

Quote of the day: “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” ~Carl Sagan

Song of the day: Schism by Tool

State of mind: Busy

Date: August 2nd, 2010 (The day after my mother’s 70th birthday.)

Well, I’m at it again. I made another project for myself, this time involving my grocery bill.

Every week I go to the store and think to myself that somehow I’m doing it wrong. I try to plan things out but never actually do. Unless you count the scribble of a basic menu on a post it note last minute when I decide I’m stopping at the store that particular night on my way home from work a plan. I really don’t like going back out after I get home or on the weekends, especially since the store is on my way home. It makes no sense to make a separate trip. But like most people, I don’t have much energy after work so I go only when I’m in the mood, or driven by need because I know I have nothing at home. I guess you could call it “unstructured shopping”.

And I’m sure I’m wasting tons of money that way.

I think I may have mentioned before having a theory that there is a mathematical formula to life. It’s just a gut feeling I have. But I know damn well that there has got to be some kind of formula for grocery shopping. A ratio of time > quality > price. Convenience > health.

I’m a convenience food shopper mostly. Premade skillet meals are my favorite or anything I can make in 10 minutes or less. But, and I’m going out on a limb here, I bet those things aren’t that good for me.

So what’s a gal to do?


Make a plan!

And blog it.

So this is what came up with is a three month trial, using a different approach each month and then will compare the results when done, starting August 2st. Why the 2nd? Because August has 31 days, as does October, but September only has 30 and I want equal amount of days or it’ll throw the math off. This mostly makes sense when you consider that Halloween is on the 31st and as a holiday will totally screw with the math.

Here is how I’ve broken it down:

1st month: continuing on the same path of unstructured shopping. Except this time I’ll be keeping my receipts to tally at the end of the 30 days. In other words: easing my way into this scheme.

2nd month, September: From scratch. Nothing premade. I’d like to try a month of home made meals. But part of the goal is to also have all the meals planned out so I can shop efficiently. Homemade things need ingredients that you can’t always buy in small enough portions for just that meal. Example: heavy crème. But just try finding only 1/4th a cup at the store. Can’t be done. So the goal is to find other recipes that call for it so I can use it up. From scratch, no waste. Exceptions: ice cream, crackers, bread, pasta.

3rd month, October: healthy. Probably the hardest for me, actually. Not that I’m a junk food junkie, but I do hit the sweets pretty hard. And I can do so by living in ignorance of how many calories a lot of the things I eat are. However, for this month I’m going to use the Food Pyramid (that is provided for you on I could create one to maintain my current awesome weight or even to loose a little of this lusciousness. Think I’ll try the latter. Just for science’s sake, you understand. Not for vanity. Pfft. Perish the thought.

Notice not one month puts cost first. That’s mostly because on the whole, I’m kind of cheapskate already. Plus I have found that trying to shop with only money being the guiding factor, you end up with a lot of stuff you don’t like just because it was on sale and it gets thrown out anyhow. I already try and maintain a food budget of 80-100 bucks a week, which is pretty generous for two people, I think. And all three months should fall in that range without my trying. *fingers crossed*

After all three months I’ll be tallying cost, time, how I felt during the whole experiment, and whatever stunning insights I have come up with.

Fun, right?

Holy crap I need a life.

Show quote of the day: “Dear Lord, are you still going to be here on French Toast Day?


LL said...

Two posts in a week? Are you feeling alright? :P

Scratch, eh? Doesn't that imply that you need to know how to cook? You might want to start on that first... :ewink:

I dunno P... pert near everything I make is from scratch. I avoid that prepackaged crap like the plague. Scratch usually doesn't take that much longer and is infinitely better tasting. The secret? Throw out that damn food pyramid, it'll make you fat. Just use plenty of butter... mmmmm... butter.

ctheokas said...

I find pyramids to be really gritty and tough on your teeth, and pretty much flavorless.

And where's the second post? I mean, two a week, right? I think someone's behind schedule again! You're letting the terrorists win!

slgn said...

Yay, a project! I'm looking forward to vicariously living through you. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to figure out the 'cook for myself, waste less, buy only what I need' game. I haven't won yet. Maybe I was missing your insightful guidance. :)

There's gobs of blogs out there for recipes, meal planning and frugal/efficient cooking. I'm sure you'll find some inspiration. Like these folks:

Good luck and yummy eats! Keep us posted!

slgn again said...

Oh, forgot! RE: heavy crème

1) I think it can be frozen, see what the interwebs have to say
2) my friend once gave me a mexican lasagna recipe (tortilla chips, chiles, cheese, olives, whatever, all layered) that used a pink sauce - mix creme and tomato sauce in equal parts
2b) Pink sauce is yummy with pasta too (very yummy)
3) creme and white wine make a nice white sauce for pasta, seafood, etc. May need a thickener like a Tb of flour or cornstarch, or something.

I don't really cook, but I read a lot of cookbooks ;)

trinamick said...

Ooh, heavy creme. Wait, what were we talking about? Got some great recipes that include it if you're interested. (Of course, I even add it to store-bought milk to make it better too. No, my pants don't fit - why?)

I always shop with a list. But I still get too much crap that will likely go to waste when I wake up & realize I hate healthy food.

Aunt Faith said...

found your blog while surfing the blogger site. love your idea! i think that's a great way to find out what works best for you and how you can best figure out where to go from there. i also like that you were that concerned about the math. i am a huge math nerd. like that in a person. :)

NYPinTA said...

Hello Aunt Faith. Hope my little project is useful to others besides me.

Trin, I do the same damn thing with 'health foods'. I buy them, I ignore them, I end up chucking them when they start to turn scary.

slgn, I have a shelf of cookbooks. Figured I should do something with them other than collect dust. ;) Thanks for the tip about the heavy creme. I had no clue!

ctheo, pyramids are filled with iron. Makes a body strong! Grr! ;)

LL, well, when you live out in bat country squared you have to make everything from scratch. I'm pretty sure you weave your own baskets amd make your own bowls and plates from clay in your yard... right? And I'm pretty sure you are exactly wrong about the butter thing. But I'll head that advice anyhow.