this entry is for all the foodies out there.
if there is one thing i love, it is good food. the decision to try to drastically cut down on my food budget had the potential to wreak havoc on my culinary bliss. as much as i want to save money, i don't want to eat boring, bland, or uninteresting food all the time. that would make a life not worth living. well- maybe that's a little dramatic. you know what i mean, though.
the first step in the plan to save was to limit myself to $50 a week for food. in the beginning, i hadn't decided if that included eating out, or just groceries. i budgeted for one $50 dillons card through my church every sunday (so that they could get a little charitable income, too), and when it was empty, i was done buying for the week. i found out a few things. one, it is really easy to eat for $50 most weeks. two, i must have spent a whole lot more than that before i started paying attention.
i did pretty well. the first week i spent my $50. the next week, i went a tiny bit over due to some purchases that would last me multiple weeks (spices, bulk items) and i totalled about $68. then the competitive side of me kicked in and i aimed to spend less. a lot less. the third week i spent about $30. the fourth and fifth weeks i spent $30 combined. the next week i spent zip. zilch. nada. i had my first dinner out, but it was a date and i was blessed with a guy that refused to let me pay. oh how i love chivalry! the only food money i spent was chipping in for appetizers for a coworker's going away party (miss you, tricia smith!) at encore restaurant- a bittersweet occasion. i would have much preferred to pay for her to stay! in essence, i spent $45 for three weeks' worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. i would love to pretend that i ate like a mouse and lost oodles of weight- but i'd be lying. i ate well, and here's how...
the rotisserie chicken:
do yourself a favor and pick up a rotisserie chicken, especially if it is on sale. i got one for $3.99 one evening at dillons, and in 30 minutues i had prepared 3 dishes that stretched for about 7 meals. the first meal didn't take much imagination- i had rotisserie chicken. period. i cut off one breast and one leg, and ate those with some steamed veggies...
... then i pulled all of the meat off the bone and separated it into dark and white meat. the white meat i chopped and made into chicken salad for chicken salad sandwiches. i added a little onion, a little mayo, and a little curry. you can make lots of other variations, though, depending on what's in your fridge. try grapes and walnuts, or dill and cucumbers, or green peppers, carrots, and scallions. be creative- it is hard to screw up chicken salad. you can even stuff it into a hollowed out cucumber "boat" and serve it like you're fancy. :0)
i took the dark meat and made a simple chicken noodle soup, using chicken broth (or bouillion) from the cupboard, and veggies from the fridge. i used some baby carrots, celery, onion, and greens that were past their prime in my crisper drawer. swimming in a chicken soup perked them right up! i added some noodles from the cupboard, too, but you can use rice, or beans, or just the chicken and veggies if that's all you have. the soup was enough for 4 large bowls...
...i also bought a large loaf of italian bread for $1.59 and ate it with the chicken, the soup, and used it to make the sandwiches. leftovers made great french toast.
the moral of this story is that you can eat for 3-4 days for under 6 bucks, and not starve. i even had people at work asking for the recipes. maybe that'll be my next entry :)