Sunday, November 28, 2010

$20 for groceries (revisited)

When I was taking the VeganMoFo survey and I got to the following question:
You have $20 to spend on fresh groceries and produce for the whole week (with a fairly well stocked pantry of dry goods, legumes, grains, and spices). What do you buy?
 I thought that it was a clever, make-ya-think kind of question.  I had no idea I would have to take it seriously a week later!  Nevertheless, I went grocery shopping today with the list I made from last night's menu planning and although I didn't have a dollar goal in mind (aside from spending as few of them as possible), that question/hypothetical situation kept repeating itself in my head.  I used my super-sleuth eyes to find the lowest prices on everything on my list and absolutely could not believe it when I arrived home with our entire week of groceries for...are you ready?  I don't think you are.  I have two receipts here to show any doubters that I walked away from the stores with everything I need for this week's dinners for only...(drum roll, please)


No, I'm seriously not kidding.  That is how much I spent, total, between Whole Foods and Superfresh.  
No, I don't think I could be any more pleased with myself. :D

And just in case you still don't believe me (I don't blame you), here is what you can get for that amount:
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 loaf of multigrain bread
  • 1 block of extra firm tofu
  • 32 oz almond milk
  • 16 oz ziti
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz cannellini beans
  • two 15 oz cans of black beans
  • 15 oz pinto beans
  • 16 oz salsa
  • 1 lb of colombian coffee
  • frozen apple cinnamon waffles
for $22.54.  I'm not lying.  Here's how I did it: first, I made a list and did not even look at anything that was not on that list (even though I almost got distracted by the "upsells" at WF checkout again).  Second, if there were a few brands available (for example, the tomato products and pasta), I looked for the lowest priced item, even if it was only a few cents difference - those cents add up.  Third, I have a Superfresh club card, which not only makes me eligible for the $1 can of crushed tomatoes, but also gives me an additional 5% off my next trip after I spend $300 there (which, by the way, takes me about 2 months at least), and I got my certificate last time, so that knocked a little bit off the SF bill (5% to be exact).

So, to my great surprise and Mister's delight, we actually have a precious few discretionary dollars this week.  We have food, with at least one item on the menu promising leftovers.  I have a miraculously unopened bottle of Beaujolais and I'm looking forward to seeing how long it stays in that state - I'm betting for tomorrow night.  I have $3 in my wallet and a few in the bank, and only 4 days until that wonderful transfusion called "my paycheck."  I think we're gonna make it.

Then, in an effort to stave off Mister's use of those discretionary dollars for pizza by at least one more day, tonight's dinner was Tuscan White Bean Pizza.

What an attractive and tasty meal - the pizza, which I really jazzed up (more in a minute), served with a bowl of mixed olives and the last of the leftover soup.  I feel like a little bit of a glutton, revealing that Mister and I each start with 2 slices of pizza, but neither of us went back for more, so think whatever you want ;)

Now for the fun: the picture isn't the best, but it's the best I have to show you the big chunks of green hiding in the "sauce."  You may recall the picture of my mom industriously mincing fresh herbs when we were cooking together for Thanksgiving.  Well, she doesn't use a lot of fresh herbs, so she sent me home with fresh sage, thyme, and marjoram.  I ran out of basil recently and keep forgetting to replace it so I usually sub dried marjoram because it smells very similar - sweet, ever so slightly anise-y but nothing like tarragon.  Fresh marjoram smells almost floral and has a very strong taste - sweet and slightly floral.  Anyway - the chunks of green?  Yeah, that's marjoram.

Also, I sprayed the pre-made crust with olive oil and then sprinkled a few pinches of my California-bought Tuscan seasoning over top of it before I spread the "sauce" over top.  I laid the tomatoes down in overlapping circles and then sprayed them with olive oil, sprinkled the whole mess with my beloved Mediterranean Sea Salt and sprayed one last time.  I might have used a little more of the sea salt blend, but nothing is going to change that we are well past prime tomato season now.  For heaven's sake, there are only two days left of November and VeganMoFo!

Well, folks, tomorrow begins my descent into madness, but I do have a few more tricks up my sleeve so don't go anywhere far!


  1. Nice work! Very impressive. :) Back when I was a student in Sydney I planned the list for the week and did a weekly shop. Now that I'm back home my dad or I get things in bits and pieces throughout the week, and I am alarmed by how quickly costs can stack up!

    Starting with 2 slices of pieces is not remotely resembling a glutton... I shall not tell you how many pieces of pizza I might eat in a sitting. ;)

  2. See, those are the weeks I really overspend - when I missed a thing or two, or make a change in the menu which requires a couple additional ingredients. I stop by whatever store and get distracted by this fun thing or that neat innovation.

    And don't get me wrong - Mister and I can each house a small pizza on our own (and have, on many occasions). I feel silly, though, because I work for a weight loss company that emphasizes portion control :)