Monday, September 12, 2011

2011 Hunger Challenge

I'm not going to lie to you. This will not be an easy challenge to do. It will, however, be a worthwile challenge to try. Meal planning isn't simple for me, primarily because The Aussie tends to be a fussy eater. Meat and potatoes, meat and rice (plain with gravy or sauce) with some veggies thrown in, tend to be the way he rolls.

In preparation for this challenge, I started going through grocery receipts to see what I've paid for frequently purchased items, I've prowled through various grocery stores with a notebook and pen, jotting down prices and servings. What I'm finding has surprised me.

To start with, I did some grocery shopping at The World's Largest Retailer on Saturday morning. I purchased a few things that we were low on, and took LOTS of notes. On the way home, I stopped at another discount grocery store to write down a few comparison prices. Once home, I started writing down recipes and calculating cost per serving. Since I'm using the $4.72 per person, per day allowance, I need to know how much what I want to cook will cost.

Breakfast, at least for The Aussie, was easy. He basically eats 1 of 3 things, along with his coffee, every day.

Breakfast 1: Eggo Nutrigrain waffles (2), 1 T butter, 1 ounce of real maple syrup = .55+.09+.40=$1.04

Breakfast 2: 1 cup of Kellogg's cornflakes, 1 c 2% milk, 1 t sugar = .13+.15+.01=.29

Breakfast 3: 1 serving oats, 1/2 c 2% milk, 1 t sugar=.06+.08+.01=.15

Yesterday afternoon I went to an Asian grocery store in my town because I had some coupons for fruits and vegetables that were expiring that day. What a madhouse it was! It was also enlightening. The vegetables you can purchase at an Asian grocery store are super fresh, very reasonably priced, and there is a tremendous variety. If you like cooking Chinese food, you can buy your staples like soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and chili paste much cheaper than you can in the specialty section at your regular grocery store. I also found chicken thighs (bone in with the backbone section) at this store for .69 per pound. That's a huge difference between the 1.08 per pound and 3.36 per pound at the first large store I went to. Do I like to buy organic? Yes. If I was on a food stamp budget would I have that luxury? No. The entire package of 5.28 pounds was $3.64 and it contained 9 large pieces. That's .40 per chicken thigh.

Last night for dinner I made a spicy chicken curry. The Aussie is sick, so I figured he might be able to taste something spicy (I was wrong). Here's my cost breakdown for TWO SERVINGS for this meal:

2 large chicken thighs (.80)
1 chopped onion (.20)
1 can diced tomatoes (.48)
2 garlic cloves (.08)
2 T vegetable oil (.06)
curry powder (.20)
rice (.12)
peas (.25)
Total for meal: $2.19 for two people

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