Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I, Food

When I left the house it was still dark this morning. 

The benefit to that (today at least) was that I was finished teaching by 10:45 a.m. I stuck around the office to do my lesson plans because I knew I would procrastinate it all day otherwise. (Remember yesterday?)

I was still home by just after noon. 

So I spent the day looking up recipes trying to figure out how to use every single ingredient in my kitchen before I have to go buy more food. This is partly me being frugal — read broke — and partly me wanting to be more creative with my cooking. I have a lot of go-to recipes and tend to stick with what I know, but now and then I get in the mood to jump out of my comfort zone in the kitchen. (Actually, this happens pretty often, I'm usually just too lazy.)

I found lots of soup recipes which I think are going to be a huge help in keeping me fed over the next month while I wait to get my first paycheck. (That or I'll be eating plain rice and ramen noodles a lot. Whatever.)

After some thorough research, I came to a few decisions/resolutions. We'll see how this works out.

  • I'm going to start going to the farmer's market and buying mostly fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season (when possible). It wasn't until a few years ago that I found out that produce comes in seasons. Tomatoes, it turns out, are not really grown (at least well) year-round. It would benefit my health — and likely my budget — if I started paying attention to what I'm buying and when. Unfortunately, the farmer's market here is only once a month so we'll have to see how this works out. Can you buy a month's worth of produce at once?
  • This spring, I'm buying potted herbs. I'm going to keep them out on my little balcony. That looks like the perfect place for them and my old roommate had suggested potted plants. Why not? **Added bonus: my closet is on the balcony so my clothes will smell like yummy fresh herbs. This will also calm my recent yearning for a garden and to find out if I can keep a plant alive practice my green thumb.
  • This summer, I'm going to can tomatoes and homemade tomato sauce. Why buy it at the store when I know perfectly well how to make it? And I love making things like this. It may not necessarily be cheaper, but I doubt it will be more expensive. It will certainly be healthier than canned products that often have a lot of preservatives and are generally high in sodium. But after watching an episode of "House" where the team thought someone got some terrible food-poisoning/salmonella/disease from poorly canned tomato products, I'll be doing a lot more research in this department to make sure I don't cause fatal illness to myself or others.
  • I also found this article full of "Farm-to-Table" recipes and they're grouped by which main vegetable is used (and its respective color). My plan is to try at least one from each category. Except for corn. I just am not a huge fan of corn other than simply roasted/grilled on the cob with butter, salt and pepper.
  • I would also like to try out the idea of making my own stock. I found a really great tutorial on Smitten Kitchen. Now I admit this is a lot of work and while it's great for people who buy whole chickens, I don't. But I think I could make vegetable stock with the same concept because there are always leftover pieces of veggies whenever you're cooking. This I'll try once and see how it goes but stock is so cheap that it's certainly just the health and lack-of-waste that are benefits.
Any other ideas for saving money in the kitchen, healthier eating or homemade ingredients?


  1. Well I wish I wasn't so lazy--otherwise I'd make my own stuff too. I need to eat healthier this year because a lot of stuff makes me sick. But my doctor just told me to stay away from tomatoes and tomatoe based products.. :( no more spaghetti for me

  2. I love the 'farmers' market here. I know they are out of season, but at the end of the summer they had the best tomatoes I had ever tasted! I need to clean out my pantry too, I might have to steal some of your ideas.
    Oh, and I too am being very bad with the lesson plans. I told myself all weekend to sit down for just an hour and plan everything...never happened. Blah!

  3. Making your own stock can cost more in energy (and certainly your time) than the bouillon cube you're aiming to replace. That said, the best soups are made from scratch...

    Good luck, seester!


  4. My dad made chicken stock for the dressing at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think he used an Alton Brown recipe from the Food Network site. I, however, am eating a Lean Cuisine for breakfast :)


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