On Sunday, October 3, my husband and I started the Eat on $60 challenge. For those who are unfamiliar, you can read my intro post here or you can visit running with tweezers for some further background and info. Basically, in order to draw attention to the food and hunger issues faced by many people in our so-called “developed” country, a bunch of bloggers are attempting to eat on $30 per person for a week. Most of the participants are actually DOING the challenge from October 11-17, but due to travel and other commitments, we decided to take part during the previous week and then post our experiences after the fact. The week was incredibly eye-opening, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for all of the stories. Here goes!
All weekend, I was thinking about Sunday the 3rd and what the strategy would be for the Eat on $60 challenge. It was a fairly low-stress start, as we were up at Big Canoe with my parents and were provided a huge, free breakfast to sustain us until the evening. But, we did have to plan our first (and quite possibly only) trip to the grocery store, so I spent part of the morning looking at the supermarket sale fliers and cutting coupons. We did our shopping at Kroger, since they seemed to have a number of items on special that I thought would be helpful for the week’s meals. Among the things we purchased were whole chickens, frozen veggies, potatoes, apples, grapes, cucumbers, eggs, some mixed bone-in pork chops, bread, and some assorted store-brand dairy and condiments/seasonings. Almost everything in our cart was on sale, or I had a coupon for it, or both.
Because I ended up using (and accounting for monetarily) a lot of items I already had at home, my total grocery bill for that trip is a bit misleading. However, I did note a couple of interesting things: 1) I spent WAY more time at the store than usual, because I really had to think about both the menu planning AND price implications of everything I purchased; 2) my cart seemed very empty, because I usually just throw items in there with reckless abandon and don’t worry about how they are going to be utilized; and 3) I spent less on that one trip to the supermarket than I think I ever have before, barring those quick one- or two-item trips for things I forgot. Also, at the bottom of my receipt, I noticed that the coupons (some of which were doubled) and specials had saved me almost $20.00.
After our shopping excursion, I set out to make dinner and calculate our totals for the day. I had seen a recipe in my most recent Cooking Light magazine for pan-fried pork chops and homemade applesauce, which they said could feed four for under $10 (the figure they gave was $2.43 per serving). The recipe called for bone-in center-cut pork chops, but those were $3.99 per pound! Instead, I bought 6 mixed-bone-in chops for $5.85, working out to $0.98 per chop. Instead of pan-frying them, I simply grilled them up with a little bit of salt and pepper (both freebies for this challenge, by the by). We had to cut a bit more fat off of them than we would have with the center-cut chops, but other than that, there was no noticeable difference in flavor. The homemade applesauce was REALLY good. Like, I will make HUGE batches of this when the challenge is over, good. The tart Granny Smith apples countered the sweetness of the sugar, and the texture was much less watery than pre-made applesauce.
Total for the whole batch: $1.82
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add apples to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 cup water, sugar, juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender. Mash gently with the back of a spoon.
We split the batch into three servings, so the applesauce came out to $0.61 per serving. Jason and I each had one pork chop and one serving of applesauce, and we both drank water, so the whole dinner ended up costing $1.59 per person. Not too shabby, and like I said, the applesauce was a delicious surprise.
Due to the kindness of my parents and a well-planned and well-budgeted meal, we rounded out the day having only spent $3.18. I went to bed that night feeling satisfied and confident. At least for the moment…