baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

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a lucky girl in many ways

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

NaBloWriMo day 17.

Eat on $30 day 7.

Saturday was the final day of Eat on $30 and my mind is filled with so many thoughts that have tumbled about in my head for the past week. This weekend is short on time (didn’t I tweet earlier that October had too many parties?) but I promise to sit down this coming week to give you some cohesive parting thoughts on the issue of hunger and the hungry. For now, I’ll just toss out the thought that struck me in the morning while I was feeding Kaweah… The dog gets dry kibble and she acts like I’m feeding her chocolate mousse every day (she’s a lab, what can I say). Kaweah can live healthily on her large chunk Iams lamb and rice formula for large breed dogs day in, day out. It contains everything she needs in these crazy kibbles.

When Jeremy has been short on time, he’ll often bemoan the fact that there is no “bachelor chow” to dip a measuring cup into and serve himself an instant meal complete with all the nutrients he needs. Made me wonder why there isn’t a provision for people chow. Could you eat the same thing every day? I know most Americans balk at the idea. There are plenty of people who *hate* leftovers and throw leftover food away. That makes me cringe. It makes me sick, actually. Such waste. Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you should do it. A good many people in this world eat the same thing EVERY DAY. We’re so spoiled. The disparity between the haves and have nots is staggering. I’m just thinking there has got to be a better way to meet the needs of the hungry.

Our day involved a big brekkie from the remaining three potatoes, the remaining kielbasa sausage, two eggs, and our last bagel (split in half).

i love me some hash browns

kind of a last hurrah

This may sound odd, but even though we couldn’t eat any of the fabulous food we bought for our coming party, I felt so content just preparing the food. I think a large part of my joy in food is not the eating, but the preparation. Shortly before our post office closed, Jeremy went to pick up our mail and came home with a huge box from Todd and Diane. It was a box of my dangerous items from the after party schwag bag in San Francisco and fruit from their amazing garden.

dragon fruits, calamansi limes, passion fruits

I ran around in circles raving over the incredible fruits and singing the praises of my beloved friends. How lucky am I? I am so damn lucky!

mixing apples with spices and sugar and butter

topping with the oatmeal crumble

**Jump for more butter**

boulder: savory spice shop

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

NaBloWriMo day 15.

Eat on $30 day 5.

Last day to enter for the Macy’s gift card giveaway!

Remember when I started the Eat on $30 challenge and I mentioned a local spice shop? Several friends of mine had recommended it to me before, but I never set foot in the store until last week. In need of small quantities of nutmeg, cinnamon, and whole star anise for Eat on $30 (because I couldn’t afford whole jars in the grocery store), my brain did me a solid and remembered Savory Spice Shop on Broadway just north of Pearl Street. I was greeted by the warm smell of spices on the air and a very friendly and knowledgeable staff.

dan hayward: owner of the boulder savory spice shop

spices, blends, gift sets and more

For my immediate needs, Savory Spice Shop worked. The minimum amount you can buy is a half ounce of any spice or seasoning. That cost me $3.45 for the ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and star anise pieces. If you have ever had to purchase spices in an “emergency” at a typical grocery store, you know they are not only inferior in quality, but really bloody expensive. I only needed a half teaspoon or a quarter teaspoon, but since I had extra, the cinnamon and nutmeg have livened up my otherwise lifeless oatmeal during this week’s challenge and they came into play for a last minute snap of brilliance on day 4 (see after the jump, yo).

paprikas (top left), so many lovely salts (bottom left), great staff (right)

**Jump for more butter**

funny how hunger changes things

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

NaBloWriMo day #13.

Eat on $30 day 3.

Don’t forget about the (2) $25 Macy’s gift card giveaway. You have until this Friday to enter. Even if you don’t shop Macy’s, you can always give the card to someone who does.

NaBloWriMo has me on a manic posting schedule, but this week in particular is the intersection of so many things at once. Add to that, the Daring Cooks reveal tomorrow! Oy. So let’s cover what we have eaten and will eat for this, Day 3 of the Eat on $30 challenge. Then I’ll share a few more thoughts with you.


For breakfast this morning, I had 3/8 cup plain oatmeal with a pat of butter, a spoonful of brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon.

Jeremy had 5/8 cup plain oatmeal with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and some milk stirred in. He also had a soy sauce egg and 12 ounces of non-fat milk.


I had 3 ounces of chicken left after the enchiladas (so apparently, I used 5 ounces instead of 6 on the enchiladas last night) which I didn’t want to spoil in the refrigerator. So I chopped the chicken up and realized that I had forgotten to leave myself one stalk of celery for the chicken salad. I had used it up for another dish (to be shared in a few days). Doh! Chicken salad is always better with something green and crunchy. I grabbed a few of the leftover broccoli florets from the first night and diced them into the bowl.

making chicken salad sandwich

When planning the meals, I needed a couple more lunches for Jeremy to take to work, so I knew I was going to reserve some chicken for the salad. And even though the man says he doesn’t like white condiments, mayonnaise is what makes a chicken salad stay in the bread and not fall into your lap. I only needed a little bit, but wasn’t able to afford a tiny jar of the stuff. So while shopping, I grabbed two packets of free mayonnaise from the pre-made food section of Safeway (I’ve been known to do this with all manner of condiments when we go backpacking). A little salt and pepper, and his bagel chicken salad sandwich was ready to go with enough left for a second sandwich tomorrow.

hopefully enough calories to help jeremy unlock the secrets of the universe

My lunch was a bowl of beef stew with a cup of cooked rice, and a soy sauce egg.


Dinner is going to be some manner of leftovers. Maybe Chinese noodle soup again or perhaps the beef stew? All I can tell you is that for the past two days, I get peckish around 8 or 9 pm and I gladly devour that little gala apple which placates me for all of ten minutes and then I crave sweets. I’m a little worried because we are not going to have enough apples to last us the week. We have no sweets on our menu this week except for the dessert we are taking to a party on Saturday. I don’t normally crave sweets, but lately…

I’m guessing it’s because we aren’t eating any snacks and we don’t have nearly as much fruit in the house as we usually do. Let me tell you, my pantry is STOCKED. I have enough food in our house to last us a few months – or more! And what I’m realizing about myself is that the container of prunes which I passed over for the past several months are now looking like the best, tastiest, most tempting treat in the world – especially because they are off limits. Everything has taken on a magical appeal. It’s like beer goggles! So clearly, eating on $30 for the week is starting to take its toll. I think that is in part because we are rationing our food from the get go so we don’t leave ourselves high and dry come Friday.

I say we. Jeremy is such a good sport. He never agreed to this, I just informed him, “Hey, I’m doing this eat on $30 challenge, and now so are you.” But he’s been helpful and we’ve had some great discussions on the socio-economic factors that contribute to the state of the hungry in this country. A reader asked how Jeremy was faring without his coffee. He’s a little frazzled around the edges, but he’s none the worse for wear… so far :)

Just a few more thoughts:

1) My savings from my Safeway Club Card (free, aside from letting them track your every purchase for the marketing hacks) was: $10.69 and from Target (just a price reduction) was: $1.25 = $11.94

2) I didn’t use any coupons. I used to use coupons when I got out of college and found that I wound up purchasing complete junk because I had a coupon for said junk. Over the years the intersection of the foods I buy and the foods that have coupons has steadily decreased. On occasion there are coupons for good deals, but I only use them if we wanted the item in the first place.

3) Many of my cohorts in the Eat on $30 challenge have stated that they hate math which made figuring their budgets even more of a task. I like math. Math is your friend. I’ve taken more math than I really care to recall (math and I cooled our relationship after tensor analysis). I stand in the aisles of stores and determine per unit costs in my head – something my mom taught me (she’s a human calculator). What I noticed is that stores do not often try very hard to HELP YOU FIND THE BEST DEAL. Seriously. The big bright red sign that says, “Buy these on sale!” sometimes fools the non-calculating into purchasing the more expensive package than the non-sale larger (or smaller!) quantity of the same product right next to it on the shelf. And even if they have the per unit cost displayed, I love how they sometimes mix up the units which inevitably discourages some folks from calculating which is the better deal. So what percentage of people on food assistance do you think have strong basic math skills? I don’t know the answer, but it’s one more thing to ponder.

4) Several commenters have noted that one key advantage I and other food bloggers have over most folks is that we know how to cook. I agree 100%. Cooking allows me to utilize nearly every ounce of every ingredient I purchased for this week. It is a life-skill that is getting edged out by convenience and pre-packaged food pumped full of preservatives and additives. These days fewer and fewer people cook and that costs them, not just financially, but health-wise too. And if you are poor and don’t know how to cook, I can’t imagine it is possible to feed yourself well (i.e. with healthy food) AND within such a small budget.

That’s all I got. See you tomorrow!