As if it weren't enough of a challenge to restrict your diet to foods produced within a limited-mile zone, a bunch of us bozos are going to do it on a budget this week.
Visit the Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge for details.
As for moi, I already completed my challenge a couple of weeks early, but I saved details and photos to blog about this week.
I'm speaking from experience. Not only my recent experience of eating locally on a budget, but the experience of having participated in two previous monthlong local challenges where costs were not necessarily tracked.
And I can sum up my experience in two words: PLAN AHEAD.
Sure, you can swing by the farmers market and pick up some lovely local produce, eggs, fish and meat. But how are you going to cook your goodies? Is your olive oil local? What are you doing about seasonings and sweeteners? If wheat is not in your local region, what will you do to get enough carbohydrates?
In other words, this is not a project you can just wake up one morning and decide to opt into.
And I haven't even talked about costs yet.
Fortunately, at my house, a lot of the food is already local; that's just the way we shop. But for this project, I now had to cost out portions: a tablespoon of the local olive oil I use is 62 cents, for instance. I didn't know that before but to stick within my budget, I had to know now.
I kept receipts for everything we bought for the week; that was a new behavior for me. I even bought a kitchen scale so I'd know how much of a one-pound bag of beans I'd be using for soup, or how much three potatoes, at $2 a pound, weighed — before peeling, because you paid for the peels whether you're eating them or not.
Speaking of the peels: Save everything. Well, almost everything. I might have been able to dream up a use for the potato peels (oven-baked chips? Drat, shoulda thought of that), but I threw them out. All my other flavorings and trimmings, though, were saved for other uses.
Et voilà, may I present one of the highlights of my frugal week: The 70-cent pot of chicken stock, aka Garbage Soup. Everything in that pot was free except for one 70-cent bulb of green garlic (and I could have used just half of that, it was so potent). Recipe: chicken carcass, parsnip and carrot trimmings, a handful of carrot greens, herbs from the garden, and that expensive green garlic. (For the purposes of the challenge, I didn't put a price on water or salt, because they are essential for life and nobody should have to budget for them.)
Why am I showing you leftovers on day one of the Penny-Wise challenge? Because I planned ahead for them. We started our week with a grand supper of roast chicken and vegetables.
Our total expenses for the day for two adults: under eight dollars.