I don't usually budget my meals. It's not because I can afford to eat anything I want.
I have a horror of letting food go to waste. I'm not inclined to buy expensive stuff on a whim. I totally avoid prepared foods in the grocery store.
So I'm sensible, but I didn't really think I was frugal.
For a whole week, I kept tabs on my expenses while eating food produced within 100 miles of my home. I ate well, but I did try to economize because it seemed like the right thing to do for the Penny-Wise Eat Local Challenge.
What I didn't know was that I would come in so far under the Department of Labor's statistics, $144 for the average family of two wage-earning adults. (Cranky and I are both retired, but our nest egg makes money for us, so we like to consider that "wages.")
We spent just over $70. Not counting the final meal of the week, totally off the reservation (we sneaked over to the local Chili's for beer and nachos).
But I think we proved something, which was the point of the challenge: eating locally doesn't have to be expensive.
We don't usually eat breakfast, but for this event, I thought I'd try to eat breakfast most days, even if it was just a few spoonfuls of homemade yogurt. The photo is of some of that yogurt spooned over cooked local wheatberries, topped with local honey. Heaven.
All other meals were rich, filling and nutritious. We didn't starve. We feasted.
I could leave you with several exhortations about how to make it through a week on this challenge, such as using fats and proteins sparingly, using flavors vigorously, embracing humble foods, getting out of your frozen mind set ("But I always eat toast!"), and all.
No. I will leave you with this observation: You will have to cook. To get the most out of your food dollar, you will have to use your kitchen.
It doesn't mean the end of the world. Your rice can simmer while you watch American Idol. The beans can soak overnight, and then you can leave them bubbling in your slow cooker the next day while you're at work. The chicken stock can enrich itself while you're over there blogging.
Give it a try.