Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Packing the Protein
Despite my daughter's claim that there is no food in the house, we actually still have an ample store of food-real food that needs to be prepped, then cooked, before noshing. Where my impromptu meals, drinks, and happy hour appetizers budget for April was blown, I am doing really well in the grocery department. I had wanted to stay under $550 for groceries and household, I believe I am commendably under, with room to do better. I did not do well keeping receipts and tallying exactly, partially because DH is notorious for shopping "deals" without a concept of a budget, or a concept of meals needing to be prepared from said grocery items, and food just sort of shows up. In spite of that, I did a quick scout of where purchases were made, and think I might be sitting between $450-$500 with just four more days in the month. This includes an expensive purchase of a new SD card and jump stick for DD#2 for school. The jump sticks had two, so that will save another purchase later-if I remember where I put it when the time comes.
I did an inventory and am trying to build meals around what we have. I've also been trying to research and extend my repertoire of meals with plant based proteins. My sister drew DD#2's name for Christmas. Helping to support her vegetarian diet on a budget, she gave my daughter a crock pot and a recipe for international crock pot vegetarian recipes. Most are bean based of some sort and those that are not bean based are lentil based. There is a healthy dose of root vegetables in the recipes as well, helping to add a heartiness to the dishes. I've read her cookbook before she moved and have been scouting online sites. In my early stages of research, I've determined I'll follow recipes loosely-more use them as guides than disciplined amounts and methods. I've generalized a few comparison that I think will help me continue to expand using plant based proteins in place of meat.
Chickpeas/garbanzo beans-use in place of chicken or turkey
Red or black beans-use in place of beef or pork
Navy or white beans-use in place of pork
I've never cooked with lentils, so will need to do more research on preparing. I've heavily relied on canned versions, but want to use more raw dry beans to both boost the overall grocery savings and reduce the additives. As we are slowly but surely heading into warm weather which means cook outs and salads and food that is easy to pack up in coolers and either cook or reheat in a crock pot, I need to think about dishes that can be made ahead. I also have a family of meat hungry men, steeped in midwestern scandinavian (bland or barbecue sauce laden) pallets. Critics to be won over! Ideas are welcome.
I'm not attempting to go vegan or even vegetarian, so for now, there will still be plenty of eggs and dairy in my cooking, and meat, but more sparingly. Watch my progress in future posts and I'll archive those that are a success in the Sam in the Kitchen tab.