Thursday, March 14, 2013

Premise #3: You Need Less Than You Think


You Need Less Than You Think proved itself to me over and over.  Until we tried an extreme eating plan (for example, $21/week for three of us), we really had no clear idea how much we usually consume. Nor how much we consume because we need it versus how much we consume Because It's There. In just the two weeks we've been at this so far, we've carried over AT LEAST one planned meal from one week to the next. This means fewer required meal purchases for THIS week, leaving us room for a 'luxury item", like the round buttery crackers instead of salted squares, or (in my case) a quart of cream.

Three dozen eggs have lasted four weeks. One gallon of milk (usually) is enough for a week; sometimes half a gallon is plenty. If we're not baking, we usually don't use more than one stick of butter a week. Two cans of black beans with rice serves 4 people, or three for dinner and two for lunch the next day.  One box of Saltines usually lasts two weeks. One can of peaches can be divided into two (generous) portions, or stretched to six, in wee containers. The box of pudding that 'serves 4' usually gets me 6 wee pudding cups, (though I'm not yet convinced this is a moneysaver when I can get a 4 pack of pudding for .90 cents; the math escapes me) and a box of instant oatmeal may last a month.

A word about portion sizes: When you make a limited amount, everyone takes less . If each person gets one decent sized serving, it's enough. I have been know to offer to cook more when there was only Enough, and almost always been told, "No, that was fine. Really, it was." Impressed? No? But what if I remind you that this is from the mouth of a 17 year old boy, how about now?

When you're eating simple, good food, less is more filling. Sure, a second helping is nice, and I usually try to plan for second helpings AND leftovers to be lunch, but it's not REQUIRED. Most of us are putting into our bodies a lot more fuel than our bodies will burn. Many of us also regularly consume empty calories, and those aren't fuel, they're cargo to be carried as extra pounds.

When I make burritos, if it's just the teens and me, I can get away with using only one can of beans and half a block of cheese. This makes 5 burritos. If the kids are very hungry, they'll eat 2 each, and I have one. Usually, Wednesday wants one, Pugsley has two, I eat one, and there's one left that I'll divide in half for their lunches the next day. When Gomez is home, I double everything, everyone eats as much as they wish, and I usually still have one or two burritos left.

What are you buying that you don't need to buy? What are you eating that you don't need to eat? How many things can you not keep in the house with little to no impact?

So it's Shopping Day, and I need to make my list. I need to make my Meal Plan first, though. Before that, I ought to do Inventory, except what with last week's Whoops Snowceries and so on, I have a pretty good idea what I have.

One thing I have is the makings of Mock Beef Stroghanoff, which I put off making twice last week, so there it is. That's tonight.

I also have in the freezer many hot dogs, ground beef and at least one piecrust. The fridge has a bit less than half a gallon of milk, one block of cheese (not cheddar), half a block of cream cheese, plenty of Romaine, half a loaf of bread, most of one celery, a bit of leftover red sauce, a fresh bottle of Caesar dressing, half a jar of salsa, almost no sour cream and one (maybe) glass' worth of apple juice in a giant bottle.

When I made Psyche last week, Wednesday was disappointed. She wanted Beanie Weenie. That's a can-do. Gomez is sad if he doesn't get to eat spaghetti at least once a week, so that's a third meal. CORN is a fourth, and since I've explained about the burritos, I'm suddenly sort of craving them. That's five. Six could be quiche (I even have 2 slices of bacon left from Giant Snowday Breakfast), and I've just heard a request for soft tacos. (I asked Gomez what he'd like this week, and his first two requests were spaghetti and burritos.)

Meal Plan
Wednesday- Mock Beef Stroghanoff and green beans
Thursday- Bean & Cheese Burritos
Friday- {Pugsley may be going to a party}Quiche
Saturday-{morning tech duties, evening poetry reading}Spaghetti- sauce in the crock, salad & bread
Sunday-{friend's home for party, may not even need dinner}Soft tacos
Monday- CORN, or Stupid
Tuesday- {teach class downtown} Beanie Weenie in the crock pot

You see already that I may be planning more meals than are necessary.

Shopping Lists

tortillas, 2 pkg,          $2                                          dog food, $9
beans, 4 cans,           $2.40                                      yogurt,     $2
cheese, 4 blocks,      $7.20
Salsa, 1 jar,              $1.80
Sour cream,              $2
Cream,                     $2
raisins,                      $2
taco seasoning,         $2
fruit,                         $4
red sauce,                 $2
TOTAL                              ~$22.00

milk, $3                                                                                       cat food,$12
frozen mixed veggies, $7                                                            cat litter,   $15
granola bars for lunches, $12                                razor blades for Gomez  $30 (?)
bread for garlic bread, $6
TOTAL                               ~$28.00

If my estimates turn out to be a bit high, I want to also buy crackers, graham crackers and bagels.

But I don't NEED them.

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