Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Free food

I like to play a "game" when I'm cooking to see how close to $0 I can get and still have a balanced, satisfying and tasty meal.

Breakfast is pretty easy, oatmeal bought in bulk, flavored with raisins and cinnamon also bought in bulk. Literally pennies. Bonus points for easy to store and easy to find in bulk. :-D If I ever get to raise chickens, I'll be able to make free veggie/herb omelets. *drool*

Lunch of peanut butter and homemade jelly on homemade bread works out to <50cents. Lately I've been eating my zucchini relish with cheese and mustard on a sandwich, and that works out to around 50cents.

Peach Lemonade has been my drink of choice this week. I can't take all the credit for this one though, as my mother gifted me the lemons. But, the frozen peaches are all mine, bought and frozen last year.

Dinner tonight was pretty good, I fed 3 adults for a total of <5$. That's <$1.66 per person. Cheese tortellini with a fresh vegetable and herb tomato sauce. All I had to buy was the 4$ bag of tortellini and the cheese. I tossed together a gorgeous tomato, (the first off the vines this year!) an onion, a zucchini, a bell pepper and 4 garlic cloves with a handful of basil and oregano from my containers. Sauteed it all up in a pan, ladled it onto tortellini and sprinkled with a little Parmesan or mozzarella.

Had I bought all the veggies that went into it, the meal would have cost around $9. So, I saved my family $4. I easily do a meal like this 100 times a year, that's $400 I'm skimming off the already thrifty habit of cooking at home. That's not a bad return on an investment of a few hours a week into the gardens.

It's money not going to giant farms in California, it's money not being added to the tab with Chile, it's gas not being used to ship me fresh veggies or jars of sauce. Plus, it's ridiculously healthy and tasty. What's not to love?

You know you want that kind of excitement in your kitchen. Fall planting of garlic is coming right up, and it's a great time to get a garden started.

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