Friday, September 16, 2011

Lifecycle of a Produce Purchase

Here's what I purchased on Wednesday at Pros Ranch Market:

28 avocados, 2 pounds of Red grapes, a 40-ct package of yellow corn tortillas, 7 pounds of brown onions, 20 pounds of bananas, 22 pounds of oranges (so large they looked like grapefruit) and a pound of sour cream for about $25.

This looks like a lot, but it's not all the produce I'll use for the week. The rest I pick out of the raised beds in my backyard.

What do we do with it all? We eat it.

Those of you who followed this blog during its first inception know I used to be an avid couponer. While I still use coupons on occasion, most purchases made with coupons end up in food storage, or the donate bin. That's because most coupon purchases are processed foods and I'm trying to get my family off processed foods.

Don't get me wrong - there's a place for Hamburger Helper - in the food storage, among the camping staples, if the only other option is fast food, or a take-out pizza run - but there's no way I'll work that stuff into my weekly menu plan. At least, not until the bombs are falling. Or financial catastrophe makes it the only option.

The purpose of this blog is to show that we can feed our families well, very well, using real food and with just a little bit of imagination and effort. So here's my thinking on this recent produce purchase:

28 avocados: That's 1 avocado per day per person for my family of four. I've been pulling them out of the fridge to ripen 4 at a time, in hopes they will ripen on a similar schedule. Besides guacamole, avocados make great sandwiches. Spread them on bread right out of their skin. Add a little salt and a squeeze of lemon and enjoy. Seven dollars for 28 avocados provides a great lunchbox meal for under 30c/sandwich (I'm adding in the cost of the bread). Top a salad with them. You won't need the oil part of the dressing, just the vinegar because avocados already provide a healthy dose of those 'good fats' we keep hearing about. If we don't eat them all before they get overripe, I'll mush up the rest, put it in a ziploc bag and freeze it for future guacamole.

2 pounds of red grapes: The kids are eating these. They'll be gone by tomorrow. A couple of weeks ago, I purchased about 20 pounds of black seedless grapes at Sprouts. I froze most of them and add them to smoothies. Frozen fruit is great to make low calorie and healthy 'ice cream'.

40 count package of yellow tortillas, also the sour cream: Once a week I pressure cook a pot of beans and store it in the fridge. I also keep some kind of crema or sour cream in the fridge, as well as some kind of cheese. Coupled with the tortillas ($1.49 for the pack of 40), these frugal fixings are the basis for any number of breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack tacos. Pros Ranch makes these fresh, without preservatives. The packages are still hot when you purchase them. Before week's end, they will start getting stale. When that happens, let them finish their lives as tortilla chips. Simply slice into wedges and fry like potato chips, or eschew the oil and bake them in a medium oven. The whole family loves these with salsa.

7 pounds of brown onions: I use onions all the time. I love them. This bunch is destined for a pot of French onion soup I plan to make this weekend. I have a box of beef bones in the freezer. I'll roast them, then use them to make stock. Once the stock is clarified and the bones gone to the dogs, I'll slice these beautiful onions and add it to the stock. I'll serve piping hot with a generous sprinkle of parmesan. The onions were 20c/lb, the beef bones gathered over time from meat purchases. I've plenty of herbs in my garden. The pot of soup will provide lunches and dinner starters for at least a week. Unused soup can be frozen. I'll cook it this weekend during the cheap electricity time.

20 pounds of bananas: these are tucked into lunch boxes, grabbed by teenagers too frantic to eat breakfast, churned into smoothies, added to banana bread, cooked down with sweet spices and used as a filling for blintzes, or a topping for pancakes and waffles. We go through a lot of bananas in this household so I go nuts when I find them at 33c. Any that are getting overripe are peeled and frozen. I have a big bag in the freezer and regularly chip away at them to add to those frozen 'ice cream-like' concoctions mentioned above.

22 pounds of oranges: These are already half gone. My son has been juicing them. At 4 lbs/$1, this is cheaper and better tasting than any bottled orange juice. And a good stopgap measure until my own citrus starts producing.

There you have it. My $25 investment pays me back many times over - in smoothies, frozen desserts, puddings, toppings, soup, tacos, chips, and burritos. Too bad I can't list it on the New York Stock Exchange.

No comments:

Post a Comment