Food Budget Update and a Quick & Easy Pantry Recipe

Today, I did my shopping for the week.  By participating in Crunchy Chicken’s Sustainable Food Budget Challenge, I’m trying to keep our food costs for the month of April to $323

We do focus on preserving foods, and so we have started with beef, pork, fish, scallops, chicken stock and lobster stock in the freezer.  I also have flour, sugar, cornmeal, yeast, jams, maple syrup, honey, and various canned items in the pantry.

I started the day’s shopping at the Dudley Farmer’s Market, which is held on the first Saturday of the month in the off-season.  I was disappointed that NOBODY there had any vegetables at all, and since I know one of the growers has a greenhouse, I was hoping for lettuce.  Oh well.  I did buy a baguette and a carrot-cake muffin for Ed, for a total of $4.25.  Since I couldn’t get much there, I had to go to the grocery store.

At the grocery store, I bought pears, carrots**, potatoes, lettuce**, lemons, onions, chicken**, sandwich bread**, milk*, eggs*, buttermilk, butter**, cream, canned tomatoes**, tomato paste, cheese, yogurt**, canola oil**, brownie mix**, coffee, canned soup, cereal**, granola bars**, rice**, and Pirate’s Booty**, enough to last us approximately a week and a half to two weeks, depending on what I decide to cook. (*=local, **=sustainably raised and/or organic and/or eco-farmed and/or natural).  I bought extras of the dry goods and canned goods to try to stock the pantry.  Unfortunately, I forgot to buy the penne that I planned to make for supper, but we were headed out anyway so I ran in and grabbed a couple boxes.  The total from the grocery store came to $132.95.

That brings me to a total of $137.20 spent on food today, which leaves only $185.80 for the rest of the month.  I really don’t think we’ll make the goal for the month, but keeping track of spending is an interesting exercise.  I’d like to try this again in the summer when our garden is producing, my family is is growing many different fruits and veggies, and Ed’s family is fishing and shellfishing.  I have a feeling our grocery budget will really drop then!

And now for the recipe promised! Last night, we were running low on food but I didn’t want to order out or go to the store.  I thawed out a pound of ground beef, and then did a food network search for Rachael Ray recipes with ground beef, since she’s so creative and often has recipes to use items from the pantry.  I was inspired by her Mexican Deep Dish Pizza with cornbread crust, and made my own version.  It was really yummy, and great comfort food.  Here’s my version.

pantry-meal-and-turkies-001

  • double batch Johnnycake cornbread batter (my recipe)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare cornmeal batter and pour into a buttered 12″ cast iron skillet.  Bake for 20 minutes until almost cooked through.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a skillet, then mix in the salsa and heat through.  Take the cornbread out of the oven and pour the beef on top, spreading it evenly.  Top with cheese and bake 10-15 minutes more until the cornbread is completely cooked and cheese is melted.  Note: you can reduce the cornbread to a single batch if you don’t want it as thick.

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6 Comments

Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Recipes, Sustainable Living

6 responses to “Food Budget Update and a Quick & Easy Pantry Recipe

  1. Good luck on your food budget project. I’ll watch your efforts with interest. It sounds like you will end up at a good average if you figure several months of spending.
    I think your supper sounded just tasty as could be. I am making a note of it to fix in our future. I’ll do just one cornbread and go a little easier on the cheese, but it sounds simple and I like a simple tasty meal.

  2. Jon

    wow… no veggies at a new england farmers market in early april… i am surprised… NOT

  3. Thanks for posting that recipe, Abbie! I’m going to try it out on your father and brothers tomorrow night. They just love a rib-sticking meal!

    Tonight I made them an oven-stuffer roaster (chicken) and they were wary of a different kind of stuffing (cornbread), but I told them it was your recipe and they accepted it as good as the “regular” stuffing!

    I’ll also watch your food budget project with interest. I know I’m running to the store every couple of days and spending way too much. I also can’t wait until we have our own fruits and veggies.

  4. thanks for the recipe. this seems so easy im sure to try this out. :-)

  5. Aunt Sara

    We make something similar to your recipe, but we put the homemade chilli at the bottom of the cast iron fry pan and then put the johnny cake and cheese on top. Bake and enjoy!

  6. Yum! That pizza looks delish…I’m craving pepper jack cheese so badly!

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