IMG_2298

Probably the most essential part of keeping to a tight food budget is planning ahead — something that seems nearly impossible in the city. Any night of the week you may be called out to some event or another, sidetracked at work, or otherwise engaged. But as soon as you let last-minute plans take over your life, you find yourself spending a lot of money on quick or portable (and not usually very satisfying) meals.

Compiling a bunch of recipes ahead of time for the week was really difficult for me. I tend to cook on a whim, which of course leads to a lot of impulse buying. For inspiration, I pulled out my copy of How to Cook Everything, and just started flipping through the pages. I think I came up with several inexpensive, delicious dishes to cook, and I will have the flexibility to swap days or delay cooking something if I have more leftovers than I anticipated. Here’s the plan, but I have not assigned days for each meal just yet.

For lunches and dinners:

– Vegetable Stock (for use in the following):
– Arroz con Pollo
– Spicy Black Bean Soup with Buttermilk Cornbread
– Linguine with lemon oil and arugula
– Grits gratin with garlic, arugula and white beans
– Curried Lentils with Potatoes and Naan

For breakfasts:

– Irish Brown Bread
– Cranberry-Orange Scones

I also bought some sliced turkey breast and cheddar cheese in the event I need to make a sandwich for lunch at the last minute, as well as some honey-roasted peanuts and chocolate-covered orange peel for work snacks. I plan on picking up fruit as the week progresses for additional snacks.

Because some of the ingredients I purchased will be used only partially in each dish (for instance, I am only using half the chicken I bought in the arroz con pollo) I will give individual prices for each dish as I go. I’ll start with the three things I’ve made so far:

Vegetable Stock:

IMG_2303

– 3 carrots = $.50
– 2 stalks celery = $.30
– 2 onions = $.40
– 6 cloves garlic = $.15
– 1/4 bunch parsley = $.17
– 1 large potato = $.50
– 2 tomatoes = $1.20
– 14 cups water = free

Total cost: $3.22 for 12 cups of stock, or approximately $.27 per cup.

For the Irish Brown Bread:
(recipe on epicurious)

IMG_2307

– 4 c. flour = $.75
– 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ = $.40
– 2 teaspoons salt = n/a
– 2 teaspoons sugar = n/a
– 1 teaspoon baking soda = n/a
– 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar = n/a
– 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes = $.65
– 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk  = $1.00

Total = $2.80 / 12 servings = $.23 / serving

For the Cranberry – Orange Scones:
(recipe on epicurious)

– 3 cups all purpose flour = $.56
– 1/3 cup sugar = n/a
– 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder = n/a
– 1 teaspoon salt = n/a
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda = n/a
– 1 tablespoon grated orange peel = $.49
– 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces = $.98
– 3/4 cup dried cranberries = $1
– 1 cup chilled buttermilk = $.50

Total = $3.53 / 8 servings = $.44 / serving