Economics and quality make Trader Joe's a success. In these days, we need all the help that we can get. I haven't cooked or blogged very much over the past couple of months, as it has been a really rough patch for me personally. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I expect that in the ensuing weeks, I'll be back on form again.
Here is my plan. I've been reading about these $25.00 a week food bank challenges - can you, as a member of the middle class live on $25.00 a week for food? People have been taking that challenge and blogging about it. I scoff at some of them, those who buy a case of bottled water or who buy a jar of peanut butter and chicken nuggets and bemoan their lack of fresh vegetables. These people don't know how to shop. And they are simply trying to replicate their idea of what a person in poverty may eat.
I grew up in rural Maine surrounded by people struggling to feed their families - people who had gardens as a necessity, washed and reused zip lock bags, and in late Fall, slaughtered pigs and then cut them up on their kitchen tables. Farmers who sent their children to the milk room to siphon off milk for breakfast. Their cupboards were filled with home canned, healthy food, their freezers filled with meat and they even had time to make home made wine.
I lived in Russia in the 90's - where people distilled vodka on their balconies, foraged for mushrooms in the forests and grew their own food on Dachas. Potatoes and cabbage factored heavily into meals and protein was a luxury item to be savored.
Now, I live alone in the Bronx, NYC. I watch as my neighbors buy their food staples at the local Bodega with their benefit cards. I am surrounded by people just trying to survive, in a city where you must purchase everything that you consume, and the local McDonald's dollar menu suffices for family night out treat.
Well, guess what, you can eat wholesome, hearty food - not a processed chicken nugget in sight. I'm going to do it for the month of November. As I am a bit of a cheat, I am not counting my TJ's wine in the food budget (I will list that as a seperate total though). I will also eat/drink any freebies tossed my way - I'll list them and their retail value. I'll plan on the usual wine review posts, but also a weekly post of my menus, shopping and costs.
A reminder - I am on home hemo dialysis - I have to watch out for salt, potassium, phosphorus and preservatives; and I try to keep to a high protein diet. I am lucky that I do not have any fluid restrictions (Dialysis 5x a week keeps the fluid off my body pretty well).
So, for the month of November, my food budget will be $100.00. I will forgo my ordering groceries on-line. Any existing pantry items that I use, I will factor their retail value into my overall budget.