Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Home Cookin'

This week our goal was to decrease the amount of money we spend on eating out. This includes not just meals out, but extras like Starbucks, ice cream, etc. To that end, we planned four meals to cook for dinner (we'll eat leftovers the rest of the time) and shopped with restraint yesterday. Our weekly allotment of grocery money is to stay under $100. It's appalling to me that this is how much it costs to eat healthy, local, organic (but still affordable) food in NYC, but that's life. As a kid, I recall my mom spending about $150 a week to feed a family of six but that was ten years ago and in the small town where I grew up, which is about is different from the city as you can get.

Alix and I both have high standards for food. This doesn't mean we spend money stupidly, but it does mean that we buy organic produce from the farmers' market near us instead of the tasteless, albeit cheaper produce from the Morton-Williams grocery store a block from our apartment. The lessons I've learned from books such as Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver make it so that the guilt trip I put on myself for not buying local seasonal foods dictates that our eating and shopping choices be both moral and sustainable. So far, our spending this week has been in line with our goals. We spent about $80 at Whole Foods yesterday, which leaves $20 to spend at the market tomorrow on produce. We will probably get fruit (peaches, Concord grapes, and maybe a watermelon) as well as vegetables (salad greens, radishes, and beets).

Our menu for the week includes the following meals:
1. Sirloin steak with grainy mustard sauce + marinated green beans
2. Tuna noodle casserole + marinated green beans
3. Black bean soup + cornbread + salad
4. Pasta Florentine + peaches

Steak with mustard sauce
The steak and tuna casserole recipes came from a cookbook that Alix got for her birthday: So Easy, by Ellie Krieger. We made the steak last night and it was delicious! I have almost no experience cooking meat so Alix bravely took control of pan-searing the sirloin while I made the mustard sauce (reduced chicken stock with sauteed onions, flour, salt, pepper, and grainy mustard). I had made two pounds of cold marinated green beans the night before so we ate those last night, tonight, and probably tomorrow night too. The marinade is a spicy tangy sauce of onions, garlic, green chilies, oil, and vinegar that is poured over lightly steamed green beans and left to soak in the refrigerator for as long as you want.
Tuna noodle casserole
We made the tuna casserole tonight and were less than impressed. It was more work than we anticipated and the end result was boring and bland. Not so bad that we won't be eating it tomorrow, but not great. We consoled ourselves by getting gelato after dinner. As you can see, we take three steps forward and one step back.

And my last thought for the night on being healthy - we are back to taking our vitamins. My mom had me swallowing handfuls of vitamins for as long as I can remember but I grew lackadaisical about taking them while I was in college. After going to the doctor a couple of weeks ago, I was told that my vitamin D levels were extremely low. This has inspired me to start choking down the dreaded pills again. Since I feel like doing something halfway is worse than not doing it at all, I am not content to take just D. I am back to taking the following: calcium, magnesium D, C, flaxseed oil, and a daily multiple. Alix, bless her, indulges me by taking all of them too. We gag and complain and, in my case, spill my juice glass in protest, but they go down. Here's to growing up (and growing healthy)!

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