Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2010 Urban Pantry Challenge

1/27/10 I've edited the following post to include all of my purchases hopefully in a more concise order.

For the 2010 - 2011 UPC it occurred to me that I should give more details, show my work = tips, tricks, trades, & blessings for food that we don't grow or harvest. LSS show the grocery store receipts.

Hence the shopping cart full of chicken. In theory this is enough chicken to last us until May. At that time the salad bed and early garden produce such as peas will be in harvest. I can sub veggies for meat entrees if not at dinner then for lunch. Husband is more inclined to accept a meatless meal mid day than for dinner.
One chicken roaster every other week.
Perdue Chicken Roasters were a loss leader last week selling for 89 cents a pound, up 10 cents from last year. Took me until the final day of the sale to make a decision. Buy now or wait for a better/worse price.

8 oven roaster chickens average weight was 5.8 pounds
1 bottle of Soy sauce - $1.69 for 10 oz on sale.
5 jars of Store brand Spaghetti sauce - $1 per jar on sale.
1 package of Italian sausage on sale for $1.88 per pound. 2 1/2 lbs. package will give us 5 meals.
1 package of 90% lean ground beef discounted, almost 3 lbs.
Total = $70.86

One bird gave us 2 dinner meals, enough chicken salad for 3 lunches, & once the chicken carcass was boiled enough chicken stock for soup later on. On the menu for last night's dinner was sliced cukes & roma toms in ranch dressing, shredded chicken in homemade gravy with garlic, sage, & rosemary (herbs were either grown or bartered for), broccoli (freezer last years garden), sauteed sweet potatoes (aldis), mashed potatoes ( 50 lbs./$10 farmers stand). Cooked on wood stove but that's for another blog post.
Soy sauce used for a veggie dinner. This dinner meal which was basically everything vegetables left in the fridge was sauteed. Also added in re hydrated vegetables such as green bell peppers put up last Summer. Side dish was white rice.
About one pound of the ground beef used for a nacho salads. Rest in freezer.
Sauce went to restocking the pantry. Hopefully next Summer I won't have to deal with tomato blight and will be able to can homemade spaghetti sauce instead of buying it.
Italian sausage was for DD#3 & I since we don't care for the Italian
venison/pork sausage husband & DD#2 made. Yes we have issues with game meat. Would be cheaper if we didn't but we do.

Husband ran to Aldis for me a few days before and bought the following items; gallon of 2% milk, package of sliced ham, Italian dressing, roma tomatoes, romaine hearts, coffee creamer (original item that I asked for), sour cream, can of black olives. If I had gone I wouldn't have bought the ham (Husbands lunches) or the sour cream. Doubtful on the salad dressing. Total = $13.68

Cost cutting changes - make salad dressings.
Consider planting patio tomatoes for houseplants. Would entail threatening my red head step child (husband's cat Hunter a red tabby) with harm to keep him from digging in the soil.

Grocery update for the month of January -
1/06/10 - $22.19 bought 16 cans of Progresso soup, 19 oz size & canned tomatoes 28 oz size. 3 cans to
added to the cellar pantry. Normally I don’t buy canned toms but since last years harvest was non existent
there wasn’t any to can. These were an advertised special a.k.a. loss leader @ a dollar each. Normally I
don’t buy canned toms but since last years harvest was non existent there wasn’t any to can. Dawn dish
soap 24 oz. used a 20¢ off coupon that was doubled and Colgate toothpaste used $1 off coupon that was
doubled. These should have been acquired though bartering . Canned soup is a fav with husband to keep
in his locker @ work for those times when he has no packed lunch.
1/16/10 Adis $19.02 - 2 bags of white corn tortilla chips 99¢ each, 2 tubs of quick oats $1.79 each, jar of peanut butter $1.39, bag of brown sugar $1.19, TP for $5.29, fresh bell pepper (used in a veggie dip for church coffee hour) . Also bought a dozen eggs because my usual source was down 79¢. While shopping I realized that Adis sells ground corn flour or Mesa for tortilla making. Eventually then we can make tortilla chips that we use for nacho salad a family dinner favorite.
1/27/10 Tops Market $36.80 - loss leaders that I bought today @ Tops were; eggs 69¢ bought 3 dozen, butter $1.49 pound cheaper than the dairy’s employee discount deal I was included in last October bought
2 pounds, & Carnation evaporated milk a $ a can stocked up & bought 10 for the pantry.
Soda pop is also on sale 2 liter bottles for a buck bought 2. Nice to have on pizza night .
Unable to barter for a gallon of bleach so I purchased a gallon of no name for $1.49. Also bought a small box of powder milk for $4.99. Been without for a few weeks. For me it is a hardships not having it on hand. Tonight I am planning on making cream of Broccoli Soup. Frozen
broccoli from last year’s garden, chicken stock from the bird I roasted last week, & powdered milk. Can't get any easier than that. Grilled
Swiss cheese made with mustard rye bread baked yesterday.
2 cans for tuna packed in h2o @ 99¢ & a pound of deli German bologna both for school lunches.
If I had the extra money I’d have also bought a large family sized package of split chicken breasts @ 99¢ a pound. Nice to have on hand when I don’t have any chicken leftovers. 2 nice sized breast can fill out a pot of soup.

$5.90 spent @ restaurant supply store for 2 lbs of Fleishman’s yeast for baking. I won’t go into how
many teaspoons are in a pound (anyone out there a math whiz?) but single yeast packets which hold 2
teaspoons retail for 79¢ each. If you don’t have someone to split the package/cost divide it up in sections & freeze for later use.
Total -

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, January 4, 2010


A belated Felix Natividad et Próspero Año y Felicidad.
I ushered on Christmas Eve, daughter's worked the church nursery, and husband was able to join us @ the last minute for a very well attended service. Once home we had snacks & opened a present @ midnight.
For New Year's we stayed home huddled around the wood stove snacking, watching DVDs, & napping. Promised daughters that next year we would go watch the ball drop in downtown Buffalo and perhaps attend a few First Night Activities. I'm sure that they will make me keep my word since banging pot lids & beating on stock pots no longer holds a deep fascination for them as it once did.
Besides the usual weight loss/self improvement resolutions my goals for the New Year is to go more solar but in MacGyver style. Solar panels from recycled parts or just hack'ng an existing application into solar I'm not sure. Diffacult due to our cloudy climate and disrupted sunshine due to buildings & trees. The 2nd (ongoing) major goal is to increase/document our garden harvest.

After an afternoon of studying charts, reading NYS Public Service Commission website twice, and one very long drawn out phone call to National Grid ( the customer service # published on my bill has been disconnected freaky huh?) I was able to make an informed decision with regards to switching my electric & gas suppliers.
Stay put for now & monitor the ESCOs (energy service companies) for a better rate than what both my eclectic & natural gas companies are charging then make the switch.

The kww rate the ESCO I was considering is currently @ 6.5 ¢ per kww hour, gas is .65 ¢ per ccf. Both higher than what I currently pay. True only by a few cents but here a penny there a penny.
Pity as the ESCO I decided on was offering a $75 Visa gift card to switch.
Plan was to use the Visa to get a subscription to Netfix which would help curb the pro cable voices in the family. And fill my need to view alternative documentaries on sustainable subjects & episodes of Leave it to Beaver.
For us the new digital t.v. revolution has been bogus.
Reception is still defined by buildings, weather, and flight patterns. Upside is that my 15 year old tele has outstanding picture quality when we do get reception. Oh foil wrapped around digital antenni makes no mind.

Speaking of gift cards I received two this year both to Wally World = $100. One was in September from a fellow Presbyterian as a reward for working the church garden. After consulting with my pastor I decided to keep the card. The second was a Christmas gift.
So after much thought & discussion we decided to use the cards on items that would give us the most value from a homesteader's point of view;
  • Coleman Portable Camp Oven - $39
  • Rechargeable solar batteries for garden lights
  • Vinegar - white
  • Outdoor/Hunting clothing for daughter #2
  • Canning lids, pectin
  • Garden Seeds ?
  • Hand Cranked Radio
  • Special needs that can't be gotten elsewhere

The stove top oven is my 1st priority since I bake about every other day - bread, cakes, & pies. Hope to be able to barter bake goods for toiletries & other items that I can't manufacture like canned tuna.

Solar batteries for our hacked garden lights. I have plans to hang these lights in the bathroom, stairwell, & front room near the wood stove for low lighting. Also the garden lights outside are due for replacements.

Now that I clean green (I'll let you all think I'm this big environmentalist but those who know me well know that I'm just cheap) I go though allot of white vinegar so if it's not too much more than Save-a-Lots price/can coupon then I'll stock up. Vinegar is a hard to barter for item. Much like powdered milk.

DD#2 needs a good two piece hunting ensemble now that we know she enjoys hunting. Hopefully we can score a great deal now that deer season is over. Will check WW's website.

Canning lids & pectin if I can snag some for a better price than my usual sources. 3 or 4 years ago I bought pectin @ Save -a-lot for 69¢ a box. Best price on lids is anything under 99¢ per 12 count box. This purchase will be delayed until Sept./Oct. when canning supplies are generally clearance.

Garden seeds if I can score them on deep discount yeah that's what I'm telling myself now. But wait til oh February when the garden displays start showing up and I absolutely need that package of black eyed peas.

Hand cranked radio so I can listen to NPR as I do the wash.

Special needs ... yeah what exactly is that? It's items like photos that I promised to DB#4's gf, of him as a baby for example. They are expecting their 1st in February. Also under that column is really anything that is a must have that can't be bartered or bought second hand. Pantyhose come to mind. DD#3 plays bass & violin in school orchestra, I usher @ church, an occasionally DD#2 wears a dress so pantyhose can be a need.

Even though our local mega mart has a grocery section IMHO my savings have always come from my alternative methods so as a last resort food items. And only if I have a coupon. Shame Aldi doesn't sell gift cards. Is it wrong to suggest stores that we would perfer gift cards to?

Any other ideas for sustainable homesteading items that can be bought main stream ?

~~ pelenaka ~~