Ouch! Sorry to see you go but I understand. But still, ouch! To those of you who are still around, thank you for reading this blog by email, or in your reader. And to those of you who have taken the time to comment, I appreciate every single word. I really do. This past week has been incredibly long and hard.
Writing on a daily basis is not easy. Writing an eloquent post is even more difficult. I appreciate all your thoughts and comments, especially on this post, which I had to publish before proof-reading and editing. My internet connection went down at exactly midnight, eight minutes after I hit publish. I cringed and wondered if I should try editing using my phone but Android browsers suck worse than Internet Explorer. I never thought I would ever find a worse browser but I did. Two of them. But in this case, I am willing to cut the developers a whole lot of slack: they aren't backed by a whole empire of badly written software that my small business pays a lot of money to purchase. These browsers are open source, free to use and the Android OS is still very new.
But let's move on to other things, shall we? There are several things I want to talk about.
If child nutrition is important to you, then you want to keep reading instead of skimming over this paragraph. Quaker Oats is sponsoring a challenge called Awaken Your Senses, where food bloggers have been invited to share their best food memories. A springy host then tries to recreate the memory by converting it into a quick topping for their instant oatmeal. The food bloggers choose a charity which will receive $500 at the very least and if you vote for your favorite
blogger topping, her charity will receive $10,000.
Rockstar Jen, with the pink sunglasses, is in this current round and she has chosen the Farm to School Network as her charity. Jen says:
There are children in this country whose best meal of the day is their school lunch. The National Farm to School Network works to make that meal healthy and fresh by connecting school lunch programs with local farmers. Exposing young people to fresh produce and educating them on where food comes from helps to promote long-term healthy eating habits. Our nation’s family and local farms benefit too. It’s about community, education, health, sharing… it’s about our future.
So go to Quaker Talk, then click on the button that says Vote (you may want to do that quickly cos otherwise the guy in the purple sweater will start talking). Next, click on Cherries Jubilee, watch cool Jen and listen to her lovely memory. While you are watching click on the green thumbs up icon to vote for her. Simple! (And thank you!)
Next in food news, a bunch of bloggers are getting together to raise awareness about hunger by developing nutritious meal plans that cost at the most $30 per person for a week. Why? Because the national average (for the US) for those receiving food assistance is between $21 and $24 a week. The Eat on $30 Project starts on Sunday and if you want to join in, let Tami of Run with Tweezers know as soon as possible.
I would have loved to participate in this challenge because I have been there. We didn't need food assistance but we had to clamp down hard on our expenses. Anyone remember the dotcom bust? We went from $150 a week to less than $150 a month when times were tough and this included milk. I started cooking more, we ate better and our health improved. It also introduced Medha to a variety of vegetables and got her hooked onto dal.
Unfortunately, my schedule is on fire from this weekend till the end of October. To prepare for that, I stocked up on essentials for the next couple of weeks but buying in bulk and in advance is not an option for those on a tight budget or with a poor cash flow. Any pricing of meals made from these supplies would only be skewed. I also think it would be wasteful to purchase more perishables for a week, when I already have enough. Add to it the fact that it takes a lot of effort from me to serve a different dishes for every meal. When I cook, it's enough for at least 3 meals, some of which we eat right away, some of which is stored in the refrigerator for lunch on a weekday and the rest is frozen.
So, no, I am not doing it. But if you like a challenge, go for it. I do have a few tips about where and how to buy produce, without the need to go dumpster diving:
- At the Farmers Market. Wait till almost closing time and the larger farm stands will start their $10/bag sale. Anything you can fit into the bag is fair game. I come back each week with seasonal produce that would have easily cost me $40 or more had I purchased it from the grocery store.
- At Ethnic Grocery Stores: look for Indian, Pakistani, and Asian stores in the vicinity. Ginger (and please note, it's not a root) sells for $6.99/lb at Whole Foods, $2.99/lb at grocery stores but can be bought for anywhere from $0.99/lb to $1.29/lb in ethnic grocery stores. Buy your spices at these stores, too. Smaller packs of spices are cheaper than the packed spices at grocery stores. Two to three bunches of cilantro can be bought for $1 instead of $0.79 a bunch. Beans, dals and red lentils - in their dried form - are also cheaper at ethnic stores.
- Look for overlapping sales to get the lowest price, especially when it comes to meats. Sunflower Market in Boulder has overlapping sales on Wednesdays.
- Grocery stores will put good meat on sale as the sell by date nears. There is nothing wrong with that meat and you can either cook with it right away or freeze it for another day.
Next up is the request for some advice and thoughts. I canceled milk delivery at the end of September and have started buying lactose-free milk because the writing is now deeply engraved on the wall. Calcium supplements aren't going to cut it and Medha won't eat enough yogurt in a day to get her daily requirement. She used to love to drink milk but started loathing it because of what it did to her. Lactose-free milk is working out so much better but it is sweet! The sugar content is only 12g per serving as opposed to 15g in regular milk but it tastes sweeter. Does the lactase enzyme do this? Or is it because the sugars are now more free to move about (sic) in the milk? She doesn't much care for soy milk - it's even sweeter. Is there lactose-free milk that tastes like regular milk?
In less than a week, I have already spent $9 for 1.5 gallons of milk ('natural' or organic lactose-free skim milk). And I will have to spend more to buy regular skim milk to make yogurt. Our monthly milk expenditure will now reach almost $50. I realize this may be a lot less than those with several children and/or cereal-eating adults in the house but I am aghast nevertheless. Is there something I am missing or that I could do differently to bring this down?
Which takes me back to the under $30 per person challenge. How does one include milk in this budget?! It's crazy. I know there are those of you who consider $30 a luxury and it is a luxury in so many countries in Asia and Africa, where people live in less than $1 a day. I wish I wasn't so completely desensitized...