Cue flashback to last week.
Me: Babe, we need to go some serious grocery shopping soon.
Me: No seriously, like a BIG trip. I’ll have to wait until my next paycheck though.
Sam: That’s cool.
Since I’ve started working at Whole Foods, we’ve fallen into an almost daily shopping routine. We decide what we want to eat and I pick up whatever is needed for that meal. From what I’ve heard, this is a very European way of shopping and has the added bonus of food not spoiling. (I’m notorious for buying a ton of produce and letting a third of it rot in the fridge.) It’s also nice to eat whatever you’re in the mood for that day instead of what’s on the menu. Down side: When we are deciding what to eat, we rarely think about what we already have. We all know that the more you shop, the more you will spend (think impulse buys) and, though it’s nice to eat whatever you’re in the mood for, some days there are no cravings. Plus, shopping everyday after I clock out sucks.
Yesterday, I hunkered down and did an inventory of our food. I’ll be honest, I was quite embarrassed when I was done. I had 3 pages of food! Granted it was wide rule instead of college and the spices did take up quite a bit of space but still, that’s a lot of food! One of my measurements was literally ‘a fuck ton.’ (That one was peanut butter…why did I ever think Sam and I needed so much peanut butter?! Seriously, it looks like I bought it at Sam’s Club. Where did I even get my hand on this?!) After realizing that we had plenty of food, I challenged myself to create a menu based off what we had on hand.
It took a while but I nailed it! I figured in which meals Sam and I would be together for, which meals are for my lunchbox, and those meals that are others. I marked the food on my inventory that needs to be used first, either it’s about to expire or it’s something that we won’t be buying anymore (boxed cake mix, canned spinach, etc). We have meals planned for 8 days (more than we will probably eat since we mostly skip breakfast) and our ‘BIG’ shopping trip is down to 13 things. I also have about 6 other recipes for the next menu that only need one or two more ingredients.
Let’s think: 1) I saved us money on at least 2 shopping trips. 2) I am creating more space in our kitchen. 3) Sam and I have healthy, home cooked meals every time we’re home together. 4) Planning my lunchbox makes it easier to pack and insures that I won’t cheat and buy my lunch at Whole Foods (I have a weakness for the Chick’n Fried Tofu…) All in all, a definite win and worth the couple hours it took.
While searching around for recipes, I came across one that I had all the ingredients to make (I didn’t have mozzarella but cheddar would work just fine). Sam wasn’t closing so he would be home around 8ish so I decided I would make that one for dinner. When I stared pulling all the ingredients out, I realized that, while I did indeed have all the ingredients, I did not have enough…oops, but who really needs that much sour cream or mayo? And cauliflower is pretty much broccoli, right? A couple quick substitutions, a crossing of the fingers and boom! One delicious, budget meal was born and will definitely be repeated. Apologies for the lack of pictures. I’ll try to snap some next time. If anyone tries this, I would love to hear your opinion!!
Curried Brown Rice and Broccoli/Cauliflower Casserole
4 cups brown rice
8 cups broccoli and/or cauliflower (I used frozen.)
1 medium onion
2 tsp olive oil
3 tsp curry powder
1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese
.75 cup sour cream
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
3 tbsp lemon juice
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Cook rice according to directions
3) Saute onion in olive oil until brown. Add 1.5 tsp curry powder and cook 1-2 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and cook until heated throughout.
4) Whisk together sour cream, coconut milk, lemon juice and 1.5 tsp curry powder.
5) Layer (rice, sauce, broccoli/cauliflower, cheese) into a lightly greased casserole dish. I didn’t have one deep enough to so a double layer, so I split it into 2 casseroles.
6) Bake ~30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned.