Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No Grocery Store Challenge- Week 1

After weeks of careful menu planning, research and list making we finally made it to the Hilcrest Farmer's Market. It has been been advertised as one of the largest and most diversified Farmer's Markets in San Diego County. My expectations were met and exceeded. 

Here was the plan:

Dinner Menu:
Monday: Beef Stroganoff
Tuesday: Spaghetti
Wednesday: Mommy's Nom Nom Meatloaf
Thursday: Baked Chicken with Rosemary and Mushrooms
Friday: Sloppy Joe

Lunches: Deconstructed Sandwiches, fresh fruit and vegetables. (We were able to get fresh gluten free bread!!)
Breakfast: This weeks- Scrambled eggs with orange juice or milk.

Each meal is planned keeping the seasonal produce in mind and what we had currently in the freezer or on the shelf. ( Yes! Lots of organization and planning. I so hope it gets easier.)

The Reality!

At the Hilcrest Farmer's Market we were able to get for $80

1. Mushrooms- 

  • 1 pt medley (+)
  • 1 pt white buttons (+)

2. Organic Cheese- Mozzarella and Garlic Cheese Curds (It's a Wisconsin thing)
3. Johann's Gluten Free Bread- 2 loaves
4. Citrus- Oranges and Grapefruit (+)
5. More Citrus- 4 limes and 4 HUGE grape fruits (+)
6. Organic and Gluten Free Italian Sususage
7. THE BIG SPLURGE! Meat from SonRise Ranch

  • 1-lb ground beef
  • 1-lb Italian sausage
  • 2-lb chuck roast
Now, the reality of the matter is that there are some items we just couldn't get at this Farmer's Market for various reasons. One the vendors didn't have the required item or it wasn't an item we would not normally find at the Farmer's Market; like dish soap or toilet paper. 

So, we headed down to our favorite Ocean Beach People's Co Op. The produce at the People's Co Op are also grown locally or grown within the state. 

At the Ocean Beach People's Co Op we also purchased with an additional $75:
1. California Baby Aloe Vera Cream (Viking Lady Bug has chapped skin from the weather)
2. Monterey Jack Cheese ( I live with a Cheese Head- what can I say.)
3. Corn Tortillas (There is a vendor at the Hilcrest Farmer's Market but we missed her.)
4. Dish soap ( Not available else where)
5. Red Bell Peppers ( Not in season)
(+) 6. Onions
7. Apple juice ( There is a vendor at the Hilcrest Farmer's Market but we missed them, too.)
8. Milk 
9. 1/2-1/2 Cream ( For the Caffeine Based Life Form that lives on the Viking Homestead.)
(+) 10. Garlic (Yes, we missed that vendor, too)

What did we get for $150.00?

1. Six days worth of meals (Breakfast-Lunch AND Dinner)
2. In Addition: 7- 1/2 pts of orange marmalade from 10 oranges+ 2 limes and 1 qt of canned grapefruit.
3. Fresh fruit for breakfast, lunch and dinner
4. Yummy! Fresh baked gluten free bread.

Lessons Learned

1. GET THERE EARLY and ON TIME! (Boy, did we miss a lot of good deals and produce)
2. Check menu against seasonal availability. 
3. Need cash in pocket. Most vendors are cash only and very few take credit cards. The only draw back is the lack of receipts. 
4. We may have to plan our menus on the three local Farmer's Markets to make sure we have a large enough variety for our menus. 

Once again I am amazed at how lovely and friendly the people are at the Farmer's Market. This is a world where one can stop and truly talk to people. The "beeps" and the "boops" and the artificial lights and canned music found in grocery stores are gone. These sounds are replaced by giggling, talking, and live music. There was an amazing aroma of cooked foods, fresh foods and fragrant herbs. There is something magical with handing over cash too. I felt a connection to where my money was going.

Well, lessons learned. Week 1 down. Time to plan for Week 2. 

(+) indicates- Seasonal Food.

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