Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Week of Frugal Food

I felt really strained in my food budget this past couple of weeks. Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went grocery shopping, and I had to put the balance on my credit card not just for the rewards but because all the money in my checking account is earmarked for other things--payday is tomorrow (don't worry, my credit card bill gets paid off like clockwork; this will just come directly from tomorrow's paycheck's budget). In fact, I often feel strained in my food budget.

I think I'd like to see if I could lower the pressure on the food budget for the next couple of weeks by having a very frugal week. I'm going to try to bring breakfast and lunch to work every day between now and next Thursday. In doing this, I'm going to try really hard to pack interesting, varied meals (especially for lunch--I have a stock breakfast that I like; it's hearty, healthy, and delicious, and I don't mind eating it every day). This will probably mean I need to do a little more shopping, and will definitely mean I will need to devote some extra time and energy to planning and cooking. I'm hoping it'll be worth it for delicious, frugal lunches.

So here begins the experiment--I'll keep you updated.

For starters, here's the recipe for my favorite breakfast:
Raspberry-granola parfait
Start with a (reusable) plastic container with around a 1.5-cup capacity.
Cover the bottom with a layer of frozen raspberries (they can certainly be fresh, but frozen are cheaper and have the added benefit of keeping the yogurt cold for transport--I really hate warmed-over yogurt).
Add about 3/4-1 cup of plain yogurt. I like lowfat (not nonfat--it's too runny), and I particularly like Trader Joe's 2% Greek yogurt, but it is more expensive than their regular organic.
If you want, you can slice half a banana over the yogurt. I only do this when I have time, but it is extra-tasty.
Top the container off with granola (I use TJ's lowfat vanilla almond--it's tasty and full of fiber--but you can use the one you like best).
Snap the lid on tight, stick in your bag, go.

I buy TJ's frozen raspberries (not the organic kind) for $1.89, TJ's Greek or organic yogurt (both $2.79, but the organic makes 5-6 servings, while the Greek only makes 3), and TJ's granola for less than $3 (I forget the price even though I buy it constantly). Anyway, if you get the cheaper yogurt, this clocks in around $1.28 per serving (no bananas); with the Greek, it's still doable at $1.75. Cheaper than buying one for $4 at Pret a Manger? You bet.


gradgirl said...

Sounds delicious. I think I'll try it!

Shashwati said...

Why not make your own yogurt? It is super simple, and cheap to make. Plus you can be sure it has no additives like the store bought yogurt.

SF Money Musings said...

I've been eating oatmeal for breakfast every single day with ground flax seed, raisins and a banana for breakfast. It's not terribly interesting but it keeps me full.

I've never tried the TJ's Greek yogurt as a parfait. I'll have to give it a try sometime. I use it mainly for salads or dips.

Joy said...

Thanks for the recipe.

Just wanted to also leave a note as I ran across your blog a few weeks ago and you inspired me to start my own personal finance, etc, blog on blogger. My blog certaintly isn't as educational as yours yet (and I doubt it will include any recipes) but if I manage to successfully follow any of your suggestions, I'll certainly link to your posts. :)


Anonymous said...

Granola is also very easy to make. Try Recipezaar for recipes.

I also like oatmeal porridge.