Planning Meals to Save Money
We joined a grocery co-op run by a couple of homeschool moms in our area, and this week was our first pick up week. We get a laundry basket full of produce each week straight from the Farmer’s Market.
A grocery co-op seems like a great way to try new foods and save money by pooling resources and buying in bulk. Our co-op purchases large quantities of produce right off the truck, and we have have branches for distribution throughout the week.
When the price is broken down, it is a huge savings over regular grocery store costs for fresh produce. As a bonus, we are learning to try new foods, and eating healthier to boot. (Our co-op charges $60 per month for four deliveries.)
Trying a New Food
Kale is our ‘new food’ this week, and we tried it three ways:
- I cooked kale for the first time by sauteing it with olive oil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. My oldest liked it, I found it to be okay but not my favorite thing, and the PeeWees wouldn’t even taste it. My husband likes greens but didn’t like the kale.
- Then, I discovered a recipe for kale that includes bacon. Everything’s better with bacon, including kale. It might not be as healthy as it was without it, but adding in that crunchy, salty, goodness makes kale a hit with my entire family. Actually, I only used two slices of bacon crumbled up over the whole batch of kale, prepared by sauteing in olive oil and garlic as I did the first time. This might just become one of our favorite side dishes.
- The third thing we tried with kale is kale salad. We stripped the leaves off the stems, tore the kale into pieces, and mixed it with dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, fresh grated Parmesan cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. We all really like this recipe as well, so we are 2 for 3 with the kale!
Enjoying Old Favorites
- We had corn on the cob and mashed potatoes with BBQ chicken, and the kids have been eating oranges and munching on peeled carrots (these carrots are really big, and the peeling is a bit bitter.)
- Another meal was veggie pizza with spinach on top and ground black pepper.
- I made salsa with the jalapenos, cilantro, lime, and the tomato, and I roasted and froze the rest of the jalapenos to use later.
- We had Philly cheese steaks with some of the red bell peppers. I sliced and froze the rest of bell peppers to use later in *fajitas–hopefully, we’ll get an onion in the next basket.
- The rest of the spinach and one orange made a great salad topped with some pear tomatoes from our garden, orange zest, slivered almonds, and orange vinaigrette dressing.
- One of our favorite side dishes is sauteed veggies I sliced some carrots and squash and sauteed it with olive oil and a little parsley from our garden.
I’m looking forward to incorporating more veggies and variety into our meals, and I love the challenge of trying to use up what we get.
I learned how to make this when we lived in San Antonio, and the nice thing about it, besides it being delicious and easy, is that you can vary the recipe depending on what you like and what you have on hand. You can add more veggies, leave out the meat, substitute steak or shrimp for the chicken, and even serve it over rice without the tortillas.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 bell pepper, any color
- 1 Vidalia onion
- 1 large tomato
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp salt-free fajita seasoning
Slice chicken breasts into thin strips. It helps if chicken is slightly frozen to cut it into thinner strips. Add to skillet.
Slice bell pepper, onion, and tomato into strips, add to skillet.
Sprinkle fajita seasoning over mixture in skillet and drizzle with olive oil.
Cook over medium heat, scraping pan occasionally with wooden spatula to prevent veggies from sticking. You want the veggies to start to carmelize for best flavor.
Serve with warm flour or corn tortilla, grated cheese, re-fried beans, and chips & salsa or guacamole.
This is wonderful cooked in a cast iron skillet!
I’m not 100 percent sure we will stick with the grocery co-op, but it’s fun to try it out. Even if we don’t, I will look at the Produce aisle differently from now on. It’s fun to plan a weekly menu around the vegetables, rather than looking at them as an afterthought.
Have you ever tried a grocery co-op?