$200/month grocery challenge – Part III

This is the third installment of a 5-part series.  Missed the first two parts?  Go here and here

My family and I recently completed a 4-week long experiment in which we aimed to drastically reduce our spending on groceries and continue to eat well, perhaps even better than before.  If you’re curious, here are our weekly meal plans for the month.

Seasonal produce: A dilemma
Did we make it?  Yes and no.  Yesterday I explained the way in which we succeeded.   Today I’ll expand on how and why we didn’t.

Abundance brought on our failure.
Abundance fueled our failure

A whole bunch of seasonal produce opportunities presented themselves last month.  We had a plethora of zucchini and (red and green) tomatoes from the garden which needed to be processed in order to preserve them for later.  In addition, I negotiated a screamin’ deal at the farmer’s market for a case of peaches one night and a bag of nectarines another.  Although I wasn’t sure whether or not it would taint the experiment, I went ahead and spent the money required to do the produce “projects” ($72.23 in total).  I just couldn’t let peach, tomato and zucchini season fade away while I ran the $200 experiment.

Here are the projects I did to preserve the season’s bounty:

Piccalilli – using red and green tomatoes from the garden

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Curried Zucchini soup – using zucchini from the garden

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Garlic Zucchini soup – again featuring zucchini from the garden

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Peach crisp

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Nectarine sauce

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Here’s the breakdown of what I had to purchase for each project and the associated costs.

$200 month produce project costs

Together the projects yielded 7 quarts of piccalilli, 9 quarts of soup, 5 peach crisps, and 1 quart of nectarine sauce.  Not bad for just over 70 bucks.

Initially I thought this was a one-off, and that my regular grocery budget wouldn’t have to account for bonanzas like this.  But then I remembered apple season is coming up.  And pomegranates, pumpkins and squash are here.  Then our oranges will ripen…  It’s never-ending.  And thank goodness!  What joy and deliciousness these seasonal treats provide.  I’ve got to make a little room in the budget for stocking up on such treats when they are plentiful.  It turns out there will always be something!

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In the long-run, buying lots of seasonal produce at its peak of freshness (and lowest price) and preserving it (frozen or canned, solo or in a dish you’ve prepared) is a very economical way to eat healthfully.  While $40 seems like a lot to spend on stone fruit in a single month, next month we won’t have to buy any, but we’ll be enjoying it all the same, along with whatever is newly in season.  And that’s a good thing, as you-know-who says.

Tomorrow, read how we did with eating out during the $200/month grocery experiment.

5 thoughts on “$200/month grocery challenge – Part III

  1. Admiring your industry & consciousness re good
    Food and good practice. Here on TN, I am still picking tomatoes and cherry peppers. Come first frost, all the green ones will simmer into a nice chutney! BtW: Peaches are great
    Salsa makers too! Congrats on your blog, Sarah, keep it stirring!

      1. I use them daily in scramblesd eggs and salads. The surplus gets frozen whole and will land in stews and sauces!
        Do you use a food processor much? I came up with a yummy apple sauce /spread after simmering apples (quartered only) overnight on crockpot with generous amount of cinnamon, then hand pressed through strainer, and further blended in food processor for a consistency similar to apple butter . Man is it good!

        1. I love my food processor. The number one use this summer was shredding zucchini. Boy can that baby make fast work of a few pounds. And my son loves to push the zucchini down the chute (supervised, of course).

          Your applesauce technique sounds interesting. Usually I core and peel in a single go with an apple peeler like this one:
          Victorio VKP1010 Apple and Potato Peeler, Suction Base
          I’m not real big on single-use gadgets, but every year at apple season I’m so grateful I have this thing. Once the apples are peeled I core them and cook them down in a soup pot, mashing a bit with a potato masher. But this year I decided I would try the crockpot method. Sounds easy and delicious. Right up my alley.


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