Budgeting Blues and Dire Overestimations

2013-04-24 23.01.11

I went shopping Wednesday night to prepare for next week’s Live Below the Line challenge. I had previously brainstormed a list of ingredients I thought would be low-cost and relatively quick/easy/complementing to make and that would be versatile in a number of dishes, especially since I wouldn’t have as many options as I would like.

I was so wrong on the amounts I could afford. With the team’s total of $15 (a two person team), our ingredient spread was a lot wider, but not as much as I had hoped.

The bulk of our meals will consist of rice, lentils, or beans. Initially, I wanted to give us more variation, so I sought out two types of beans. The market we visited only had one bag of brown rice and I was unhappy with it, so we went for a type of white rice called yellow koku rice. I grabbed kidney beans and black beans, but decided to get pinto instead of kidney. Later we had to nix the pinto beans in favor of adding sweet peppers. We had to forgo the celery and mixed greens to keep cornmeal and soybeans.2013-04-24 23.01.24

The soybeans may seem unnecessary, but they will double up as soymilk and okara to be used in baking unleavened breads or carrot muffins.

Many things we didn’t even bother looking at, considering them an extravagance (my poor mushrooms).  The most expensive overall item was the sweet peppers at $2.69 per bag, and the most expensive per pound/usefulness was the garlic at $0.75. Our most expensive category was beans/lentils ($5.02), followed by vegetables ($4.43), then starches ($3.80) and finally the spices/oils ($1.57). After we excluded some of the previous items we thought we could afford (I am still bemoaning the loss of celery, pinto beans, dried fruit, honey, and mixed greens) we ended up under budget at $14.82.2013-04-24 23.01.33

This is what we’ll have on hand for the week:

Rice (about 2 pounds)

Cornmeal (about 2 pounds)

Rolled Oats (1 1/2 pounds)

Black Beans (1 1/2 pounds)

Soybeans (1 1/2 pounds)

Lentils (1 1/2 pounds)

1 Yellow Onion (medium)

Bag of Carrots (about 7 in bag)

1 Head of Garlic

2 Radishes

Bag of Sweet Peppers (about 12 in bag)





Curry Powder

Canola Oil



One response to “Budgeting Blues and Dire Overestimations

  1. As a working mom of 3 young ones, I too struggle with meal planning. I am currently working on a web tool that helps me make it easier. Try it if you like (currently in Beta), I would love to know if it helps you and your family. Contact me at terra@mealspring.comif you would like more info -mealspring.com

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