Saturday, May 1, 2010

Day 77- End of Month Blahs

I was kinda down yesterday, so instead of making and eating healthy, tasty, good for me food that might make me feel better I grabbed a bag of chips when I was restocking my soda supply. And that's what I ate- a big bag of chips. All day long.

While I was eating them, I though about what I'd be eating if there weren't a budget- what I want right now.

It's actually kinda silly. I want a meatball sub.

Well, ok, so not a *real* meatball sub. I want a baguette I didn't have to make from scratch, a jar of good spag. sauce, and a bag of Nate's Meatless Meatballs. Fry the meatballs with a bit of onion, dump on the sauce and a bit of red wine... I think I ate this twice a day for three weeks before moving.

The part I really crave, though? It's the pasta sauce. I *love* pasta sauce which is probably a strange thing to my mother, since I insisted that spaghetti be served with nothing but butter and garlic powder until I was about 15....

Back to sauce- I *love* the mid-range good ones- five brothers, barilla, the odd jar of newmans. I don't feel bad adding a pile of stuff to them like I would with the $8 stuff, and I don't have to read carefully through the ingredients like with the "cheap" stuff. I put it on pizza, top polenta with it, mix it with a dozen yummy things to make it better and toss with pasta. I love sauce.

It's really the biggest change in my eating. I know the way I started off might give the idea that I ate nothing but ice cream and chips before, but I wasn't quite that bad. Like anyone else, I like good food. Most of it I can make with a bit of creativity and some work (tofu ricotta-stuffed ravioli), but some things are just tough on this budget. Tomato sauce seems to be one of them.

I'd pick up a jar, but it's really no fun without wine and tofu. It'll be a while before I can add those in. Maybe I'll save up for new years, or something.

In other news, I think I might be coming down with a bit of appetite exhaustion. Even onions and garlic aren't interesting at the moment. I can't think of anything fun to do with them and what I've got. I'm trying to come up with ideas that sound good, but I discard everything as either un-interesting. Well, other than the meatball sub, and even that's not really all that interesting ATM.

Any ideas? I might shoot them down in my head- nothing really sounds good right now (I blame the split peat thing), so it's tough to imagine getting excited about food. But ideas are joyfully accepted.


  1. How about making sauce...we use 1 can crushed tomato, couple of cloves of minced garlic, a pinch of sugar and basil (if you have fresh it is amazing). Simmer for a few hours and you are good to is tem million times better than anything you will get in a jar.

    Oh, and after your pizza post we had to have pizza for dinner last night. I too love a cripsy crust but we use italian dressing and pre bake the crust for about ten minutes. This makes it super crispy.

  2. Actually, you could make your own tomato sauce really easily, and it would be better than the jarred stuff, and cheaper, too. Less sugar, also. A couple cans of crushed tomatoes and tomato paste in a pot, some salt, whatever herbs you like, a little olive oil, and then just let it simmer. And you can freeze it for ages. I make my own sauce all the time, and usually add lots of basil, a little oregano, bay leaf, plenty of fresh chopped garlic, and some red wine (I prefer a malbec), but that's just me. It's really just the tomatoes that matter (and I think the basil). It's WAAAY more cost effective, you get so much more volume for your money than a jar, if it has cooked too far down before you've gotten the flavor you want you can just add water and keep cooking it til it tastes the way you want - it's a great way to spend a Saturday that you're going to be home all day with other stuff anyway. I've also used a jarred sauce as a base, and then added crushed tomatoes and paste to increase the volume, and seasoned from there.

    And if people can make burgers out of black beans, why couldn't you make meatballs? Ooh, what about black bean ravioli?*

    *I'm making lamb ravioli today, so I've got ravioli on the brain.

  3. veganomicon has a pretty delish recipe for bean balls; it's basically kidney beans + gluten flour + some seasonings and fried or basted in the oven with tomato sauce.

    i second the make-your-own sauce suggestions. a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes is, like, 68 cents here in TX, and sauce from that will totally last a long time.

    PS - this is my first comment, but i read your blog every day. keep up the good work :)

  4. ITA with Kim that you could totally make black bean "meatballs." I made some delish black bean burgers ~ and I am NOT a vegetarian by any means. Also agree with everyone on the make your own sauce idea. I always make my own and it is super easy and inexpensive. Onions, garlic, sauteed in oil, diced veggies (small dice, whatever you have) saute til soft and add crushed canned tomatoes (cheap store brand)and simmer til the flavors meld together. Yummy!

  5. BTW........My name is Shannon, not Trey. I posted the previous comment and didn't realize my little boy was still logged on. LOL

  6. I now have total envy of all of you with affordable canned tomatoes. The best I've seen here was $1 at (surprise surprise) the dollar store. Even at save-a-lot they're expensive.

    Saryn- that crispy crust sounds like a great base for grilled veggies (or chicken).

    Kim- I'm not sure what else to put with black beans in ravioli, though. I know what to put with something like sweet potato, but black beans are a bit... odd. Beanballs, though, I might have to give a go.

    Cara- I thought I'd seen something like that in there... I might have to adapt it to use chickpeas or pintos, though, as I've got no kidney beans. or maybe I could try those chickpea cutlets... They get good reviews....

    Oh, and happy first comment!

    Shannon- Oops! Good ideas, though.

    I gotta admit that what I miss most about the jarred sauce/ purchased bread/ pre-made meatballs deal was that I could dump the protein in the pan, then dump the sauce over that, then dump it all onto my huge stick-o-carbs. I'd be eating and reading in bed (bad habit, btw) before water could boil (@ 7200 feet). It's a lazy thing.

  7. Well, my thinking with the ravioli is to treat the black beans like chopped meat, same as you would when making meatballs. So essentially you'd make the 'meat'balls, and then use them to stuff ravioli.

    As for cheap canned tomatoes - depending on the size, $1 isn't bad, as it can go a long way.

  8. I am also from TX, and I have not seen 28oz cans of tomatoes for 68 cents in a long time, so I am wondering where Cara is getting hers.

    Recently, I have also been warned that eating tomato products from cans isn't good for you, something about acid and metal reacting, but that tomatoes from glass jars are fine. I am wondering if there is anything to that, or if it is total BS rumor started by Ragu or somebody else who sells sauce in jars.

  9. You may want to look into some generic spaghetti sauce. I know I can get a jar for 99 cents and I live in NYC so I can't imagine that you wouldn't be able to find something similar. You might need to toss in some garlic or basil or something but it is actually pretty tasty and a whole jar would probably last you a full week or so.

  10. Sorry, kinda slow commenting.

    Kim- $1 isn't bad at all, I just wish it wasn't $5 in gas away. I'll have to work on the black bean idea... you never know, it could turn out good.

    laughing- I think most canned tomatoes actually have a thin plastic liner. I know it *can* be eaten through eventually, but honestly? I store my leftovers in dollar store plastic baggies or glad-ware, and when I can't find a clean bowl will nuke the oats-o-doom in plastic, too. A bit of leached metal isn't that bad, really.

    Rachel- I've actually seen cans of spaghetti sauce at the dollar store, but they've always either got meat, mystery natural flavors (meat), or mushrooms in them. The meat's a no go, and I can't afford a trip to the ER for allergic reaction, so until I find another source I'm SOL on that one.

  11. I can't usually find 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes for a dollar, either. But I do often see generic brand 14-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes on sale for 2/$1. So it amounts to the same thing. I don't know if you do this, but typically you can find the local circulars online and peek through them to find the sales.

    I do agree w/ the others that great tasting sauce can be made much, much cheaper than it can be purchased for. Also, if you have canning equipment it can be canned (I often make large batches and can it, as my partner will start buying volumes of expensive canned sauce if I let us run out) and you won't have to fuss with it later. Alternately you can freeze it in freezer bags.