Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 189- My Week For Tasty Pasta

I decided to do it. I went crazy and bought ingredients for exactly 1 meal, all week. Now, I still have most of the food I bought for last week- I'm just out of potatoes...

So I hit Save-a-lot for onions, and picked up 2, sure they were a pound between them, but no, only .61lbs. I guess their "estimating" scale is off. That was 63 cents- super nice, and with the 1/2 onion from the day before, I was plenty onioned for anything this week.

Then I swung over to Publix (after trying to go to a small local Asian market, which was closed, sigh) for the main part of the "meal"- pasta and sauce.

They didn't have my preferred pasta shape in the on-sale brand (medium shells, yum) so I got rotini instead. Then they didn't have anything really interesting in the "with wine" pasta sauces, so I got my booze-free near favorite, garlic and onion. $1.29 for 2lbs of pasta, and $2.69 for the 24oz jar of sauce.

It's possible that I could make sauce for that amount, but it wouldn't be as good- a can of whole peeled tomatoes is about $2 by itself, I'm out of olive oil, and dried basil just isn't the same. If I'd found the "vineyard" type sauce I like, I'd have also saved the cost of wine. Making your own sauce is cheap if you cost it by actual use, but not so much when you have to buy everything that goes in it.

So, having had no luck with the local Asian market, I wandered the whole 10 miles to the H&L supermarket. I managed to not buy tasty sweet chili sauce (no $), and got the largest package of tofu I could find for less than $1.50.


It's important, I think, to find the best place to buy something. Tofu is a great example of that. At the grocery store by my house a 14oz package of tofu is $3. At the Vegetable Bin the same size is $1.79. The Asian market? Same size, 12 varieties, $1.39. I got 1lb, 8oz of soft (almost silken) tofu for $1.49. I probably saved more on the food than I spent on the gas, and I got to have an adventure.

Right, back on topic-

Total spent for the week before tax- $5.89
Total spent for the week with tax- $5.99

So I have $1.01 left from this week and about $0.50 left over from last week. Plenty for onions and other extras if I need them. And plenty of stuff from last week I still haven't even touched.

So yesterday, I dunno if I said or not, but I nommed some peas and potatoes. I think I might have mentioned it, since I was, in fact, nomming it while writing. After shopping I made my first (big) batch of pasta.

ZOMG, it was yummy.

I need to work on the tofu-sticking thing, but it worked out ok.

So I made 1/2 box of pasta, used 1/4 of the total tofu, a bunch of oil, 1/4 of an onion, some salt, and about 1/3rd of the jar of sauce. Then I mixed it all up and nommed it. Wow, was I full after.

I'm going to make the same thing again today, but probably add some of the (rapidly disappearing) balsamic vinegar to the sauce. The soft tofu has a different texture than what i usually use, so rather than firming up and adding a solid texture to the dish, it was more like melted, lightly browned cheese, or egg whites. Different, but still good. I went with the larger package of softer tofu because I make this based on volume, not servings. I'll use the same 1/2 a slab of tofu no matter what- it's the amount that gets into the dish, having some for every fork-full that matters, not protein or calorie, or even calcium amounts.

Of course, the price for this tasty item is probably over $1 for the (huge) serving...
  • .325 for the pasta,
  • .06 for the onion
  • .375 for the tofu
  • .04 for the oil
  • .90 for the sauce
Yep, more than a dollar. But sooo tasty! The biggest place to make a difference would be the sauce, of course, but without growing my own, that's not coming down much. After that it gets into make-your-own pasta and tofu, which are both a bit more than I was interested in this week. Oh well.


  1. I really like the way this blog is back on track. I really liked the expenses part from the beginning of the previous half year, and that sort of got lost too quickly (and apparently, not recoverable at this time). So I hope you will keep it up, even though I know it's not the most fun part of your day. I think the cheating did kill last half's budget, but I would have still liked to see how that half went; after all, it's the reason for this blog, no?

    Quite happy you've done your first planned meal week and that you're liking it so far. Keep it up.

  2. Yeah, I'm trying to get back on track totally. I've even got a google doc spreadsheet started.

    I have most of the receipts from the first half of the year, but not all, and I don't know that going through it all now would help. It'd probably just make me feel more foolish about how much I cheated- 'cause I've got those receipts around somewhere, too.

    It is indeed why I'm doing it, and hopefully it'll go better this time.