Wednesday Food Post (plus: make awesome lasagne like me)

Y’all, I am killing it on the grocery front this month. Things got off to a good start when I took out cash at the beginning of the month, divided it up, and went shopping…only to come home with $45 still in my pocket from Week 1’s grocery/spending money. So on Saturday I added $60 to my wallet (Week 2’s spending money) and set out to do the shopping.

I made up an additional goal for myself to add to my previously-established 2015 goals. This goal: ZERO thrown-out food in 2015. I’m not going to get too wild — I won’t be composting vegetable scraps or making stock out of all my chicken bones — but I don’t want to toss any perishables languishing in the vegetable drawer, or any leftovers I just didn’t want to eat. Maximizing my food dollar and minimizing my waste: what’s not to like?

Here’s how I did this week:

Grocery Store
Cilantro, $.99
Limes, 3 for $1
White onion, $.95
Zucchini, $.88
Canned tomatoes, $1.59
Canned tomatoes with green chiles (2 cans), $1.50
Dried dates, $2.49
Bob’s Red Mill – Steel Cut Oats Organic – 24 oz., $3.69
Freezer bags, $2.99
2 avocados (on sale!!!), $2.00
Total with tax: $18.29

Whole Foods
Italian sausage, $1.68 (hot) and $3.46 (sweet)
1/2 lb Feta cheese, $3.11
chicken broth, $1.99
milk, $2.39
dried pinto beans, $3.60 (from the bulk bin)
blackberry-oatmeal scone, $1.99 (worth every penny)
Total with tax: $18.22

Farmer’s Market
cheese (ricotta and mozzarella), $9
kale, $2
cinnamon-sugar pretzel (breakfast), $3
total: $14

Grand total: $50.51…and with $54 in cash still in my pocket for the week’s spending money. I don’t generally use that much, but I’m going to take my former housemate out for breakfast after church tomorrow so we’ll probably burn through $20 of it collectively. I feel ok about that.

My meal plan for the week: oatmeal with dates and pecans for breakfast; posole for lunch; lasagne for dinner. Here’s my lasagne recipe — I’ll share the posole recipe too if people want, but it’s a little more labor-intensive.

Simple Lasagne
Six very generous servings or eight smaller ones. Reheats beautifully in the oven for up to a week. You can make it vegetarian by just skipping the sausage, and of course you could add other vegetables if you wanted.

1 package no-boil lasagne noodles (I like Barilla)
1 bundle kale, stems removed (shred it if you like; I usually don’t bother)
1 small zucchini, sliced thin
1 small yellow summer squash, sliced thin
28-oz can crushed or pureed tomatoes
about 1 lb Italian sausage, sweet or hot or a combo
1 lb ricotta cheese
some quantity of fresh mozzarella (I really don’t know; probably about 1/2 lb is right, just eyeball it)
1/2 c parmegiano cheese, grated
1 egg
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
salt and pepper to taste

1) Stir the ricotta, parmegiano, and egg together in a bowl until smooth; set aside.

2) In a large skillet, saute the onion in some olive oil for about 5 min, then add the garlic and saute for another 2 min. Crumble in the sausage (having slit the skin and taken the meat out) and brown. When the sausage is cooked through, add the can of tomatoes and let the whole thing simmer for 20 minutes or so. (Meanwhile you can slice the vegetables.)

3) Spread a little tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 pan and lay out some lasagne noodles. Then start stacking: spread some ricotta, layer on some kale and squash, add bits of mozzarella, then some tomato sauce, then more noodles–>ricotta–>kale–>squash–>mozzarella–>tomato sauce…. I usually end with some mozzarella and a thin layer of tomato sauce on top of the top noodle layer.

4) Cover in tin foil and bake at 350 for about half an hour, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

21 thoughts on “Wednesday Food Post (plus: make awesome lasagne like me)

  1. Alicia says:

    Yum, that sounds delicious. I’ll admit I had to look up what posole was. Sounds like something I could add to the slow cooker repertoire, maybe 😉 Do you get bored of eating the same meal day after day? Especially since you batch cook one meal for each. I batch cook, but I take advantage of it being two of us, so the recipes don’t go as far, and also, I freeze a lot of things, if they freeze well. I like variety. Breakfast I can eat the same. Lunch, I can do 3-4 days in a row the same, but I like variety in my dinners. 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, I bet posole would work well in the slow cooker! I don’t have one, so I’ve never tried it, but it seems like a good bet. So, the variety question is a good one — my current answer is one I’ve arrived at over the years. It turns out that I don’t mind eating the same thing all week, just as long as it’s something that has reasonably complicated flavors. I couldn’t eat plain meat and vegetables all week and be happy about it, or pasta with a simple tomato sauce. But if a lot of variety goes into a single dish, I’m fine eating it four or five times because there’s so much going on that it doesn’t get boring 🙂 There’s a really clear pattern to the things I make — one-pot meals with 10-15 ingredients 🙂

  2. Michelle says:

    Good job with your food budget! Not throwing away perishables is a great food-related goal to have. We have a very similar goal as well. I hate how much food we wasted last year!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thanks! I love actually coming under instead of going right up to the limit 🙂 And yeah, I’m so frustrated with my food waste issue over the years. It’s really easy for me to over-buy. Hoping I do much better this year.

  3. That’s a great goal! I hate throwing food out so much. I try not to do it and it’s a big part of keeping my food budget down this year.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, I always tried not to do it too…but I still did. I’m making a list of specific behaviors to stop that I’ll post about next week because I’m so tired of wasting money (plus feel guilty about wasting food.)

  4. Do you have snacks at all in between meals? I swear this is where my grocery budget goes wrong, but I am ALWASY hungry, which I’ll have more explanation in a post on Friday. 🙂 I love lasagna, but pasta in general is one of those things I tend to avoid because it makes me put on weight. Sucks too because it’s so much cheaper!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I am definitely one of those always-hungry people. With you it’s probably partly that you exercise so much! So, my snack regimen: I usually pack a cut-up apple or some other kind of fruit to have at the office, either mid-morning or mid-afternoon depending on what’s going on. (Apples are my go-to because they’re a good balance of cheap and filling and I can usually get good ones, but I get tired of them sometimes.) I also always have a bar of dark chocolate hanging around. I usually have a cup of coffee mid-afternoon too and I find that weirdly filling, much more than tea is for some reason. In the summer I sometimes bring yogurt (I buy a big container of plain low-fat yogurt and swirl a little jam in for flavor) but I don’t like it when it’s cold out. I usually eat dinner pretty early (I’m generally starving by the time I get home from work) so I often have a piece of toast a few hours later, and if I’m working from home I’ll make toast for a daytime snack too. I use my own homemade bread, so it’s reasonably healthy and cheap as these things go. I agree that keeping snack cost down is key — I cave and go buy a cookie or something on a regular basis, though I’ve been better about that since I started keeping the chocolate bar around. Oh, the other snack thing I do sometimes is just make cookies at home and bring a couple in; I usually have the raw ingredients lying around because I use them for other things (butter, eggs, flour, oats, brown sugar, nuts, raisins or chocolate chips) so even though they obviously are not free, I rarely have to buy stuff specifically to make them. I’ve sort of semi-given up on my weight; eating the way I do now, I maintain around 150 (I’m 5’6″), which is definitely not skinny but is much better than I used to be and getting down even further would require me to make bigger lifestyle changes than I’ve so far been willing to make. So pasta it is 🙂

  5. catherine says:

    Do you post on Mr CBB’s grocery challenge? you totally should if you don’t already 🙂 i consider myself to be a good cook but have never actually cooked a lasagna and it makes me feel like a bit of a fraud haha.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I looked at it once but I remember it seemed crazy complicated and had something to do with coupons (which I don’t do)? I have a perhaps weird amount of fun typing these up though. I’m playing a game with myself to see how well I can eat for how little 🙂 (I could go cheaper, but my quality of life would start to suffer. I’m not being particularly self-denying here.)

      I’d never made lasagna either until a couple of years ago and now I make it all the time — usually a variation of the recipe I gave above. It’s not a classic lasagna, which involves both a much more complicated version of tomato sauce and also a bechamel. I have made that kind too, and it’s delicious, but it also takes much much longer and isn’t as healthy (much more fat, much fewer vegetables). The one I posted above is much easier and I feel ok about eating it often.

  6. Chonce says:

    Great job with your food spending. I’ve been having a pretty good month with grocery spending myself. Thanks for the awesome recipe! I love switching up my meals from time to time so I’m always eager to try to make new things.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Oooh, let me know if you end up making it!

  7. Zero food waste? That’s impressive. I flinch when I think about how much food we throw out!

    Good luck with your challenge and congrats on your grocery spending, you’re doing awesome!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thanks! I’m going to use these Wednesday posts for a while to talk about what I’m doing to make my goal — it’ll be difficult for me as I’m really prone to over-buying produce, but you know, I just got sick of my wasteful ways in the same way I got sick of my debt! I think I’m ready to make the commitment.

  8. Yum that lasagne sounds awesome! I’ll have to give it a try. Great job on your grocery trip this week.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Give it a shot and let me know how it goes! And thanks 🙂

  9. Liz says:

    I think I might adapt your goal of not throwing out any food as well. We’ve come a long way over the years, but we still have room for improvement. Lasagna sounds delicious!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, I was thinking about it and suddeny I got so fed up with myself and my over-buying habit! This is the year to get things under control.

  10. Christine says:

    Zero food waste can be tough but not impossible! I freeze everything I possibly can (produce, bread, sauces) to keep them for longer. Then there’s always those dishes like casseroles, stirfrys, omelettes, where you can reuse stirfrys.

    1. Christine says:

      I guess I’m craving a stirfry 🙂 I meant to say where you can reuse leftovers!

      1. thesingledollar says:

        LOL yes — stirfrys are great, you should make one this weekend 🙂

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