Tag Archives: shopping

I fed my family for a week with Farmer’s Market Goodies for $82

A High Country Food Hub/Local Farm Meal Challenge!

This is a tad lengthy, but I feel worth it, so stick with me!

Often times, one of the stumbling blocks of shopping for locally produced ingredients is the so-called expense of feeding one’s family. Granted, it can be more expensive to shop at the farmer’s market for locally-raised meat and produce. It’s not always the case, but it’s to be expected.These are big time corporations here, these are small farms with a few employees, sometimes it’s just the farmer himself/herself. I try to be intentional about my shopping. I like to shop from local farmers, because my purchase could help send their child to dance lessons or to a math tutor. I know whose hands have touched that food and I know that it’s absolutely as fresh as can be.We also budget our grocery shopping (we use the Dave Ramsey “cash method” to stay in budget). But being 30 minutes away, going to the farmer’s market isn’t easy for me on Saturday, so I love the convenience of shopping online at the High Country Food Hub. Purchasing online uses our debit card, but we adjust accordingly. If you haven’t heard of the High Country Food Hub, I invite you to check out their website. They’re a part of Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and they provide online access to local farmers to make it easier for you and me. I just love the service and they do so much to bring the community together with local agriculture with shopping, events, etc.  By the way, this post is not sponsored…this truly was my own  idea.

The challenge: Shop for a week’s worth of local goodies and make meals for my family. with it.  Budget: $100. I did my shop and it was $82 and some change.
Of course, I used some pantry/fridge ingredients to supplement like rice, onions, garlic, sauces to help stretch that budget but that’s to be expected. I did not go to the grocery store for any components I needed for my meals, only for random items like milk, avocado, snacks that I like to have on hand every week anyway. And I did swing by a local farm stand to get peaches one day because summer. Incidentally, the food hub does sell delicious whole creamery milk, but my son, the primary drinker, prefers 2%. And I placed my order too late to get Owl Creek bread.

Here’s my order:
Mixed cherry tomatoes, A Bushel and a Peck Farm
Heirloom tomatoes (red slicers)  Against the Grain
Heirloom tomatoes (mixed) New Life Farm
Purple potatoes, Blue Ridge Naturals 
Summer squash/zucchini, A Bushel and a Peck
Arugula, Full Moon Farm
Spring salad mix, Full Moon Farm
Shishito peppers,  Full Moon Farm
Mixed red/yellow sweet peppers, New Life Farm
Cucumbers, New Life Farm
Blueberries, Moffitt-Toolan Family Farm
Boston Butt, BRG Farms
Ground beef (2 lbs), Moffitt-Toolan, BRG Farms
Beef stew meat, Chestnut Grove Farms
Garlic brats, CS Farm
Chorizo sausage, Moffitt-Toolan

Here are the meals I prepared, with the local goods in italics. A recap of the recipes is coming soon is not up! 

Meal 1: (served 6) Paella Fried Rice using chorizo, some leftover chicken, leftover rice from a previous meal, peppers, onion, cilantro.

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Meal 2:  (served 8) Cincinnati Chili (This was enough for another meal of leftovers days later (without the spaghetti the second time). This counts as 2 family meals.
Beef was the only local item in this meal.

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Meal 3: (served 5) Pulled Pork using the Boston butt, Rainbow Veggies using the zucchini, peppers, shishitos, Purple Mashed Potatoes

 

Meal 4: (enough for 4) Mediterranean Night with garlic brats, peppers, blistered tomatoes (leftover rainbow veg) and Fried Feta w/ pita and hummus

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Meal 5: (served 5) Southwest Bowls w/Chorizo & Chicken, peppers & pico de gallo  (using tomatoes) on local grits

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Meal 6: (served 4) Korean Beef Bowls w/ Instant Pot stewed beef, zucchini, mushrooms

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Meal 7: (served 2) Arugula & Spring Mix Caesar Salad 

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Meals 1-6 (including leftovers from the chili) were were enough to feed my entire family. Paella fried rice gave us leftovers for 2 people. SW Bowls gave us another leftover meal for 1 (I turned it into breakfast), then there were a number of smaller meals, like salads, BLT’s.  Take a look.

Arugula salad with peaches, blueberries, burrata (served 2)

Arugula with figs, pancetta and burrata (served 1)

Spring mix salad with tomatoes (served 2)

Everyday cucumber salad with tomatoes (served 1)

BLT (served 2) using spring mix, arugula and tomato

I used the blueberries in smoothies, as well as snacking.

The eggs were used in a couple of different breakfasts including one that used the leftover pulled pork into an omelet. We still have half dozen eggs left.

 

Foodies, that means for my $82, I was able to make 40+ plates of food with those staples and every family meal included a locally-raised meat (6 meals that fed all 4 of us, a salad for 2, plus leftovers and individual lunches).  I shocked even myself with the ability to extend my dollar. And what’s more…my husband and son both went on a trip a few days into the “challenge”, putting it on hold, and the salad, peppers, zucchini were all still fresh two weeks later. I bought the food on Aug. 7, started the meal portion of the challenge on Aug. 9, stopped family meals Aug. 11 and restarted on Aug. 16 and completed Aug. 19. While they were away, I made salads for myself and ate leftovers with my daughter. It’s probably the healthiest I’ve eaten in a long time with well-balanced, colorful local goodness.  The other takeaway is that we don’t have to be nervous about using up these ingredients. None of the produce went soft or bad and it took me almost 2 weeks to eat it all.

Guys, I’m nothing special, I made a meal plan of items I know my people like and bought ingredients from the Food Hub based on my meal plan, which is nothing different than I do if I’m typical grocery store shopping. My habits are usually Food Hub every 2 weeks, then I fill in with a grocery shop, and when I go down the mountain to Winston-Salem, I usually hit Trader Joe’s (once a month). Every now and then, I shop a local market or Earth Fare, but we have a cash budget and we stick to it as much as possible (sudden trips for ice cream or chocolate chips don’t count, do they?).

I want to make it clear that this is not a sponsored post. Items were purchased with our own money. This really was a challenge….to see how I’d do.

As for the recipes, some are tried and true and found online, some are mine and most of the salads are seriously just thrown together. Recipes coming at you Thursday!

By the way, if I’ve kept you to this point, on Friday, the Hub is having a Fill Your Freezer sale with lots of great locally raised beef. There will be presentations at the Ag building (address is on the flyer below) all day long beginning with ME at 11:30 when I demonstrate how to sear and carve a flank steak. Come see us and maybe you can get a taste of the flank steak with a delicious corn and tomato salsa that’s perfect for tailgating at App’s first home game! presentations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Pinot Noir Could Be Your New Fave

Caleb Flint of Wine Merchants in WS offered me a bottle of Amity Vineyards White Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2017 for an honest review. We are grateful for the opportunity (and the wine). All opinions are my own.

My favorite kind of wine is red wine. And of the reds, my favorite has been Pinot Noir. And no that has nothing to do with the film, Sideways. 😀 . Though a Malbec sometimes does sometimes hit the spot.  I also do try to support NC Wine as much as possible but I do like to change up.  So when Wine Merchants talked about a White Pinot Noir, I was intrigued. After grabbing a bottle,  I took a little time and meal planning for when to enjoy it. Mr. foodie and I like wine, but we have two kiddos at home and sometimes we can’t just open a bottle up and enjoy. And we rarely finish a bottle between the two of us in one night. Plus, I wanted to have a mushroom pasta dish. I am particular like that.

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Then the night came. Opened up a bottle of the White Pinot on a pasta night. I enjoyed a glass while cooking. What we found was a lightly fruity, very clean wine with body that drinks quite easily alone and is wonderful with pasta, cheese and poultry and particularly, mushrooms. Bonus points if you can manage that in one dish, which we did (a browned butter balsamic mushroom sauce over ravioli with grilled chicken). The photo of the dish didn’t come out well. But I’ll make it again and share the recipe.

The wine went perfectly. I have a feeling this is going to be in the regular rotation.

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i see you

White Pinot Noir is gaining in popularity but is still considered somewhat “rare” compared to other varietals.  it takes a special process because Pinot Noir grapes are obviously red. This is an excerpt from VinePair.

To make white wine from red grapes, winemakers take careful steps to ensure that there is minimum contact, or maceration, between the pre-fermented must and color-giving grape skins. To eliminate maceration for white Pinot, only a small amount of the grape’s juice can be fermented into white wine.
Free-run juice is released when grapes are piled, and their skins break under their own weight. In white winemaking, this produces the highest quality wines because there’s minimal contact with bitter skins and seeds. Free-run juice, and occasionally must from a very light pressing, are used to make Blanc de Noirs still wines.

White Pinot Noir also listed as Pinot Noir Blanc or Blanc de Noirs.  In Winston-Salem, you can find Amity Vineyards for about $25 at Wine Merchants & Vin 205 Wine Bar at 205 S. Stratford Rd. in Winston-Salem.  (336) 765-8175.

By the way, if you haven’t been to Wine Merchants or the bistro next door, get yourself over there. The restaurant is one of the most underrated spots in all of the Triad. Read about them here.  Site of 2 Chef’s Tables! That’s how good.

Cheers!

The Great Pantry (and Fridge and Freezer) Raid

First of all, I pro’lly need to get down to the business of admitting I have a problem.

A condiment problem.

I love them. I love them if they’re artisan. I love them if they’re hot. I love them if they’re salsa, jammy…I have shelves of them both chilled and not.

Did I just make a rhyme? Sigh…Anyway. I also have found myself with a plethora of mustards and hot sauces and syrups among other things and it’s getting pretty ridiculous. I do have 2 refrigerators. Blessedly the 2nd one is just filled with drinks like milk, soda, tonic water, beer. But I recently decided I needed to intervene myself. So I went over to Jen’s Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and she does this Pantry Challenge and she uses up all her ingredients on meals and they don’t shop for anything unless it’s absolutely necessary (think butter, milk, some produce). IMG_2119

But as you can see I have another problem. A too much stuff problem. Just shelves crammed with all the things. And it started out so neatly (sorry, no photo for proof). But let’s back up a second.

We sold our house with the 2 (yes TWO!!) pantries because I turned a utility closet under my stairs into a pantry just so my crock pot and canisters and baking ingredients could have a place to be. I don’t like so much on my counters. Then there was another “cooking” pantry with spices and pasta, cereal, snacks, etc. Stocked full those two pantries were. Because I like condiments (and anything else the store sells).

Went from two pantries to one measly pantry in the house that we rent while we build THE house with the pantry (YOU SHOULD SEE MY FUTURE PANTRY–it’s sexy). So it’s just spilling over…see? It’s pretty bad over the last few weeks since summer break. That row with the canisters and the ones above it looked like Pinterest, man.

So I decided that it’s time. I hate to waste…not about to throw stuff out unless it’s expired (and sometimes not even then) so I’m asking you to join me in this great pantry raid. Won’t it be fun?  I need you to help me do this, foodies. I need your ideas. I’ll share mine.

To start off last night, I used frozen chicken tenders and used some Texas Pete Buffalo Wing sauce plus some Texas Pete Cha! and BBQ sauce for half of them. The other half got some Trader Joe’s Thai Chili sauce and some soy sauce. Used up some leftover pimento cheese grits and some salad and the last bit of Kitchen Roselli Italian Island dressing. And I must say it did feel good getting rid of the…the chicken and grits. Ugh! See, I still have lots of sauce left as I didn’t use up all the sauce. Not that I worry about sriracha and bbq sauce…they’re kind of staples.

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So one of the brave things I want to do is a suggestion Mr. foodie has and that’s do a mystery grab for the marinade or sauce for the proteins. Maybe it’ll be tasty to grab dijon and add it to blueberry preserves. We shall see! I mean, this is what the fridge and freezer looks like and it makes me sad.

Sad because there’s apparent abundance here. And I really dislike cooking in this rental because it’s so small and not what I’m used to. So we do eat out a bit more here. But there are people hungry and we just let food in our pantry just sit there. Like, I don’t eat enough sandwiches for all the mustard. If mr. foodie and I get back into the habit of eating smoked chicken sausages then we’d be cleaning this thing out properly. We really don’t eat enough carbs to enjoy all the pasta and rice. So I think a donation to a food pantry is definitely in order. And I’m not a coupon-er. At all. I guess it could be worse.

Are you with me? Follow me on Instagram /@triadfoodies and Facebook and we’ll do this together. Show me your purge. If you want to cook what’s on your shelves, let’s get to it! Don’t shop unless you absolutely have to. I’m going to try to bake something from those mixes every week, maybe twice a week. What did you do with the frozen rotisserie chicken and black beans? What about your mustards? Share away. Use the tag #pantryraid and tag @triadfoodies and we can eliminate some excess together.

Good luck and a few prayers for guidance would be nice 🙂