Friday, April 2, 2010


You know, sometimes I outdo myself with frugal food. This is one of those times.

You the CSA, times have been a bit light this season. Overall, our yields have gone down. Mostly because the CSA has grown, and I think one of the complaints is that the 1/2 share is "too much food". Which we thought also when we first started. So when Tuesday or Wednesday comes around (Thursday being CSA day), our veggie drawers are empty.

This week, on the way home I was driving past the Mexican grocery store. I haven't been there in awhile because it's not on my normal route. (It's spring break, my son is at his old daycare for the week, it's now on my route). So I stopped in. I forgot how cheap the produce is there.

So I bought some broccoli and cabbage. Broccoli - I bought at Whole Foods last week for $3.50. That's because I made it all the way home before I realized they charged me $2.99/lb for organic broccoli crowns instead of plain old regular broccoli, which was $1.29/lb. I really should pay more attention. Usually do, but I've been tired lately.

At this store, it was $0.99/lb. And the cabbage? $0.39/lb. Major score.

Dinner tonight, which was THIS close to being Dominos (did I mention that I have a cold?) was stir-fried cabbage (from American Wholefoods Cuisine) and tempeh and white bean sausage patties (from Vegan with a Vengeance). Here goes:

Tempeh Sausage Patties: adapted from VWAV, because I didn't have enough tempeh:
8 oz five-grain tempeh (NOT moldy): $1.50
1.5 c. cooked white beans (from dried): 0.25
1 T chopped fresh sage: 0.45
1 T chopped fresh thyme: 0.36
2 cloves chopped garlic: 0.20
1 tsp fennel seeds, chopped: 0.05 (I say 0.05, because we've had these probably for about 10 years, and they are still good. At some point, they are free right?)
1 T tomato paste: 0.03
S&P to taste
3 T olive oil: 0.11
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp Bragg's liquid aminos: 0.08
1/4 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs: 0
pinch cayenne and nutmeg
Total: $3.05 for 9 patties, or about 0.34 each

Break up the tempeh. Put in a pot with water almost to cover. Cover and cook 5 min or so, until water is absorbed. Drain remaining water, if any. Mix with beans and mash with fork until beans are almost all mashed. Add 1 tsp liquid aminos. Put in a bowl.

Clean out your saucepan. Add 1 Tbsp oil and saute garlic and fennel for 1 min. Add sage, thyme, nutmeg and cayenne and salt and pepper. Saute 30 more secs. Add to tempeh and beans in the bowl and add the rest of the aminos.

Heat rest of the olive oil in a skillet. Form bean mixture into patties and fry 3 mins per side.

Stir-fry cabbage (adapated from American Wholefoods Cuisine):
21 oz cabbage (that's the size of our head): 0.51
1 T soy sauce: 0.08
1 T honey: 0.09
2 T rice wine vinegar: 0.32
Total: 1.00 for about six 1/2-cup servings. We ate almost the whole thing for dinner.

So this is the amazing thing. We ate:
6 patties: 2.03
1/3 loaf of french bread: 1.00
2 Tbsp earth balance: 0.21
cabbage : 0.83

$4.07. For all three of us. Pretty good deal.

Now, we could have trimmed that even further. I could have made my own bread. But let's be real. I have a full time job that is getting more stressful by the minute (what did I really think, going to a start-up?) And a kid. I'm not making bread unless it comes out of a bread machine.

Also, if I grew my own herbs, or substituted dried, that would be cheaper. In fact, for these herbs to be this cheap, I have to use the rest or diligently lay them out to dry (the sage and the thyme) so that I can use them again. What I generally do, against any kind of recommended method, is to put them on a plate on the counter until they are bone dry, and figure "that's good!"

Today's question: will I be able to run 12 miles tomorrow with a cold? Will I even try?


Anonymous said...

well that is much cheaper and better than dominoes for sure! yum! sorry you have a cold :( are you sure it is not allergies-mine have been the worst lately. good luck if you run your 12 are a stud!
happy easter :)

Joanne said...

Whoa this is frugal to the max! I'm loving it. I could SO use some frugality lately.

Daniel said...

Love it. Oh, the glories of a local ethnic food market. You never know what kinds of treasures you might find!

This is what I always tell my readers to do: look for alternatives to counteract the lack of competition in your usual grocery store. Power to the people!

Casual Kitchen

Judi said...

Love cabbage stir-fried! We like it just steamed with salt on it too. My kids devour it! We are always amazed at how much cheaper produce is at the Asian market we visit periodically. We love beets at our house and they are soooo much cheaper there than at the grocery where they cost $2.99 for three beets!