Monday, January 3, 2011

The Rules

Well, there have to be a few rules, so here they are!!!

1.  If I already have it, I'll use it.  In other words, I'm not starting from scratch; if it's already in my pantry, freezer, or fridge, I'll cook with it.  So, I'll force myself to finish up my Cherry Coke Zero and Ben and Jerry's.  No point in letting that go to waste, right?  We'll talk more about ingredients already on hand in a minute.
2.  If it is given to me, I'll cook with it OR consume it.  While I'm not openly asking for donations of Cherry Coke Zero (yet), I'll accept food that comes my way!!! :)
3.  Whatever we grow, we'll cook/eat.  So when it's planting time, we'll carefully consider what to grow this year.  This will be especially important when it comes to herbs, as Aldi has a somewhat limited selection of dried herbs, and I've never even seen fresh herbs there.
4.  I'll continue to buy Enfamil formula for Luke.  I buy it at Sam's, which is the cheapest I've found.  I'll be giving him formula until he's about 9 months old, then switching to whole milk.  I've done this with the okay of our pediatrician with all the kids with no problems.  I'll also continue to buy baby food as he's transitioning to table food...which is happening right now!  Three teeth in and more on they way! :)  Aldi does not carry baby formula or food.  If they did, I'd definitely try it--I've asked about it and have been told that its too limited a product to carry.

Ingredients On Hand:
When I realized that I was actually going to do this, I began thinking about ingredients that I frequently use that Aldi does not carry.  The first thing that came to mind was yeast.  I use yeast quite a bit, at least once a week and sometimes two or three times.  Aldi does not carry jars of yeast; I have seen packets of yeast as "special buys" before, but even compared to buying yeast in bulk, the cost is pretty prohibitive if you use it even as often as I do.  When trying to figure out how to "get around" the yeast thing, a friend from church mentioned becoming a sour dough expert, which I considered.  There's also quite a variety of quick breads you can make, using baking powder as your rising agent.  But, in the end, I decided to just stock up on a supply of yeast, and bought a 2 pound package from Sam's for about $4.  Secondly, cornstarch.  I don't use cornstarch too often, probably about a container a year, and I was out of it sometime in November, so I bought more of that awhile back.  Although, as most people know, you can substitute flour for cornstarch, just double the amount of cornstarch the recipe calls for when using flour as a thickening agent.  I also pre-bought for the year Worcestershire sauce (I can't confirm Aldi doesn't carry it; but I've never seen it), soy sauce (again, can't confirm it and sometimes they have Asian foods as special buys but again, not ever guaranteed), Thai sweet chili sauce--we don't use much of it but really do like it, and Walmart's Sam's Choice Fajita Seasoning (I'll have to figure out how to re-create this when we run out!).  So there's my confessions.  That's what I already have on hand.  Oh, I also have some bread flour on hand, too, but I'm not too worried about not having that.  We'll see if I think of more things that I would need during the year! (I cannot tell you how much time I spent agonizing over yeast these past two weeks!!!)

I was thinking of giving myself a special allowance of $100 for extra special ingredients I may need during the year, but I don't think I'll do that.  It doesn't seem to fit the spirit of the experiment.

I haven't gone through all of 2010's receipts yet (HA-not even close!) to average how much I spent per week last year, but I think I'll be setting a food budget of $50 a week for our family of five, not including Luke's formula but including his baby food.  Separate from the $50 budget, we'll also plan on eating out once a week, which is usually on Sunday or Papa John's pizza (once a month).  I'm not putting this in stone right now, though, I may bump it up to $60; I'll give it a month to see.

Okay, so I think that's about it for now!  Let's get started!

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