What’s for Dinner

In our veggie box this week we got a bunch of radishes, a bunch of chard, a pint of figs, four grapefruits, a bunch of beets, three eggplants, four sweet peppers, four yellow summer squash and three pattypans. Yesterday Robin and I had the squash for lunch, mixed in with some macaroni and cheese from a box, and for dinner we had sauerkraut soup: I love sauerkraut so I was intrigued by the recipe, but although it wasn’t bad I don’t think it’s good enough to make again.

Tonight we’re having baked potatoes with sauteed garlicky chard, and I mean to make this a habit, because I’ve realized that one way to cut down on our grocery costs is to have a baked-potato-and-vegetable night once a week. I spend a lot on groceries, as may be apparent: I like to cook with frou-frou ingredients like fancy cheeses, and I like to buy organic/humanely raised meat and produce, yadda yadda—basically I’m a Whole Foods drone. But also, I’m very aware of how lucky I am to live in a time and a place where so many different delicacies are readily available. The average American today can easily partake of a gourmand diet that surpasses what emperors commanded in past eras; I’m pretty sure Caligula would be jealous of our table. And I want to take full advantage of living in this window in time. If they put She Ate Well on my tombstone, I’d be pretty satisfied with myself. But I know it’s perfectly possible to eat well for much less than what I’m currently spending, so I’m making an effort to rein in our grocery costs.

Having scheduled such a thrifty meal for Friday night, I feel perfectly justified in planning fancy sandwiches for Saturday: I’ll roast the red peppers, grill the eggplant and pattypan squashes with some olive oil and thyme, and we’ll have them sandwiched on a slab of herb bread (I might make my own, or buy some from the bakery if I don’t have the time) spread with goat cheese and tapenade. Suck it, Caligula!

Sunday I’ll make split pea soup and a big salad with roasted beets, blue cheese, and candied walnuts in a balsamic vinaigrette (the recipe for this is in the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Cookbook, and it’s become my favorite way to have beets). I’ll add in the radishes too. Monday some sort of pasta, and Tuesday, leftovers.

As for the fruit, I’m going to make another tray of fresh fig bars because Robin really loves them, and I’ll eat the grapefruits for breakfast. Robin doesn’t like them; too bitter I guess.

I know it’s a personal question, but if anyone feels comfortable sharing how much of their budget goes each week to food, I’d be really interested in comparing. I’m going to track everything rigorously from tomorrow to next Friday, including restaurant meals and the odd jaunt down to the corner store, and I’ll post our own numbers then.

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