Last week I talked about how I suck at cooking, and readers were cool enough to send me TONS of great information via email and comments. Seriously, I’m not sure if I’ll ever make it through all the links, recipes, and tips I got – you guys are amazing! Anyway, I swore I would start cooking when I got back from my trip to Georgia, so last night I went to the grocery store AND cooked a meal that didn’t (1) come from a box or (2) require the use of a fire extinguisher.
The bad news is that I spent a ton of money, BUT I knew that would happen since I lacked even the most basic things I needed to cook real food. Now that I have that stuff, I shouldn’t have to replace most of it for awhile. I also made a shopping list, which is rare for me, to make sure I bought real food instead of frozen dinners.
My Shopping Plan
- Spicy chicken tortellini from the fabulous TeacHer Finance (I made this last night!)
- Meatloaf, also from TeacHer Finance, with mashed potatoes
- Shake & Bake chicken with pasta salad, which is one of the few things I already make regularly
- Something else with ground beef, possibly tacos
- Some quick and easy breakfast foods
- Snack foods that are not potato chips
- Backup foods in case Jayden won’t eat what I make
What I Bought
This is the sucky part. My grand total at Walmart was $195. When I look at what I got, though, I’m not too sad about it. I’ll be prepared to make all kinds of new foods now!
Staples and supplies ($90): I’m embarrassed to admit that I had to buy a measuring cup, measuring spoons, mixing bowl, cutting board, paring knife, food storage containers, and a cookie sheet because I seriously did not own any of those things. I also had to buy salt and pepper (obviously I had those – just had to replenish), basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, parsley, bread crumbs, rice, rotini (got the wheat kind thanks to reader Jay), frozen corn/green beans/peas, olive oil, nonstick cooking spray, Worcestershire sauce, and barbecue sauce.
Actual things to cook ($55): I bought ground beef, chicken, potatoes, onions, bell peppers, celery, carrots, eggs, milk, canned vegetables, pasta sauce, tortellini, and cheese. Definitely could have saved here by buying in bulk, but I don’t want to do that until I’m sure I’m going to stick with this whole cooking thing.
Snacks that aren’t potato chips ($15): I consider this a huge win. I got apples, fruit juice, dry-roasted almonds, and garlic parmesan pretzel crisps (my new favorite thing). No chips, cookies, candy, or any of the other crap I would normally buy, yet all of those are things I really like to eat.
Breakfast foods ($10): I usually don’t eat breakfast, so I’m starting slow. I bought Carnation Instant Breakfast and a few premade frozen smoothie concoctions just to get in the habit of eating (or in this case, drinking) something in the morning.
Junk for Jayden ($25): I’m trying to expand Jayden’s food horizons, but I’m realistic if nothing else. I picked up peanut butter, jelly, bread, Lunchables pizzas, those disgusting Lipton cheddar broccoli noodles that he loves, Pringles, Doritos, Goldfish crackers, Pop-Tarts, and frozen waffles.
As I said, last night I made spicy chicken tortellini. It was delicious, though I got a little carried away with the “spicy” part. The recipe wasn’t hard at all, but it was a little more time-consuming than I’d like – it isn’t something I’d make on a random weeknight when I’m in a hurry. That said, I froze the leftovers in my new storage containers (the recipe made about 5 billion servings) and I’ll be enjoying the spicy deliciousness for quite awhile!
Minus all the basics, I spent $110 on food that might last 2 weeks if I’m good about eating leftovers. I’m a little disgusted with that part, though it’s going to take time to incorporate things like shopping sales, buying in bulk, and converting Jayden to real food. Still, I feel better knowing that I’ll be eating less processed food, and since I didn’t buy any prepackaged junk for myself, I’m forced to either cook real meals or eat some of the stuff cluttering up my pantry.
What I learned: (1) It’s easier to cook when I already have an idea of what I’m going to make. (2) Shopping from a list is a good thing. (3) I’m really dumb when it comes to following recipes. (4) A good paring knife is kind of expensive. (5) From now on, when I want to know how to do something, I’ll just ask you guys!