Rose McAvoy from Our Lady of Second Helpings is providing support, guidance and yummy recipes.
Another source of help has been cookbooks.
I already had two cookbooks on my shelf promising cheap recipes: Gluten Free on a Shoestring by Nicole Hunn, and Cheap. Fast. Good. by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross. Then I borrowed two more from a friend: Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn and $3 Slow-Cooked Meals by Ellen Brown.
All four of these books promise to help you trim your grocery budget. All five authors deliver what they promise.
Mary Ostyn boasts about her total bill coming in well below the USDA Thrifty Budget. Beverly Mills and Alica Ross each have their own version of a weekly meal plan that would follow the Thrifty Budget too. Nicole Hunn faces the added challenge of cooking g-free. Ellen Brown is committed to offering recipes that don’t use a lot of mixes, boxes, or processed food.
But here’s where it gets interesting…
What about the MyPlate recommendations?
The USDA says to eat fish twice a week.
Mary Ostyn says on page 25 of Family Feasts for $75 a Week that she only serves fish about once a month.
Nicole Hunn doesn’t really deal with seafood at all in Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.
If I counted right, I believe that Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross offer a total of four seafood recipes in Cheap. Fast. Good.
Elen Brown’s $3 Slow-cooked Meals offers the best selection of inexpensive fish recipes. But honestly, I haven’t tried any of her seafood receipes yet because the whole idea of smelling fish cook all day in my crock-pot sounds kind of gross.
Learning from the Experts
What this tells me is that the bona fide and published experts on thrifty cooking don’t buy a lot of seafood!
I totally understand why. Fish is expensive.
Then if you do cook fish and your kids won’t eat it, that’s a lot of wasted money on food!
(I haven’t even mentioned the environmental impact of seafood, but be sure to check out Seafood Watch.)
Another issue is vegetables.
Cheap. Fast. Good. (which I love btw) has two sample thrifty budget meal plans on pages 456-465. Both plans would come in at or under the USDA Cost of Food at Home, “thrifty budget”. But neither of the plans would meet the current USDA MyPate requirements.
There’s not enough fish and only 1 serving of fruit and 1.5 servings of vegetables per person, per day. The plans wouldn’t even come close to hitting the variety of vegetables MyPlate wants you to eat each week either.
I’m not saying this as a criticism! I really like this cook book!
I’m just pointing out that there is a huge tension between the MyPlate requirements and the ability to meet them on a strict, thrifty budget.
That’s why MyPlate on My Budget is such a challenge.
Wish me luck!