Whole Foods Food Stamp Challenge Day 1: First Cooking Day (and first consternation)

| September 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

Diving into the Whole Foods Market Food Stamp Challenge with both feet today, along with an array of kitchen weaponry and recipes.

Part of what makes this challenge possible is my willingness to do some cooking at home.  So I’m just going to come right out and say it:  If you’re a person who just detests cooking with a fiery passion, then you will not find anything I have to say for the next month very helpful. I’m big on EVERYONE enjoying life, and if you are seething every time you have to spend 20 minutes making something from scratch, then I’d advise you to choose a diet that makes you happy and relaxed instead.

Now what makes ME happy and relaxed is to play around in the kitchen.  I monkey around, try new things, sometimes blare completely inappropriate music. I  trend toward simple, easy, delicious meals that don’t involve a lot of weird equipment, professional techniques, or foodie jargon.  So this is what we did this weekend to get ready for the week ahead:

Saturday night: Soaking beans for various purposes:  I want to make hummus, gallo pinto (jacked-up black beans and rice) and refried beans this week, and so I soaked a bunch of garbanzo beans, black beans, and pinto beans last night. Took no time…just plunk them in water and let them soak overnight.

Sunday: This was a good day to put a loaf of organic almost whole wheat bread on to bake in the bread machine in the morning. I’m a big toast fan in the morning hours, usually smeared with really good peanut or almond butter, accompanied by a piece of fruit and a great mug of coffee. (Recall that a bread machine is one of those things that makes life easier WITHOUT a huge investment…I got mine free from Freecycle and see oodles of them at thrift stores for just a few bucks.)

In addition, we made these things (click any food to see the recipe we used):

Hummus: Cooked up the garbanzos with a little onion and cumin (no real time invested), then followed an adaptation of Mark Bittman’s hummus recipe, which is a standard in our house.

Pita Breads:  Preparing the dough in the bread machine while we made hummus made it a quick turnaround item, into which we could stuff all manner of things during the week for lunches and snacks.

Burger Buns: We’re planning on salmon burgers and veggie burgers later this week, so when the pita dough came out of the bread machine, the ingredients for buns went in. Ditto for the oven, to take advantage of the energy savings (the oven was hot already).

Apple/Walnut/Oat Breakfast Bars: To avoid having to eat much packaged food (expensive!) for breakfast, we’re experimenting with different kinds of breakfast bars that are fruit-and-nut heavy, fiber-rich, and tasty. Our first batch turned out fabulous, and they are not in any way hard to make.

In the middle of the day we were faced with one of those challenges we knew we’d bump into: We had to go to a potluck.  How do you handle that when you’re on a limited budget?  We decided that bringing something to share — inexpensive but delicious — was the price of admission for getting to eat everything else.  So we whipped up a batch of Fresh Corn Cornbread to bring along, and “traded” that for the other barbecue foods people had brought (fruit salad, veggie burgers, corn salad, roasted veggies, cake….)  Worked out great, and I think this would be accessible to even those on a tight budget….a good way to have a diverse meal without any one person having to spend a lot of money.

So it was a heavy cooking day, and by the time I hit the bed I was weary and tired of being in the kitchen — not good.  I think for the remainder of the challenge, I’ll space out the cooking and do a little every day or every other day so the burnout factor never comes up.  This is supposed to be FUN !



Category: Cooking, Food, Food Stamp Challenge Recipes, Money Saving, Recipes, Whole Foods Challenge

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