Saving Money On Produce

Since I am a stay at home mom and we are living basically on one income, plus whatever I can do to supplement a little, our budget is pretty tight for groceries.  I have managed to keep our grocery budget to about $70 per week for a family of four.  One of the ways that I have discovered locally to help me manage to keep my budget low is the 30lbsveggies$5 program.  This program operates in Tucson and let me say I love it!!

http://fivedollarveggiestucson.blogspot.com/

Basically, you go to the location, pay $5 and leave with a 30 lb box of veggies.  The veggies that you come home with vary each week but they do typically post what they expect to have on their blog.  You can expect that what you are getting is seasonal and comes from near by.

I decided to give the program a whirl and went for the first time last week.  Apparently, last week, they didn’t have as much produce as usual and when I got there they were nearly out.  They gave me the option of paying $2 and getting a smaller box of veggies.  I took them up on the option of course.

I ended up with eight yellow bell peppers and six pints of grape tomatoes.  Please note, we already ate two of the bell peppers last night for dinner.  We had chicken fajitas.  They were delicious by the way.

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For tonight’s dinner, I plan to make fresh roasted grape tomato sauce.  We will be having that sauce over spaghetti, with some italian sausage I have on hand.

Making the Roasted Grape Tomato Sauce is really easy.  Here is the recipe.

EASY ROASTED GRAPE TOMATO SAUCE

5 pints of grape tomatoes

5 cloves of peeled garlic

2 tbsn of basil olive oil (regular olive oil works well here too, I just have basil on hand and thought mmm)

1 tspn of salt

1 tspn of Italian seasoning

1 tbsn of dried basil

pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wash the tomatoes well and pat dry.  Spread them out on the sheet pan, along with the garlic cloves.   Drizzle the tomatoes and garlic with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Roast them in the oven for approximately 45

minutes until the tomatoes get all wilty and are releasing some juices.

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Put your tomato and garlicy goodness into the food processor/blender, add the tablespoon of basil, italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.  Blend it and boom you have yummy, fresh tomato sauce and you know everything you put in it.  It makes about four cups of sauce.

I also have plans for those lovely yellow bell peppers.  First of all we did eat a couple last night in our fajitas.  They were amazing and very fresh.  My other plan for them is to attempt to make stuffed bell peppers.  I have never made stuffed bell peppers before, so hopefully it will turn out.

I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and I plan to try it.  Looks good to me.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Beef-and-Mushroom-Stuffed-Peppers/Detail.aspx?evt19=1

For $2, I am getting most of the produce I need for three meals, plus leftovers.  That is not a bad deal.  If you consider a pint of grape tomatoes were on sale for $1.99 here in Tucson last week and the Yellow bell peppers were on sale for 77 cents, that means I got $18.10 worth of produce for $2!  I will take that any day of the week and I am excited to go back this Wednesday.  The representative told me they expect to have a lot more veggies next week, so I am hopeful to get my full 30 lbs this time.

Another, produce program I participate in is called Produce on Wheels Without Waste.  This program operates in Phoenix and Tucson.  I believe they also operate in some other southern Arizona cities as well. They rescue produce that was going to go to waste.  For $10, you get up to 60 lbs of produce.  This program is fabulous as well.  Sixty pounds of produce is a lot for me to use though, so when I go, I try to split the bounty with a friend.   The key with this program, is you don’t usually know what they have until you show up.  This always presents to me a fun challenge.  I get to figure out what to do with lots of veggies, some of which I may never have eaten before.  I usually need to freeze it, do a freezer meal, can it or use it right away, so it doesn’t turn.  Right now, my freezer is full of Roasted Eggplant soup for example, all because I received ten eggplants and tons of tomatoes, the last time I went.  Fortunately, the soup froze well and is really yummy.

Check out their site at:

http://www.borderlandfoodbank.org/POWWOW.html

If you are not from Tucson, I would encourage you to check and see what programs you may have in your area.  It is worth the extra work to process the veggies, to keep our budget as low as possible.

Blessings to you!

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