Going to the grocery store with a mission and on a budget allowed me to look at groceries in a whole new way. I felt as if I was a freshman in college again, where the price of some produce made me scoff and shake my head. As a working adult with a relatively steady family income, I barely look at food prices anymore. Food is cheap in Colorado, but there are definitely ways I can save here and there. For instance, as Cathy Erway said in her book, The Art of Eating In, buying lettuce or any type of greens in a plastic box as opposed to a head is significantly more expensive (between $4 to $6 for the box) and produces more waste in the form of that plastic box.
Inspired by another chapter in her book, I decided to call up my local pizzeria and see if they sold raw pizza dough. They did, and for $2.75 a pie! I picked up two balls of dough, freezing one for later. The dough was perfect, not too sticky and a little floury, much better than I could have done as it would have been my first time attempting to make pizza dough from scratch. I then headed to King Sooper’s to get some last minute ingredients. I wanted to take this opportunity to use vegetables that had been ignored in my fridge so I only bought some mushrooms and an eggplant to add to the toppings.
While walking through the grocery store, I felt as if all of a sudden my vision was clear. I was more aware of what I was buying and how much things cost. The yellow “sale” stickers popped out at me as I focused on my list. My budgetting authors say that to decrease grocery costs, it’s important to have a list and stick to it. Some even state that if you get an urge to buy something (like a coffee from the Starbucks at the front of the grocery store) it is sensible to walk out of the store and reason with yourself, and only return if you have a clear mind.
My need for Starbucks was not that unbearable (although as I write this now, I sure have a craving for a mocha!) and so I walked directly to the produce aisle where I found a box of mostly good looking mushrooms marked down to a $1.50 (as opposed to $3), a 4 oz. box of basil for $2.00 (the 1.5 oz boxes are normally $3), and eggplant on sale for $1.00. All the produce was organic and didn’t look too bad. Since I would be using a lot of it that night for pizza, I figured it was okay if some of the basil was a little brownish on the edges. I would just have to make sure to put it into my lunch and dinner the next day as well. I then grabbed some of my favorite bread ($4) and almond milk as I was running low ($3). I passed the sale aisle and found a bunch of oranges for $1 which I would use in a fruit tart made with pizza dough. I picked up a couple of cans of chickpeas for hummus I wanted to make later this week. I eat hummus like it’s my job and at around $4 a carton, it can get pretty expensive.
All in all, I spent around $20 for groceries and the pizza dough. I probably saved about $8! Since all the produce wasn’t used, and taking into account the groceries we did use that were already in the fridge and pantry, I’d say we spent about $5 for the pizza we made, which would be a savings of about $10-$12 for dinner if we had ordered one! With those prices, I might actually be able to stick to my $300 a month grocery budget 🙂
For the pizza, we made four pizza’s in one with about 2/3 of the dough. 1/3 of the dough we left for our fruit tart. See ingredient below. The pizza was AMAZING!!! And I was so glad that I didn’t even miss the cheese on my slices! Ep liked them too, although I think he loved his chicken one the most. Success!
Cooked at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Dough cooked on baking pan, spread thin. Pan and dough coated with olive oil.
Ep’s Leftover Chicken Pizza: Sauce- Basil marinara, topped with leftover chicken, red-orange-yellow peppers, onions, mushrooms, all sliced super thin, and mozerrella cheese.
Ep’s Leftover Stuffed Olive and Cheese Pizza: Sauce- Eggplant sauce (see below), topped with five different kinds of cheese left over in the fridge and sliced bluecheese stuffed olives we already had.
Lex’s Leftover Veggie Pizza: Sauce- Eggplant sauce, topped with red-yellow-orange peppers, onions, mushrooms, and cashew parmesan cheese (see below).
Lex’s Leftover Tomato and Basil Pizza: Sauce- Basil marinara, topped with tomato slices, fresh basil leaves, balsamic glaze, and cashew parmesan cheese
Eggplant Sauce: I got this idea from an eggplant queso sauce I saw online. I changed it up to make it more Italian instead of Mexican and didnt add thickener so it came out more of a pizza sauce than a cheese like texture. One eggplant, sliced in half, cooked at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until soft. Scoop out eggplant and put into blender (after it cools) and add portions of oregano, rosemary, cashew milk (or alternative), yeast flakes, apple cider vinegar, garlic salt. TAste as you go and add more of everything or not. I only put a little cashew milk in at first (about 1/2 a cup) so it wouldn’t be too liquidy.
Cashew parmesan cheese: 1/2 cup cashews, 1/4 cup yeast flakes, garlic salt to taste, blend until paremesan consistency (inspired by this recipe)
For the tart, after trying to bake the pizza dough with coconut cream and the fruit on top, and it not working because the cream turned into oil in the oven and leaked all over, we tried again by baking just the dough by itself and then adding the cream and already cooked fruit on top after everything had cooled. Dough cooked at 400 for 15 minutes. Cream kept in the fridge until ready to serve.
Pizza Fruit Tart: Pizza dough, sauce- coconut cream (canned with vanilla and honey mixed in), grapes, cherries, oranges, strawberries, blueberries sliced thin.
Leftovers: Only about a two inch square of olive and cheese pizza for Ep. About half of each of Lex’s pizza’s. The second round of fruit tart was devoured, mostly by Lex 🙂