I’m sure you’ve heard the money saving tip advising you to “make a grocery list and stick to it.”
Well, that is total crap.
You also don’t need to become an extreme couponer because no sane person has the time or space for that nonsense.
You want to know the secret to saving money?
Buy whatever is cheapest. Seriously.
No, I don’t mean the 2 for 1 bag of Doritos or the 1 cent price difference Wal-Mart calls every day savings.
I mean getting friendly with your local produce section and seeking out the seasonal deals. Go beyond the bananas and bag of red delicious apples and find the stuff that is being sold dirt cheap because there is an abundance of it. It’s no coincidence that blueberries are on sale in July and apples are a steal in the fall. Produce that is in season just costs less.
While on my (now) weekly excursion to Fifer Orchards, I discovered a little secret. Behind all the moutains of vibrantly colored produce is a little table topped with bins of discounted goods. In the bins were fruits and veggies that were very ripe or slightly blemished. I struggled with slight blemishes myself as a teen (ok, I had a pizza face) so I couldn’t in good consience walk away from delicious produce because of cosmetic issues.
I hit the motherload. I stocked up my basket with beets, red and yellow peppers, peaches, asparagus, and peach chipotle dressing. Hubs snagged some tangerine jalepeno jelly and we checked out for under $10.00 with enough produce to last the week (well, after we buy the two watermelons, papaya, and strawberries to balance out all the veg).
Instead of planning meals and shopping accordingly, I decided to create the week’s menus based on the bargain produce. After I got the loot home and finished the food porn photographs, I formulated my game plan.
For some reason, the dark green beet tops with their ruby red stalks were looking especially delectable. I didn’t know if beet greens were edible but I decided to give it a try anyway since they looked similar to any other leafy green in the grocery store. I chopped them up and did a quick saute in some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I added a little garlic, orange zest, and red pepper flake before declaring them done. Turns out beet greens are exceptionally healthy and tasty to boot!
The next morning I decided to make hubby breakfast since his new favorite hobby seems to be sleeping in. I whisked some eggs and added chopped asparagus, a rogue roma tomato, red onion, and some mozzerella cheese. I poured it all into my handy, dandy cast iron skillet and baked that sucker at 350 degrees until it was all brown and bubbly and the eggs no longer wiggled. Hubs topped it with the tangerine jalepeno jelly and ate the whole pan. It’s cool. He gave me one bite.
But darned if I didn’t still have those beet bulbs in the fridge waiting for some action. Normally I would just roast them up and toss them into a salad like the other 99% of produce that enters our house, but I was feeling a little froggy. I found a lot of recipes for chocolate cake or brownies with beets in them but that’s been done. Did you know beets used to be used as the coloring agent in things like red velvet cake until the evil artificial food coloring industry took over? PS Your beloved red dye is made with bug guts. Just sayin’.
I was definately feeling some sort of cookie with a beet puree. It always comes back to the cookie. I ended up using a dry cake mix combined with the beet puree and a little canola oil to make these little gems. As pretty as these rosy little treats were, they needed a little fancification. I whipped up an almond glaze to drizzle on top and finished the whole thing with chopped almonds. Be still my beeting heart. This cakey cookie was soft and sweet with just enough crunch to make the Cap’n a little jealous.
Since the days have recently been hotter than a habanero , we rounded out the produce bonanza with veggie kebabs on the grill. John was adding crazy stuff to his skewers like sugar snap peas and asparagus but I kept it cool with red and yellow bell peppers and cubes of tofu. Uh huh. Grilled tofu. I did it. I ate mine with a cilantro lime yogurt sauce (because all food should come with a dippable condiment) and hubs had some sort of secret squirral marinade on his. Despite the fact that the dollar store skewers scorched in about 4 seconds, the veggies came out blackened and charred. Just the way I like ‘em.
The only way to end a perfect week of produce is with a watermelon citrus cooler.
No recipe needed for this one. Just float a few cubes of ice cold watermelon in a glass of your favorite lemondae and serve with a lime garnish.