Friday, April 15, 2011

Carrot Cake and Thoughts on Stretching Grocery Dollars

When I look at our monthly expenditures one number jumps out at me, the amount we spend on food. For us, this includes grocery store purchases, baby food and supplies, restaurant meals, and household items (i.e. paper towels and the like).

The amount we spend on groceries, as we define them, is just shy of our mortgage payment. You can read that in at least two different ways; either we have a small mortgage or we spend a lot on groceries. In fact, both are true.

Being frugal, I'm always looking for a way to save. When it comes to food my preferred method is to eliminate waste. I'm not willing to cut on quality of food to achieve savings. So, that means I need to make the most of our purchases. And every now and then I realize that we have quite a bit of choices in our freezer, fridge, and cupboards. This is one of those times. So, instead of doing my normal weekly shopping, I am going to dig and see what kinds of meals I can make from what we have on had. We'll still hit the grocery store this weekend for the necessities (milk and eggs), but I'm hoping the bill will be less than usual.

Inspired by my commitment to not let food spoil, tonight I whipped up a healthy treat for the weekend -- Carrot Cake (minus the sugar). We had made this recipe last weekend for my mother-in-law's birthday. She is diabetic and needs low sugar food. Never having made the recipe before, I found I bought more ingredients than I needed. Seeing them in the fridge tonight I decided to make another cake. I'll freeze half (without sugar it will spoil quickly).

The recipe is from a favorite cookbook, Sugar-free Toddlers:
  • 1/2 cup butter, creamed;
  • 3 eggs;
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened pineapple juice;
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour;
  • 1 and 1/2 cup unbleached white flour;
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ;
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda;
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder;
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg;
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon;
  • 3 and 1/4 cups shredded carrot; and
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained.
Blend the first three ingredients. Add the dry ingredients, blend again. Add the carrot and pineapple, blend. Transfer to baking pan, bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Even after making another cake I had some shredded carrot left over. It is currently simmering on the stove and will be pured for the baby to eat at lunch tomorrow. And a bit of crushed pineapple remained, which I will toss into yogurt with granola for breakfast.

A half hours worth of time tonight, food saved, healthy food created, stretched the grocery dollars, and saved food from simply being tossed out. What a way to end the day.

Watch for other posts on meals salvaged from the kitchen.

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