Last week, like many others before us, we were impacted by the suffering economy. Todd was laid off from his job, and while I am not panicking, I have certainly become more aware of expenditures. I would prefer to take precautions now, so we don't find ourselves in a place where we have to panic down the road. There are some obvious places to make cutbacks. We will not be going on a guided mountain bike vacation this summer like we were thinking. I had been looking into buying a commuter/winter bike, but will be delaying that. In general, I'll be scrutinizing all purchases differently.
Food is one area where we need to consider modifications. We don't dine out frequently as it is, so don't need to make a lot of changes there. But, Whole Foods will definitely be seeing my face less often. For produce, I'm planning to make my way over to Russo's in Watertown regularly and get to farmers' markets whenever I can. I find this tough because I am typically working during the hours they are held, but I'll have to figure out a way to work it into my schedule. (However, Todd may now have some free time during the day...) I will also shop around a bit to compare prices on things like canned beans and canned tomatoes. It may be time to start getting in the habit of buying dried beans and cooking them myself. I'm sure there's a cost savings there, but I'm not sure how much, and whether it's worth the investment of time. Another thought is buying these types of things by the case. I think Whole Foods even offers discounts if you do this. There are also a lot of frivolous items we can do without. For instance, I'm pretty sure we won't wither up if we don't have Tofutti Cuties or licorice Scotty Dogs. But, certain things I'm not willing to sacrifice, like our favorite brand of yogurt (Wallaby), good bread or certain organic items.
Luckily, we both really like rice and beans. Since it's both an economical and nutritious meal, I'm sure it will be making more frequent appearance on our dinner plates. But, of course, we don't want to over-do it. I will be on the lookout for some more variations of grains and beans. Another of this sort of dish that is an old standby for me is quinoa with black beans. The recipe includes zucchini, but I often make it without it, since I try to buy most veggies mostly when they are in season. It also calls for fresh cilantro, but dried can be used as well.
Quinoa with Zucchini and Black Beans
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 tblsp olive oil
3/4 cup quinoa (if you want to use more, increase the amount of broth. Use a 1:2 ratio), rinsed
1 1/2 cups of veggie broth
1 tspn cumin
1 tspn dried cilantro or 1/2 cup fresh, chopped
1 pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 14 oz can of black beans (or up to 2 cans, depending on how bean-y you want it)
1. Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil until light brown
2. Mix in quinoa, veggie broth, spices (except for cilantro if it's fresh), and zucchini. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes
3. Stir in corn, black beans, and cilantro (if fresh), and cook another 5 minutes until heated through.