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How A Foodie Copes Through Economic Difficulty

October 13, 2008

Step One: Get on the bandwagon of a food trend.  This way, when you’re stealing tomatoes from your neighbor’s garden, you can have a cute name for yourself like “Locavore,” rather than “thief.” Seriously, we have cut our food budget by joining a Community Supported Agriculture farmbox.  We split the box with another couple, therefore cutting our costs to only $200 for like, 5 months of fresh vegetables every week.   When we shop at the grocery store now, we bypass the produce aisle completely, and we’re able to make our grains and other food staples last longer.  Our grocery bill has been around 30% smaller as a direct result of the farm box. I also happen to love root vegetables, which just needs to be stated, because that’s what you’ll often find yourself eating.  Kohlrabi is a big part of my life now. 

Step Two:  Host a Dinner.  Normally, on a weekend evening, I can be found at any number of upscale dining establishments, ordering as many courses as possible and wine to boot.  This past Saturday night we found ourselves low on cash and yet rolling in a generous bounty of kale and sweet potatoes.  So we had the gang over for dinner before going out on the town.   We made sweet potato fries, BBQ tempeh, spaghetti squash with butter and parmesan, and crispy kale*.  Somebody brought bread, someone else brought dessert, and two people brought wine.  Since everything but the tempeh had come in the farm box, the cost of this meal was only around 5 bucks, as opposed to the eighty I might have recklessly tossed away.   Plus, there was the additional guarantee of great music and ambiance.  We had a blast and were none the poorer. 

Step Three:  When eating out at fabulous restaurants, share.  This seems obvious, actually it all seems painfully obvious now, but apparently I needed a “gas crisis” and an “economic recession”  to violently shake me out of my consumerist ways.  Last night I enjoyed a lovely meal at Tamarind, the much debated Thai place in Arden.  I ordered soup, my partner-in-dine got dumplings, and we shared a dish of grilled red snapper in basil sauce with vegetables.  Our waiter blanched at our minimal order, and then apologized for the small size of the dish when it arrived, but we were perfectly happy.  Turns out if you eat regular portions rather than cramming mountains of food down your throat in record time, you don’t immediately fall into a carb-induced food coma.  I discovered there is night after dinner! 

I’d love to hear about your efforts to keep food costs down.  Creativity is necessary, so let’s put our heads together. 

*Crispy Kale

Take a gigantic load of kale, put it in a deep roasting pan, and coat all the kale with olive oil.  The key word is “coat,”  not “drown.”  Add lots of salt, and sesame seeds are optional.  Stick the pan in the oven at 375-400 degrees, for about 20 minutes.  Or until crispy.  The kale should dry out somewhat in the heat and get all crispy, light and delicious.  It’s better than popcorn, I’m not kidding.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2008 10:30 am

    The kale recipe sound delicious. I do the same with chopped up Brussels sprouts. My kids call them sprout chips and will eat by the handful.

    Our garden is still producing tomatoes daily–in October. So in this case, climate change is saving us cash.

  2. October 14, 2008 5:38 pm

    How Blogs Are Useful

    1. Read blogs at work when bored.
    2. Read She Who Eats and remember the time she made crispy kale at a mutual friend’s house.
    3. Think, Yum.
    4. Later on, shop at Amazing Savings.
    5. Look for Kale.
    6. Buy Kale.
    7. Go home and make Crispy Kale.
    8. Yum!

  3. October 15, 2008 1:46 pm

    If I’ve helped one lone gal find something for dinner, then I think I can safely say, I’ve helped America.

  4. the dj permalink
    October 29, 2008 12:14 pm

    I just found out La Riserva in Hendersonville has closed. Yet another wonderful Italian restaurant doomed to the economic downturn.

  5. harryhood permalink
    November 23, 2008 3:47 am

    Another good way to save is just to buy less expensive food. I found a great way today. There is a new Thai “restaurant” in town. (There are 2 tables inside so it is clearly intended to be a take-out place,) It’s located at the corner of Sweeten Creek and Mills Gap roads. It is called “Little Bee Thai” and is actually inside the Exxon station. I know what you are thinking… in the Exxon station? My girlfriend Sam and I thought the same thing but knew we had to try it. It opened last Monday and we finally made it today. The lunch entree was just under than five dollars. Wondering if lunch was too good to be true, we returned for dinner. Prices for dinner were a slight $2.00 higher, unlike the considerable evening surcharge found in many other places. It was all very good. For lunch we had Thai basil with chicken and Panang Curry with beef. It was made fresh as we watched and tasted great. For dinner, we had Spicy Thai Noodles and Phad Thai. That too was prepared in front of us with fresh ingredients and tasted every bit as good as lunch. The portions were normal – not the huge super-sized variety. It was a great deal. We also tried Spring Rolls and Fried Tofu. Both were fresh and tasty and very reasonably priced. Don’t let the location keep you away. It is a great place to get food to go–call it your order, (828) 242-5344, and it will be ready and waiting for you. You will love it.

    Please tell Took, the chef, that Ted and Sam sent you. We promised that we would tell people and I’d really like her to see how well news of such a good person making very good food can get around. We are also interested in making sure that she stays in business so we can keep eating there for a long time to come. South Asheville has a shortage of good restaurants. We don’t want to lose this one.

  6. harryhood permalink
    December 4, 2008 11:27 pm

    How does one join a CSA? Any recommendations?

  7. December 16, 2008 12:05 pm

    Harry,

    For a comprehensive list of local farms providing seasonal Community Supported Agriculture boxes, go to
    http://www.buyappalachian.org/index.php?query%5Bdetails%5D%5Bhas_csa%5D=yes

    or if that doesn’t work, http://www.buyappalachian.org

    I’ve had great luck with Flying Cloud Farm. I’ve also heard wonderful things about Full Sun Farm, and I’ve heard great things about Gaining Ground Farm. So I would start with those three. Some farms offer a payment plan (Flying Cloud does, anyway) but give them a call now to get on their list for early spring.

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