No Grocery Store Dinner

I hate to brag, but I try to make every meal as grocery-store-free as possible.  Like tonight’s dinner, for example, was an almost free feast which would have cost a bundle in a restaurant.  The garden is the answer.  Escarole….the chard froze last week…braised in homemade broth with garlic.  Carrots, steamed and topped with a parsley salad, and some grilled lamb (sorry vegetarian readers, but we eat meat occasionally if it is raised nicely by people we like).  The total cost of the meal, for 3, was $4 and that was for some incredible lamb chops.  Everything else was from the garden, even the makings of the broth for the braised escarole. I bought half a lamb for our freezer a few weeks ago and tonight was the first time we tried it.

The rest of the day’s meals were eggs (from a neighbor’s hens) and toast (homemade bread with local wheat flour) $1.20 for 3 people. Lunch was homemade chicken soup (thanks to Wells Family Farm) with sliced shitake (this week’s store splurge), carrots, scallions, and nappa cabbage.  I think a half gallon of soup cost about $5.00 if we factor in the fact that the chicken appeared in 3 different meals.

For those city dwellers without much room for a garden, you can still grow greens on your fire escape.  A milk crate, lined with burlap or window screening, and filled with potting soil makes a perfect mini-garden for salad greens or herbs.  If you have room for 3 milk crates, you can cut salad greens from one while the plants in the other 2 crates are growing back, and just keep rotating which you cut from.  They will continue to grow back and should last a quite a few weeks.  You can also do sprouts indoors and pea shoots and sunflower shoots.  Just line a tray or rimmed cookie sheet with a 1/2 inch of potting soil, sprinkle on some seeds, cover with a quarter inch of soil, water, and in a week or two, snip the greens into a salad, a bowl of soup, or into a sandwich. Be your own farmer!  Knowing where our food comes from and how it is grown is really a great way to create your own health insurance and keeps you out of the grocery store.


7 Comments on “No Grocery Store Dinner”

  1. Sammie says:

    Everything sounds pretty fantastic, save for the lamb. Even if it lives it’s life pretty stress-free, the truth is it still ended up being butchered so you could eat it, and thus the end result is the same.

    I have a question about growing plants…I live in Texas, and we have a problem with deer here eating *everything*. The milk crate idea sounds perfect though (we have a pretty big porch that they can not reach); but I was wondering if you have any suggestions for plants that can be grown during the winter months. Our climate is pretty temperate, and we have lots and lots of sunshine, but occasionally it will freeze if there is no cloud cover.

    • julierubaud says:

      You’ll have a better time growing lettuce in the winter than the summer in TX. Try lettuce, parsley, cilantro, kale, spinach, mustard greens, bok choi. They should all do fine in the winter with shorter days and cool temps. Good luck. I completely respect the choices people make with regards to meat eating, and for myself, choose not to support factory farms that torture animals.

  2. Angela says:

    I love your simple garden in a milk crate- I would love to grow my own lettuce but we have absolutely terrible soil. But we eat so much lettuce I hate to always be buying it. I’ve planted herbs in pots and I love it because it’s always fresh and available, but never goes to waste. I’m going to try lettuce in a milk crate next spring! Thanks!

  3. InWoodside says:

    While I would love to grow veg on my fire escape it is illegal and my building has gotten summonses when anyone puts anything out there. Too bad because we get great sun on ours.

  4. honeybee says:

    i’ve been asked to make dinner for the family and have no clue what to make. HELP??!!
    i want to do something with vegetables or fish, no meat, i can look up the recipe but any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

    thanks.

  5. honeybee says:

    i’ve been asked to make dinner for the family and have no clue what to make. HELP??!! i want to do something with vegetables or fish, no meat, i can look up the recipe but any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
    thanks.


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