"Take what you have" states a recipe in an old cookbook. I love it and today was Sunday, so:
a) I am pro everyone resting at least for one day every week. For religious people because of the sanctity of it and for others, we all need rest and play to balance work and hurry.
b) we try to limit our car usage to as little as possible. We need to drive anyway, so better to try and cut down where we can.
c) not going to the store means utilizing the existing means better; the left overs, the freezer & the dry goods. Plus it does work out way cheaper. It is so easy to think that whilst I am in store I can grab something delish for kids and oh look at those socks! Especially if I wander in on Sunday when there are very little people and I have time.
d) cooking from cupboards means generally more environmental friendly food, because I store stuff like flour, pulses and beans. Dry goods don't require cooling and they stay good for long. Usually they also have very little package around them, which makes them a good choice for the environment too.
Okay, so I got deep into the cupboards and considered. I felt like some Nepalese..yes I have some red lentils. Now online for a recipe - ahh, here we go. I have most of the stuff needed on the recipe and rest I am sure I can improvise. Pretty certain that not all Nepalese mothers have _everything and everyday_ this recipe demands. And to go with it some full grain rice.
I had to substitute the fresh tomato with tomato salsa leftovers (scary since the spices are very different in Mexican and Nepalese dishes) and the plain youghurt with vanilla flavoured soya yogurt. Of this I was very wary of, but turned out if one only needs two tablespoons of yoghurt, it might as well be vanilla. It does blend in. Honestly.
I flavoured rice by first heating up oil and adding whole cardamom seedpots and cinnamonsticks, Somalese style. The full grain rice does not really bring those flavours out but it added a bit zest anyway. Our dog looked at me in awe when come that night she was (among other weird human food leftovers) fed some of that rice. She was like "Are you sure? You know I prefer meat." And I said: "Oh go on, skip those cardamom seeds and you will be fine". So she went: "I guess it is okay, after all it is human food, so it must be good." And so she chomped away.
We also barbequed some corn on the cob (packed in plastic, although long storage) and some sausages (meat + fresh goods), so these were not so environmentally friendly. Shh. Don't tell anybody. The side salad was another left overs-combined with-take what you got. Fresh from the season cabbage, some pineapple slices from a taco dinner and corn accompanied with cottage cheese.
I felt pretty pleased with myself. But later that night the kids again complained they were hungry. Apparently they need to be fed more than once a day. Who knew? I dove into the cupboards and came up with milk powder for rice porridge and decided to bake some bread. No milk, so I was happy to find out there were still some berries in the freezer for some berry soup. Rice - not so good as it requires a lot of water to grow plus the route to Finland is long.
The bread dough was given some oomph with dried nettles, sun flower seeds, sesame seeds, four grain porridge flakes and rye flour to accompany wheat. Then I thought that if I have to heat up the oven, I should bake something else as well. The result was a veggie quiche with different odds and ends from grated cheese to radiches. Had to look the crust up because I always put way too little margarine in them. Of course I needed to twist the recipe a little to add some sugar beet flakes into it for extra fibre. *sigh* Poor family. But it did work out just fine. It was good too due to all that margarine I had to put in.
I chopped the veggies into quite fine mix and lightly sauteed them in olive oil. The veggie mix included also onion sprouts and a little cabbage plus a couple fresh mushrooms sliced up. I topped the mix with sourcream and cheese and popped them into oven.
To wash all the healthy and environmentally friendly food down I luckily had some apple juice my mother in law makes. It is so lovely and the effect of environment is very little since the apples come from her garden and they are freshly pressed, then sealed. No presevatives needed.
So I managed to feed my family for free. Nothing was bought especially for these two meals. Even if I calculate the total costs it adds up to quite little - around 22 € (27 USD) for 6 people. Not bad for two Sunday meals. The baking cuts the costs effectively plus of course the home made apple juice and some berries I got from my mom, some were bought. Also the fact that most of the proteins come from lentils cuts down the cost. If I compare it to one restaurant dinner, our family does not eat out for less than 60 € anywhere. This would be a cheap pizzeria and a bit better dinner is easily 100 € (123 USD).
A supply of dry goods is good to have in case of an emergency but it also needs to rotate a bit. What we do, is participate in a buyer circle of organic goods. We get things like dried beans, full grain rice, lentils and such in boxes of 12 packages - 6-10 kgs each. These keep well and buying in bulk works nicely for everyone. It is cheaper and the logistics cut down on fuel usage of both the stores and the consumers. We also get fresh produce once a month from a local farmer. Down side is of course the need of proper storage. We are lucky that we have enough room, but we don't have enough cool space. So we are thinking of a storage cellar that is partly underground.