brewing alternatives.

One of the results of my luxuriously long vacation last month was the realization that we (I) spend "a lot of money" on food.

This whole self-awareness thing is something that can happen after a long absence from home, right? You see your "normal daily life" from a slightly dollied-back perspective, which maybe allows you to see some opportunities for directorial tweaks here and there, etc.

The tweak I've got in mind is a frankly fucking awful-sounding little experiment: a Weekly Grocery Budget. I need to do some experimentation to figure out exactly what that means, number-wise. It won't include meals eaten outside the house, b/c that doesn't need any further discouraging.

But yeah. What got me re-thinking about a budget was the sardines I made today. After a few bites, I was all "You know? I could eat sardines every day," and then I was like "Boy would that save a bunch of money on groceries." And then I was all like etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

And then (ha) I saw this Chowhound post: Eating Like a Chowhound on $3 a Day. They're talking about a budget of $3 a day, per person, so roughly $100/month per person. There are weekly recipe plans and all kinds of useful ideas out there.

Now, the comments on this Chowhound thread make this budget sound like an amazing sacrifice. I'm thinking 3 euros a day still sounds kind of high. That's 6 euros a day for both of us, and I could be waaaay off, but I think--my constant pointless impulse purchases aside (wild turkey leg confit?)--we're probably not too too far off from that right now. I mean really, Mara only eats eggs, butter, tomatoes, cheese, bread and tuna, and I pretty much just eat catfish, tempeh, and prunes at this point. How hard can it be???!?!!??!???

UPDATE: eh...perhaps I misestimated some things. A preliminary budget reveals that in order to keep eating non-junk food (no refined flour or sugar, no partially-hydrogenated this or that), it will cost us more than 3 euros a day. I think we can maybe squeak by on 4 euros a day. Budget and grocery list forthcoming.


Ye always wonder if you're buying the best sardines available in yr little 'hood. If only there was some sort of sardine taste-off to help determine the best brands...click. My favorites to date are still the Moroccan brand Tagine, but the Suriname cookbook mentioned a couple of posts ago singled out Brunswick and Morjon...so I bought a can of each today.

Sardines in tomato sauce get a bad bad rap in most taste tests, because of the tomato sauce itself. Which is understandable, I think the most that canned tomato sauces can really hope for is a top rating of "Edible".

The Morjon 'dines weren't bad at all, though I didn't taste them right out of the can. But once prepared in the Surinaamse stylie, I was completely hooked. The mint and ketjap asin are my customizations, totally not authentic.


sardines in tomato sauce with rice, kinda suriname-style.

1 tin Morjon sardines in tomato sauce (79 cents!)
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
0.5 to 1 madame jeanette pepper, minced
2 tbsp celery leaves, minced
1 tbsp mint leaves, minced
1 to 2 tbsp ketjap asin (the salty version of ketjap manis. ketjap manis would probably be fine too)

Make rice (or bulgur, in my case). In a wok or something, fry onion and pepper in 1 tbsp butter for 5 minutes or so. Add contents of sardine tin and celery leaves to onion/pepper, and simmer the whole thing for 10 minutes. Before serving, stir in mint leaves and ketjap. Serve over rice.

Serves 2.


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