$25/Week Grocery Challenge: Week 4

I am now five weeks into my $25/week grocery challenge. I have been photographing what I buy each week. I’ll try to recall what I made each week, but my memory won’t be perfect.

Week 4:
Week 4

Note: You can click on the photo to enlarge it.
Pictured: 2 cans creamed corn, can of corn, whipped butter, large can of chickpeas, half-baguette, English muffins, 1 lb chorizo, 1 lb salt pork, 1 tub pre-peeled garlic, 2 cans diced tomatoes, egg noodles, 2 large bunches of kale
Not pictured: 1.5 lb bag of red potatoes, black tellicherry peppercorns, whole rosemary, scallions, bacon, baby kale/baby chard mixed salad greens

What I spent: $32.23. Whoops! Way over! Better luck next week.
Market Basket – $20.47
Whole Foods – $1.29
Stop & Shop – $3.50
Penzeys – $2.49
Trader Joe’s – $4.48

What made this week unusual: I shopped at so many stores! Normally, I don’t have time (or make time to do this). I went on my regular trip and was about $5 under. Great. I had gotten a store-specific coupon for bacon in the mail and since I use it to start a lot of my soups, I picked some up at Stop & Shop. With a sale and coupon, I got $7 bacon for $3.50. That store is on my way home from dropping my partner off at the train, so no major extra effort required. Mid-week, I realized I had forgotten scallions so I had to ask said partner to get some from the Whole Foods in her building on her way home.

Not the cheapest but sometimes time matters too. Over the holidays, I mistakenly bought an extra bottle of nutmeg from Penzeys – I exchanged it for 2 things we did need and the amount up there is the difference between the return and the new stuff. Trader Joe’s is right near Penzeys and I needed potatoes to make soup (I mis-estimated how many extra potatoes I’d have leftover from the prior week. I thought I’d have 2 lbs but was down to zero) so I bought a small bag at Trader Joe’s. While there, I was really craving a green salad so I sprung $2.49 for a “power greens” salad mix.

What made this week *really* unusual? I bought the greens even when I knew I was already quite over budget. This follows the “if the challenge gets too un-fun then I break the rules.”

What I made: roasted chickpeas, Ukranian beet stew, pasta carbonara, Tuscan white bean soup with kale

This week’s recipe I’m sharing: Roasted Chickpeas
I travel often for work and pretty much stick to JetBlue. They don’t have meals on their flights but they do have snack boxes. My favorite, despite its annoying name, is the ShapeUp box. It features a bevy of Mediterranean delights: hummus, crackers, olives, roasted chickpeas and a single gluten-free ginger snap. The roasted chickpeas are really tasty and I thought they’d make a good high protein/high fiber, lower-cost alternative to nuts (nothing against nuts but they’re kind of expensive) if I found a recipe. I found a zillion recipes, read for common themes and techniques and wrote this:


2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas (or 1 large can, or the equivalent amount cooked from dried beans)
seasonings of your choice (recommended/ideas: cumin, cayenne, garlic, curry, salt, rosemary, pepper – I generally hate recipes without amounts but think of this like popcorn, shake on a little a time until it’s how you like it)
drizzle of oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 and place a rack in the center of the oven
2. Drain and rinse chickpeas and pat dry – less moisture/more work on this step means a crispier snack later
3. Spread the chickpeas on a non-stick, rimmed baking sheet (preferably one made of stone) and pick out any loose skins (they burn). Place the baking sheet on the center rack
4. Set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, give the baking sheet a jiggle to rotate the chickpeas. Repeat 4 times, 40 minutes total
5. Dump the chickpeas into a glass bowl, drizzle with the oil of your choice (to help seasonings stick) and shake on your seasonings. Toss to make the seasoning as even as possible
6. Return to the oven for 5 minutes to help make the seasonings really stick. After 5 minutes, taste – they should be crispy/crunchy. If not, return for another 5 minutes and repeat until you achieve your preferred level of crunchiness
7. Find taste-test volunteers to help evaluate seasonings and get ideas for the next batch


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