Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hunger Challenge Shopping List

All for $55.33? Sweet!
Feeding yourself on the tiny food stamp allowance is a scary prospect. I generally think of food as one of life's democratic, inexpensive pleasures, and Tiffany and I keep our overall food budget low by cooking simply with frugal but flavorful ingredients. But when we started to add up all the little things that made even the simplest-seeming menu sing, the cost added up fast! So Tiffany and I approached the idea of the Hunger Challenge with some firm principles in mind (Check out our menu/strategy post here.) Check out the sweet haul we brought back in the pictures above and throughout. And check out our shopping list after the jump!

She;s spicy, I'm salty!
All of the prices here were determined on a "recon" trip to the Manila Oriental Market on Mission street in the Excelsior. It's a huge place with a dizzying array of mostly locally-grown Asian produce; aisles packed with imported sauces, condiments, spices, and delicacies; a 50-foot butcher counter featuring just about every part of the pig, chicken, and cow, as well as bits and bobs of more exotic beasts; and an equally large counter devoted to the fruits of the sea ranging from salmon heads (about $0.75/pound) to live spot prawns ($19.99/pound). Their health code score could stand some improvement, but it's still one of our favorite places to shop: cheaper than the Safeway a few blocks down and a lot more fun!

Things at "Mom's", as we affectionately call the place, always seem cheap, but when I actually started looking at the prices closely and adding them up, it was still a real challenge to stay below $58 for the total. In the produce section, we discovered that even at the rock-bottom price of $0.59/pound, enough greens for a week got to be pretty expensive (those cabbages are way heavier than I thought!) We also had to cut out our fish for the week (at $3.99, the catfish was too expensive and Tiffany was not excited about salmon heads), trade down to some of the sketchier-looking brands for condiments and oils, and make our own dumplings rather than buy them frozen. But with some refining, we did get everything under the mark.

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Amount Item Target
Pieces of Chicken Thighs $1.29
1 bag Rice (4 pounds) $3.99
1 bottle Corn Oil $2.99
8 servings Greens $3.54

Baby Bok Choy

Napa Cabbage

Young Choysum
1 box Cereal $2.99
33 oz Ground beef or pork $2.58
1 jar Chile Bean paste $2.49
30 whole Scallions $2.40
1 bag Sichuan pepper $1.99
1 bottle Black Vinegar $1.99
1 can Corned Beef $1.99
10 whole Dried Shitake Mushrooms $1.99
1 bottle Shaoxing Wine $1.89
29 oz Dried Noodle $1.80
1 bottle Dark Soy Sauce $1.79
3 lb Tofu $3.00
1 box Soy Milk $1.69
1 bag Whole dried red chiles $1.49
8 oz Dried Chickpeas $1.39
1 package Dumpling wrappers $1.39
1 jar Salted chile sauce $1.29
1 tube Garlic $1.29
1 package Sesame seeds $1.29
2.5 lbs Eggplant $1.20
1 jar Light Soy Sauce $1.09
1 bag Potato starch $0.99
1 bag Fermented black beans $0.79
8 oz Bean Sprouts $0.79
8 oz Green pepper $0.79
1 “thing” Ginger $0.50
1 whole Cucumber $0.00
1 lb Potatoes $0.00
1 whole Chinese Cabbage $0.49
2 whole Carrots $0.00
3 whole Onions $0.00
1 bag Preserved Vegetables $0.25
1 jar Chile Oil $0.00
2 whole Fresh red chiles $0.10
4 qts Stock $0.00