The best-laid plans (JFSC)

The June Food Stamp Challenge continues. We have plans for a BBQ on Father’s Day and will be providing the entrees (hot dogs, sausages, burgers and some chicken), plus appetizers, desserts and some basic beverages. Family and friends have been asked to bring their own choice of beverages (beer, soda, etc.) and a salad or side dish if they want something other than what we’ll provide. So this week’s shopping will be mostly aimed at prepping for that event. Luckily, I have fresh and frozen food left over from last week, still have the chicken pieces that I cut up and froze in marinade, as well as lots of veggies, potatoes and pasta. It may get a little thin this week — but what the heck, a challenge is a challenge — and I need to clean the fridge before company anyway, right? (Note the pretty peppers at the farmers’ market!)

The food list for the party includes chips and dip — I can make the dip with sour cream (or plain yogurt) and onion soup mix (pantry), and also the 7-layer dip with most supplies on hand (refried beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, chopped onions, olives, and chopped tomatoes or fresh corn). We still have avocados so if they are still edible, they will become guacamole. I plan to bake a cake or cookies for one dessert and a Key lime pie was requested (by a very important Dad) for the other dessert. I have everything but the limes for that, and may ask on Freecycle to see if anyone has limes to share. Our beverages will be iced tea (sun tea made at home) and lemonade (lemons and sugar at hand already). I might make a pitcher of iced coffee, too. My FS shopping ventures this month have left us with a couple of packages of hamburger buns, hot dogs, sausages and chicken in the freezer. We are expecting at least one vegetarian, so we either need to buy veggie patties, or I might try to make my friend Katy’s black bean burgers ahead of time.

I have coupons for salsa, chips and briquettes. The menu includes Dad requests for ranch-style beans (a certain brand, not homemade), watermelon, and the aforementioned Key lime pie. With lots of planning this weekend, and prep work before Sunday, we should be able to get all the items we want for the party at a price within our FS budget. But just in case, no grocery shopping until Friday, when we do party prep. A quick trip to the farmers’ market to get some fruit is all I have on the calendar until then.

That’s way too much information, I know, at a level of detail way past annoying. I am still trying to manage the food stamp challenge within the scope of our social calendar, and I mean to make it work. And guess what I learned over the weekend? If you want all your conspirators to go along with you, you should talk about it beforehand and plan accordingly, so that no one feels slighted or gets resentful.
Family conversation made the planning for this upcoming BBQ a lot easier, and I intend to stick to the FS budget in spite of off-budget items like chips and dip, burger patties or special ranch beans. It will be interesting to see how much work this roundabout will make for me — how much “making” I do, and to consider how a working single parent could accomplish the same thing on his or her FS budget.

Also, I’m still working the eco-green angle, so intend to use real silverware and plates. Any paper goods that get used will be composted. I do not plan to buy any paper plates, etc.

Sunday Menu
Breakfast: 1 orange (random — where did it come from?) and grapefruit, sliced; French toast (1 egg, small amount of milk, free bread), coffee, maple syrup. (Cost: $1.50 total)

Snack: Peanuts (baseball game was on).
Lunch: Sandwiches: lunch meat, cheese, tomatoes, homegrown sprouts.
Snack: Frozen peaches (farmers’ market, frozen from last summer – $1)
Dinner: Sliced deli ham (from freezer: $6 pkg), tomatoes, pasta salad, green beans. ($6 for dinner, about $1.50 per person)
Late Night Snack: Leftover French toast, milk.

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