For me, the scariest aspect of the Lenten Experiment is not the frugality but the planning. I like to make things up as I go along. I don't like keeping records and figuring out the price of everything.
I'm solving the bookkeeping problem by keeping track of grocery purchases but not trying to price each meal, which would be impossibly complex.
And I've decided to solve the meal planning problem by reverting to my usual method of cooking: looking at what I already have or what is favorably priced in the grocery store, and then imagining what goes well together. I often do this as I cook, after I write my daily blogpost, so I'm going to stop appending "daily bread" summaries announcing what we are going to have for dinner. Heck, it's only 11:00 a.m. How do I know?
But I do want to keep track--what's an experiment without data?--so instead I'll post yesterday's menu, beginning tomorrow. (This approach has the added advantage of not giving Mr Neff or dinner guests advance information about dinner. I don't want to alarm anybody.)
Meanwhile, here's a report from the front. Janet and Ken Tkachuck, excellent cooks both, describe their first couple of days of intentionally frugal eating:
[We] are experimenting with the frugal menu plan but are not giving up meat or wine. The first night we had chicken legs sautéed with onions, sweet peppers, and zucchini and cilantro, on a bed of couscous. The meal came to $6.00, and with a $4.99 bottle, we stayed under budget. Our breakfasts and lunches, like yours, cost pennies. Last night was stir fry with vegetarian scallops, even cheaper. How we're going to work tonight into the scheme I'm not sure. We're sallying forth with our friend Don to a new cheap eats BYOB in Andersonville (Antica Pizzeria, featuring a wood burning pizza oven). ... We'll ask Tetzel to grant us an indulgence for this one night. Or amortize the extra cost over the next week. Cheating already.No doubt Tetzel will approve, but then so will his archenemy Martin Luther, who wrote to a friend:
Whenever the devil pesters you with these thoughts, at once seek out the company of men, drink more, joke and jest, or engage in some other form of merriment. Sometimes it is necessary to drink a little more, play, jest, or even commit some sin in defiance and contempt of the devil in order not to give him an opportunity to make us scrupulous about trifles.Amen, Dr. Luther.