Thursday, May 20, 2010

First Farmers' Market Trip of the Season

Farmers' Market season is here! Copley and Prudential both started this week, on Tuesday and Thursday respectively, and I checked them both out. (The Copley market is also open on Fridays.)

I've been spending a lot of money on a lot of unhealthy foods lately, so I'm going to use farmers' market season as a way to start eating and spending better. I'll be keeping track of what I spend at the markets - and I'll update posts with the money wasted if I had to throw any of the food out. I find that I tend to overbuy, and a lot of the money I spend on produce goes to waste when I can't eat everything before it goes bad. So, maybe knowing that people are reading about my wasteful ways will help me get better at buying what I can eat and finding ways to make use of slightly-old-but-not-yet-bad food.

So, without further ado, here's my first week of farmers' market purchases, what they cost, what I did with them, and, eventually, if anything went to waste. Pickings were slim - there were virtually no fruits or vegetables - so my purchases this week are a bit random!

Arugula - $5/bag (as shown below)
Atlas Farm - South Deerfield, MA

Chorizo - $12.99/lb (the portion is shown is just below a pound)
Raised and distributed by Stillmans at the Turkey Farm (of Meat Meet fame) - Hardwick, MA; processed at Hilltown Pork Inc. - Canaan, NY

Mint Honey - $3/small jar (as shown below)
The Herb Lyceum - Groton, MA

Oatmeal Molasses Bread
- $4.50/loaf
New Breadsong Corner Bakery - Auburndale, MA

Tropicana Tea (black tea, thistle flower petals, marigold petals, cornflower petals, rose petals, tropical fruit flavors) - $3/small bag (as shown below)
The Herb Lyceum - Groton, MA

Whole Wheat & Ground Flaxseed Fresh Linguine - $8/four portions
Nella Pasta - Jamaica Plain, MA

I put it all together for dinner tonight. The results:

Linguine with chorizo, topped with pasta sauce and aged piave cheese that I already had lying around.

For lack of other vegetables...a bowl of plain arugula, drizzled with some dressing I already had.

And for a later evening snack, oatmeal molasses bread with mint honey. I also had a cup of the Tropicana tea.

I have to admit I'm not quite won over by whole wheat pastas yet, but I'm trying to make the switch. I find the texture a bit odd. The pasta I got at the market was good for what it was, though, and I'd like to try other products by Nella Pasta. The chorizo was mild - I was hoping for a bit more heat - but still very nice. I did, however, have to engage in an epic battle with my smoke detector to get it cooked. I can't wait to move to Somerville, where the kitchens are normal-sized and there's room to cook without getting attacked by the Smoke Monster. I'm intrigued by the mint honey: it tastes like mint and it tastes like honey, but the flavors don't really mingle. You can taste each strongly and separately. The tea tastes/smells like a bouquet of flowers on a tropical island. I generally like teas that aren't as in-your-face floral, but this is a nice change from the simpler green teas I've been drinking lately.

Farmers' Market Bonus
A Pringles rep was at the Prudential market offering samples of the new multigrain Pringles in original, cheddar, and ranch. I'm very very picky about chip flavors, so I stuck with the original. Not bad! They tasted very Pringles-y but without the harsh chemical saltiness, and with a bit of added graininess. I probably wouldn't go out of my way to buy them because I don't generally buy chips, but if they were on a table at a party, I'd eat 'em. 

Cost analysis
Total spent = $36.50 (the meal shown above accounts for less than $6 of the total)
I'm worried that a good deal of the bread and arugula will go to waste. I should have bought a smaller portion of arugula, scooping my own portion size from the loose arugula rather than grabbing a bag. As for the bread, I guess I'll have to figure out ways of using it if it gets stale - croutons, perhaps? Any other suggestions? I'm ok with the amount I spent on the chorizo, because I already froze what I didn't use for tonight's dinner, and I'll defrost it as needed. The pasta was on the expensive side. It's nice to splurge on fancy, fresh pasta once in awhile, but for the most part, I should probably buy cheap dried stuff at the supermarket. I'll be able to stretch out the tea and honey for awhile, so the cost is justified.

Rest of the Week
I can have three more pasta dishes, and I have four or five meals' worth of chorizo and arugula left. I can get a few breakfasts out of the bread and honey before the bread goes stale.

Lessons Learned
(1) Never buy ready-bagged stuff; portion it out myself to save money/avoid waste.
(2) Avoid fancy pasta unless it's a special occasion.
(3) Bread is OK as long as I'm prepared to freeze it or find a use for stale bread. I can't go through a whole loaf on my own in a few days' time.

Do you have any suggestions for ways I can use my old bread? Did I do a good job my first week at the market, considering the very limited supply of produce? 


  1. Hello, my name is Paula. For the bread I would recommend you freeze it to extend it. You could always slice it, portion it, like 2 slices, wrap well and then defrost it as you need it. There are a ton of things you can make with stale bread. Soup with breads, hot and cold, french toasts, good with ham and cheese in middle, crostinis with fresh tomatoes or hummus on top, etc. hope that helps!

  2. I think you did a great job for the first trip to the market! Some suggestions for bread:
    Cut it up and freeze i, make croutons, make bread crumbs, make 'toasts' which you can keep and use with some fresh veggies & cheese as a snack.
    I make my own bread (mostly by machine) when I can and generally try and freeze it in smaller portions!

    I'm hoping my first trip to a farmers market this year will be tuesdays copley square market.. perhaps we will bump into each other at some point!

  3. panzanella (or any kind of bread salad) is the perfect way to use leftover chunks of bread... Especially sourdough or wheat or peasant bread. Delish.


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