There's an awful lot of red wine sangria recipes out there, and they're pleasant enough, but I'm a bigger fan of white wine--if for no other reason than because red wine is unkind to me in the hangover department. Sangrias are so incredibly easy--virtually impossible to do wrong, actually - and something that I almost never make the same way twice. There's always a great new flavour, or a new fruit that's in season.
I like my sangrias on the tarter, fruity side (and often include lemon and melons), but some are super sweet, flavoured with honey, apple juice, or a soda like Sprite to add effervescence and a bit of a sugar syrup. You can also add shots of rum, Cointreau, or other liqueurs, but I've always been a fan of simplicity.
Strawberries are in here in Southern Ontario! I love when we get in the berries from the local farms. Compared to the gargantuan berries that get imported, the Ontario berries are very small. The flavour of these tiny berries, however, is huge in comparison with their monster counterparts from down south! So do yourself a favour and pack a pint into your shopping cart right now! You won't be sorry. And neither will you be if you try this sweet-tart sangria.
1 bottle medium sweet white wine - Pinot Grigio or Riesling
1/2 cup peach nectar
1 apple, sliced
1 peach, sliced
1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved
Divvy the peach nectar and sliced fruit between four large goblet glasses (or jars). Top with chilled white wine, and let the flavours meld for at least 5 minutes before serving.
For a fruitier flavour, pre-prepare the sangria in a pitcher, cover, and let chill until ready. The longer it sits, the more intense the fruit flavour will be!
It was a long month on our budget eating adventure, and I've learned some amazing things along the way. I hope you have too. I wanted to share a list of some of the most unusual things I've learned...hopefully you find them helpful for either yourself, or when trying to perform compassionate acts for those in need.
While this wasn't exactly shocking to me, what was shocking was the percentage it ate up. Grain is cheap, dairy is moderate, meat is somewhat expensive... but even if you don't care to be a vegetarian, you only need 2 servings. The Canada food guide says adult men and women should get as many as 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Assuming you could maintain an average price of 40-50 cents per serving to get a healthy variety, that's still as much as $4 per day out of the $5.50.
Hubs and I ended up aiming for 5 servings minimum, which somewhat less than 50% of our daily budget. We had to choose a good mix of cheaper options like vegetable cocktail, carrots, spinach, and bananas (30 cents per serving or less) to offset more expensive ones like whole apples and grapes.
Granted, it was mostly in week one, when I had to invest so much in my pantry and before I had much time to extend our meals with baked goods and snacks, that hubs and I had occasional headaches and lightheadedness. But to eat simply to the limits of the food guide and a $5.50 daily budget can test the lower limits of caloric acceptability, especially if you're relying on things like vegetable cocktail to help you meet your dietary needs.
We didn't have too many hungry days, fortunately, but fairly early on, we were afraid that if we ate much more we would run out of budget.
Budgetary restriction is no joke in the time-sucking department. 20 minutes every week to flip through fliers (and thank goodness for the flyer app Flipp which consolidated them for me and gave me the ability to "clip" so I stayed on target); about 2 hours per week to shop since I had to travel to two stores and we ate most of our weekly budget every week; 30-60 minutes practically every day preparing foods. It's an exhausting investment for someone who has to work a full-time job on top of that. Not having the money to make a pile of leftovers or freezer space to store a bunch of premade meals? CRIPPLING.
A chest freezer I consider to be a mandatory item if you want to live as frugally as possible. It's non-negotiable. If being unable to shop less frequently and make and store premade meals wasn't bad enough, it also left me severely restricted in the means to take advantage of really good deals. Let me tell you: I dislike being at the whim of weekly sales. I couldn't find meat that we wanted to eat during week 4 at less than 50 cents per serving; that's how I came home with boneless skinless chicken breasts--they were literally the best, cheapest meat item available.
Fortunately, I had the give in the budget by that week to overcome the lack of sales on the lowest-priced meats... but not everyone might be that lucky. And as far as the slowcooker goes, when one has to cook most days? LIFE. SAVER.
Prior to the challenge, hubs and I had a bad habit. We often got takeout from Wendy's on the way home from our son's weekly swimming lessons (because who really wants to cook at 7pm?). We thought almost nothing of this, despite the fact that it was about $17-18 every time we did this. What's $20, right? Well, it's about $900 a year- just for that one bad habit. And that doesn't include other nights where we didn't feel like cooking. Nor does it cover things like someone grabbing a $2 coffee every morning on the way to work (a $500+/year habit). Or grabbing pricey junk food from the corner store a couple times a month ($250+/year).
Suddenly, it looks like at least a couple of mortgage payments every year to pay the cost of what mostly amounts to impulse purchases. Is it worth it?
Lack of storage space and reducing the risk of spoilage aside, I had to make regular trips to two places for budgetary reasons: Costco and whichever grocery store currently had the best sales on fresh goods (for the challenge, almost always Food Basics). The amount of money I could save over the course of a year JUST BY BUYING BREAD AT COSTCO instead of the grocery store pays for the Executive Membership. Many other things, however? More expensive.
You can't trust any one store to always have the best prices. Yeah, it's a pain to shop more frequently and from more stores, but stores count on you to feel that way. That's why the concept of the lost leader exists: you'll make up for the money they lose on the items that get you in the door with the other items you're likely to need at the same time.
I knew that this was true in the dead of winter, when things had to be shipped from the southern hemisphere, but I didn't realize it was also true in the summer when items were coming any farther away than your nearest farm. So don't feel bad about buying frozen, ever. This was especially fortunate since many "fresh" fruits and veggies were out of the average price range we needed to stay in.
Thanks to our YMC dietician for that tidbit!
Boneless chicken breasts are always more expensive than whole chickens? False - you have to factor in that you lose 30-40% of the weight in inedible waste. Generic always cheaper than name brand? Guess again. Frozen isn't always cheaper than fresh, cheapest products aren't always high or low on shelves, and you most assuredly not save money if you shop less frequently... unless you have zero willpower in the impulse buying department.
Know your prices on your most common purchases, shop frequently, shop with a list, shop more places, and watch flyers for sales. Oh, and be pretty diligent about following your list, natch.
Coupons are a double-edged sword. For some things, like toothpaste, they're pretty great. Unfortunately for food, the healthy stuff seldom has coupons. The food items most likely to have coupons are convenience and brand name, both. The illusion that you're "getting a great deal" may blind you to the fact that you are spending a bunch of money on items you don't really need, can get in an already-lower-than-coupon-priced similar item, or that you can make yourself fairly easily and WAY more cheaply. So unless you're an extreme-couponer-extraordinaire, couponer beware.
If you have been moved by this series and you are of means, please consider donating nutritious food options (whole-meal baby food, canned fruits and vegetables, and canned meats) to your local food banks to help offset food insecurity for needy families. Let's make sure that all children have what they need to grow and thrive.
Small luxuries - like chocolate, coffee, and tea - would also do much to improve quality of life for those in need.
Thanks for reading, my friends.
Follow Anne's Budget Eating Challenge from the start: