The Challenge – Wrap Up

This was a great exercise more us to look at what we eat and what we spend. One thing is for sure, food is our biggest cost. At the very least it’s our most variable cost. I’ve always said we pay for convenience and convenience is well worth it. However, I am also realizing how completely easy it is for me to bring my lunch to work as opposed to going out for lunch. I like leftovers and eating something over and over again doesn’t faze me in the least. Even better, I have used my urge to go out of my office for lunch to go out of my office and do errands stuff like mailing packages and going home to get my medication or any number of house hunting things. When we last left us, we were having turkey burger night for Thursday. That worked well and I decided to augment the beet salad with some carrots sautéed in butter and a squeeze of orange juice. AWESOME!

Friday, I marinated salmon in nuoc mam, sambal olek, and rice wine vinegar. I seared it on both sides and let it cooked through in the oven as I roasted some asparagus and made some quinoa with chicken broth and coconut milk and a little red curry paste.

Saturday was where it all fell off the rails. After a morning of house hunting, we were hungry and decided to go to Saul’s Deli, an only-in-Berkeley organic free range deli. We shared an order of chopped liver (yes I LOOOVE liver in the chopped liver and pate forms) a salad and an egg salad sandwich.

Being in North Berkeley, aka the Gourmet Ghetto, we decided to hit the Cheese Board collective, where we got a nice cheddar and two buttery Alpine style cheeses. For those of you reading from the East Coast, there’s this thing called customer service that people in the Bay area and the South kind of excel in. It’s amazing. The Cheese Board collective is a historic store that comes right from the same page in history as Chez Panisse. It’s packed with people. Nevertheless, our person was totally friendly to us. We were vague about the cheeses we were interested in and she just kept giving us more tastes. She told us about her trip to Hawaii and we told her about our cheese tasting at Bar Bambino. I remember going to an equally crowded Cheesetique in Del Ray and feeling completely harried and rushed, not just from the person behind the counter but also from the other customers. Admittedly, the Cheese Board is literally a collective with each worker having an equal stake in the company and every one making the same amount of money. Yes, only in Berkeley.

After that, we decided to go to the Berkeley Farmer’s Market to get our produce (and more balsamic vinegar!). On top oft hat, the nice man at Bear’s Paw vinegar gave us a small bottle of reduced fig syrup. That is good stuff. It’s perfect poured on top of a nice blue cheese. After a week of eating out once, we just didn’t feel like eating in and decided to go out. We went to a Chinese restaurant in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood. Nothing to write home about but it served its purpose.

Sunday, I went to Trader Joe’s to get the rest of our groceries. For dinner we had a cheese plate, salad and a hearty bowl of roasted tomato soup.

Here’s what our costs shook out to: Trader Joes – $98 Farmer’s Market – $30 Tuesday night dinner – $68 Saturday Lunch – $30 Sunday Dinner – $50 Total – $286

The cost of going out for three meals is more than buying groceries for the entire week. Pretty sobering isn’t it.

Our costs this week are as follows: Trader Joes – $58 Farmer’s Market – $30 Cheese Board – $17 Already the Trader Joe’s run is less because I am buying off a list.

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2 Responses to The Challenge – Wrap Up

  1. Stef says:

    After a few weeks of bringing my lunch to work, I am totally *amazed* at how much cash I have in my wallet. That’s normally cash I would be spending to the tune of about 10 – 12 bucks a day in order to buy lunch. Opening my wallet now is a nice little reminder of what I’m accomplishing. 🙂

    Sounds like you guys have done well with your challenge, though I’m totally jealous of the great little shops you have out there!

  2. Jennifer Tujague says:

    Hi guys, I’ve recently done the opposite move — from Berkeley to D.C– and used to LIVE at the Cheese Board. You have to try their cheese rolls when are hot out of the oven and don’t miss the pizza.

    I’d actually love to try to make a go of a Cheese Board inspired bakery out here but am wondering if there are any other like-minded, former Bay Area lost souls out here that would be interested in pursuing something like this. Any ideas of how I could find such a person or persons?

    Thanks and congratulations on your new home! It took us 13 offers and a year and a half to successfully buy a house there.


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