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Archive for the ‘lean times’ Category

Goose on a Budget

An easy way to save money and eat well is to shop at Goose the Market.

What, has she lost her mind? That  foodier-than-thou place with all the weird French stuff? Isn’t it expensive?

Goose caters to upscale tastes and clientele, but its owners, Christopher Eley and his wife Mollie, are humble. They created a neighborhood store modeled on those found in European countries.

Chef Christopher explained the philosophy. Buy what you need when you need it and use it all up. The cost of an item might seem higher than the grocery store, but the quality is greater.

In the end, the cost is comparable and sometimes less.

It makes sense. We are blessed with a powerful, efficient food system that produces two times more than we need. We buy cheap, throw out a lot and eat more than we should, resulting in waste, sloth and crummy food.

A shopping trip confirmed their strategy works. Here are a few tips for budget-minded eaters.

Soup and Sandwiches

Although a meat market and food store, The Goose serves ready-to-eat food. Food writers annointed their signature sandwich, the Batali, the best in Indianapolis.

The sandwich costs $6.95 (comparable to sandwiches at Au Bon Pain or Panera, but far more substantial).

Order the Batali, eat half of it with a cup of soup ($4.00) and save the other half for later.


Goose’s herbs range in price from $2-$3 an ounce, while Marsh/O’Malias charge $2.99 for 3/4 ounce ($2.49 on sale). At the grocery store, you have to buy the entire package, use what you need and throw out the rest.

Buying only what I needed, rosemary cost 80 cents, saving me $2.19.


Time Magazine ran a fun article, “Recession Gourmet.”

Celebrity chefs, using the wisdom of centuries of thifty women, shopped and crafted gourmet meals for under $10. They used cheaper cuts of meat, bought fresh produce on sale and in season, and served pasta or grains flavored with small amounts of meat as main dishes.

Two of the six meals featured pasta and panchetta as the entree. Panchetta, an Italian flavor powerhouse, infuses the pasta with meat flavor. Although the per pound price seems expensive ($14.99), four ounces flavors enough pasta to feed four.

Panchetta, once hard to find, is sold at most grocery stores and Trader Joe’s. Panchetta at Goose is comparable in price to competitors, but quality is incomparable. Panchetta sold in grocery stores is pre-sliced and packaged in plastic. Goose slices when you buy it, so its flavor remains intact.

Spaghetti with Panchetta and Chili Flakes


When I moved to Indy, I had a hard time finding flavorful onions. Last week, Goose had red onions grown by local producer, Good Life Farms. More expensive than grocery store onions, they’re packed with flavor.

Carmelized onions are easy to make and tailor-made for freezing. I sliced the onions, chopped up some rosemary and carmelized them in a sliver of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. Cooking them at low heat in the crockpot yielded 12 servings for a per cost of 29.5 cents. They were gone within a few days. I used them on zucchini omelets, lentil soup and pasta.

Goose is not bargain shopping in the good ole American sense of double coupons or buy- three-get-one-free, but they sell plenty of good-value products.

By not wasting food, you can save your pennies for one of Goose’s fabulous steaks.


Written by Susan Gillie

August 15, 2008 at 8:07 pm

Posted in lean times

Keepin’ It Real

Gasoline hit $4 a gallon this summer. The housing market slumped. Congress is crafting a mortgage bailout. Employers are shedding payroll. Face it, we’re in a recession. One that isn’t going to lift until late next year, if we’re lucky.

We’re not worried about our jobs, we’re not worried about losing the house or the car. After all, it’s just money. As a friend said about this latest financial pickle, “nobody’s died, the kids didn’t get divorced.”

Spend it, save it, earn it again, we can’t take it with us.

When worry hits, though, we fret about food. No matter how much quantity or variety of food we have, anxiety makes the belly rumble. Primoridal fear takes over. Even though  our modern food system is cheap, fast, efficient and provides each and every man, woman and child in our country with 3,900 calories a day, the rise in food costs makes us fear we’re going to starve.

Rational thinking be damned.

So I’m here to help. Today I’m starting a blog series, Lean Times, to help. For the next few weeks, I’ll  provide simple tips on how to eat well and nourish the senses and the body during these less than desirable times.

Written by Susan Gillie

August 12, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Posted in lean times

Oh, Beans

Beans are a culinary wunderkind. Though celebrity chefs pay scant attention to beans, they’re a double doozy, three-fer: protein, vegetable and fiber. They’re low in calories, high in nutrition, and if prepared properly, a taste sensation.

Beans are a bargain. They’re cheap, easy to fix and readily available. You can pick up a can of Libby’s Orgainic Black Beans at Marsh/O’Malias on sale for $1 (regular price is $1.39). Cost is less than 29 cents a serving.

As economical as canned beans are, there’s a less expensive, better tasting, more nutritious alternative–dried beans. On the same grocery aisle as canned beans, you’ll find bags of Hurst Brand Black Beans. A one-pound bag costs $1.39, serves 13, for a per serving cost of 10.7 cents.

Although canned beans are nutritious, they’re high in sodium (250mg per serving) compared to less than 5mg per serving of dried beans. There’s the added advantage of not having to recycle cans when you use dried beans.

Everyone knows dried beans are cheaper, better tasting and better for the environment, but no one cooks them. It’s too hard and you have no guarantee they’ll turn out well.

Dried beans aren’t much work when you cook them in a crockpot. Clean and rinse, put them in the crockpot with 2.5 cups of water for every cup of beans. Set heat on low and cook overnight while your sleeping. In the morning, turn off the crockpot, let them cool and store in the refrigerator. When you get home from work, portion them into zippered freezer bags, label and freeze. Simple.

The other problem is hard beans. According to Harold McGee, “This may have been caused by growing conditions on the farm, or storage conditions after harvest.”

There are two kinds of hard bean problems: “hard-seed” and “hard-to-cook.” “Hard seed” beans have outer seed coats that are water resistant. They’re smaller and shivelled and you can easily spot them when you cleaning the beans. “Hard-to-cook” beans look normal, but were damaged during storage. Once you cook your beans, you can pick these out before serving.

Black beans are versatile. You can make soups, salads, casseroles and even brownies. My favorite new recipe is over on Kirsten’s website.

It’s Jamaican (esque) Rice and Beans.

Kirsten uses her rice-and-beans as a side dish to tofu. I took her recipe, doubled it, added some egg ribbons and made it the entree, with roasted zucchini and a simple salad as side dishes.

Nutrition Facts-Black Beans

Serving Size  ½ cup (350 g)
Calories  120
Total Fat




Total Cholesterol



7 g

Total Carbohydrate




Dietary Fiber





250g/10% canned beans

5g/0% dried beans

Written by Susan Gillie

August 12, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Posted in lean times