July Food Stamp Challenge — Day Thirteen, Alternative Food Sources

by Katy on July 13, 2011 · 17 comments

Pizza dough in the Cuisinart, toppings in the tiffin and a mess of shredded cheese make for a rather delicious meal. Easy, fast, cheap and yummy. A perfect combination.

Today is day thirteen of the July Food Stamp Challenge and the day flew by without a hitch. (That’s right, I had no Clif issues.) I did get taken out to lunch by my father, but in return I treated him to dessert at a food cart using a free-because-I-had-credit-from-all-my-wonderful-readers Groupon. (He treats me to lunch now and then, and I’m always happy to accept. 😀 )

I was going to serve chicken soup with dumplings for dinner, as I have some in the freezer, (and because it was downright chilly in Portland today) but my husband requested homemade pizza. We are hosting a British soccer coach for the week, and we want to make meals special. Luckily, this is an extremely frugal meal as I buy the toppings and cheese directly from the Papa Murphy’s down the street. I buy a half serving of pepperoni and half serving of sausage crumbles for a buck, and then buy 24 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese for an additional $2! Add in that I can bring my own packaging, and I’m a happy non-consumer. (Although I did forgot to bring a container for the cheese, but you can see that my Goodwill tiffin works great for the toppings.)

As an aside, the salad was made with fresh lettuce from our wheelbarrow garden. So buttery delicious.

In case you were thinking that this is an isolated opportunity, I also buy our sushi condiments directly from a nearby restaurant. Again, I bring my own container, and ask for “$2 worth of pickled ginger and wasabi.” It’s enough to get us through three meals, and seems to have an infinite shelf life in the refrigerator.

I haven’t really explored buying food beyond these two restaurants, but I’m sure other businesses would be open to something similar. (Maybe ice cream cones? I always hate how they’re packaged in styrofoam.)

Have you ever gone this route and bought directly from a restaurant? Ever tried and been turned down? Please share your stories and thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie Jones July 13, 2011 at 4:15 am

I haven’t tried this yet, but I did notice that one of our local grocery stores will sell butter cream frosting by the ounce from their bakery. I have no idea what the price is, but it could be cheaper than making your own.


Jessica July 13, 2011 at 4:46 am

I typically make my own pizza dough but in a pinch I’ve bought it from local pizza places. I’ve only been turned down once – one pizza parlor refused to sell just the dough. Crazy!


Megg July 13, 2011 at 6:14 am

I’ve never even thought about doing this! Maybe I will try, though I feel a little funny walking in and asking for cheese only.
I do enjoy drinking the water at work (we have water bubbler with the big jugs of water) and today I almost filled my water bottle at home before I remembered that it’s free at work! Does that count?


Jana @ The Summer House July 13, 2011 at 6:33 am

I’ve never thought of doing this but my sister in law frequently buys tortilla chips at a Mexican Restaurant near her home. I was thinking it was more expensive but maybe it’s not.
xo Jana


Mindy July 13, 2011 at 6:41 am

Buying from a restaurant is a good idea! The only thing I’ve done that with is naan bread from our neighborhood Persian restaurant. But I’m definitely making a mental note.


Heather July 13, 2011 at 7:13 am

what’s a tiffin?

How did you approach the restaurant? that’s so interesting!


mairsydoats July 13, 2011 at 8:49 am

So, um, what’s the conclusion regarding the Clif issues? You know, now that you have feedback and all that… 🙂

You know, I’ve never done the buy-ingredients-from-restaurants thing. I don’t have restaurants super-close to my house, so if I’m cooking at home, it seems WAY out of the way to pop out for some ingredients… But good to keep in mind. I do love-love-love that if I’m getting ingredients from the bulk bins, I only have to buy what I’ll use rather than a whole lot of extra…


Audrey July 13, 2011 at 9:28 am

I’ve purchased pizza dough from our favorite pizza place (I think it was $2 for an extra-large one) and bought chips & salsa from a Mexican restaurant…..but I have to say that this post has inspired me to try some other places too!!!


Nicole July 13, 2011 at 11:36 am

This might not be the same, but I work at a restaurant and I can basically get whatever I want…
It’s a small place, so often, my boss asks me if there is anything I would like from the grocer we purchase from. I can get a gigantic bag of locally made gnocci for just a couple dollars. I also often get a few veggies from the bags he gets from the farmers market. This past weekend, we had a booth at a food festival. We had a lot of leftovers, and I got 2 pounds of sliced smoked salmon for free, because there wasn’t enough room in the fridge. I also got about 5 pounds of portobello mushrooms that I cleaned, sliced and froze. I will be making mushroom soup, risotto and gravy out of them.


lizzie July 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Wow. You get 24oz of shredded cheese for $2 at Papa Murphy’s? That’s amazing! By the way, Safeway brand ice cream cones are not in Styrofoam (at least the cake cones aren’t). In a plastic bag inside a box.


Chrissy July 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

In the spirit of your blog, about a month ago I hopped on my bike and went to our nearby papa murphy’s only to be turned down to buy ingredients. Telling the person behind the counter that I had read online that this was an option did not sway them in the slightest…


Christina July 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Sounds like you bumped into a robot instead of a human. Sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw with the people who work in these places. I’d try again.
I buy hummus from restaurants, but I suppose that’s not too unusual. It is much fresher and the price is comparable to what you pay at the store.


Kathleen July 13, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Our local Papa Murphy’s will not sell ingredients, either. They do take food stamps, though, and other restaurants do not. If you were using food stamps this would not be an option.


rcj July 14, 2011 at 6:14 am

Yes, Papa Murphys does take food stamps. The food stamps rules say that you cannot buy cooked food (such as from a deli or restaurant: already cooked). Therefore, you CAN buy the raw pizzas from Papa Murphys. I use this option a couple Friday nights a month. With their coupons, and not having to pay the tax we have gotten some screaming deals on pizza!


Kathleen July 18, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Sorry for the confusion; I meant the purchasing from just any restaurant is not an option on food stamps. Papa Murphy’s is the only local option available to me – other places might have better luck!


Shannon July 14, 2011 at 2:25 pm

We have a friend whose dad is a small farmer, so he calls us whenever he puts down a cow and we buy a portion of the cow directly from them. He only raises a few cows, and we know they had a good life. They do all the processing, and the price in the end is about $2 a pound for hamburger, steaks, roasts and stew meat. They also give us the liver, and bones for making soup. It is a lot of beef though, so we tend to share it by having lots of friends over for barbecues in the summer! Also we have a local lady with a hen house who sells a dozen brown eggs for $2. Her house is right on the way home from the grocery store, so it is an easy stop. I recently found out one of my cousins’ kids raises chickens and sells them at a local farm market. Their birds are free range, and they only use antibiotics if they have a sick animal. I will probably visit them at some point in the summer to make a chicken purchase to get us through the winter.


Marisa H July 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Being gluten free I can’t buy ingredients from restaurants. However, until recently I lived in upstate NY and we had a food co-op with a giant warehouse-sized room of bulk goods (way more than a Whole Foods!) and so I could bring my own packaging and buy only the amount I needed.


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