First Time Making Fresh Spaghetti Sauce

Super long week at work and I was so glad to get home.  This weekend I was looking forward to doing a whole fat lot of nothing!!  So this may not be the most exciting blog post I’ve ever done, but I needed some serious chill time.  We had another showing on Saturday, which is exciting, and I drove into town to check the house one more time and pick up some vegetables at the farmer’s market.  It was super sticky and muggy on Friday and Saturday, and this is coming from someone who spent the week in Atlanta.  VERY unusual for September in New England.  This is when I was super glad we splurged for the bedroom AC unit.  Even though we are on 30 amp and can only run one at a time, it’s great because we can turn the bedroom AC on at night and the front room still gets cool but we don’t have to listen to the loud fan noise when watching a TV or a movie.  A large storm came in Saturday evening and  I was a little nervous about riding out the storm since the weather station said we might have damaging winds and hail, but Lee felt since we were under the dense tree cover we would be ok.  We bought a Midland weather notifier when in Tennessee and it worked great.  Went off right when it should have.  I was more nervous when it said tornado warning, but there was no shelter near by and since the only alternative was to drive 20 minutes to the house, we decided to ride it out.  Not sure how smart that was since Hollis, NH experienced a micro burst with 100 mph winds, but we own the choice.

Anyways, onto pleasanter things.  I have talked about how we are trying to reduce our grocery budget and although the farm fresh vegetables aren’t a bargain to me they are definitely worth the extra cost. The farmer’s stand around the corner had 5 Roma tomatoes left, some really nice watermelon, huge corn, and fresh Italian parsley.  I was super happy at the selection and excited about cooking fresh marinara sauce.  I love spaghetti and my mother’s recipe, but I have always wanted to try to cook sauce from farm fresh tomatoes, so Saturday night with the rain coming in seemed like the perfect time. Along these lines I read a great article on the plane about avoiding the super market traps and just had to pass it along.  It’s amazing to me how much marketing and science go into getting you to spend more money and these tips are to help even the playing field.

  1. Grocery shop alone – the longer you are in the store the more money you will spend so take a list and stick to it.  Avoid those impulse buys
  2. The produce department has the highest markups in the grocery store – Avoid buying “pair” items in the produce section as they are generally not the best priced
  3. When you walk in the store go to the left not the right. – Going clockwise forces you to reach over your basket which cuts down on impulse buys.
  4. Buy the biggest items first – People calculate how much they are spending by how full the cart is so the big items are on the bottom, the cart is fuller and you will likely spend less.
  5. There are speed bumps in the more expensive gourmet sections of the store – Some grocery stores have put a textured tile in these areas which slow down the cart.  Studies show that these speed bumps lead to a 17% jump in purchases in these sections.
  6. Don’t look at the characters on cereal boxes – Research has found that meeting another person’s gaze (even a 2-D character) fosters a sense of trust and encourages sales
  7. Skip the deli – The same items in the deli section that are found in the dairy section can cost up to 30% more.  This is because the deli workers need to get paid.
  8. Don’t think you can just get milk – The dairy section is in the rear corner of the store for a reason and research shows people who are planning on just making a “quick trip” for a few items often spend 60% more than they intended to spend
  9. Do the math – calculate unit pricing.  Only 9 states require unit pricing, but be aware the packaging is often misleading and the only way to know the best bargain is to divide the price by the number of ounces, pounds, etc
  10. Don’t touch things in the checkout aisle – Touching a product triggers a sense of ownership making you more likely to buy.
  11. Be careful of 10 for $10 deals – You don’t necessarily have to buy in that quantity to get the deal and sometimes the each price is not the best deal.

So after shopping I settled in to make the sauce.  I browned the garlic in olive oil and added fresh Roma tomatoes and chopped fresh basil.  I let it cook down the tossed with spaghetti and freshly chopped parsley.  It looked and smelled amazing, just like something you would get in an Italian restaurant but then we took our first bite.  Let me just say you will NOT see this recipe below, because the taste was incredibly bland.  I know I followed the recipe exactly I just didn’t like the taste.  But I was glad I did it and I choose to treat the experience as a metaphor for life.  Sometime you can use all the right ingredients and do everything right and things still don’t work out.  But it’s really about trying new things and the journey rather than the end result.

Marinara simmering

Marinara simmering

Spaghetti with marinara sauce

Spaghetti with marinara sauce

 

Plus just to show me up Lee made some yummy steak on Sunday night.  He even used our new P brand for the first time on the steaks cooked over the campfire.  Look in the middle of the picture and you can see it. Overall it was a wonderfully relaxing weekend and I really needed it.

Steak with a branded "P" in the center

Steak with a branded “P” in the center

 Lessons Learned

  • Invest in the second air conditioner
  • Grocery shop alone – the longer you are in the store the more money you will spend so take a list and stick to it.  Avoid those impulse buys
  • The produce department has the highest markups in the grocery store – Avoid buying “pair” items in the produce section as they are generally not the best priced
  • When you walk in the store go to the left not the right. – Going clockwise forces you to reach over your basket which cuts down on impulse buys.
  • Buy the biggest items first – People calculate how much they are spending by how full the cart is so the big items are on the bottom, the cart is fuller and you will likely spend less.
  • There are speed bumps in the more expensive gourmet sections of the store – Some grocery stores have put a textured tile in these areas which slow down the cart.  Studies show that these speed bumps lead to a 17% jump in purchases in these sections.
  • Don’t look at the characters on cereal boxes – Research has found that meeting another person’s gaze (even a 2-D character) fosters a sense of trust and encourages sales
  • Skip the deli – The same items in the deli section that are found in the dairy section can cost up to 30% more.  This is because the deli workers need to get paid.
  • Don’t think you can just get milk – The dairy section is in the rear corner of the store for a reason and research shows people who are planning on just making a “quick trip” for a few items often spend 60% more than they intended to spend
  • Do the math – calculate unit pricing.  Only 9 states require unit pricing, but be aware the packaging is often misleading and the only way to know the best bargain is to divide the price by the number of ounces, pounds, etc
  • Don’t touch things in the checkout aisle – Touching a product triggers a sense of ownership making you more likely to buy.
  • Be careful of 10 for $10 deals – You don’t necessarily have to buy in that quantity to get the deal and sometimes the each price is not the best deal.

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3 thoughts on “First Time Making Fresh Spaghetti Sauce

  1. As always, I continue to really enjoy your posts. That metaphor is GREAT; I need to make that my mantra! PS: I like those plates and I’m drooling over that steak (despite being a vegetarian!)

  2. It sure looked great! When making fresh sauce, try not letting it cook down. Fresh is best cooked just long enough to let the flavors blend. Also, don’t actually brown the garlic it will taste bitter. Just opaque. It is a lighter taste. If you find it too bland, try adding a bit of jalapeno finely chopped to the garlic. Gives a bit of a kick!

    Great metaphor though! Steak looked yummy too!!

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