Tag Archives: economy

Eating on a budget

Meatloaf dinner

Meatloaf dinner

Just the idea of meatloaf conjures an image of TV dinners, Depression-era cookbooks, and eating for cheap. It’s not an inspiring image for a foodie, but I figured there must be a way to make a slightly more modern, healthier version of those dinners and still save money. So last night for my weekly Tuesday dinner club, I decided to make a gourmet version of meatloaf and green peas and add up the total cost.

Here’s what I made with the cost of ingredients:

Last year, The New York Times featured a piece called Fancy Meatloaf in the food section – the author was having Nora Ephron over for dinner—so I knew this was not going to be my mom’s meatloaf with the ketchup and the smiley face made of olives and gherkins. I’m a pretty amateur bread maker, but I wanted to do this whole meal as cheaply and as homemade as possible, so I threw together a loaf of whole wheat bread the night before and let it rise. And how can you have a meatloaf dinner without green peas on the side?

I had the basics already in the fridge (leftover bread, flour, milk, oil, butter, eggs, vinegar, salt and pepper), so adding to that I spent:

For the meatloaf:
1 pound ground chuck (I bought local, non-hormone treated beef): $7.77
1 pound ground veal: $5.64
1 link, hot pork sausage: $1.00
1 cup white wine: $10/bottle (and you can drink it with dinner!)

For the peas:
1 package green peas: $1.19
2 slabs house-cured bacon from the local deli: $2.50
1/2 pound mushrooms: $1.50

For the bread, in addition to the flour, I needed:
1 packet dry yeast: $.75
1 can beer $1.50

TOTAL: $31.85, for a meal that serves about six people. That averages out to just over $5 per serving, including a glass of wine. Not bad!

Fighting for firefighters

Some of the most vital jobs in local communities are being threatened daily by budget cutbacks and the struggling economy – including firefighters and police officers. While the White House says the stimulus bill saved thousands of these kinds of jobs from being taken away, some local stations are reporting that these types of jobs are still falling victim to state budget cuts.

Michigan Radio this week reported on some steep cuts in Flint.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says the city will lay off 57 police officers. According to the Flint Police Officer’s Association, that will leave the city with fewer than 100 officers for a population of around 113,000. That is less than one officer for every thousand people.

The U.S. average is three officers for every thousand people.

The mayor says 23 firefighters will also get pink slips. The Firefighters Union says that will leave just 65 firefighters for the city.

In Colorado Springs, Colo., cost-cutting measures have already slashed firefighting and police coffers, and now even keeping the streetlights on and park restrooms open, are line-items, NPR reports:

All the restrooms have been closed. There’ll be very little watering, and crews will mow just once a month instead of weekly.

The city even trimmed its police and fire budgets and is auctioning three of its police helicopters on the Internet. Still, that’s not enough.

EconomyBeat wrote yesterday about the mounting conservative movement in Colorado Springs to prevent raising taxes at the same time that city services are being cut.

Colorado as a state is facing overall budget woes, and Governor Bill Ritter recently spoke about his cost-saving plans for the state.

In Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed addressed the Atlanta Press Club in January and outlined his fiscal plans for the city, including the choices he’s had to make in securing pensions for police and firefighters (watch his segment on the General Fund, around 8:00).

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What are the most vital needs in your community? Would you be willing to pay more in property taxes to keep the status quo?

Top posts of '09

Over at EconomyBeat, Jon’s put together a list of underperforming posts for the year. I’m a little tired of this whole ‘glass half empty’ thing, so while the top performing posts aren’t all good news (how could they be?), here’s a quick glimpse at some popular economy stories and projects from public media in 2009.

1. One Sixth of What? The health care debate was the story of the year in Washington, so it’s no surprise that it hit a nerve with EconomyStory readers as well. While progress has been made since we looked at what healthcare costs really mean, in the new year, the bill will reach President Obama’s desk. Here are some recent thoughts from NPR listeners about the current health care bill. Health care also took center stage in a game from American Public Media, where you decide how tax dollars get spent.

2. Water, Water Everywhere The close ties between water, the economy, and politics brought a number of investigative stories from California, which faced a huge drought in 2009.

3. Men Men Suits vs. Corduroy Patches One of the most successful shows on TV this year lent itself to a popular EconomyStory post. The series Mad Men on AMC had everyone throwing back to classic 60s looks and highball drinks on Sunday nights, prompting NPR to do a piece on a new Brooks Brothers suit, styled in the Mad Men tradition. The price tag, however, was something not everyone could hang their fedora on this year.

4. One House One Town One Lecture You can’t talk about the economy of 2009 without mentioning the real estate bust. In Missouri, The Economy Project looked at one filmmaker’s take on the housing bubble, and NewsHour’s Patchwork Nation examined how the crisis played out around the country.

5. Watch and Learn When PBS launched it’s new video widget this fall, the web responded and now the video player is on dozens of station and program sites, featuring stories from shows like NewsHour, Frontline, and Nightly Business Report. You can add it to your personal site as well. Check out some of the best videos of the year that are up now:

Naming the old decade, defining the new

Fashion plate

Fashion plate

As we head towards the end of the decade, there’s been much discussion around what to call the past 10 years, and where we’re heading beyond that.

What were the 00’s called? The ‘Ohs?’

Coming in at First Place in the running to name the decade is the “aughts” or playfully, the “aughties.” We already had an ‘Aughts’ from 1900-1909, full of hoop skirts, the Wright Brothers and saloons.

New Hampshire Public Radio is asking listeners for their Name-The-Decade suggestions, just in case the Aughts doesn’t catch on. Commenter Ryan Guerra suggested the “unis” (yoo-nees)– share your ideas here.

What should we call the next era? Looking at some of the innovations of the past decade help to give a sense of where we’re headed. The Nightly Business Report has a series on the top technologies of the past 30 years, and how quickly things like phone books have become all but obsolete.

The PBS NewsHour is asking experts what’s in store for the economy in the next year. The predictions are mix of hopefully and fearnervous, but this one from Richard Sylla, professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business, gives provides hope for light at the end of the dark economic tunnel:

“My biggest surprise in 2010 would be to witness a failure of the U.S. economy to grow at least at its real long-term trend rate of about 3 percent. Add in 1-2 percent inflation, and nominal GDP ought to grow at least 4-5 percent.”

Answering more tough questions about the economy in 2010, Capitol News Connection’s podcast took questions for Rep. Jim Hines, a member of the House Financial Services Committee this week.