“Every time you enter a grocery store, you’re being marketed to. There are free samples, bright colors, enticing aromas and lots of noise – all designed to steer you away from the path of best nutrition. The more often you enter these establishments, the more often you’re exposed to all the stuff you needn’t be buying. So how do I avoid it?
By doing the first leg of shopping at the farmer’s market, I’m front-loading my grocery haul with fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, even fish, all in season, all recently harvested and responsibly raised.
Next, I’ll visit the least expensive store on my list. Around here, that’s Trader Joe’s. By the time I get there, I’ve already picked up lots of fresh stuff, so their largely pre-packaged produce section is a non-issue. They do, however, have a lock on better choices, when it comes to dry and frozen goods or specialty items, at very reasonable prices. If I need anything not available at TJ’s, Ralphs (our local Kroger affiliate) is the next stop. Their prices on staple items aren’t as low as TJ’s, but there are a few things I like to get there.
Finish with a Flourish
I’ll finish my shopping at the most expensive store, like Whole Foods (a.k.a. “Whole Paycheck”). By the time I get there, I’m usually tired of shopping, starting to feel how much money has left my possession and I only have the patience to pick up exactly what I truly need.”
~An excerpt from Farmer’s Market Frugal
During our Farmer’s Market shopping experiment, I learned a number of things; most importantly, the fact that old habits die hard. For me, that means I’ll do anything to find good deals on amazing organic produce. For The Boyfriend, that means shopping based on what’s on sale, regardless of quality. How did I handle these proclivities? For my organic obsession, I first made sure to have a current list of the “Dirty Dozen” the “Clean Fifteen” on hand. When I know which foods are best to buy organic and which are less likely to harbor high levels of pesticides, I’m able to keep my haul on the less-expensive side.
For Sean, when buying meat in the store, instead of going straight to the item of the week, I began going to the clearance section. Usually, because these items are more expensive, the few grass-fed or responsibly raised meat items tend to end up there by the time we usually shop. When I get these meats home, I break up the haul into portions and freeze the majority of them. This way, I have a nice sampling of proteins for my man, without breaking the bank. That doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally pick up a couple Foster Farms whole chickens when they’re on sale…they’re just handy to have around (see below).
Sunday Suppers at Home
This past weekend, I had a new idea. Now that I’ve finished writing my first cookbook (YAY!!), I can start cooking with a new topic in mind. Eating at home is beneficial for many reasons. It saves money, you know what you’re eating and a family dinner is a great way to touch base and stay connected. For the most part, Sean and I dine together every night, unless he’s working late. Even then, I’ll have a snack or a cuppa tea with him when he comes home and sits down to his dinner. On the weekends, we like to have one or two friends come over and share this meal with us, and that’s when I really like to show off! I can make a special meal, share nutrition and health tips with our friends and we can listen to the music we’ve both been working on and get some feedback. From this, the new book idea was born. Twice a month, for 6 months, we’ll be hosting dinners for a friend or two (we don’t have that many chairs!). I’ll be writing the recipes for the whole meal, taking note of any health or nutrition questions that come up and including a few songs to go with each menu.
This past Sunday, we shared supper with Joe and Angelique. I roasted a chicken, baked some bread, made some grilled veggies and made crispy roasted potatoes (thanks for finishing those, Sean!)…and finished the evening with that sage-y baked apple from last week’s blog post. After dinner, we enjoyed some discussion about nutrition and health and rocked out in our little studio and this idea grew out of that.
Wanna see what we had? I didn’t photograph the potatoes, but the chicken, bread and salad kindly posed for their close ups…
Herb-rubbed and roasted chicken / Tomato, Garlic and Plain “Stecca” or Stick-loaves, from Jim Lahey’s recipe in the book, My Bread.
Bitter greens salad with Pears and Pecans. The “greens” consist of Radicchio, Escarole and the tops from a stalk of Brussels Sprouts. The salad was dressed with a garlicky vinaigrette that was blended with hot sauce and cashews.
Can you see me?!
This week also initiates a new weekly feature: Friday FAQ’s. Until now, I’ve been quite video-impaired. We never had a video camera in the house when I was growing up, so it’s never been a normal household item for me…even after all those years working on TV! Now that I know how to use my laptop, my regular camera or even my phone to make little movies…well, watch out world!
What questions do you have for me? They could be about food, health, nutrition, cooking in the woods, why I’m still a Mariners fan…Whatever! Leave a comment below and you may just see your question answered on an upcoming Friday.
Have a delicious day and I’ll see you on Friday!