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Food Glorious Food - The best a budget can buy.

 
 
Reply Tue 21 Mar, 2006 09:25 pm
Shopping carts

As requested on the above link, let's start posting our healthy tips for eating better without going broke. I believe everyone can get more for their money, eat well and save the world with some planning and effort:

I once heard a report on NPR that stated the bigger the grocery store the more people spend. People who shop in places like Walmart tend to buy on average 5 impulse items that they had no thought of when entering the store. Many people just cannot resist 1000 gum balls in a Sponge Bob Square Pants container for $5. When people shopped in smaller stores they tended to be more thoughtful and less spontaneous about their purchases. When the stores had quality items, people still spent less than the big box shoppers.

First: know what you are paying for an item based on it's unit, not it's listed price. Many bulk or "economy" sizes are not cheaper. All American supermarkets are required to post unit prices so you know if your toilet paper is costing you 5 cents per 100 count or 13 cents per 100 count. The day I realized that chicken McNuggets cost more than organic chicken was the day I started to only buy organic. Think of what a Big Mac costs and think of what you are paying at a per pound price for that half dead lettuce, a hard tomato and a soggy roll. Now think of how commercial animals are raised in agri-biz factory farms and you have a really good reason to eat organic, preferably local meat. Better to eat good meat in moderation than poor meat in quantity.

Plan a weekly menu. Make a list. Keep a pantry. Think seasonal.

I'm a big believer in learning how to extend the life of food - canning, freezing, drying. We bartered for six bushels of organic apples in the fall - result: apple sauce, dried apples, apple butter, and a small batch of hard cider. I do have a root cellar, but I find it to be more trouble than it's worth. Got a deal on avocados? - make guacamole and freeze it in meal sized portions.

Those plums and grapes you see in December are from Chili, a country that uses plenty of DDT in their agriculture. Fruit coming in from foreign countries (including Mexico) is heavily sprayed to keep out alien insects when it crosses a border. Sometimes US trucks are sprayed when just going from Florida to Geogia, so try and buy local organics. When fruit is in season it's cheaper and more likely to be local. Freeze fruit when it's in season. Blueberries frozen in July taste great in pancakes made in December.

As goes fruit, so goes vegetables. Ten years ago someone gave me a garlic braid. I pulled the cloves off, planted them and haven't bought garlic since. I just harvest and replant some each fall. You can grow garlic in pots. Learn to cook veggies like cabbage, kale, cauliflower, carrots and turnips- they are good for you and often cheap at farmer's markets in spring and autumn. You can grow a very decent salad/mesclun mix in a window box. Organic asparagus on sale?- buy a bunch - eat some, freeze some, make some soup and freeze some of that. Most veggies freeze fine, better than canning. I make little freezer bags of chopped veggies so they are ready to go into soups or stir frys.

Think ethnic: Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Indian - cultures that do so much with so little. The American idea of eating a big slab of meat with a starch is just not healthy. Beans, legumes, rice, kasha, millet, etc keep most of the world alive and healthy.

Drinks - I don't drink much milk, but when I buy it I buy a gallon of organic. I pour it into pint canning jars and freeze it. As I use up a jar, I pull a new one out of the freeze and put it in the fridge to defrost. I can't remember the last time I threw out spoiled milk. In the summer I also freeze milk in ice cube trays and use it in iced coffee.

Learn to bake. Make extra dough and freeze it. It's cheaper to make biscuits than buy the stuff in a tube that is mostly partially hydrogenated oil and bleached white flour. If you buy bread, buy the best and cut it into meal sized chunks, freeze the rest. If you have stale bread just properly freeze it. When you are ready to eat it, wrap it in foil and warm it up for 15 minutes in 350 degree oven, if it's good bread it will taste like fresh.

If you are in the country learn about wildfoods. There is nothing better than chantrelles, horn of plenty mushrooms and walnuts lightly sauteed in walnut oil and baked on top of a homemade pizza. Almost everyone has dandelions - pick them first thing is spring and make a pesto. Somewhere is a thread on wild foods,

Drinks: forget the soda. If you have to have bubble water buy no-cal flavored seltzer. Switch to fruity iced teas instead of juice. Juice is liquid calories, better to eat the whole fruit and get some fiber. Most children already get too many calories and juice is not good for their teeth or their waist lines. If you drink coffee, buy the best organic, shade grown you can afford and savor it. Drink one cup less per day to offset the cost.

Good cheese is worth the price. Eat less of it and really taste it. No more mindless popping of chunks in your mouth, someone goes through a lot of trouble to make good cheese - think about that when you eat it. In a world where people pay the equivalent of $78.00 for a gallon of coffee, you should be willing to buy a cheese that costs the same as a couple of Starbuck's mocha lattes.

OK I'm sure I'll think of more stuff and I'm sure there are other's with stuff to contribute...
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,864 • Replies: 20

 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Mar, 2006 09:31 pm
YES!!

( i have not read anything yet..) but I have a feeling this is full of the information you have been giving out in tid-bits for a while.
:-)
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Mar, 2006 09:45 pm
Buy your staple foods in bulk.

Organic long brown rice is approx 1.50 a lb and 1/2 cup cooked rice is enough to feed 3 people at one meal.

When you buy that in a package you pay almost 3 times that and guaranteed... it isnt organic.
If you dont have organic available, just get unbleached rice.

Broccoli makes a great plate filler for any meal.
Buy local and buy small heads. The smaller the head, the more nutrient dense the plant. And richer in flavor .

For quick , mindless eating, keep some rice cooked in your fridge.
Add some tamari , or a little sweet and sour sauce and heat it up.
Quick snack, less then 100 calories per cooked cup.

Make your own veggie broth by keeping the water you steam your veggies with and freeze it.
This adds nutrients to any thing, and also makes great seasoned rice if you cook it in your veggie broth instead of straight water

Applesauce makes a great replacement in most sweet treat recipies.
Cookies, brownies, cakes.. can all be made with applesauce, and will cut back on the sugar/calorie count by at least 50%.
Organic applesauce is less then 1.00 a lb in most places. If not, buy 2 apples, core them and boil in just enough water to cover the apples .
Put into a food processor with 1.4 teaspoon of cinnamon.
For less then 2 dollars you have made almost 4 cups of applesauce.. or 2 times the amount you get in a jar..

Left overs, put into small bowls, make great mid day snacks or lunches for work / outtings the next day.

Tofu is a great source of protien and is less then 2 dollars a pound.
Freeze it first for 24 hours. Then thaw in warm water.
Slice off a small corner of the pouch and squeeze all of the water out and put on a skillet on low heat until it is completely dry ( about 10 minutes) before adding your seasonings.
This will allow the tofu to absorb all liquid seasonings and it becomes the most diverse source of protien you can find.

When you shop in a regular grocery store, remember that everything at eye level is marketed to kids.
And that means sugar sugar sugar.
Shop on the top of the isles ( healthier foods are stored there ) or the bottoms ( bulk items, and grains)
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Mar, 2006 09:51 pm
Juice-
if your family is absolutly headstrong about drinking frozen juice, water it down some.

If the can calls for 3 cans of water, add 5.
More water never hurt anyone, and you can reduce your calorie intake almost 30% while keeping the flavor. Not only that, adding 5 cans of water just made your 2 dollar can make almost twice as much juice.

or

Make your own juice.
My recipie for home made juice is 3 cups of water per one fruit. Wether it be an orange or apple.
2 1/2 cups of water if the fruit is on the smaller side..
0 Replies
 
flushd
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Mar, 2006 10:11 pm
Beauty of a thread. Very Happy I am going to learn so much! Great idea!

Share food. Potlucks, family and friend get togethers that rotate by week or turns, can save a lot of money and strengthens bonds. Volunteering at community based places lightens the load for everyone - food is shared, roots are established, and suddenly you will find yourself never hungry. Got a garden? Grow extra and spread it around. Others will surprise you will gifts of homemade goodies and the things you could not get elsewhere.

Feed others=You will be fed.

hehe. I know that is rather simplistic, but when you are very poor it can save your life. And if you've got enough money, you still benefit.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 06:03 am
Cook basics in advance, and freeze 'em. What are basics? White, boneless chicken meat with no seasoning other than maybe some salt; plain rice, plain beans, plain veggies. Bag 'em, tag 'em and freeze 'em. When you're stumped for cooking ideas or too tired, just open up bags, throw in pot and add a sauce or seasoning of choice (soy sauce, salsa, tomato sauce, whatever). Instant dinner and a lot cheaper than getting takeout.
0 Replies
 
Chai
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 06:04 am
bm - i'm w/ shewolf 1st post, will read in a bit.
0 Replies
 
Montana
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 06:04 am
Bookmarking.
0 Replies
 
Tomkitten
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 02:44 pm
Food glorious food
Quote:
When people shopped in smaller stores they tended to be more thoughtful and less spontaneous.


Smaller stores tended to be more expensive, so people sprobably pent the same amount for fewer items.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 08:09 pm
Oh christ, plan a weekly food thingie and then, like, stick to it? You jest!
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 09:13 pm
littlek wrote:
Oh christ, plan a weekly food thingie and then, like, stick to it? You jest!


You can use the same menus over and over. Just break it down seasonally. I know in the summer I want fresh tomatoes and basil, while in winter I will be using spinach and cauliflower. It's really easier to shop when you know what you want. Nothing is written in stone, if you have a craving for fish and your menu says chicken, switch the nights. If the store has a special on asparagus and you were planning green beans which look old, just make the adjustment. It's a guideline- not a rule book.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 09:26 pm
Ha, I sympathize with littlek...

Great stuff here tho.

I do very little of this kind of thing, but one thing I do which is related to Tomkitten's observation (plus, people probably go to big stores specifically to stock up, no surprise they spend a lot), is to shop at different stores according to what I want to buy. Produce, meat, and eggs, I try to go local -- farmer's market and equivalents. Toilet paper, soap and such is cheapest at Target. Trader Joe's has the cheapest environmentally friendly stuff (like dishwasher detergent) and is also good for cheap organics. Etc.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 09:35 pm
ok. I can do seasonal.

I crave tomatoes, basil (and other fresh herbs), pignoli, and parma nearly year round. But sometime in the fall, that craving changes to pumpkins/squash and greens like broccoli and chard. Spinach is a year round vegie.

Risotto lives large from autumn to early spring and fresh pasta dishes, fruit smoothies.....
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 09:38 pm
Re: Food glorious food
Tomkitten wrote:
Quote:
When people shopped in smaller stores they tended to be more thoughtful and less spontaneous.


Smaller stores tended to be more expensive, so people sprobably pent the same amount for fewer items.


It wasn't just a dollar total, it also had to do with why people went shopping in the first place. What people actually planned to purchase as compared to what they actually bought. Both groups of people came out with what they planned to get, the big difference was how many unplanned impulse items people bought in the bigger store.

Simply put- everyone went in for eggs, milk and carrots. The people in the small store came out with eggs, milk and carrots. The people in the big store came out with eggs, milk, carrots, jelly beans, a beach ball, a magazine, an Xmas ornament and a flashlight.
0 Replies
 
Stray Cat
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Mar, 2006 10:12 pm
I'm so glad this thread is here. I'm going to bookmark it so I can come back and really read the whole thing tomorrow night.

One point about organic milk. I notice that it seems to last longer than the regular brands.

When I made a casserole the other night, I opted to use "real" cheese instead of the processed junk. I found I only needed about half of the real thing compared to the processed. Not sure why that is, maybe because the real cheese just melts better. But, of course, it tasted much better too!
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Mar, 2006 06:28 am
Oh, fake-o low/no fat cheese is awful. Definitely the original type is better. It has considerably more umami.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umami
http://www.glutamate.org/media/a_natural_part_of_food.asp
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JAW/is_69/ai_105735781

Foods high in umami:
* KONBU (DRIED KELP USED FOR JAPANESE BROTH)
* DASHI
* PARMESAN CHEESE
* NORI
* MUSHROOMS (ESPECIALLY DRIED SHIITAKES)
* TOMATOES
* SCALLOPS
* PORK
* CHICKEN
* TUNA
* HAM
* SOY SAUCE
* WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Mar, 2006 10:02 pm
I prefer going to small stores, like my old co-op, which did tend to be more expensive because it was not only small but had well (raised) fish, poultry, and meat, and a lot of organic produce. But... I'd usually go to a bigger store - still with a "healthy gourmet" reputation, to get dog food, environmentally safer cleaning products, etc.

Where I differ with most on these types of threads is I do prefer to impulse buy. I like to see what looks good that day, which fish looks great, which veggies are in season and fresh, and so on, and build a meal from that.

Ordinarily, I keep a supply of carrots, onions, garlic, shallots, scallions, herbs, red potatoes, different rices and pastas, so that I might just go to the small store and pick up, say, some swiss chard and a pound of coffee. Or, a free range chicken and some lemons, and swiftly check out.

I'm learning to deal anew here in Albuquerque because my favorite big store is way on the other side of town (Whole Foods), where Trader Joe's is also going to be going. I'm not as enthused about TJ's as everybody else, but maybe it's changed. My second favorite big store (Sunflower) is about four miles away. I'm missing my small co-op equivalent. There is one here, over on Rio Grande, about three miles, but it seemed quite dismal the day I checked it out. Maybe I should give it a second chance.
0 Replies
 
Tomkitten
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Mar, 2006 08:59 am
We have a TJ in the town next door, and I've tried a few things, but they all seemed highly seasoned, except for the maple syrup which had no flavor at all. What am I missing here? Is there some particular area where TJ stands out?
0 Replies
 
Tomkitten
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Mar, 2006 09:29 am
Food glorious food
Quote:
Where I differ with most on these types of threads is I do prefer to impulse buy. I like to see what looks good that day, which fish looks great, which veggies are in season and fresh, and so on, and build a meal from that.


I don't call that impulse buying. I think of impulse buying as seeing a wholly new item when you had no plan to buy anything in that category in the first place. So buying one kind of fresh veg when it appears, instead of another, isn't really impulse buying. It's just substituting.

Additionally, this kind of buying doesn't show lack of self-control, but instead, great flexibility, since you may have to revise your dinner plans completely, based on what you bought instead of what you had in mind to buy.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Mar, 2006 09:36 am
Agreed. Buying asparagus because it looks better than the green beans, or the store is out of green beans, is hardly an impulse buy.
0 Replies
 
 

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