Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Frugal Groceries

This long hot summer I have improved my eating habits by focusing on fresh produce. Everyday I start by making myself a smoothie with range juice and fresh berries, drinking 8 oz. of hot water with lemon, and having a half-caff coffee. I often follow up about an hour later with quick oatmeal.

Lunch has become a green salad with organic greens, tomatoes, snap peas, and whatever else I've got: red peppers, green peppers, cukes, celery. I add a sliced hard-boiled egg, 1/2can tuna, or leftover chicken breast strips (again, whatever is lingering in the fridge that is all protein/no carbs). Red wine vinegar and olive oil drizzled on top, salt 'n' peppa.


Dinner is usually a combination of another, smaller green salad, steamed vegetable, and protein, whether eggs, salmon, chicken, beef (in moderate doses), turkey, or pork.

Snacks include fruit, or homemade yogurt, cheese, or dark chocolate.

And no, I haven't completely given up temptation: wine, G&Ts, and regular chocolate drops in to visit quite often.

Benefits: I am waking up every morning with a ridiculous amount of energy, which lasts through the morning. My skin looks great, especially since I am also working to drink 48-72 oz. of water daily--which is a lot. I am usually full, and when I am not it's just about time for a snack, which I have on hand. Easy clean-up and maintenance, too, as dirty dishes are limited and slide right into washer, which gets run about every two-three days, thereby saving water and energy. I am starting to lose weight without a lot of added exercise; more walking, standing, and movement during the school year will increase that, I hope.


Big upside: I eat and drink out less often. Doing my accounts recently, I realized how much money I was spending monthly for meals, coffee, drinks... that savings should be increasingly be apparent.

Downside: This eating plan is definitely costing me more money for groceries, even when I shop sale items, use coupons, and don't overstock. This week I spent $100 for groceries, including vitamins, flowers, and pantry items. If I subtract the long-term bits, that still leaves me with $55 for produce and dairy. That seems high.

First, there are simply fewer coupons for fresh produce. The grocery store where I do the bulk of my weekly shopping has great prices, and shopping specials still leaves lots of variety. I am going to spend more money--for a while--on good fruit and vegetables buys until I understand the weekly amounts necessary.

I could go to the French practice and shop daily or every other day, but given that I am driving to and from the grocery store, rather than stopping somewhere (like a market) directly between office and house... that doesn't appeal. Plus, unlike most French cooks I am working with frozen meat rather than fresh-bought. I'd rather plan a week's menu and see what gets left over... then refine my scale.

Once fall comes, as well, I'll change to use more beans and the heavier root vegetables of fall and winter, like onions, turnips, parsnips, beets, and carrots--all of which (except onions) are loaded with natural sugars, and so need to be limited. More ginger, shallots, peppers with them. More apples and citrus.


Of course, it sensibly strikes me that saving money weekly is perhaps less important than spending a little more and getting a better variety and quality of diet... and avoiding those avocado-bacon-Swiss cheeseburgers I love so much.

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