If there were any naysayers out there that read this blog, here’s your chance to nod in smug satisfaction. I wasn’t able to make the 10 dollar goal this week. For one thing, my boyfriend read the blog and immediately bought my groceries for the week. It wasn’t supposed to be a hint, but he basically sent me into orbit by buying those Bluebird Bakery cookies. I laughed at him saying, “How am I supposed to write my blog when you buy me nice foods?!” I can’t write honestly about a 10 dollar week if I just received a load of groceries on the side. This is sabotage! Luckily, I’m not above eating sabotage for breakfast. Furthermore, this week is my birthday week and I’ve invited every friend I have to my apartment for celebration. I don’t intend to go nuts with provisions, but there’s also no way I’m going to be able to feed myself for the week and all the guests that I’ve invited with only 10 dollars worth of food. I’m not Jesus. I think it’s reasonable to assume that not every week can be 10 dollar week, but I am going to try to get there. These are the reasons why 10 dollars is not feasible this particular week. So nod away naysayers, have your moment and enjoy being right.
Meanwhile, I want to talk nutrition. Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a health professional. I am a writer and a reader and a lot of other things, but definitely not a doctor. I’d strongly recommend reading books about nutrition on your own time, because I am not a qualified source. Read something that piques your interest while you’re browsing in the health and fitness area of the library or bookstore.
My most recent read on nutrition was How Not To Die by Michael Gregor, M.D. The title us straightforward, just the way I like it. I read it because some vegan Ironman doctor who pulled my dad’s gallbladder told him to read it and he in turn told me about it. I idolize people who push themselves in endurance sports, so if a vegan Ironman recommends a book, I’m all over it. Talking about the triathlon here, not the superhero. The book is an excellent read that puts decision making in the reader’s hands. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when an ideology is shoved down your throat as the one and only option for your life. You’re a human and your body is yours! You have a brain and you can choose! We should all be able to choose what we want to do with our lives and bodies. The author presents the data, the probabilities of lifespan according to lifestyle, and the statistics of disease. He then leaves the decision up to the reader and doesn’t do much commanding beyond imploring the reader to quit smoking. The author calls for an evidence based diet where you adopt habits of eating that work for you. I liked it. It was my cup of tea. Plus, I was already interested in a plant based lifestyle from natural curiosity and from reading Eat & Run, an excellent read by renowned ultra-marathoner, Scott Jurek. That book is more about his personal journey than death statistics and it was emotionally captivating for me. I recommend both of these books, but feel free to find your own nutrition book that fits your lifestyle. I like running and I’m curious about veganism so that explains my bent.
How Not To Die recommends incorporating the following items into your daily intake:
- 3 servings of beans
- 1 serving of berries
- 3 servings of any fruits you want
- 1 serving of cruciferous vegetables
- 2 servings of greens
- 2 servings of any vegetables you want
- 3 servings of whole grains
- 3 tablespoons flaxseed
- 5 servings of water
I haven’t tracked it, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t gotten to this level of eating yet. It is a helpful guide though. I try and make sure to include at least 1 source of non-animal protein, a couple of vegetables, something whole grain, and always a fruit for dessert. The goal is to be nourished and satisfied after eating. Absence of meat does not mean that you’re going to starve. For those hyperventilating at the thought of a meal without meat, keep eating meat by all means! Add it however you see fit. My recipes will be mostly vegan/vegetarian oriented but I’m not the recipe compliance police. Do what you want and make it yours.
Grocery Store Hacks!
Here’s how I shop on the cheap so I have enough to eat throughout the week:
- Browse the rejected fruit stand first
I’m not sure how many grocery stores do this, but the QFC down the road from me always puts out bags of fruit and vegetables that didn’t sell. They’re all pre-bagged and cost 1 dollar each. I love this little display of rejected produce because I’m a) glad it’s not going to waste! b) excited because it’s cheap and sometimes organic and c) it’s generally not in bad shape. Plus, it’s a fun challenge to figure out how you’re going to use the stuff other people didn’t want. Why nobody wanted a bag of mandarin oranges is beyond me. I didn’t know what I would do with 3 yellow peppers, but I bought them anyway because they’re usually a dollar each! One time I scored a bag of 5 avocados and they weren’t dead inside. Such a win I got a minor adrenaline rush right then and there.
- Browse the Manager Special section next
This is the discount food aisle. It’s more of a closet where I go, but I have no shame. Scope that area out! There are gems in there sometimes. 24oz can of organic tomatoes in a dented can? $1.35. Mine now. Made tomato soup with that and those yellow peppers! Pineapple vinegar from Pok Pok? $3. Need it. Need 2. No, wait, no put it back, just one. Just one. On the other side of the store is a bread stand with markdowns. Organic sprouted whole grain bread for 99 cents? Par cooked so you can bake it to perfection at home? That I’ll take two of and freeze one for later. I wasn’t kidding when I said there are gems to be found. Shopping is a treasure hunt.
- Buy canned beans
Personally, I don’t have the time or patience to make a good pot of beans consistently. Props to my mom and grandma who do! I just buy a bunch of different canned varieties so I can mix it up. Beans are full of fiber and protein and are all around good for you. Buy Beano if you’re afraid of gas or steel yourself for a few weeks until your body adjusts. I try to have garbanzo, pinto, black, and great northern (white) beans on hand. My local grocery sells organic canned beans for 1 dollar a can. Sweet deal!
- Buy bulk foods
Rice, lentils, oatmeal, couscous, pasta, bulgur, whatever you like. These are good at filling you up and are relatively cheap in small amounts. Just because they’re called bulk foods doesn’t mean you need to buy a huge load of them. I like making these by the pot and eating them throughout the week. For example, I made a pot of turmeric spiced couscous this week and have been mixing and matching it with my lunches and dinners. The key is making just enough so that you can finish it before getting tired of the texture and flavor.
- Use whatever money you have left to buy staples.
I insist on drinking almond milk from Califia because it’s the best one I’ve tried. It’s one of the most expensive items on my list, but totally worth it in my opinion. I always keep bananas and peanut butter on hand because I love blending them into shakes. And I’m constantly buying zucchini/summer squash because its super easy to cook. Greek yogurt is another staple. I almost got to vegan status in my house, but I couldn’t give up the yogurt. It’s just too good and versatile and I haven’t found a vegan yogurt substitute yet. I also keep an (un)healthy amount of sugar, but that’s because I ferment. The ferments eat all the sugar, I swear. Finally, I don’t like living without cilantro in my house so I get that when I can. I don’t get all these items at the grocery store every time, it’s more like a rotation. Most of them last longer than a week.
Those are my best grocery shopping tips. The other things I’d recommend are
- Maintain a well stocked spice drawer
- Buy a blender, a small Ninja Bullet is what I use
- Buy yourself some broccoli seeds to sprout, I’m currently sprouting these
- Learn how to make interesting drinks at home so you can live without missing tasty alcohols too much. I use Mastering Fermentation for my recipes
- Get a library card so you can freely rent books about how to make awesome vegetable-centric dishes!
That’s what I got for this time around. Not bad for a sabotaged week. A recipe is in order for the next post. Until then, happy treasure hunting!