I’m trying to eat better. I eat well, but I want to take it to a higher level. I hit farm markets more often and I educate myself on what goes in my mouth. I neither buy organic every time nor do I know where my meat comes from with every purchase. I’d like to, but sometimes it isn’t realistic. I definitely work hard to avoid GMOs and ingredients from Chemistry class. That stuff is creepy. I hit the supermarket three to four times a month. I don’t shop at the big box stores because I don’t need to. There are two adults in my house, I have no need for a pallet of toilet paper, and I don’t have room for family packs of meat.
I stay on the outside. The vast majority of my groceries consist of animals and plants. Ninety percent of my carriage is filled with items from the perimeter of the market. I don’t eat much pasta, I don’t like cereal, and I don’t need cookies in my pantry. “Fresh food” is a mantra.
I don’t have label pride. I no longer buy spice blends, it’s much cheaper to buy individual spices and mix as needed, and many blends have extra garbage that I don’t want to ingest. The store brands are far less expensive than premium. The stuff is already dried; premium versus generic is a no-brainer in my opinion. I buy fresh when I’m able, but there’s no way I’m spending more than twice what I’d pay for dry if when I’m not using it regularly.
Stop & Shop Ground Cinnamon 4.12 oz btl $.85/oz $3.49 (4 oz = $3.40)
McCormick Ground Cinnamon 2.37 oz btl $1.27/oz $3.00 (4 oz = $5.08)
Stop & Shop Garlic Powder 3.12 oz btl $.64/oz $1.99 (4 oz = $2.56)
McCormick Garlic Powder 5.37 oz btl $1.12/oz $3.59 (4 oz = $4.48)
Stop & Shop Paprika 2.12 oz btl $1.17/oz $2.49 (4 oz = $4.68)
McCormick Ground Paprika 2.1 oz btl $1.88/oz $3.99 (4 oz = $7.52)
That’s a big difference over time.
I spend the majority of my second day off cooking for the week. This has proven to be my best strategy for avoiding eating crap and spending money on food I could have prepared myself. I enjoy eating out immensely, but it’s an expensive pasttime. I’m trying to be more discerning in my eating out choices so I can enjoy it more. I’m also pickier about the food in my home. I discovered a few years ago that my body doesn’t like gluten. I’m not celiac, but I’m definitely sensitive. I avoid gluten, wheat, etc. My body definitely doesn’t like sugar so I avoid that as well.
Warm up to frozen vegetables. I prefer fresh produce (doy). I have to be honest though, I can prepare meat on Monday that tastes great on Friday, but it’s a bit more challenging with the veg. For every beef, pork or poultry dish I make, I have an accompanying vegetable, but I also buy frozen. When I assemble my meal for work, if I don’t want what’s cooked I grab some frozen spinach, broccoli, cauliflower or whatever’s there and through it in the bowl. It thaws in the fridge and there you go. That beats the vending machine every time.
Using the whole bird. Buy a chicken. Five pounds gives me enough for meals and stock. I’ve cooked the bird whole and then cut it up and I’ve jointed/broken it down/cut it up raw and then cooked it, in a variety of ways. I’ll expand on that another time. If I want easier prep I’m going whole. If I want to end up with more meat on my plate I’ll cut it up raw. Whether I roast it or do something fun in a skillet, the giblets get cooked up with it, to be taken out later and set aside for stock. After it’s cooked I take the carcass and giblets, break it all down and throw it in the freezer. I may remove the bones from the rest of the chicken now or later, it all ends up in my crock-pot to become delicious stock, which will be equally delicious soup. I started with one chicken and ended up with multiple meals and stock for less than $10.
Finally, I try to use what I have. I take inventory, and if I have something lurking in the crisper that may not last much longer, I’ll figure something out with it. This happens with spinach and other greens regularly. Into my skillet with a tablespoon of my fat of choice will go the veg, salt and pepper, and any variety of seasoning I’m interested in that day.
I spend a fair amount of money on food, I’m not letting it go to waste.