Friday, February 26, 2010

Myth Busters

There are several correlations that exist in our culture that truly befuddle me. I don't have time to delve into that list and I'm sure that many of you wouldn't want to read it. What I have here to share with you is a list of a different sort. It's nothing new or exciting but here it is...

My grocery list.

It's nothing fancy but I think that it looks like a reasonably healthy collection of mostly whole foods. I try hard to feed myself and my family with stuff that tastes good and will nourish us so we can power through each day. Chris and I are both watching our diets so we try to make the most of our allotted calories we have each day. We're also trying to save money by reducing the amount that we spend eating at restaurants so I've been trying to jot down ideas for an assortment of things to enjoy for breakfasts, bagged lunches and dinners.

Where am I going on this tangent? I do actually have a point and it's this: There is a strange mindset that exists among a lot of people that eating healthy is expensive. I've heard so many people go on about how a healthy diet is out of their reach because because they cannot afford it. There are even several members of my family that believe this and feel that they're resigned to buying edible food-like substances in colorful boxes with characters on them and washing it down with a 24 pack of diet soda. I once heard a rule that seems to be golden as I see more and more grocery stores. The outer layer of the floor plan is usually where you should shop. The further into the middle you go, the more processed foods there are. The dairy, produce and other less complicated fare is all along the sides. I've also heard several people say that they don't know where to start when it comes to making healthy changes. I know that we get a lot of contradictory information as consumers when it comes to nutrition. I highly recommend this book.

Short, sweet and to the point. I learned a lot in the 10 minutes it took me to skim through it.

I am a Trader Joe's Queen. Almost all of the food you see and will continue to see on this blog was purchased there. I'm lucky enough to finally have one close to where I live! Their products are fun and simple with quality ingredients and no preservatives. I do buy some prepackaged stuff for days that I know I won't have time to cook. A frozen spinach pie or a pizza and a carton of tomato soup from TJ's is no worse than ordering it out and it takes 2% effort to make.

The vegetable based diet really helps with saving money so we can afford to spring for fancier veggies and quality ingredients. We also don't typically buy soda aside from an occasional 4 pack of Virgil's Root Beer which is usually a treat for everyone. Molly prefers milk to just about anything else and we drink a lot of water and tea. I've been all about the fiber lately so I try to eat a good bit of fruits, veggies and whole grain carbs. Typical breakfasts are quick aside from the few days a week I decide to cook something. It's usually half of a blueberry bran muffin and some cottage cheese. I love poached eggs and I'm a big fan of the Ezekiel line of breads. For lunch, I really like the frozen rice and bean burritos at TJ's and I take them with me to work at least 3 days out of the week with a piece of fruit. If I don't bring one, it's usually because I have leftovers from dinner. I haven't bought my lunch at work since the middle of December! I used to do it almost everyday so it's a big change.

Dinners vary and depend on my mood (and how tired I am!).

Smart Dogs with whole wheat pizza crust wrapped around them and baked is very popular with my family. We usually have it on Friday nights. I love them dipped in mustard and chili.

We love beans in this family. This is buttered toast with baked beans. In the summertime, we usually have fresh tomatoes with it. I jokingly think of it as "The Kerouac". Spinach and white beans is another favorite.

Some meals are a little more complicated...

Colorful bell peppers were on sale so I picked out one of each and stuffed them with white rice and black beans mixed with salsa and a bit of cheese. I simmered them for a bit and then let them brown in the oven. I served fresh guac on the side. I even had enough leftovers for two lunches the next day. It took a while to put together but I had company so that made it more fun. Anything remotely Mexican flavored will earn me an A+ with Chris and Molly. Burrito night never fails me.

When the West Windsor Farmer's Market opens back up in May, we'll be getting most of our produce from there. I can't believe how close it is! We get our public garden plot back in April!

I probably spend about $85 every week (give or take $10) on all of the different things I've mentioned. I think that list up there was about $75. Not too shabby considering it fed 3 people for several meals everyday. I also have to pack Molly a snack for school. Her teacher is a stickler for kids bringing in healthy food to hold them over until lunch and so M typically gets pistachios, cheese and crackers, applesauce or some fruit.

Our diet isn't anything too special but we like it. We're satisfied and we don't spend a lot of money. I read that the average American household spends 10% of their income on groceries. I see an investment in quality sustenance as a much better option than paying for a bunch of pharmacy visits in the future. I could go on and on about how even the slightest change in our way of thinking about food would be a definite variable in some very positive changes that would come about in our country but this ain't that kind of blog.

I just wanted to dispel the myth that we have to spend a lot of money to eat well.

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