Saving Money on a Whole Foods Diet: Fast Food at Home

Everyone is busy, and often, usually at least once a week we have nights where dinner just doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen.

To prevent a fast food run, here are several options.

* Learn to use a pressure cooker for cheap, fast food. Pressure Cooking 101 posts coming soon.

* Try freezing home prepared foods for later use. Examples that freeze well are veggie burgers, burritos, and lasagne.

* Have a short list of meals you can prepare quickly with pantry staples. At Least It’s Not Fast Food!

C

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Saving Money on a Whole Foods Diet: Shop somewhere besides your grocery store

In addition to grocery/health food stores (feel free to compare prices, coupon, etc. at these conventional locations 😉 ), I have used, or currently use the following sources for our food.

Bountiful Baskets (currently an option in 20 different states), Bountiful Baskets delivers a couple of baskets worth (conventional), or a box (organic) of produce weekly to a drop point, where you pick up your produce. You don’t get to pick what you’ll get, but it’s only $15 or $25 each week depending on the option you choose. This is not a long term commitment, you need to re-order each week that you want to participate. The down side (if you’re not a morning person) is that typically the pickup time is early in the morning. Also, volunteers are needed to help unload and distribute the produce, that starts even earlier.

Azure Standard (I think this is only available in Utah, Wyoming, and South Eastern Idaho), on the other hand is a great source for bulk organic food items. They carry some produce, for instance I commonly order 20# boxes of apples from them. However, for me the main attraction is the 25# to 50# bulk dry goods available at extremely reasonable prices. Other products, like applesauce or olives, are available by the case and often as an order of 3 (as opposed to the case of 12). Once a month your order is delivered to a drop point where you meet the truck to pick up your order.

Local CSA farms are another unconventional source for your produce. Sometimes they are not a lot cheaper than the grocery store, or farmer’s market (also an option), but getting your weekly allotment of produce makes trips to the grocery store a lot less necessary and can save on impulse purchases. An added bonus with this option is that you know your produce is fresh and seasonal. Go ahead and do an internet search for local CSA’s in your area, they are all across the country and I would be surprised if there isn’t one somewhere near you.

Additionally, check to see if there is a co-op in your area. This often involves asking around, co-ops may not invest time in a web site, especially if they are well established.

Sometimes Amazon or other online sources will have a good price too.

Additionally, warehouse stores like Costco can be good supplemental sources for food. As long as you’re not an impulse shopper that will end up spending more than you save. 😉

And of course, compare the prices in local stores with your options when ordering from other sources.

C

Red Cabbage Salad

Last night we had a delicious salad made using many of the vegetables provided by our local CSA this week.

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It was so delicious that I ate all of the leftovers by myself for lunch.

The amounts are not too critical, just a close approximation will still be delicious.

1/4 to 1/2 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 three inch beets, peeled and grated
4 to 5 large carrots, or equivalent amount of smaller ones, peeled and grated
1/8th of a red onion thinly sliced
1/4 to 1/3 cup of black olives, sliced (I use Natural Values brand with no ferrous gluconate, so really they’re brown olives)
1 four inch pickle, finely diced (Bubbies)
2 french breakfast radishes, thinly sliced (three or four standard, or leave out)
1/3 cup un-hulled sesame seeds, toasted on the stove top
(I’m sure this would be delicious with chickpeas too. But, I was out, so that’s just a guess.)

Toss everything together except the beets, add those in last to prevent dying too much of the salad red.

Serve over quinoa, preferably cooked in vegetable broth, but would be fine plain too.

And drizzle with Lightened Up Tahini-Lemon Garlic Dressing. Delicious!

C

At Least it’s Not Fast Food

That’s what I told myself when deciding to fix spagetti for dinner. I don’t mean a nice spagetti dinner, just plain spagetti. Whole wheat noodles with a tomato based sauce. I dumped frozen peas into the bowls to make myself feel better, I figured the heat from the pasta would defrost them. No one complained, so it must have worked.

Actually I was informed that everyone in this house considers this to be a great meal, it’s just me. As you can tell from the frozen peas, part of my issue is the lack of veggies involved.

Anyway, at least it wasn’t fast food.

C

Pancakes

Is there really more to be said on this subject? I wouldn’t even write about it except for the fact that most pancake recipes call for milk and eggs. So, when you don’t eat those things, maybe pancakes seem a bit out of reach.

Today I made pancakes again, but first I read what Mark Bittman had to say on the subject in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. In addition to three basic recipes, there were a zillion (o.k. maybe not exactly a zillion) options for jazzing up your pancake experience and the handy information that the batter will keep just fine in the fridge for a few days. So, go ahead and make up a large batch and you’ll be covered for breakfast over the weekend. Or, at least the pancake portion of it. I don’t think it’s ever a good idea for your meal to consist of just bread products (sometimes mine do, I just don’t think it’s ideal). Today for instance our pancakes were accompanied by a green smoothie.

So, now for the recipe. After realizing that really I hadn’t made the same thing I was reading (not uncommon), I decided to go ahead and post what we did eat for breakfast.

Basic Whole Grain Pancakes

4 cups freshly ground Spelt Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon Redmond’s sea salt
1 to 2 Tablespoons Agave (opt)
3 cups Rice milk
1 to 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup water as needed to adjust the consistency

Use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients.

In a 2 cup measure (or another bowl) combine 2 cups of the milk with the agave and oil if using. Whisk together well with a fork and add to the flour mixture. Only slightly incorporate this into the flour, then measure out the other cup of milk and add that too. You want to mix as minimally as possible, but I still use a whisk, just larger motions and less speed. A few lumps when you are done are fine.

Let the batter sit for 5 or 10 minutes and then add water as needed to obtain an pourable, but not watery, consistency.

Heat a skillet on Medium (honestly I don’t know, I just use gas and heat until it’s the right temp., water dances). If you don’t have a cast iron skillet go buy one, but in the meantime add a bit of oil or something to the pan, about 1 teaspoon. It’s my understanding that if you don’t have non-stick (I think these are scary) or cast iron you’ll need to do this with each pan full of pancakes. With my cast iron skillet I just grease it once (since after all I do wash it with soap) and then it’s good to go for the entire batch.

Pour your desired size pancakes into the pan. (I used the same two cup measure, not per pancake just for ease of pouring, mentioned earlier in the recipe). Watch for them to bubble up in the middle, the edges will cook first since they’re thinner. Flip the pancakes, cook on the other side for a few minutes, remove from the pan and repeat. If you are making the whole batch in one day, or possibly even half a batch depending on the size of your pan, you might want to have a warm oven handy to keep the first pancakes warm in while you cook the rest.

I served these with warmed (on the stove-top) Maple Syrup. But, homemade fruit syrups are of course good too.

C

31 Days of Menus: Feeding children

Personally I think catering to a child’s appetite is a bad habit to get into. Largely because, they tend not to be the most well rounded eater when left to their own devices. So, what to do? Obviously they need to eat too, and no one wants turned up little noses at the dinner table.
On top of which I think that planning two meals, even if one is just PB&J is not worth the trouble.
Here are my suggestions:
Go ahead and serve their favorite healthy & fun foods for lunch.
Serve their dinner in separate piles. There’s no reason a salad of any type needs to be eaten mixed together.
I abide by the rule that everything must at least be tasted, and if they don’t like it subsequent meals involving that food still include a taste for them.
There are some foods that I don’t insist on, for instance raw onions – diced for tacos – are perhaps too strong for most children.
I also try to include something in each meal that is well liked. In fact when my son was younger it often worked to give him a taste of everything and then tell him that for more of his favorite he needed to eat the little bit of everything else currently on his plate. It still does.
For another viewpoint, you can check out this post by Tammie entitled Picky Eaters.

C

Guacamole

A pretty basic recipe, but here it is, just in case anyone needs it.

1 perfectly ripe avacado, peeled & seeded
About 1 Tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)

Sprinkle on some sea salt, preferably Redmond’s

And, add a clove of diced garlic (FRESH garlic, not the jarred in the fridge stuff and no powder!)

Mash it all together with a fork, enjoy!

And yes, that’s more than a clove of garlic, about 3 to be exact. But, I’m sick so besides the fact that I couldn’t taste the one clove, the actual guacamole in these photos was for medicinal purposes.

“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine your food.” – Hippocrates