Have you ever been in this predicament?
Having no idea what to make for dinner, despite a huge database of saved recipes in Evernote? Then looking in the fridge to see half your groceries have gone bad (mmm, mold and sludge!)? Going grocery shopping, only to get bits and pieces of potential recipes and start the process all over?
Welp, that's where I've been.
I loooooooooove to eat. I love flavor. I enjoy cooking, for the most part, but I'm not very good at it - which is fine, because boyfriend is a professional cook. He's got skilllllllzzzz :D But, a girl's gotta cook so she doesn't starve while her boyfriend's at work. Now, I could take the easy way out and get a bunch of premade food and processed junk to shovel into my face - and I have taken that easy way out before - but it's not fulfilling. The alternative is to eat well by cutting out junk food and processed food from my diet (and I don't say diet as in losing weight, just general eating habits), and to do that in this area, where healthy convenience foods are NOT the norm, takes a bit of effort.
So, one of my goals is to, well, stop being lazy. Especially when it comes to food. I buy food to cook, but then I'm lazy and don't feel like cooking, and the food goes bad and gets tossed. Wasting food makes me feel so guilt. That's just money down the drain. Not only are there are tons of hungry people in the world, but good food takes time to grow (watching a plant grow in a garden day in and day out makes you appreciate that!). And if meat is wasted? Some animal died just so I could have flavor and nutrients and I just threw it away? Talk about guilt, that's the worst. That said, I don't buy a lot of meat to cook and usually end up eating it when we go out to eat instead. I ate a vegetarian diet for awhile and while I allow myself to eat meat whenever I want it, I still don't really want it all that much. Most of the time when I end up eating it, it's for the convenience factor more than anything. When it comes to eating well, we all would be vegans if it were the easiest, tastiest way to eat! Alas, our society is still in a transition period where the most healthy, sustainable ways to fuel our bodies takes education, time, and effort.
One way I've been learning about food and nutrition is by using the MyFitnessPal app on my iPod, which is also usable via the internet if you don't have a mobile device. Basically, you put in your height, weight, activity level, and if you want to lose weight - and it figures out what your calorie intake should be to help you eat well. It shows the other nutrition information besides calories, so for anyone asking the age old "OMG ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH PROTEIN EATING VEGETARIAN?!" question, you can easily track that with this service. Or, if you're trying to cut down on sugar intake, you can see that on here as well. Pretty darn cool! What amazed me about this app was the insane way I was able to learn just how bad I was eating. I'd input food that I thought was healthy, and seeing that, in fact, the nutritional values of said food was not nearly as nutritional as I had assumed it was! Oy. Eating out was the worst culprit. Having two slices of Sbarro pizza be half my day's calories, or one meal from Arby's be almost all my day's calories? Goodness gracious! No wonder eating at home is better for you; not only can you portion size a bit better, but you can control how that food is getting prepared.
Anyhow, I'd like to share what I snagged with my most recent grocery venture. Most of it is what I consider healthy or at least "real" food, but there is still quite a bit of processed and junky foods in there, too. However, if I'd compare this to a grocery haul from a year or five years ago, the difference is insane. I've already made a ton of progress, but there's still more to be made.
- two packs of premade pizza dough
- 2 chunks double cotswold gloucester cheese (omg so good!)
- one lemon
- a pack of frozen salmon filets
- two dark chocolate caramel sea salt bars (dark chocolate is healthy, right?!)
- a three-pack of dark chocolate bars
- gallon of whole milk
- dozen XL brown eggs
- 3 Pure brownie bars (so tasty!)
- maple syrup
- bunch of bananas
- 2.5lbs peaches
- 32oz strawberries
- 1 carton of blueberries
- a bag of potatoes for A DOLLA from the this-stuff-is-going-bad bin
- 6 sweet potatoes (which was apparently 4.15lbs! Buildin' muscles carrying groceries!)
- a loaf of sliced wheat bread (La Brea is the reason I go to Harris Teeter, seriously!)
- a loaf of french bread
- a box of frozen waffles (some kind of funky chia amaranth gluten free things that were on sale)
- two containers of plain greek yogurt
- quite a few random energy bars to try that were on sale or cheap
- large flour tortillas
- Honey Nut Cheerios
- mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- regular chocolate chips
- crangrape juice
- 4 boxes of granola bars on sale
This is in addition to everything already in the fridge, freezer, and cupboards, that I have at my fingertips to cook and eat. I expect this to last at least a week or so before needing to go back out for fresh food, maybe even longer. That's the only thing that makes the $125ish price tag palatable (ooh, see what I did there?). But, I'd like to lower my food budget. It's the easiest thing in a budget to control spending when you're trying to save money... and the easiest thing for me to go all-out if I'm not careful!
I could definitely do better for getting whole recipe ingredients and less stuff on a whim. But, I am determined to NOT let food keep going to waste just because I'm too lazy to prepare and cook it in a timely manner. I could certainly do without the Cheerios, but they're better than the Froot Loops I was eyeballing. I could do without the granola and energy bars, but they're so easy for on-the-go eats, and they don't need to be consumed right away. And of course, the chocolate... oh, the chocolate. My weakness! The salmon was $10, so cutting out meat definitely saves money. The maple syrup was $17 - the real stuff is expensive, but so worth it! Hopefully it will last quite awhile, if I can resist the urge to douse my pancakes in a maple syrup bath.
The least expensive purchases were the fresh fruits and veggies, ...go figure. I have to wonder why people think it's so expensive to eat "real" food. I guess it's the American mindset of eating a lot of something cheap just to fill you up, vs. how I've come to learn is a much better way to go about it - eating a small portion of something nutritionally good for you. I feel better when I've eaten moderate portion and still feel hungry afterwards, than when I gorge myself and feel absolutely stuffed and useless and lay around for hours after eating. It's better to choose foods to FUEL your body instead of just filling that empty hole in your gut. And sadly, I think there is a lack of education about that.
I honestly can't remember learning about nutrition in school, so either it was taught and didn't make a big impression, or it wasn't taught, or societal messages and advertising overwrote anything I learned in school. Jamie Oliver may use shock tactics to try to get schools to serve more nutritious lunches, but I think it's a step in the right direction to feed the nation's children well. I totally admire our First Lady for taking on education for healthful eating and exercise. I can only hope that the trend in healthy eating and healthful living continues to grow - preventing health problems is such a better option than dealing with them after you've treated your body like crap (especially for those who don't know any better).
So if I'm "with it," I'd like to include what I've been cooking and/or eating as part of this blog, as motivation to keep growing into a more healthy lifestyle. While I don't expect to be perfect (who is?! hah!), it'd be nice to try sometimes. ;)