Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Dirty Dozen!

Have you noticed?
Everything eatable seems to be going up. The pressure it puts on a grocery budget seems crushing at times. In my goal of reducing expenditures in the grocery cart this quarter, I am focusing deeper and harder on ways to economize and get more value for the same dollar. On the other hand I do not want to sacrifice quality foods- real foods or exchange them for fake white flour, artificial flavors or heated oil versions that may seem like a better deal but will only turn those savings now in medical bills later, not to mention pain and suffering-something I am radically opposed to (the pain and suffering part)

So in a short series of posts I will be sharing what I am doing now and have done in the past to eat (well) without paying (in pain) later.

I'd like to start with what may seem like a contradiction..... buy organic!

Hold on.

There is a balance between paying now and paying later. There are some things that I will not compromise on. One of them is oil. I will not buy grocery store oils. They have been heated (increasing the chances of turning rancid quickly) clarified, bleached and filtered and stabilized to look pretty on grocery store shelves. But using a good natural oil, organic if possible, but certainly cold pressed is absolutely number one on my list.

The next items on my organic list is shown in the Top Dirty Dozen below. If you can, go organic, if not do not fret, but do the best you can. My improvements are in brackets.

beef - and all meat, I presume
milk - raw is best
coffee - limited consumption
peaches - peeling maybe acceptable but is probably not be enough due to the soft nature of the fruit. I'd pass them by if they were not organic. I've seen them spray.
apples - wash well or even peel if not organic
peppers - red is healthiest
celery - Difficult to find organic celery and is often small and tougher when you do
strawberry-I had a naturopath tell me never eat a non organic strawberry
lettuce - grow your own perhaps?
grapes - includes raisins
tomatoes - including canned

If you can purchase these items organic you will be better odd in the long run. Next best is at a farmers market where the produce is generally fresher than in grocery stores. And if you can buy directly from the farmer himself you will be even better off because the chances are better that he has a small farm will use more sustainable practices even though he may not be certified organic.

Then to relieve some of the budget pressure if you had to pay a little more for good quality here are the top ten that are not as necessary to purchase organic.

asparagus, avocado, banana, broccoli, cabbage, kiwi, mango, onion, papaya, pineapple (I have yet to see an organic pineapple anyway)

So on to saving money. Keeping in mind the number one organic food on the dirty dozen list I am just about ready to purchase a side of grass fed organically raised beef. I think I have found a really great deal at $2.50 per lb. You cannot even buy regular ground beef for 2.5o per pound here in Seattle anymore.

That brings me to one of my tips. Shop around. I had to research on line for about an hour or more to find this farm, email them, wait for a reply and then place an order but it has saved me perhaps 1.50 per lb. Most of the other places I found charge $3.50 - $4.00 per pound with cut and wrap on top.

So what I will be saving on my meat supply, I will be pouring into some organic produce this summer.

Tomorrow I will share some ideas that may or may not be profound to you but have helped to save over the long run on good clean healthy food.


Milehimama said...

I stopped buying most beef when dh started his anti-inflammatory diet.

I found out that lentils/brown rice is a really good substitute for ground beef! I used it for cabbage rolls, enchiladas, and mixed into marinara sauce. It doesn't taste exactly like beef, but in those "casserole" type dishes, it is meaty enough to satisfy, cheaper, and healthier. I even made lentil burgers and the whole family ate them up!

I cooked 1 lb. green lentils, 3 c. brown rice, 12 c. water for about 45 minutes and had enough lentil/rice for 4 meals for 9 people.

Also, I buy organic potatoes because I prefer to prepare them with the skin on for fiber/vitamins (yes, even mashed!); the extra nutrition is worth the cost IMO.

Janet Langford, said...

Thanks for writing Milehimama. You are right, a good meat "substitute" is a combination of brown rice and lentils. I used to cook this way much more than I do now, but my husband is on a low carb diet and so rice, potatoes and most grains and beans are out. I have had to adjust but am slowly getting used to the more traditonal meat and vegetables fare.
Perhaps some of my readers would like try your enchiladas or cabbage rolls "recipe," at least as a means of cutting down meat if not a complete substitute. Care to share some more specific details?