Friday, September 18, 2009

How to eat well on a dime, or a dollar. but not tons of dollars.

Yea. i would not be nearly so broke if i ate like most other american families. mac and cheese, sugar cereal, top ramen, rice a roni, hamburger helper. all this crap is cheap. mcdonalds and taco bell are cheap. frozen boneless skinless chicken breast injected with salt is cheap. (but is that really waht chicken tastes like). frozen pizza's are cheap. these things have their place, but in general, the cheaper it is, the more likely it is that you should NOT eat it. it is unfortunate that the less money you have, the more likely you are to be eating things that just make it worse.

Dont get me wrong. some nights i just dont want to cook. We love our taco bell and totinos party pizza's. Sometimes. But there is a need within me to offer my family nourishment with fresh ingredients and great flavor. That wont kill them. Problem is, this desire to have healthy food in my house is expensive. especially if i want variety. I know that if i stopped buying food the way i do, we probably wouldnt be so broke. but yet i do it. and i do my best to save money in the process, because the only way i can perform my little kitchen experiments is to shop smart.

You may have some notion of political corectness that says that big box stores are crushing the family business, but take this example. My husband likes his kosher hotdogs. Hebrew nationals are 3.00 a package, all the time, at both Wal-Mart and WinCo Foods. At every other store in town they are 6 bucks. I dont apologize for keeping my costs down so we can pay the bills. I also think that we may just have to accept that commerce has changed again, and be willing to adapt. i shop at these stores because if i dont, we eat mac and cheese and oscar meyer bologna.  i buy basics at wal-mart but they dont carry high quality anything, so the future of the mom and pop store is the specialty store and the boutique. which brings me to my next topic.

Specialty markets. These are hit and miss. There is a store next to my work that claims to be fair trade,  organic and so on... problem is, they once tried to charge me 8 dollars for two bunches of spinach. eating well should not be at the expense of your financial security. since then, i have never gone back. in these cases, the specialty store is a bad idea. however, i love Asian, Latino, and Arabian markets. The ones that cater to the Asians, the Latin Americans, And the Arabs. here you can buy ingredients for half the price of supermarkets, in most cases. They also tend to carry some produce items that cant be found elsewhere, or can be found but at exorbitant prices.

Speaking of produce. go to the farms. here we go to Greenbluff when cherries, apples, peaches, cabbages, and squash are in season. we buy in bulk and i freeze and can some for later. not only do we save money, we buy local and we are ensured of freshness. be wary of the roadside stand or buying from the biggest, most extravagant farm. sometimes they sell produce that was shipped in from elsewhere, under the guise of being fresh from the tree or local. if i wanted my apples from wenachee, i wouldnt drive all the way out to this farm... There is one particular farm around here that is guilty of this, and i have even heard her lie by omission. customer says "oh yea, my friend sent me here to get fresh cherries off the farm" and i know for a fact she was selling cherries from california. the same ones safeway was selling. no thank you. WE LOVE TO U-PICK! its fun and tasty and the whole family gets involved. i think it also helps us city folk remember where our food comes from... thinking of the kid again.

BUY IN BULK! convenience is expensive. packaging is wasteful and unneccessary. buy dried and canned goods in bulk from a place with high product turnaround to be sure of freshness. do it. dont be a dummy head.

and thats my story.

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