I actually have figured out, after twenty-something years, how to shop so that I have good, nutritious food in the house, can make dinner that is satisfactory to all involved, and don’t waste an incredible amount of money on things like…
Well, not that buying chocolate in such delicious form could ever be a waste of money.
But I digress.
These days, I love my CSA box. A CSA box is a weekly box of freshly picked produce and herbs that usually come from a local farm, farmer’s market, or health food store. Most CSA shares run from May to November (ish) and will ask for an up front fee. Some let you pay monthly, others weekly. The one I currently use lets me pay weekly and opt out weeks if I’m away, which is great. For $20 a week, I get a huge box of goodies that basically takes care of our fresh veggie requirement for the week. Because I never know exactly what I’m getting, it’s my “chef’s challenge” each week to use all the vegetables up in creative and delicious ways.
Corn pudding with assorted squash and balsamic drizzle.
When in doubt, a quick sauté with garlic and butter usually does the trick.
Anyway, I get my veggies and eggs on Sunday from the farmer’s market, and then I hit Mom’s Organic Market (located conveniently on the same road) for Eli’s baby formula and any other items I need to make my vegetables yummy and also chocolate. These days I try hard not to buy pre-made things that I can easily make at home, such as Hummus, baba ghanoush, and nut milks.
Eli really enjoys going to Mom’s.
I think the trick to shopping at an organic market like Mom’s, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s, is to avoid the trap of purchasing a lot of prepackaged “health” food. Yes, you can spend $40 on various powdered super antioxidant supplements, Kombucha tea, pickled radishes, chocolate covered Goji berries – and if that’s what you want and need to do, then you ought to do it. But for those of us who have significant others who frown at $300 weekly trips to the market… Well, stay away from the Goji berries. Like any market, stay on the perimeter as much as possible. Shop the fresh produce. Mom’s has a great selection at competitive prices for all organic. Don’t buy a red bell pepper if it’s imported from Holland – try something else in your recipe. Because in addition to the fact that your pepper would have flown halfway around the world to be with you, it’ll also have a price tag of $5.99/lb. Which is gross. But a bargain for a trip from Holland to DC, I suppose.
Make a list of the special items you need before you get to the store. For example, if I know that I need maple syrup, rice vinegar, tahini, and a refill of quinoa, I write that shiz down in Evernote and create a shopping list, and try SO SO hard not to deviate. Because you know that next to the maple syrup will be some deliciously infused exotic syrup that would taste great in some almond milk, and next to the rice vinegar are preserved lemons, pickled lemongrass shoots, etc. It’s just a disaster waiting to happen. Make a plan and stick to it.
Also, keep your pantry stocked with those canned essentials that can easily turn anything into a meal. I keep:
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Canned tomato sauce (the kind with no herbs added)
Always having those things in the pantry means that in a pinch, I can make a quick casserole by mixing up chopped veggies with my tomato sauce and perhaps some chickpeas.
So, that’s how I try to keep the shopping manageable and organic at the same time.
But I do want to say one thing, because it can be easy to get very wrapped up in buying everything organic: eating a conventionally grown vegetable is better than eating processed food or no vegetables at all.
Do you guys have any shopping tips to share? How do you organize your weekly grocery trip?