The new balanced diet: prioritizing nutrition, cost and foodie concerns

The title of a new report by the Environmental Working Group could very well be my grocery shopping mantra: “Good Food on a Tight Budget.” But my favorite part about this new report, which features all sorts of user-friendly food tips and recipes, is that it attempts to make “good food” accessible to more people through a … Continue reading

The post-vacation food budget (you can still eat like a hippie on it)

The good thing about our finances and food preferences converging like this is it makes us much smarter shoppers.

Perhaps the only depressing part about a vacation is returning from it… and forcing yourself to eat even healthier than you thought physically possible (in part because you made the mistake of reading the ingredients on that add-and-blend piña colada mix after you’d inhaled about three blenders’ worth). The other tricky part? Realizing you’ll have to reach that healthful goal on a budget, because the rent for your home-home and your home-away-from-home-for-a-week came out of the account on the same week. 🙂

After fetching our dearly beloved pup from dog-sitting friends, the husband and I headed straight to Trader Joe’s for groceries. This was, in part, because our nearly empty fridge had also lost electricity for a portion of last week after the DC storm (#funfridgesmells), and in other part because we were hungry, as usual, and TJ’s has samples. In fact, we were so hungry that we had to stop off at Teaism next to the Alexandria TJ’s for a bite (where I fell in love with these floor poufs…).

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Back to groceries. Our family (minus the dog, who eats flies when possible) is increasingly committed to buying food either A) from a farmer, market or CSA share or B) with the necessary food buzz words smeared across the label (i.e. organic, free-range, grass-fed, sustainably harvested, etc.) In our past life north of Seattle, this was pretty easy to accomplish. They even carried organic options at the commissary on the Naval base, where our bill would come to just over half of what we’d pay at the Safeway near our house. The commissary at our nearest base here carries ONE brand of chicken, and it’s the one that’s featured on Food, Inc. Needless to say, we’ve ventured out.

Also needless to say, we were spoiled. Suddenly, what we’re used to eating costs much much more. And my husband eats a lot. On his own for dinner one night, he bought four pounds of ground turkey to make burgers “with leftovers.” He figured that was a good amount for about two meals. The good thing about our finances and food preferences converging like this is it makes us much smarter shoppers. No longer do we throw things into the cart willy-nilly if we think we might eat them in the next few weeks. Nope, we enter that store armed with a plan. I have four or five weeknight recipes in mind in portion sizes that should (barring my husband’s overworking metabolism) provide enough for lunch leftovers. And I try to keep a few cupboard-ready standbys on hand, like tuna. (Here’s a little tuna meal made from basically scraping the fridge last week – with capers, parsley, tomatoes, lentils, you name it.)