So, I hear that you got started shutting down the “It is too expensive to eat well” excuse, after flying through those next actions from part 1 of this article and even had a little fun with the P’s – plan, prep and package. Now, it is time to bring in “the king” to help you leave the excuse behind for good! The king of P’s is… PLANTS! When you stock a plant-based pantry, all you’ll need to do is purchase your produce! Wow, that’s a lot of P’s!!!
Get your shelf stable staples: beans, peas, lentils, brown rice (wild/black/purple/red rice), bulgur, oatmeal, quinoa, chia seeds, flax seeds, boxed/jarred tomatoes, spices and vinegars. Then, add a rainbow of produce! Some items that we typically have on our weekly Master Shopping List: red/purple onions, scallions, celery, red/purple cabbage, garlic, greens (salad greens plus at least kale and parsley), rainbow salad/broccoli slaw, mushrooms, broccoli and or cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, apples, bananas, oranges, and peppers.
A few of my tips for saving money and making smart produce purchases:
- Figure out what is in season by going to Farmers’ Markets (usually get the best deals just before the market ends for the day), visiting local farms/farm stands or produce vendors or perusing supermarket ads. As you may know, asparagus can range from $0.88/lb to $5.99/lb, depending on the time of year! Seasonal fruits and veggies always taste better, too!
- Buy in bulk, but ONLY when it makes sense! How long will this last, how I am planning to use it and is it freezable? (This goes back to the plan/prep/package principles.) While some items will last for quite a while in the fridge: whole cabbage, carrots, oranges, lemons and apples, buying 5 pounds of fresh greens at once might not make sense… unless you have a plan that involves morning smoothies, veggie soup and delectable salads (for more than one person)! If you buy a 4 pack of organic celery and 2 end up going bad, that effort to “save” just went to waste! Back to the importance of the “plan” – if I am making a lot of soup this week, in addition to my crazy salad for lunches, I might use the celery. However, if we are having our Pasta Foodie Bar and my Southwestern Loaded Sweet Potatoes at dinnertime, it might be a better week to connect with a friend and split the package of celery!
- BONUS tip: A “coupon”/”deal” is only as good as the end result – I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they bought something just because there was a coupon for it or it was on sale! If you are buying something on sale or with a coupon that isn’t even good for your body, that savings just cost you money (they didn’t pay you to take it) and quality of life! How do you feel after you eat something crummy… well, crummy! You could have eaten something that loved you back!
- Purchase a variety of frozen veggies, especially greens, broccoli, and corn (easy to use, no cleaning or chopping necessary), and fruits, especially berries, (as they picked when perfectly ripe, then frozen within 24 hours). Frozen fruits and veggies often retain more vitamins and minerals than their “fresh” counterparts, if they have traveled over weeks (or more) from the very faraway field to the supermarket.
- Don’t let “certified” organic or bust, derail you! While it makes sense to reduce pesticide usage in our world (not only for consumers, but more importantly, for farm workers), many local growers may not be able to use the official organic designation (because of the cost and paperwork involved), while not using any pesticides, so you need to ask! You can also consult the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen annual produce guides (www.ewg.org), but don’t forget that the highest exposure to pesticides and environmental toxins is through animal products, because of bio-accumulation.
Now that you know “it’s too it is too expensive to eat well” is a pretty wimpy excuse, how do make plan/prep/package your new normal? Your next action: Schedule time in your calendar for weekly planning, with supermarket ads and family input (if needed/wanted). Then, you can schedule/delegate tasks, including shopping and prepping. Using a master shopping list that you can keep in your phone or laminate to reuse, saves time. We also use a chalkboard in our kitchen (we painted one of your large cabinet doors with chalkboard paint) to keep track of items not on our master shopping list that we need/want to purchase on our next trip to the store. Then, we just take a picture with our phone before heading out the door. A dry erase would work great, as well! Your next action: What is the simplest way for you to keep track of a master shopping list and add items as they come up throughout the week?
I wanted share a super fast recipe that you can put together with just a few staples, including one of the most cost effective sources of antioxidants available, purple cabbage! If you’d like to see me make this recipe, check out the segment that I did about purple cabbage for California Bountiful TV!
Timaree’s Speedy Cabbage, Apple and Onion Sauté
1 medium red onion, diced
2-4 Tablespoons veggie broth
½ medium cabbage, chopped
2 red apple, diced (leave peel on)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Brown onions in dry pan over medium to medium-high heat, adding a few tablespoons of veggie broth to avoid burning. Let them begin to caramelize before stirring (over-stirring will not allow the onions to brown). Add the cabbage and apple and a few more tablespoons of broth, if needed. Cook for just a few minutes, until cabbage is just tender, avoiding overcooking, and toss with a few tablespoons of your favorite vinegar (white balsamic works well). Sprinkle with pepper and serve immediately!
The Nutrition Professor’s Prep Smart Tip: After dicing the onion, let it sit for a 5-10 minutes before cooking to maximize the nutrients available to your body!
With this recipe and many other wonderful options at your fingertips, be sure to enjoy your food slowly and chew well. This will enable your body to extract the most nutrients possible and connect the loop between your digestive, nervous and endocrine systems, to get you the message that you are satisfied and can stop eating!
Timaree Hagenburger, a registered dietitian, certified exercise physiologist with a master’s degree in public health, and a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College. Timaree also conducts local events, corporate wellness work, has a regular segment on California Bountiful TV and published her first cookbook – The Foodie Bar Way: One meal. Lots of options. Everyone’s happy. available at www.FoodieBars.com – where you will also find details about Timaree’s upcoming events (cooking demos, book signings and talks about the incredible power you yield with your fork!).