Good day, all! Yesterday afternoon I had my first experience of attempting to stock "real foods" in our house for my 10 day real food pledge. How did I do? Read on, dear friend...
I left work around 3 pm, using some comp. time, so that I would have plenty of time to shop and not feel rushed. Those of you with children know what I mean: DIVIDED ATTENTION. It's a wonder I leave the house fully dressed each morning with my kids constantly clamoring for attention when I'm trying to focus on tasks at hand. And in the grocery store, this inevitably means that you get out to your car with the bags and realize you forgot to get 3 crucial ingredients for dinner that very night but you mysteriously have a package of Little Debbie cakes that you know you didn't put in the cart.
So anyway, I was blissfully ALONE with my list and the thoughts running through my own head as I headed into one of the big grocery store chains in this area. This store in known for being fairly "crunchy" in its volume of organic food, so I figured I'd find (most of) the crazy stuff I was looking for there.
*picture me wandering through an aisle muttering "agave nectar?" under my breath*
I can sum up my experience into these simple points. Shopping for non-processed food:
(1) Takes longer. Looking for wheat crackers made with 5 or fewer ingredients? Good luck.
(2) Also takes longer to check out.
"Ok. And, what's..."
(3) More expensive. $9.99 for a tiny container of real maple syrup? Ouch.
(4) Society is working against us. It is not always easy to find even simple things that haven't been processed to the very inch of its life. Ever look at the list of ingredients on a typical loaf of whole wheat sandwich bread? Do it. You will be shocked.
(5) All of the stuff you will read about eating real food will tell you to shop at the periphery of the store. I didn't really put a lot of thought into that, but that is in fact what happened just based on what I was looking for. Fresh produce, meat, fish, and dairy products all line the edges of the store. I've never been particularly adventuresome in this area, but that is now changing:
"Um, excuse me. I'm looking for pork...*consults list* shoulder?"
"Yes, we have some over here."
"Those are all 7 lbs. and up and I need 3-3 and a half pounds. Is there like a...substitution system for pork that I don't know about?"
"We can cut one of these in half for you."
"Sure, come to the meat counter."
The meat counter. I felt like the next step was to head back to my homestead.
The other things on my list were also fairly close to the edges of the store. Frozen foods, for some vegetables that weren't in season. The baking aisle for spices, bagged tea and honey. The beverage aisle for carbonated water. Cereal aisle for rolled oats. The only time I dipped into the middle of the store was to get shampoo for the kids, and then to the canned food aisle for black beans and pureed pumpkin. Oh, and whole wheat pasta in the ethnic food area.
I was sweating my total, but I did the very best I could to pare back what I got. I selected regular vanilla yogurt to make my overnight oats instead of the Greek that I wanted, and I didn't get any fresh mint, figuring we could grow some this year in our garden and I could experiment with it then in a much cheaper way. My one splurge was pumpkin pie spice ($4.99 for the tiniest container you can imagine) to make Pumpkin Fluff Dessert Dip. My total?
I let out a sigh of relief. I was hoping to come in under $70, but I knew I would certainly be way above $50. I got enough food for 4 dinners (more if you consider leftovers), many breakfasts and some items for lunch that should last about 2 weeks. I was pleased.
When I got home, I had the house to myself for about a half hour. I prepared and put some Spinach and Cheddar Mini Frittatas in the oven, so that I could have those for breakfast on and off for the next several days. I was told that they keep well in the refrigerator. I also brewed iced tea and made the pumpkin dip. I was on fire.
When my family got home, they were very curious about my endeavors. Mike and I were planning to split some leftovers from dinner the past 2 nights. Although the kids ate those two dinners, they weren't overly thrilled about reprising their cooperation. Each child spotted the new bag of apples and asked for one. I was pleased. Then they asked after the frittatas.
"Eggs and cheese? Oh yes! But what's that green stuff?"
*pause as I consider whether or not to tell them the truth* "Spinach."
I might as well have said that the frittatas were seasoned with Anthrax. They backed away in horror.
"Spinach?! Never mind."
"It's GOOD, trust me. You can't even taste the spinach in eggs."
They were dubious, but agreed to try a frittata. Next thing I knew, I was sitting down to my leftovers and glanced over at the kids' plates. They were empty. Henry was requesting seconds.
My children ate spinach? Board up your windows everybody, the pestilence must be coming next!!
This, my friends, is a GOOD feeling. We'll see where these 10 days take us, but I'm excited! Tonight, we're having black bean patties with pineapple rice. Mike gave me a look when we realized that we will need to bust out our seldom used food processor for this shindig, but I was not dissuaded. I'm tired of hurriedly throwing together odd-tasting, artificial food during the work week. Next!
This morning, I heated up one of the frittatas and had a piece of toast with, get this, REAL BUTTER! *halo* This is living, people!
I will keep you apprised of how things are going, here in the continuing saga of Life of a Catholic Librarian: The Children Are Forced To Eat Brussels Sprouts.