For a long time, food took up a considerable part of my income. Whether it was grocery shopping or eating out, I was always overspending. I grew up in a very overconsuming household – we were the type of family who would throw out almost half their groceries from things going bad. When I moved out of my parent’s house, I began to take the cost of food a lot more seriously. I was and still am appaled by the lack of respect I had for food growing up.
I love to cook and eat good food. If I could spend every evening hosting a dinner party or trying new restaurants, I’d be in heaven. But I’ve shifted to a more realistic approach to my relationship with food.
Eating well-curated meals is a concept that evolved with humans. On a real level, food’s only purpose is for survival. So I stopped looking at every meal as an indulgent opportunity and more of a necessity.
My grocery list consists of simple food that serves my busy lifestyle. In the morning I may sautée spinach and eat it with two poached eggs or quickly make a smoothie if my morning is cut short. My meals keep me full and healthy – and that’s the goal.
My weekly $50 grocery list (season changes are known to be made, of course)
- Almond milk
- Black beans
- Corn tortillas
- Pickled beets
- Red cabbage
- Sweet potato
- Red leaf lettuce
- Red peppers
To complement it, there are some pantry staples I replenish on a regular basis:
- EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
- Earl Grey Tea
- Frozen Fruit
- Red wine vinegar
- Hemp protein powder
There are three distinct things about my grocery list – it is dairy, meat, and gluten-free.
I am not a vegetarian but I am very conscious of consuming animal products. I eat meat very rarely for two reasons, 1) because I don’t believe humans are meant to eat meat more often that a few times a week (over-consumption is lame), and 2) because I only purchase meat from ethical sources, like Harborside Farms, when I can afford to. I buy eggs because they are good, easy protein, but I always buy free-run eggs regardless of my budget.
I have an intolerance to gluten so creating a low-budget grocery list wasn’t easy. I spent years adapting my diet. Though eating gluten-free can be less convenient at times (I miss tossing together a sandwich), I feel so much better both mentally and physically when I don’t eat gluten.
My refrigerator and pantry reflect my minimalist lifestyle. I only buy what I need to get me through my week. On the weekend, I might purchase some extras to make gluten-free pizzas or fish tacos. But I always make sure the items I buy work with the rest of my pantry so I never waste any food.
A few quick meals from my pantry:
Chopped avocado, pickled beet, and cucumber salad tossed in EVOO, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Rice, black bean, and sweet potato tacos or mushroom and red pepper tacos.
Sweet potato hash with red cabbage, red peppers, spinach, and mushrooms.
Black bean, mushroom, and rice stuffed red peppers with avocado.
Fruit smoothie with protein powder, ginger, turmeric, spinach, and almond milk.
If I have a busy week, I often buy canned tomatoes and lentils to make a curry in the crockpot.
Album listened to while writing: Any Other Way by Jackie Shane
Photo by Dane Deaner