Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Grocery Store Fast

Okay, so I was not exactly “out” of food, but I went to the grocery store last night. Sunday noon, I made tomato soup out of the last two cans of Rotel I had in my cupboard, a little bit of celery I had in the freezer and some of my housemate's onion. The soup was pretty good, but not utterly satisfying. I had not had fresh produce for days, and I desperately wanted some. At dinner, I binged on my housemate's kale salad, and then ate more kale and a little bit of butternut squash from the freezer for snack. My body was craving fresh fruits and vegetables, but I had very little. I had to squirrel away a half cup of butternut squash and a few raisins to eat as “fruit” for Monday. Other than peanut butter, a few almonds and cashews, and a bit of powdered milk, I was also out of protein sources. It was time.

I realize in my “lack, though, how very rich I was. I still had food. I could have “survived” off the food I had for days or possibly even weeks more. I just might not have felt well due to lack of vitamins and nutrients from fresh produce. This is the story of many, however. Many people do not have food. Many people do not have enough food, or good food. I am blessed.

So what did I buy at the store? Here's a look:

2 lb black beans $2.29
2 lb carrots $0.99
3 heads garlic $0.99
16 c. skim milk $2.22
3 lb oranges $2.99
4 c. 0% fat Greek yogurt $3.69
2.43 lb bananas ($0.29/lb) $0.70

2 stalks celery $1.94

I am trying to eat “in season” as much as I can, so I am proud of myself for buying oranges. They are not my favorite fruit, but surely I can eat them. They are also one of the cheapest fruits at this time of year. With the black beans, carrots, garlic, and celery, along with some leftover ketchup I have in the fridge, I hope to make Budget Byte's slow cooker black bean soup. That sound keep me in vegan protein for awhile. I can also eat carrot and celery sticks to get my produce fix. Bananas make great additions to oatmeal for breakfast, and the milk and Greek yogurt give me more protein. I like to freeze Greek yogurt with peanut butter, honey, and chocolate chips for a sweet treat, so that gives me a dessert option. I still have some of that Rotel tomato soup, along with some pumpkin bread and leftover Thai restaurant food. My housemate said I can still eat her kale salad, and we have leftover pancakes from house dinner tonight (a new tradition—throw in whatever leftovers you have to feed the crowd and get rid of excess food). I've still got a lot of overcooked granola, which is not as bad as I thought it was. I can eat that for snacks. After two weeks and a day of buying no groceries, I look forward to “feasting” for the next while.

What have I learned? I keep a lot more food on hand than I think I do. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I need to be careful to put my faith and security in God, not in my food-stores. Having less food forces me to be more creative. I actually came up with some good recipes, especially "to-go" oatmeal jars, berry chia oatmeal, and hot chocolate flax seed oatmeal. I heard something on the radio yesterday about being careful what you do because people are watching you. Though my housemates did not join me in my grocery shopping fast, I think it did impact them. One housemate came up with the house leftover dinner idea. We originally planned to buy food to make new recipes for this night, but we realized we did not need to. We can eat the food we have and still have a great spread and enjoy ourselves. (We had cilantro lime black bean cauliflower rice, pumpkin curry, and garlic cheese herb biscuits for house dinner last week, which made enough for several lunch meals as well.) When I shopped, I thought more about what I bought and how I could use it up, rather than stockpiling it. The specialty aisles at Aldi tempted me less because I realized I would need to use up what I buy. Why buy something new (e. g. that cool-sounding “coconut spread”) when I already have something like it (virgin coconut oil) in my cupboard? I feel wealthy with the $20 in groceries I bought. Practicing self-discipline is a skill I need to continue to develop. And you know what? It's kind of fun to find new and creative ways to be thrifty with grocery spending. So much of life is about perspective!

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