Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Foods I DON'T Buy

I have always been "thrifty," taking my time making money decisions and spending money conservatively. I have also always been "healthy," choosing what I eat carefully and cooking from scratch regularly. Yet, there was always room for improvement and while I did not know it then, living in a mountain town off the beaten path last year edged me closer to "self" sufficiency and further from mass produced. What got cemented in my mind over the past year is something I had always believed in: you can make it, better, yourself. And so I grew my list of what I do not pick up from the grocery store, and what I do. And as we near the end of another year, I am taking stock of the changes I have made in our family's eating habits. And while this list is not comprehensive, it serves a my point of reference.

  • Baby feeding supplies/bottles/formula and food. While I did originally invest in baby bottles when JR was born and bought the one can of baby formula after Yousef came home, I have been using mother's milk straight from the source as my babies' nutrition. 
  • Precooked meals/packaged foods no longer have a space in my freezer which is now packed with frozen leafy greens of every variety, cranberries for when not in season and par boiled legumes for when in a rush. Also in there I have blueberries, which the kids can't seem to get enough of, lasagna, cow and lamb tongues, beef and chicken strips and frozen shrimp. The only pre-made food I indulge in are the spinach tortellini from Trader Joe's. I even stopped buying broths in a box and instead use from my stash of turkey, chicken, vegetable or lamb that takes up a whole freezer shelf. 
  • I have not bought lunch meat, store bought pasta sauce, cream of anything or condensed soup since February of this year. While I used to resort to smoked turkey sandwiches as a lunch item for Jeff to take to work, we have now moved away from that pattern. I make sauces and soups from scratch and freeze all extras.  
  • Packaged snacks, salad dressings, chips and dips except when I give in to the kids, and even then I cringe at the purchase and try to give them as little from it as possible. I enjoy a few chips here and there, but I do not like the thought of having a huge bag in the house; I know very well where it will end up! I started making batches of granola, which Yousef likes, and cheese crackers with three ingredients that Jannah-Rae takes to school. 
  • I make my own fresh milk cheeses and splurge only on imported hard and specialty cheeses. I also get cheese sticks for the kids and at time yogurt tubes. Shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses can be found in the fridge drawer for grilled cheese sandwiches and lasagna. Store bought yogurt is a thing of the past except for yogurt starters. 
  • Hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken nuggets. I leave those for when we eat out or when we are at my parent's house. My mom makes ham, chicken and turkey burgers from scratch so the kids can indulge in them and has hot dogs and chicken nuggets in the freezer for a treat meal in a bind. As tempting as it is for me to have one or all of these on hand in the freezer I have not yet given in to the ease. I would rather scramble an egg with spinach or make some pasta with butter and cheese before microwaving a batch of processed meat.
  • We are now buying less white rice, butter, and bread. We no longer pour maple syrup on our pancakes and a jar of jam lasts longer than before. Instead, we cover our toast with honey, homemade butter and jams and indulge in Nutella. 
In the next year it is my hope that I can keep up in the kitchen as the kids get older and require more of my time. And while I won't sacrifice time with them for cooking, I do not consider my investment in their nutrition as a chore. I enjoy making meals and think of it as my hobby. I am sure if I had someone to help clean up after me, and more people to feed, I would be rolling out a lot more foods. But there is only so much a family of four can eat, only so much room in my freezer and cupboards to store leftovers, and only so much counter space to dry out the dishes. 

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