I received an email the other day, regarding this post, about cutting our grocery bill & getting out of debt a year sooner. Essentially, my cra-crazy idea was to drastically cut the grocery budget & pretty much live on rice & beans.
When people say that–“we’re living on rice & beans”–I have serious doubts they’re only eating rice & beans. Because as much as I love rice & beans (I share two of my fave recipes in my free ebook, SIMPLE), man cannot live on rice & beans alone. I mean, is it possible? Yes. Just like it’s possible to lose weight eating only green smoothies & lettuce. You can do it. But if given the choice, would you? Probably not.
So back to the email. Denille writes:
“So it is April 2014 tomorrow, how did you do at the end of your journey? Did you make your goal? What lessons did you learn?”
Well, we didn’t actually cut the grocery budget. Fact is, we increased it.
I spoke some time ago about how Joseph & I realized that we just had to spend more than $500 a month on groceries. We spend more like $900 a month (this includes household goods too, which is somewhere around $100 a month). For a family of 7, this amounts to about $115 a person, per month, for food, or about $4 a day per person. I know, I’m counting baby Tyndale in there, but he counts! Since I’m breastfeeding I do eat more (even when I’m losing weight) as well as make sure I’m eating a ton of nutrient dense foods (ie. produce, which is pricey). $4 a day is not too shabby.
The truth is, about our debt, we have a few more months of our first big debt payoff ($20K!), then we have about $35K left for our car, credit cards, & student loans. Next week I’ll share more deets & give a debt-snowball progress report. I feel like we’re going at a snail’s pace, but we are making progress & it feels good to see those numbers go down slowly but surely.
So there’s something that I feel strongly about when it comes to saving (in a number of ways). And it is buying frozen produce. Here’s why.
When you buy frozen fruits & vegetables you:
1. Save on waste. Food lasts much longer & you don’t end up throwing out mushy carrots or moldy brocolli because you didn’t get around to using it in time. Better on your wallet, better for the environment!
2. Saves on time. No washing, not cutting or chopping. It’s a lovely thing.
3. More nutrients. I know, there’s a huge trend in local & fresh. But consider, each day that passes that your cauliflower sits in the fridge, it’s nutrient content goes down slightly. Vitamins are sensitive commodities & levels found in fresh produce go down as days go by. BUT, with frozen, produce is often picked at it’s peak & then frozen.
4. Usually less expensive than fresh. I can get a pound of cauliflower for about $1.25 in the frozen section. Fresh, it runs me about $3/lb.
5. You don’t always have to cook frozen vegetables to eat them! I will often “defrost” peas & corn simply by placing them in a colander & running under warm water for a few minutes. I then can use the corns & peas in salads.
Of course, you’re not going to buy frozen cucumbers or frozen lettuce (some things you’ll always want to eat fresh), but next time you’re at the store, take a moment to peruse the frozen produce section. I know first time I did this I was surprised to find everything from frozen lima beans to frozen okra, kale, onions, summer squash & collard greens.
I often use a mix of frozen & fresh in my recipes.
Here’s an example of one such recipe (also check out my cheesy siracha cauliflower bowl).
I realized awhile back, that chickpeas have become the “chicken” of the vegetarian world. They serve as the staple of so many dishes. And for good reason. They’re hearty, filling & have a delicious, versatile flavor that seems to soak up whatever flavor given it.
This dish has the traditional curry seasonings with the addition of a somewhat non-traditional curry spice–chili powder. I think it gives it a non-spicy kick, & makes things more interesting.
A hearty Indian inspired main dish -- vegan, grain-free, gluten-free
- 3 c. dried garbanzo beans--about 1.5 pounds or 8-9 cups cooked or 4 cans
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 TBS. olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 medium carrots
- 1, 16 oz. bag frozen cauliflower
- 1, 15 oz. can coconut milk (not lite)
- 1 can diced tomatoes, no salt
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp. tumeric
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 rounded tsp. salt | or 1/2 tsp. if you use salted diced tomatoes
- 2 TBS. no-salt seasoning
- 1 TBS. dried parsley flakes
- 2 tsp. agave
- few dashes red pepper sauce
- lots of fresh cracked pepper
- Soak chickpeas overnight. Drain. Cover with water, bring to boil & cook for 2-3 hours on medium heat, or until soft, but not mushy. Drain chickpeas & set aside.
- On medium heat, heat oil. Add onion & saute for 3-4 minutes. Add carrots. Saute for additional 2-3 minutes. Add all spices, salt & stir.
- Add coconut milk, plus one can of water. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaf & agave. Stir.
- Add cooked chickpeas, & frozen cauliflower & freshly cracked pepper. Stir.
- Cover & simmer on medium high for 5 minutes, turn down to medium low & continue to cook for additional 5-10 minutes.
- Make sure to remove the bay leaf before serving.
- Serve over brown rice & if possible, with some naan bread.
Additional nutrition info: 36 g carbs, 8 g protein, 7 g fiber, 583 mg sodium, 2.8 sugar; 6 WWP points
What are your favorite fruits or vegetables to buy & use frozen?