Day 4: EAT: My Eating Healthy and Cheap Mentors

Lentil barley mushroom soup is soup-er nutrient-dense, and cheap, too!

When you’re a bad cook, you need a good mentor.   My husband is a good mentor when it comes to gastronomically and aesthetically appealing dishes.   His meals are not just delicious, but he believes that you’re halfway there in preparing a successful meal if it the plate looks as good as it tastes.

But he is also the one who has inspired this challenge, believing it’s impossible to eat healthily without spending a fortune.  So I have to look for good mentors in that department.

I am basically drawing on three books as a basis for a healthy diet, and also for recipes and shopping tips:

Let me make one thing very clear:  Despite the subtitles, I am NOT trying to lose weight.  I’m generally satisfied with my weight.  I have chosen these books because they promote a balanced perspective on eating healthily, based on real food, and without gimmicks like cutting out macronutrients.    I was looking for guidance on the most nutrient-dense foods to get more bang for my buck, and these books seem to have great information, as well as decent recipes.  They are also pretty flexible in their approach–none of them telling you you CAN’T have your favorite comfort food, but you have to learn how to work it in, if it’s not exactly the healthiest choice.

So, I cross-referenced the highest nutrient foods with the Stop & Shop weekly flyer and bought all the Superfoods on sale that I could:

  • Salmon, tuna
  • Blueberries, strawberries
  • Butternut squash
  • Yogurt
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Avocado
  • Oranges

I also bought real food that’s not necessarily way up high on the Superfoods list, such as a roasting chicken, canned tuna, celery, onions, mushrooms, carrots, and frozen peas and corn.

I also put together a couple of spreadsheets–one of all the Superfoods, another of menus incorporating as many superfoods as possible, and finally a spreadsheet showing the food, the price per unit and the price per serving.

My grocery bill for one week was $99.58, not including pet food and vitamins.  I know that that will be more than $367 if I spend the same for four weeks, but I won’t.  I have tons of food left, since I stockpiled items that were on sale, like $1 a can for tuna and $1 a can for canned tomatoes.

Examples of daily menus so far:

Day 1

Breakfast:  Oatmeal with blueberries and brown sugar  (.56 per serving)
Lunch:  Homemade lentil, barley and mushroom soup (.75 per serving)
Dinner:  Salmon with rice pilaf and peas and pearl onions (this was a weekly splurge, to be evened out by less costly dinners) (3.49 per serving)

Daily Total (one serving of all three meals):  4.80

Day 2

Breakfast:  2 organic, free-range eggs w/English muffin and coffee (.86 per serving)
Lunch:  Tuna on whole wheat bread (1.34 per serving)
Dinner:  Roast chicken with potatoes and corn (1.84 per serving)

Total:  (three meals, one serving: 4.04)

Other strategies I’ve put in place are:

  • I’ve written on my kitchen dry-erase board a “perishable watch”–you know how you buy stuff and it goes bad before you get a chance to use it?  That happens to me all the time. So now, I’ll do a quick check every day to be sure I use up the stuff in the fridge before it goes bad.
  • I’m using up everything.  When I cut the greens off the celery for the lentil soup I put them in a zip lock bag.  When I had extra onions chopped up, I did the same.  So, today, I am making a stock from the chicken bones, and I had bits and pieces of veggies I would have thrown out to put in it.

So, that’s my progress report so far.  Kind of an unrefined way to present the data, but I am more interested in the journey at this point.

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