Links, Musing

planning a week

For my “going away” treat to myself I did a whole week’s worth of grocery shopping at the Co-op near my house. I love co-ops — of course, the produce and special-diet selection are unbeatable — but given my measly income, it’s Trader Joe’s that has my heart when it comes to weekly shopping. I love both of them equally in different ways, though. Sometimes even organic date rolls can’t beat out TJ’s cat cookies and ginger ice cream.

Luckily enough, while I did have the go-ahead from myself to splurge, at the end of the day I like budgeting, checking out sales, etc. It makes me feel good to be creative within a limit when it comes to weekly food shopping. Two good rules for avoiding a complete grocery store breakdown (you know what I mean, the kind where you come home with organic chocolate bars and coconut ice cream and $6 eggplants but not a lot of, oh, the food you actually needed) are as follows:

1) Don’t go shopping hungry. Otherwise you’ll crave everything…EVERYTHING!!!

2) If you know you tend to be somewhat of an impulse buyer, take two things out of your cart at the very end, right before you check-out. I like this tip because it allows me to truly take a look at what I’m buying. Maybe I really don’t need two types of frozen broccoli. Maybe I already have breakfast so why am I getting these chocolate chip frozen waffles?

My final total for the above selection was $35, only $5 more than what I usually spend. (Already at home: brown rice, French lentils, and olive oil.) Not bad. There have been a few recipes floating around the internet that I can’t wait to try, so here’s how I hope to utilize these groceries this week:

Breakfast: buckwheat groats with nut milk, cocoa powder, dried apricots, roasted cashews

Lunch: a variation on this tempeh cabbage salad, or braised lentils & rainbow chard 

Dinner: Sweet potato, broccoli, and tofu stir fry with brown rice

Inevitable sweet cravings: blackberries (hopefully I can steal a banana from work and make a berry variation on this banana ice cream)

Most importantly, I tried to make it so that by the time the week is over and I move out of my house, all the food is gone!

Things I did not buy but ooh-wee was I eyeing them: the Co-op has “grind-it-yourself” nut butters and raw farm honey…man oh man…


sinful dinner (the best kind)

Here at Culinary, we don’t %!$# around with food. Because really, no one should. Yeah, we have a variety of dietary restrictions, but that doesn’t mean we sit around like goats at dinner, merrily chomping on lettuce leaves and debating the latest lemon juice cleanse. We believe in indulgence. Mindful indulgence. At the end of the day, if your food looks and tastes unappetizing, no matter how healthy it is, it’s not worth it. So we play around. Goat cheese instead of normal cheese (and really, who says eating goat cheese is “missing out”?) Depending on healthy carbs like sweet potatoes. Lean protein is essential for a balanced diet. Salads will fill you up and add freshness to a rich dinner.

The perk of living in Culinary House is that members cook dinner once a week for 10 people. This means scouring blogs, parents, cookbooks, and friends for food ideas. This means, if you, say, wake up one morning and see this on Tastespotting, you can go ahead and cook it later that night. It’s convenient. It’s luxurious. Sometimes I feel like I’m not a college kid when I sit down to our dinners.

Make this sweet potato dish sometime. Roasted grapes may seem strange, but they’re truly the dark horse of roasted foods, and I will be sure to use them to spice up my next wine & appetizer night. We topped these babies with home-made smoky chili caramel, and served them with salad and lightly-dressed lemon olive oil chicken. The effort is fairly minimal for how great this dinner comes out. The best part? The meal, which fed 9 with leftovers, cost less than $40. That’s less than $5 a person!