How I Save Money on My Grocery Bill

I advised y’all to buy expensive oils to avoid vegetable oil, and when you saw the inside of my pantry you might and figured out that I like to spend money on food. But this blog is supposed to contain some tips on how to save money, right?

Right.

So here’s a few, super basic ones. I’ll get into some specifics later, when I focus on how to buy healthy spices, oils, meat, and more. Continue reading “How I Save Money on My Grocery Bill”

Why I Won’t Touch Vegetable Oil With a 10 Foot Pole

It’s become fairly common knowledge that olive oil and other unprocessed oils are better for you than regular vegetable oils, but most people don’t think of vegetable oil as BAD for you. Plus, vegetable oil is cheap, readily available, in practically every packaged food you can find, and extremely convenient when cooking. But if you read my Diet Dogma, you’ll know that it is one of the only things on my “NEVER EAT” list!

Lucky for me and my health, my mom switched to primarily olive oil for cooking when I was a small child, after the Mediterranean Diet became popular. As a result, I used vegetable oil sparingly as an adult, though I still used it in baking, frying, and to make certain salad dressings. I thought that the high smoke point and neutral flavor of the oil was invaluable for certain applications, because that’s what some of the cooking websites said (note: It’s really not invaluable. It’s completely replaceable and the replacements usually work better).

The Research That Changed Everything

But in my senior year of college, back when I thought I was going to go to grad school to become a dietitian, I was researching cooking oil. In one of my classes, we had talked about the American Heart Association’s endorsement of vegetable oil and about how saturated fats were terrible…but I had trouble believing that. People have used butter for a bazillion years, and we didn’t have heart disease until recently. In fact, my mom switched from margarine to butter when I was a little kid, and I recalled that both parents actually lost weight as a result.

I decided to investigate these claims myself by really delving into the research. I had already had several years of research experience, so I was quite familiar with reading research papers. As project manager of my research office, I also had paid access to a variety of medical journals through my work computer. One night, when most of my non-working college student peers were home on spring break, I stayed late at the office to dig into some vegetable oil research.

My findings were disturbing.

Continue reading “Why I Won’t Touch Vegetable Oil With a 10 Foot Pole”

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

With a busy week ahead, last night I decided to make a double pot of stuffed cabbage casserole – an easy, delicious, and filling meal that lasts several days. I often serve it with a side salad and fresh bread, though it can be served alone as a meal in and of itself. This recipe serves 4 adults if it’s the only thing on the table, and can serve 6 if accompanied by sides. My husband and I usually get 2 dinners and 1-2 lunches out of one batch of it. This time, I made a double recipe with the intent of eating it all week (no time to cook this week…).

This recipe only takes about an hour total, plenty of built in down time while it is cooking to do other things – like make salad and do dishes. In other words, it’s great for a weeknight! Continue reading “Stuffed Cabbage Casserole”

VERY SCIENTIFIC Egg Taste Test!

So you read about why I think pastured eggs are better than regular eggs, and saw that although I thought there was a taste difference, some studies showed that there was no taste difference. Am I insane? Are the studies wrong? Obviously, I needed to do an egg taste taste.

BECAUSE SCIENCE.

So. Do pastured eggs taste better than conventional eggs?

The short answer:

OH MY GOD, YES. GO BUY THEM. BUY THEM NOW (read where and how to buy them here!).

The long answer:

Continue reading “VERY SCIENTIFIC Egg Taste Test!”

Pastured Eggs – Practical Considerations

So you read all about why I think it’s worth buying pastured eggs. You want to give it a try. Where do you find these magic eggs? How do you buy pastured eggs?

Buy Local.

Buying eggs from a local farmer (or hobby farmer!) is by far the best way to go if you’re trying to get pastured eggs. This will save you money, and allow you to investigate the conditions of the hen houses yourself. My parents retired in the country, and I buy most of my eggs from a woman who lives down the street from them. Her eggs are only $2.50/dozen, and I buy 4 dozen at a time (eggs keep for a very long time in the fridge). Signs for pastured eggs are all over in rural areas, and the prices where my parents live range from about $2-$4/dozen.

Of course, I don’t want to drive an hour every time I need eggs. I supplement my eggs with partially pasture raised eggs that are only $2.50/dozen from a house that is literally down the street from me. For some odd reason, a few of the lots in my city are still zoned for agriculture (though most are not), and one of my neighbors raises chickens as a hobby. These chickens are fed corn and kept inside, but he lets them out in his yard every day to graze and treats them well. I figure these eggs might not have as many nutritional benefits as true pastured eggs, but they still taste better (and are probably a little better) than conventional eggs. Continue reading “Pastured Eggs – Practical Considerations”

Why I Buy Pastured Eggs

With eggs costing $1/dzn at some grocery stores, why do I buy pastured eggs, and pay $2 or $2.50/dzn? Well, let me tell you a story…

My First Pastured Eggs

Although I currently live in a metropolitan suburb, I am fortunate enough to have family that lives in a rural area – including my can-cook-anything sister. I distinctly remember staying over at her place a few years ago and getting served two enormous, bright yellow eggs that tasted…amazing. I mean, truly amazing. At the time, I was a wee college student with fledgling cooking skills, but I was very proud of my ability to make fabulous eggs. My roommates LOVED my eggs. But these blew mine out of the water. Continue reading “Why I Buy Pastured Eggs”

Irish Soda Bread

Remember how when I shared my meal planning techniques, I told you to be flexible? Well, this week I was flexible! I didn’t intend to make any bread to go with my chicken tortilla soup, but I had the day off (SNOW DAY! Sometimes being a teacher is great), and decided that warm bread with butter would make a nice addition to our dinner. Since this is a SUPER EASY Irish soda bread recipe that takes LESS THAN HOUR (including cook time!!!), I thought I’d share! Continue reading “Irish Soda Bread”

Monday Meal Plan – How To

I’m going to be sharing another meal plan today, but this time, I’m going to explain how I do my meal plans. I don’t use any fancy templates or print-outs…I just grab a scrap piece of paper and a pencil or pen. A pencil is smarter – you may need to change things around – but a pen shows up better in pictures, so I chose a pen this time!

Step 1: Look at Your Calendar.

The first step is take out your calendar or appointment book and write down what you have going on this week. I have a fairly busy week, with a wedding on Saturday and a Superbowl party on Sunday (GO PATRIOTS!). Plus, I am working late on Wednesday. These are all important things to know about before you start planning meals because they affect what meals you are cooking for, and how much time you have to cook them. Continue reading “Monday Meal Plan – How To”

My Diet Dogma

& Why I Eat Real Food

If you’ve just stumbled on this blog, you saw something about ‘meal planning’, cooking everything from scratch, and something about homemade bread. You might be thinking I’m a crazy person. If you read the “About Me” page, you may have noticed that I said I follow a loose interpretation of the Weston A Price Foundations diet…and I do mean loose. I don’t agree with everything the Foundation says, but I love their premise and their founding tenants. What does that mean exactly?

WHAT KIND OF A CRAZY PERSON AM I?

Who Was Weston Price?

Weston A Price was a dentist who explored the diets and tooth decay of a bunch of indigenous populations. He found that sugar and white flour seemed to be implicated in tooth decay and chronic diseases, and that many isolated populations all over the world had avoided these diseases until the introduction of a Western diet. He interviewed lots of elderly members of these groups and what their traditional diets looked like. All the diets were unique, but they universally included non-processed foods. Some folks lived on mostly fat (Eskimos), some on almost entirely milk and blood (the Masai tribe in Africa) and others on an almost vegetarian diet (Bantu tribe in Africa). They were all chronic disease free, until Western diets (sugar, white flour, vegetable oil) put them on par with everyone else in terms of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.

Of course, they probably still died a lot from childbirth, diphtheria, and injuries. Yay, modern medicine! I like modern medicine. But I don’t like modern food, modern chronic disease, or modern obesity.

My takeaway from Weston Price: Processed food and lots of sugar is bad for you. Lots of foods can be good for you – meats, grains, dairy, and more. Learning about traditional foods from all over the world is really cool. Also, ethnic food is delicious. Please-give-me-more-kimchi. Continue reading “My Diet Dogma”

Hearty Split Pea Soup

As you may have seen on my meal plan, I made Split Pea Soup (and Irish Soda Bread) on Monday. It was Martin Luther King Day, so I didn’t have to work, and we had just been buried in a heap of snow, so it was the perfect day for a long-simmering soup. I made it the way my mom used to, with a few additions of my own, and thought I’d share.

Don’t worry – it’s a long recipe, but it’s not hard and it’s definitely delicious.

If you want the short version, scroll down to the end of the this post. 🙂

WARNING: This recipe takes 2 1/2 hours MINIMUM and can take up to 4 1/2 depending on what stock you have available. A lot of that is hands-off time, and I had plenty of time to make my bread, do all the dishes, and clean my bathroom while the soup was simmering…but be prepared!

A bowl full of hearty, split pea soup.
I don’t think split pea soup can be photographed in an appetizing way, but I assure you that this dark green sludge-y soup with ham bits and vegetables is AMAZING. You can see some half-eaten bread chunks behind it….my husband tore into that way too fast for me to get a picture of the pretty, round loaf!

Continue reading “Hearty Split Pea Soup”