I just returned from another hunting/gathering trip to Pittsburgh. It’s 60 miles to the nearest Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods so I stock up on the “staples”.
At Trader Joe’s I buy light parmesan ranch salad dressing and cilantro salad dressing, horseradish hummus and my new favorite – sun-dried tomato and basil hummus, fresh salsa, corn tortilla crackers (or as I like to call them CRACKers because they’re so freaking addicting), ahi tuna (I’ve decided to go vegan with a twist – I will eat fish because I love it and I’m not trying to impress anyone or make a political statement) and sole, Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar cheese, flax cereal, organic fruit spread, and the dark chocolate thingies with creamy mint stuff in the middle (1 WW point for two melt-in-your-mouth pieces of heaven).
Whole Foods feels more pretentious than Trader Joe’s, but I don’t know why because the staff is really friendly and the customers tend to be courteous (especially the hot guy today in the tea aisle…oh my). Maybe it’s the prices. I have to be very careful with the foods I choose at Whole Foods or I’ll blow my entire week’s food budget on a free-range slab of beef for my husband and a quart of cut-up fruit.
Anyway, they were out of my favorite organic roasted garlic salad dressing (if you didn’t know this about me, I’m all about salad dressings, both homemade and store-bought), but I bought a new kind of balsamic that I’m hoping will make me happy. I checked out the tempeh and seitan they had for sale and all I can say is HOLY CRAP! Fat and sodium out the wazooo. I’ll stick to the tempeh I buy at my local natural food store (2 grams of fat per serving and almost no sodium) and I’ll make my own seitan. I didn’t realize eating vegan is difficult when you want to eat low-fat AND low-sodium.
I managed to find some pizza sauce and marinara sauce that was sodium-friendly, a nice bulb of fennel, whole wheat/yolkless egg noodles (yes, I know, NOT vegan), and tofu shitake noodles that I will put in a soup. Being the cracker addict I am, I found two new crackers: Skinny Dippers and Bible Bread. The Skinny Dippers I bought are the flax and honey grain and they come in at 50 calories, 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of fiber. The Bible Bread crackers are the oregano and sesame and they are 80 calories, .6 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of fiber. As I put away my groceries, I ate a serving of Skinny Dippers with the Trader Joe’s sun-dried tomato and basil hummus and it was so so SO very delicious and very distracting. I put the miso (which is supposed to be refrigerated) in with the cereal and the organic pinto beans almost ended up in the freezer.
I’ll supplement my grocery shopping on Friday with a trip to WalMart and our local grocery store called Comet. I hate that my grocery shopping is so complicated, but living in this small town and living on a limited budget, I have to find the best food for my dollar. It’s a game I play. What can I buy that is healthy, suits my dietary needs AND won’t break the bank?
I don’t want to give the impression that I eat nothing but crackers and organic fennel from Whole Foods. We eat a lot of dried beans, soup, and meals with soy burger crumbles around here. I’m determined to prove that it really is possible to eat healthy on a budget. It just takes some planning. Yes, I know, planning takes time, and extra time is a rare commodity for most of us. But when something as important as our health is at stake – I mean, we have to eat to survive, right? – then finding time to plan meals should be as important as sleeping, bathing, and time with family.