I confess I haven’t paid much attention to the price of food until recently. Our grocery budget – around $125 a week – allowed me to buy what I wanted to support the kind of diet we’ve adopted. Nothing fancy, mind you, but an occasional higher-priced fish or a free-range chicken (for my husband) made its way into my cart, sometimes an unusual bread or cheese or organic something or other. Lately, however, the price that comes up at the end of checkout is significantly higher than $125. I’ve started to notice why and am trying to do something about it.
For instance, a bag of triple-wash Dole lettuce makes two Lynn-style salads. A bunch of red-leaf lettuce makes three to four. The bag costs $2.88. The bunch is $1.60. The cute little grape tomatoes in the plastic containers cost $2.49 for three servings. For $2.49, I can get four large slicing tomatoes for 6-8 servings. Better yet, I’ll raise my own grape tomatoes this year and harvest hundreds of them for a few months for only the cost of a few tomato plants (around $2). Then there’s the frozen fruits and vegetables vs fresh fruits and vegetables debate raging in my head. A box of frozen spinach is around $1. A bag of fresh spinach is $2.90, both offering around two Lynn servings. Fresh blueberries are $3 for a half pint. Frozen, I can buy a bag of berries for $2 that yields roughly three cups.
Beans. A can costs around $2.50 and offers roughly three to four servings. A bag of dried beans is less than $1 and offers around 13 servings. Ergo, I’m learning to cook with dried beans. In fact, there are pinto beans cooking in the crock pot right now that will be turned into refried beans later this afternoon.
I started making my own salad dressing because store-bought were so high in sodium. Now I’m realizing the economic benefits of making my own. (New favorite homemade dressing alert! Tangy Tomato Dressing. Recipe below.)
Organic isn’t in my budget anymore. This isn’t the best example, but it’s one that came up this week while shopping: a jar of organic tarragon is $4.99 vs a jar of regular old tarragon at $2.49. As much as I want to support organic farmers, and as guilty as I feel saying this, my choice comes down to economics.
I did some web surfing today to find healthy yet economic recipes and found this site from the Food Stamp Nutrition Connection. The Recipe Finder database gives nutritional information as well as the cost per recipe and serving. These prices are not based on current food prices, but they are a pretty good ballpark figure. Add 5-10 percent to what is quoted and you’ll know roughly what you’d pay now.
It’s a resource for nutrition educators, however, their recipe database is an excellent source for anyone looking for economical and nutritious meals.
Here’s this blog’s question: Have rising food prices impacted your food choices? What changes have you made to eat healthy within your budget?
As promised, here’s the new dressing recipe I found and have fallen in love with:
Tangy Tomato Dressing (from the “SuperFoods Rx Diet” book)
Makes 8 servings (2 tablespoons each), 33 calories per serving
½ C diced fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes, drained
1 T red wine vinegar
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T chopped fresh chives
1 clove garlic, minced
½ T lemon juice
½ T hot sauce
Water (they recommend a half cup, but it makes the dressing a little runny)
Place all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Allow flavors to meld for 10 minutes. Refrigerate the leftovers.