Friday, June 1, 2012

Bech's Well-Tempered Frigidaire

Whole Foods is a great grocery store.  You can walk in empty-handed and walk out with a giant basket of rare, exotic, organic veggies having just spent $200.

Many of us don't have a local Whole Foods.  Even more of us don't have $200 to drop on groceries.  We've got a Walmart, a Kroger, or a Stop n' Shop and about $30-40 to spend on groceries.

I'm here to tell you that it's possible to feed your family healthy food using a few quick tricks.  This week I'm going to do a Walmart Challenge, where I walk into Walmart with $20 and walk out with the ingredients to make a healthy family meal in an hour.

In the mean time, here's my guide to the 4 "S's:"


With my shopping list, you'll never go without a healthy meal, and you'll save TONS of money!

The Way of Shopping

Our goal is to get our vegetables to do as many different dances as possible before they go bad. We also want a bunch of basic grains and seasonings that won't go bad and can be purchased in bulk and forgotten about. This will eat up the bulk of your spending as you can't really get these at Costco or Kroger.

Brown Rice ($3)
Quinoa ($6)
Millet ($3)

Adzuki Beans/Black Beans/Chickpeas  ($1-2 per organic can, $2-4 bulk dried)

Umeboshi Plum Vinegar ($4)
Brown Rice Vinegar ($4)
Mirin ($9)
Shoyu/Tamari ($5)
Olive Oil ($5)
Sesame Oil ($7)
Sea Salt ($3)

Miso ($10)

TOTAL: Between $45-$70, depending on how comprehensive you want to be. The good thing is, these are long-term goods that you don't need to repurchase very often at all.

Here is your shopping list. Look at how 90% of these ingredients are used for the other 3 S's. The special ingredient section is what you can buy "day-of." They're things ONLY used in this section.

Alias: Tofu Scramble, Fried Rice, Tacos, Pizza, (If you're eating wide)

The "Scramble" can take any of the aforementioned forms. It's basically a bunch of vegetables added in a sensible combination, cooked with a little oil in a skillet, and seasoned accordingly. It can take as little as ten minutes (tofu scramble, tacos, omelette), or as long as two-three hours (good quality "pizza" with an organic, whole-grain crust and some garden-fresh veggies. No cheese, of course.)

Known Associates:
Napa Cabbage
Bok Choi
Asian Water Spinach

Special Ingredients:
Brown Rice Taco Shell
Gluten-Free Organic Pizza Kit
Eggs? (Substitute Tofu or Tempeh for vegan)
Soba/Mung Bean Noodles (Saifun)

Alias: Kimchee Soup, Nabeyaki Udon, Winter Veggie Soup, Adzuki Bean Soup, Miso Soup

I was scared of making soup for so long. But I've been living off of a "mother soup" for about three weeks now (a soup that just keeps hanging around because I keep adding more water and veggies... kind of like a sourdough "mother loaf.").

Known Associates:
Bok Choi
Napa Cabbage
Bean Sprouts
Shiitake Mushrooms
Burdock Root
Daikon Radish

Special Ingredients:
Rice or Bean Noodles (Available in the Asian or Chinese section of your grocery store.  Alias: Maifun/Saifun)
Adzuki Beans


You can really have fun here. My advice? Look to the veggie that you have the most of, and really let it sparkle. Play up the natural sweetness of carrot by making a tamari and brown rice syrup teriyaki sauce! Use dark dandelion greens with bright watercress for a great steamed green dish!

Known Associates:
Whatever's In Your Fridge


"Macro Snacks" don't really exist. Most of them taste like the petting zoo pellets you buy for 25¢ at the zoo. The best macro snacks that I've found are either pickles or leftovers. That being said, this is where you can be spontaneous at the grocery store. As long as you stock your fridge (and your stomach) with the balanced, nutritious vegetables and grains mentioned above, you can get some fun little snacks here, like seaweed snacks or toasted seeds. My drug of choice is rice cakes with almond butter. Om nom nom.

There you have it! Bech's Well-Tempered Frigidaire!

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