Category Archives: meal planning

Food, Inc., Corporate Farming, Online Farmer’s Markets, and Backyard Produce- An Exercise in American Consumerism

Last weekend- remember  when I went on a pilgrimage to Charlotte and lost my mind at Trader Joe’s? Remember when I mentioned that I didn’t buy very much produce, but that the reason would be explained in the future?

Well, the reason is about to be revealed- but first, let me give a little back story.

(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)

I don’t know how clearly I can state this- I am a cheapskate. I hate paying more money than is absolutely necessary. It’s not just because I hate spending money- it’s because I don’t have a lot of money to spend. There’s never been a point in my life when I haven’t been on a very restrictive budget.

One of the biggest problems with the Western food industry is that it is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive to eat whole foods than it is to eat processed foods, from potato chips to factory farmed “Idaho Potatoes”. I’ve spent the past three years actively trying to resolve my budget issues with a healthy balance of organically produced food and cheaper options. Up until about four months ago, I thought I’d finally struck the perfect balance.

That was before I saw this:

food, inc

If you are able, rent/buy this film. It’s on netflix instant right now- when you are done reading this entry, WATCH IT*. As one of my friend’s recently said, Food, Inc. should be broadcast on CNN 24/7. EVERYONE needs to see this film.” I can’t tell you how many people I’ve told to watch Food, Inc. who’ve told me that they’ve held off on watching it because they don’t want to feel guilty about or grossed out by their eating habits (i.e.- they will feel guilty about eating meat). I understand this dilemma. But here’s the thing- the movie does not seek to shame anyone. It is not very visually graphic. It doesn’t promote vegetarianism, or any specific diet. It puts the food industry into colors so vivid that you can’t help but wonder why we’ve become so complacent in our food choices.

Here’s the truth- if you didn’t buy your food directly from a farmer, you probably have absolutely no idea where it came from and you CERTAINLY don’t know what’s in it. I’m not just talking about the center aisles of your grocery store- you know, “foods” that come in boxes, or that arrive to your store frozen. I’m talking about the “healthy” fruits and vegetables, the dairy products, and every piece of “fresh” meat and fish homogenously wrapped in plastic for your enjoyment. There is a deliberate veil between food manufacturers and food consumers, and when you start looking behind the curtain you’ll be repulsed by what you see. It’s not just about the literal ingredients of your food- this film exposes all of the unseen costs of producing the food you eat, from distorted food laws and travel costs, to the horrific exploitation of ALL food industry workers. We’re not just talking about exploitation in other countries- the things happening to our American brothers and sisters (hell, our NORTH CAROLINA brothers and sisters) will make your head spin.

And we support them. Every time we go to the grocery store or a restaurant, we support corporations which deliberately try to mislead us. Every time you buy fruits and vegetables produced in far-reaching parts of the globe (which is more than often the case), you are directly furthering deep set afflictions between farmers, workers, governments, and the international oil industry. It is important that, as consumers, we make ourselves aware of the real decisions we’re making, and change our actions in order to affect a balanced economy and work-force.

The balance I struck in my personal eating/buying habits was not where it should be. I was perfectly happy purchasing food that wasn’t produced in an ethical fashion simply because it made my wallet feel less pain. However, the source of pain I feel now has much less to do with money and more to do with the power of my individual dollar. It is much more important for me, as a tax-paying American consumer,  to buy foods which do not support unhealthy corporate farming, which are organically produced, and (whenever possible) support my local economy. In my opinion, this is the most important decision I can make as a consumer. I know how easy it is to say, “I can’t afford to do this” or “I can’t afford to do that”. And it’s true- there are millions of Americans who simply can not afford to make the necessary changes to their lifestyles. BUT I AM NOT ONE OF THEM. And I have to lead by example.

Anyway, one of last week’s groupons was $18 for delivery of one box of local and organic produce from Backyard Produce, a North Carolina online farmer’s market. I have read extensively about online farmer’s markets, and was already well aware of Backyard Produce- but, to be frank, I’ve always thought fruit  and vegetable delivery was a luxury I couldn’t afford. Though this groupon deal was a steal, the typical price of a medium box of produce is $23.49, not including the $12 annual packaging fee. However, after critically looking at my produce buying habits, I decided it would be worth it to try out Backyard Produce with this groupon.

Here’s how it works:

You choose from three different sizes- small, medium, and large. Each package size equates to a certain number of points- 20, 40, or 60. You then use the points to choose from their weekly selection of food options. The options rotate every week, and are subject to availability- while not all selections are locally produced, they are organic, fresh, and arrive to your front door the following Wednesday in refrigerated boxes to ensure freshness.

Sign-up is really simple, and you have up until Sunday night to decide which fruits and veggies you want in that week’s delivery. I made my choices, sent in my order, and waited with bated breath until Wednesday.

Yesterday, after a very stressful day, I was pleased to see this waiting on my front porch:

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I gave very specific directions on how to reach my apartment (which can be a little confusing), and I was super pleased to see that the delivery person had no trouble figuring it out.

As promised, the produce was protected by refrigeration insulation:

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Just in case you were wondering, the annual $12 packaging fee helps them reduce the amount of packaging they use. Every week, they pick up your packaging from the previous delivery and reuse it. Great system.

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Let’s see what I ordered, eh?

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Granny Smith apples, organic WA – 2 count- 4 points

Baby Carrots, organic CA – 1lb- 5 points

Navel Oranges, organic FL – 3 count- 5 points

Tommy Atkins Mango, organic Ecuador – 2 count- 3 points each  (6 points total)

Salad Mix, Cottle Farm NC organic – 1/2 pound- 4 points

Kiwifruit, organic Chile – 2 count- 3 points

Bibb Lettuce, Green Haven Farms hydroponic NC – 1 head- 7 points

TOTAL POINTS USED: 34

As you can see, I only used 34 of my 40 points, leaving 6 points for a future delivery. I was extremely pleased with the quality of my items- bruise free, chilled, and clean. The mangos are nice and large (which is not always the case with mangos), and everything smells great.

At this point I can’t decide if it will be worth it to use Backyard Produce in the future. I still think it’s a little too expensive- but is it really?

I mean, I spend a lot of money on produce every week. In fact, I’m probably spending more than $23.49, not including the gas to/from the grocery store/farmer’s market. Though I’ll keep going to these spots for the rest of my items (and any incidental vegetation I might want), it is really awesome to have fresh, local, organic produce arrive at my door and ready for the week without having to judge by sale prices. I can change up my order every week, depending upon my weekly meal plan. Hmm.

All in all, I’m very pleased with my Backyard Produce experience thus far. This particular company only services the North Carolina Triad, Triangle, and Charlotte area. However, there are online farmer’s market delivery services all over the country- I’ve heard about them in urban centers, and in other parts of America. At the very least, they are worth a try-the convenience factor is unbeatable, and the price might be in your ballpark.

*And yes, that was an inadvertent plug for netflix. I love netflix- and so should you.

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Filed under farmers market, food, grocery shopping, grocery stores, meal planning, product review, shopping

What To Eat When You Can’t Eat: Breakfast on The First Day of Fasting

Since today is the first day of the 19 day Baha’i fast, I thought it might be interesting for you guys to see how I fuel up for breakfast on a typical fasting day.

For 19 days, Baha’i’s do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. Since I started fasting at the age of 15, I’ve had countless people ask me questions about how I survive without eating and drinking for the majority of the day.

Here’s the thing: while some days are definitely easier than others, it’s not that big of a deal to abstain from eating and drinking. Our bodies are trained to process food during certain periods of the day. However, when you think about it, the only reason we’re trained to eat three meals per day is because of worker meal plans during the Industrial Revolution. It’s actually better to eat several small meals throughout the day. Therefore, if we’re just reworking meal plans, it’s not that big of a deal to fill your body up before the day begins and then eat again at the end of the day. Of course, fasting is not encouraged if you suffer from any health ailments which affect your eating patterns (diabetes, heart disease, etc.) However, if you are in good physical condition (and not, you know, pregnant), you are expected to participate in the fast.

Most importantly, fasting is a period of spiritual purification. I’ve heard incredible stories of Baha’is putting their faith before physical food, and those stories keep me plowing on (even when my “friends” think it’s cool to eat huge lunches right in front of me.)

Anyway, it’s really important to fuel up properly if you intend to go without eating all day. While it’s great to eat a large breakfast as preparation, your large breakfast should be composed of items which won’t make you hungry throughout the day. For example, I try not to eat especially salty items (like a big bowl of grits ) because they mean I will be VERY hungry again by 11am. I like to eat a good amount of protein and fiber-rich items. This morning I sprung out of bed (at 5:45am) and started making a complex breakfast for my first day. Here’s what I made:

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Egg Whites with 1/2 oz low-fat cheddar (2 WWpoints+)

Steel Cut Oats topped with 1 tbsp brown sugar and a chopped banana (4 WWpoints+)

Green Monster containing 1/2 cup Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk, 1 banana, 1/2 cup spinach, 1/2 orange, 1 scoop boku ( 3 wwpoints+)

1/2 orange (0 wwpoints+)

Of course, the variable here is Time. I always manage to eat especially slow whenever it’s important to eat quickly. The other factor is Water. Literally, I CHUG water up until the sun rises. The pace of water consumption definitely slows down my eating. Therefore, I only managed to get down a few sips of my green monster before the sun was fully in the sky. To be honest, while I absolutely hate to waste food, I wasn’t too broken up about it- this was the first time I’ve ever put chocolate almond milk in my monster and I wasn’t a fan. It was also the first time I’ve used frozen spinach in my monster, and it was a bit too cold and the texture was off.

Today is a pretty busy day- there’s a 1776 morning matinee, and I’m working in the afternoon. Tonight’s dinner will be day 3 of the macaroni and cheese bowl (Don’t worry, it’s the WW friendly day Smile), and I’m going to start posting recipes from the first two days of the macaroni bowl this evening. Yeah, I’m pretty excited about today. Smile

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The Winter Blues and a Delectable Avocado Pasta Dinner

Well, the Winter Illness Monster has settled into my house for the second time in three weeks. Am I being punished for not getting the flu shot? Or does this have something to do with wearing tights and skirts all winter long? Yeah, probably.

For whatever reason, my nasal passages are stuffed to the brim and my voice has decided it doesn’t want to come out and play. I’ve been forced to take a sick day. Downside of a  sick day? I’m incapable of leaving my bed. Upside of a sick day? While I can’t talk, I can still blog- as long as my typing doesn’t interrupt my c0nstant nose blowing.

I absolutely adore avocado, and was entranced by an avocado pasta dish that Angela of Oh She Glows blogged about a few weeks back. I finally got around to making this delicious dish a few nights ago. It tastes very decadent and creamy when it’s really simple and fairly healthy. The healthy fats in avocado make the pasta taste like a Fettuccine Alfredo hybrid, but without the heavy cream and cheese.

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Naturally, I adapted the recipe to ‘Jessamyn’ standards, which typically results in a key element being forgotten or dramatically distorted. In this case I used a bit too much garlic- in her recipe recap, Angela definitely says to limit the amount of garlic you use if you’re not too fond of the flavor. I love garlic, so I scoffed at this direction- I should not have scoffed. My sauce was very garlicky- I mean, it was still good, but I should have been a little less generous with the aromatics.

15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta

(Oh, you want Oh She Glow’s Original Recipe?)

Yield: Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted

1/2 lemon, juiced

2-3 garlic cloves, to taste (USE 2 IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SMELL LIKE THE INTERIOR OF A GARLIC PRESS)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

~2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2-3 oz of dry whole wheat pasta

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Bring several cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add in your pasta, reduce heat to medium, and cook until Al Dente, about 8-10 minutes.

2. Make the sauce by placing the pitted avocado, salt, garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil into a food processor; process until smooth and creamy.

3. When sauce is thick, creamy, and delicious, reserve two healthy scoops (about 1/4 cup) in a serving bowl. Pour the rest of your avocado sauce in an air-tight container and store in the fridge for no more than 1-2 days.

4. When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse in a strainer and place pasta into the serving bowl. Toss with sauce until fully combined.  Serve immediately. Makes 1 serving.

The trouble with avocado is that it does not keep well after being exposed to the air. Therefore, I ate my avocado pasta for a couple of different meals in the days immediately following it’s preparation. This would be a really nice meal to share with someone else- If you choose to do this, simply double the pasta and serve all the sauce at once.

I served my pasta with turkey meatloaf cups which I adapted from a Weight Watchers Recipe. They are really easy to make, freeze very well, and can be used in a multitude of ways (for example, yesterday’s lunch consisted of a meatloaf sandwich).

Jessamyn’s Turkey Meatloaf Cups

Yield: 9 Servings (You can stretch the meat into 12 muffin cups, but 9 makes a healthy portion)

Ingredients

cooking spray

1 pound uncooked ground turkey breast (I used 93/7)

1 tsp table salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 large onion(s), finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)

3 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), finely minced, or more to taste

1 egg

1 tsp low sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp sherry cooking wine

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and coat 9-12 muffin holes with cooking spray

2. Place turkey in bowl; season with salt and pepper, mix until incorporated and set aside.

3. Place oil in a large frying pan and cook over medium heat; add onion. Sauté onion over medium heat until wilted and translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Add soy sauce and sherry.

5. Add onion mixture to turkey and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Drop by heaping tablespoons into prepared muffin tins until 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake muffins until center seems firm to the touch and turkey is completely cooked through, about 22 to 27 minutes. Yields 1 muffin per serving.

I sometimes chuckle when I read meatloaf recipes because the whole concept of meatloaf is to create a meal from what you have. I only used onion and garlic because that’s what I like in my loaf- however, you can throw in whatever aromatics, spices, or vegetables you have on hand and enjoy the hell out of your creation. Meatloaf gets a really bed reputation because of bad casserole concepts in the 1950’s. However, it’s actually a really great opportunity for food creativity.

Here’s what my finished plate looked like:

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It might look a little monochromatic, but it was DELICIOUS

I ate my meatloaf cups drizzled with mustard because I’m weird like that.

(And yes, I photographed my dinner on top of my record player, one of the many makeshift photo studios in my apartment. Haters Gonna Hate.)

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The Couch to 5k Challenge: You Woke Up At WHAT time?!

As I mentioned earlier, I have been on a metaphorical ‘roll’ today. I don’t usually need to wake up quite so early, but when my alarm started blaring at 5am, I rolled out of bed without a hint of reluctance (ok, maybe there was a hint. Actually, it was more like a generous dash of reluctance). Anyway, today was the first day of my Couch to 5k Challenge adventure, and I wanted to make sure I had my game face on before I hit the gym.

First day verdict? I’m not going to lie: I still don’t like running….yet. In general, I find that when I’m running I can’t find a good point of focus- my mind is zooming around and I start to think ‘I can’t believe I’m running/how long have I been running/how much longer do I need to do this/etc’. I think I’ve spent the last 23 years translating these th0ughts as “I don’t have the right body type for running and I suck at this”. However, after my experience this morning, I just think I get bored really easily and this tendency to get bored results in self-deprecating thoughts. All in all, the run wasn’t so bad. I was definitely breaking a sweat, and I think there are few things which feel better than breaking a sweat from effort that you want to exert (as opposed to breaking a sweat from standing in the sun wearing all black- that definitely doesn’t feel good). At this point, I think I just need to work on distracting myself from the task at hand. Getting inside my own head and thinking crazy thoughts is becoming my Achilles heel.

I was very proud of myself for not quitting, even though there were a couple of moments when I wanted to start walking a little sooner, or lower the treadmill speed. I kept my breathing relatively in check, and when I was struggling to focus, I just tried to train my thoughts on my breathing. And actually, simply thinking about the constant passing of air through your own lungs is pretty therapeutic. With that as my guiding light (and Missy Elliott providing the soundtrack, natch), I think I might actually look forward to Friday morning.

Before bed last night, I threw together my version of Danica’s Crockpot Steel Cut Oats, only I scaled down the recipe a little. The original recipe creates a giant pot of steel cut oats- Because I doubted both the capacity of my crockpot AND how many containers of steel cut oats I wanted to parcel out into my freezer, I decided to make two cups of oats instead of the original three.

steel cut oatmeal

This was a great decision- when I checked the pot this morning, it was packed to the brim with steaming oats and peaches (I didn’t have any blueberries on hand so I omitted them- personally, I’m not a big fan of blueberries. If they are not in liquid form I’m kind of weirded out by the texture.)

I really enjoyed the oats. Cooking them overnight insures that they are cooked thoroughly, and you don’t end up with any chunks of undercooked grain. I added a teaspoon of both Smart Balance and brown sugar to my serving of oats, and the whole bowl was still only 4 WWpoints+ .

I also ate two egg whites (1 WWpoints+), and I drank a giant Green Monster.

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My mom turned me on to green monsters over a year ago, and I can personally swear by the health benefits. Some people claim to be really turned off by the texture, but what’s really happening is just a case of old-fashioned food color prejudice. It’s a tale as old as time- we’ve been taught from childhood that green comes in a solid, usually leafy, form. You don’t DRINK green. But let me ask you two questions:

(Imagine me dressed as Billy Mays. Go ahead, I dare you.)

Do you like the taste of fruit juice?

Do you like cold, delicious, fruity smoothies?

Then you, my friend, are about to become a member of the Church of the Green Monster! Yes, there are vegetables in your drink- lots of them, in fact. But guess what? YOU CAN’T TASTE THEM AT ALL. Do you know why? Because you can’t TASTE a color- Ok, I’m starting to channel Billy Mays a little too much and now I’m not making sense. What I’m trying to say is that just because a certain vegetable (say, spinach) has a very dominant color, it does not have a more dominant flavor than say, apples. So if you put the flavor of apples and spinach in a blender, you’re going to have a really delicious glass of green apple juice in no time.

The great thing about a Green Monster is that everyone has a different way of preparing theirs. Some people like to make something akin to a smoothie, and they’ll add a dairy product (yogurt, milk, etc). Some people are looking for a specific mix of vitamins, and so they’ll choose fruits and veggies based on what they need on a given day. There are two secrets to my green monster:

jack lalanne juicer

(Source)

boku

Since I don’t have a super blender (feel free to buy me a vitamix anytime you feel like it), my juicer is basically the best thing since sliced bread. A couple of years ago, my mom inherited a Champion juicer– that meant I got to inherit her JACK LALANNE POWER JUICER.

Y’all, Jack Lalanne is a beast- the guy is almost 100 years old, and he does one armed push-ups on the regular. He claims that juicing is basically the elixir of life. I’m not going to lie, and maybe I’ve been drinking the Jack Lalanne kool-aid, but I think he’s right (actually, it would probably be the Jack Lalanne radish and beet juice- dontchathink?) The Jack Lalanne juicer is so strong that you can put an entire orange in the shoot, and it will juice it whole. Did you hear me?

AN ENTIRE ORANGE.

Anyway, if you want really fresh and smooth Green Monsters and you have a lackluster blender, an excellent juicer is really helpful. I didn’t say this juicer was cheap (let me be clear- I DEFINITELY DIDN’T SAY THAT), but it’s worth every penny.

My second secret weapon to the best Green Monster is Boku Superfood. Boku contains way too many excellent ingredients to list them all here (including spirulina), but just know that even one scoop in your daily monster will quadruple your vitamin intake. Plus, a scoop of Boku is only 1 WWpoints+.

Today’s Green Monster consisted of the juice from 3 apples, 1 orange, and 1 pear, blended with 2 big handfuls of spinach and a scoop of boku. I meant to juice some carrots and a couple of celery stalks, but I got so caught up in the “I’m on such a great schedule this morning!” mood that I forgot to throw them in the juicer. Whatever- since fruit and most vegetables have a ZERO WWpoints+ value, the entire GIANT Green Monster only equaled 1 WWpoints+. Yeah, that’s right. You definitely need to get into this.

full breakfast 1192011

Anyway, my entire breakfast totaled up to only 6 WWpoints+, and I don’t know about you, but that’s a number I feel really good about.

Also, OH MY GOD, I can’t believe I mentioned blueberries and I didn’t talk about this video. After watching this clip, you will never think about blueberries the same way again*.

* I realize this makes the video sound like it’s going to show something gross about blueberries. It’s definitely not. This video is….well, just watch the video.

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Filed under couch to 5k challenge, exercise, food, meal planning

Say it Ain’t SNOW: A Recap of New Purchases, and Why Corporate Farming is Destroying My Judgement

Today I was reminded of one of the side effects of living in a world dominated by corporate food manufacturing: it’s very easy to forget that weather directly affects farming opportunities. I mean, when you can buy peaches and strawberries in the middle of December, why the hell would anyone be thinking about the fact that those items are out of season and didn’t come from a farm nearby?

(It’s probably because we live in the Matrix. Or America. You know, semantics.)

Therefore, if there’s been an unusual amount of snow and ice in your area, there will be a very meager selection of produce at your local farmer’s market.

Let me make this a little more simple:

This:

(Source)

+This:

(Source)

=

Whatever, I’ll hit up the market later in the week. Anyway, while I was at home with my parentals and little bro, my mom and I went on a mother/daughter grocery shopping expedition and I found steel cut oats at ALDI:

Um, what? I had difficulty finding a selection of steel cut oats at Harris-Teeter, and there’s a giant display at ALDI for half the typical price? I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but that strikes me as slightly amusing. Now, these oats are quick cooking, so I don’t know how they will compare to these oats:

I’ll be sure to let you guys know how the taste testing goes down with these two items. Whole Foods versus Aldi– this ought to be very interesting.

Also, my mom hooked me up with a new kind of tahini:

I’m pretty excited to try it- Mama Bear got it for a great price using amazon.com, but some of the reviews say it’s kind of bitter. Do you eat tahini? Do you have a favorite way of preparing it? I, for one, am about to embark on a series of hummus experimental adventures.

Also, when I arrived home in Cancer City, guess what was waiting for me?

And Yes, I did pose these photos on top of my record player.

🙂 🙂 🙂 I love new purchases, especially when they come in the form of an Eat Smart Precision Pro Kitchen Scale and an Omron GoSmart Pocket Pedometer.

Because I’m Jessamyn and I have the patience of a two year-old, OF COURSE I had to immediately start weighing everything in my kitchen using my lovely new scale. I won’t bore you with all my testing, but I was very impressed with the scale’s accuracy and ESPECIALLY the great convenience of the tare function. By using the tare button, I can easily place a plate/bowl on the scale and zero out its weight before measuring my actual food. There’s no silly math involved at ALL. It’s a REVELATION, y’all.

Plus, doesn’t it look so pretty next to my coffeemaker? Now my kitchen is semi-color coordinated.

(Ok, I’m making an ass of myself.)

I’d have taken more photographs of my pedometer, but I immediately adjusted all the settings, clipped it to my shirt, and walked around my kitchen like an idiot for ten minutes. Things I’ve learned so far? Apparently I have a very short stride, and walk too slowly. I’m sure more lessons will be learned as soon as I start walking and acting like a normal person again. Ok, that’s probably asking a bit too much- everyone knows I’m nowhere near normal.

How was your Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? Did you act more or less silly than I did?

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FINALLY: The Wait Is OVER!

It’s been a pretty busy weekend here at Jessamyn’s house. For starters, I FINALLY received my loan refund check. Do you know what that means?

 

Yeah, that’s right: A FRIDGE (and pantry) FULL OF FOOD! The days of Jessamyn subsisting on pantry scraps are over (until I am desperately awaiting my refund check in the spring- the life of a full-time graduate student is ROUGH, y’all).

Also, I bought Udi’s Gluten Free Bread for the first time, and I’m unnaturally excited to try it.

Other big developments?

Yeah, That's Right: I photographed my sneaks on my kitchen counter. Haters Gonna Hate.

Thanks to Mama and Papa Stanley, I finally have new running sneakers! Honestly, I think part of why my mom was so quick to contribute to the sneaker cause is because she’s been tired of seeing me loaf about in the same pair of kangaroo jogging shoes for the last five (seriously, Jessamyn, five?) years. Somehow, though I never buy shoes for exercising, my regular shoe collection grows steadily every month and my old pair of sneaks grow dingier with every cycle. This is a trend I am determined to end (well, not the purchasing of new pumps, boots, and flats. I might have a new health resolve, but I’m still a Fatshionista).

It’s a happy day in Jessamyn’s house. 🙂

Tonight I’m heading to the afore mentioned parental units house so we can break bread together while I mooch off their washing machine. Also, in case you’ve been living under a rock, the Golden Globe Awards are tonight (8pm EST, NBC) and since my mom and I are amateur movie buffs, this is basically a holiday for us. Plus, I don’t own a television set so even if I wanted to sit at home and cheer for my favorite shows and films alone, I couldn’t. I could go into my anti-television ownership philosophy (which has very little do with televisions and more to do with furniture feng shui), but I’ll spare you for the time being.

I’ll also get to spend some quality time with my little brother- have I mentioned he’s starting Weight Watchers with me? I’m so excited to start this journey with him, and I’ll give more information about our effort later.

AND tomorrow, I’m planning to visit the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market on my way home from J-Town- I can barely contain my excitement. Fruits, vegetables, pumpkin butter? IAMSOEXCITED!

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Filed under exercise, food, grocery shopping, grocery stores, meal planning, money honey, shopping, Weight Watchers

A Textbook Cheapskate: The Benefits of Buying in Bulk

For those of you who don’t know, I am a textbook Cheapskate. Here’s my somewhat crude, yet probably accurate, definition of this term:

Cheapskate (CHEEP- skEIGHt)- One who can always rationalize spending less on necessities, or simply going without items they need, because they are in a constant state of financial panic.

I mean, in my opinion, being a cheap skate is totally forgivable because it usually stems from actual financial trouble. However, it can occasionally stem from stinginess and being a Scrooge. But look at it this way- If I KNOW I can buy headphones on ebay for less than a dollar (PLUS shipping- AYO!), why would I give Target ten dollars for the same product? Even if it does take the ebay headphones three weeks to arrive. From Hong Kong. Through USPS.

Since we’re on the subject, my ebay headphones arrived yesterday.

(Please Excuse The Poor Photo Quality- We here at Jessamyn Industries are Struggling with Rudimentary Point and Shoot Skills.)

I am abnormally rough on my headphones, and I typically have to buy a new pair every 4-6 months. As mentioned, these were found on ebay for a delightful $0.65. With free shipping! Yes, they may have been shipped from Hong Kong, and it might have taken three weeks for the magical package to arrive. And maybe (just maybe) the sound quality makes Lady Gaga sound like she’s singing “Monster” from the interior of a cyclone. But DAMNIT, I found $0.65 headphones. Be Jealous of Me!

(Whatever, I’ll probably have to buy the Target headphones anyway. RAWRGRRR.)

Anyway, being a cheapskate can result in a tendency to purchase products that are not only bad for you but bad for the environment. This is especially notable in the food industry (Is there any other reason why McDonalds owns almost the entire world?). However, my affinity for being a cheapskate has helped me develop at least one good food purchasing habit: Buying In Bulk.

And I’m not talking about buying 12-dozen gallon pallets of almond milk from Costco or Sam’s Club (although if you have an army of children, this is a perfectly acceptable life choice).

I’m talking about the bins of dry goods in your local health food store- buying in bulk is basically like playing the game Oregon Trail in real life. Am I right that scooping grain totally feels like being in a frontier general store?

Anyway, here are three of my favorite bulk items.

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1) Lentils

Lentils are probably my favorite bean. They are so versatile, and are an excellent staple to have on hand when you’re running low on food.

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2) Whole-Wheat couscous

I can’t say enough good things about couscous. It’s filling, and a small portion of dry grain results in a heaping serving of couscous. One time, I was SO EXCITED about my new bag of couscous that I spilled the entirety of the bag on the floor of my car. Trust me, that experience was WAY less funny than the anecdote has turned out to be.

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3) Brown Rice

Next to macaroni and cheese (my food savior), rice is my favorite food. It probably has something to do with my heritage (eastern North Carolinians are renowned for impressive rice appetites.) However, in case you didn’t know, white rice? Not very good for you. Most people who don’t like brown rice have been forced to eat it when it wasn’t properly cooked (which, in defense of the offending chefs, is not an uncommon circumstance). I’ve found that brown rice (especially rough, organic grain) cooks better after it has been rinsed a couple of times and soaked for a few minutes prior to cooking.

In general, buying in bulk is significantly cheaper than buying pre-packaged items. It also uses significantly less packaging, creating less waste.

The list of items I prefer to buy in bulk extends way past these three items (quinoa, black-eyed peas, whole-wheat flour, etc), but these are just a couple of ‘can’t-live-without’s. What Are Your Favorite Items To Buy In Bulk?

By The Way, What Kind of Earbuds Are You Using? Maybe I should take advice from others instead of using ebay as my guidebook :).

Also, though I usually buy most of my bulk items from the Whole Foods Market in Winston-Salem, if you are in or near Greensboro, NC, run (or walk or bike) to Deep Roots Co-Op Market for all of your bulk food needs. Deep Roots is a co-op which truly exists as a product of the GREENsboro community, and they always have really fresh bulk items.

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