The Results

This week I set out to simplify shopping and cooking, waste less food, and still always have ingredients on hand for a meal.  I did so by paring down my shopping list to only my favorite items. 

Besides the basics, I added just 10 fresh ingredients for the week.  These are the items I chose and why:

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Potatoes and Broccoli - These are both grown in the US in the winter which means they're cheaper, fresher, and they taste better.   Broccoli also has more Vitamin C than an orange so hey, can't hurt during cold season, right? 

Red Bell Pepper - These also have more Vitamin C than an orange (almost 3 timesbut I chose them mostly because they were beautiful and on sale.  Also, different colors signify different nutrients so a variety of colors each week means a variety of benefits.  

Garlic, Ginger, Shallots - Normally I use garlic, ginger, and scallions together for one of my favorite flavor trios.  But this week I already had shallots at home so I used shallots instead of scallions and it worked out well.  

Lemon - Lemons are also full of Vitamin C (and we're obviously playing defense against cold season over here) but I use lemons (or limes) because they make everything taste better.  I've found that if my food tastes bland, adding lemon or lime brightens it up.  You may already know this if you've also seen every season of Top Chef.  Add lemon to a piece of fish, an avocado, or a salad and notice the difference.  

Chicken and Salmon - Easy to cook, versatile, plus the salmon at the Farmer's Market near me is out of this world amazing (Same Day Seafood if you live in the Bay Area).  Salmon is also full of Omega 3's.  More on that here.

(Note: I don't consciously focus on the nutrients in foods, I just eat a variety of real foods in lots of different colors and trust that I'm getting what I need unless a blood test or a symptom tells me otherwise.) 

The Results:

  1. Having a pre-made list made grocery shopping so much easier.  At the same time having flexibility with which vegetables and fresh items to buy meant I was able to buy the freshest (and most affordable) items available this season.
  2. I saved a considerable amount of money (I spent about 25% less!).  The grocery store is my happy place so I get a little out of control without a good list.  I also like to cook so I tend to over-complicate meals at times.  Having a small set of ingredients to focus on helped me stick to the list and use food that may have otherwise gone to waste.  
  3. My goal was to make ten meals using these ingredients.  I was surprised to find I was able to make a lot more than ten!  If you've been following on Instagram or Facebook you've seen some of these but, wowza - look at all this food!  For the more complex meals, click on the photos from a desktop computer for brief recipes.   

I know what you're thinking, "Is that a pan of NACHOS next to that green smoothie?"  Well, YES it is!

I'm inspired to keep testing this out and refining this approach.  Stay tuned for a new basket of ingredients in the coming weeks...