February Grocery Event: Produce

Happy Monday! We have crazy weather on the way, so brace yourself for lots of food posts!


Thanks again for all the grocery feedback from yesterday! It seems from all your comments that $100/week for two people isn’t all that bad. I think I’ll be keeping my budget at $100/week. However, I’m going to work on being more strict about that budget and much less fluid. No more random mid-week $20 drops at Whole Foods!



Expect a post similar to yesterday’s once a week in February. Feedback is oh-so-appreciated!


As a follow-up, I thought I’d go into a little more detail about the produce I look for at the grocery store (I’ll address dairy, meat, and bread products in other posts). This also might address a few of your comments.


When I’m looking for fresh fruits and veggies, I keep the Dirty Dozen in mind first. You’ve probably seen this list around several blogs in the last year or so, but it’s a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides. I won’t go into detail (I think I may have discussed this before?) but here’s the list:


Celery
Peaches
Strawberries
Apples
Domestic blueberries
Nectarines
Sweet bell peppers
Spinach, kale, and collard greens
Cherries
Potatoes
Imported grapes
Lettuce


The Clean 15 include:


Onions
Avocados
Sweet corn
Pineapples
Mango
Sweet peas
Asparagus
Kiwi fruit
Cabbage
Eggplant
Cantaloupe
Watermelon
Grapefruit
Sweet potatoes
Sweet onions


I’d prefer to buy all organic produce, but that’s not always in the cards due to 1) budget and 2) availability. So I stick to the Dirty Dozen and base my purchases on what’s available and priced right, and visit my regular grocery store and Whole Foods if necessary. 


(If I eat the skin, I buy organic, always!)



Organic greens are really important to me. I’ve seen way too many outbreaks from chemicalized greens, so I go 100% organic spinach, kale, and lettuce. Also, even though onions are on the “clean” list (even the clean produce registers pesticides!), I try and buy organic because I eat so many of them, and the price is usually right ($2.99/bag of organic at WF).


The only exception to my organic “policy” is when I buy from the farmer’s market. I like supporting local food, and most small farms use techniques similar to organic farms.


I prefer fresh or frozen produce to canned. Frozen produce is a lot less likely to have any added sodium or preservatives, and the freezing process often keeps more of the nutrients in tact than even fresh has, since fresh loses nutrients as it travels and sits out at the store! 


I’ll buy canned beans and tomatoes, and that’s about it. Beans are always organic and tomatoes should be, but my local grocery store doesn’t carry organic canned tomatoes, so I just make sure there’s no added anything. 



Lastly, a couple people mentioned only grocery shopping 1-2 times per month. This is likely the economical way to go, no doubt, but 1) I can’t imagine meal-planning that far in advance and 2) I really enjoy grocery-shopping weekly! I questioned whether your produce keeps for two weeks at a time but after thinking about it, much of mine does.


Thanks for all your thoughts! I have some great recipes scheduled for this week and with an approaching ice storm and at least one work-at-home day tomorrow, I’ll be post lots of food porn!


Stay safe tonight and tomorrow, if you’re in St. Louis!


Question: Do you have any tricks for keeping produce fresh?

Comments

  1. I love this post. I found myself nodding along with all of it, haha.

    I was always raised (with Middle Eastern & European families) to do some grocery shopping every day. It, in my experience) has helped me to set a better budget, not go overboard, buy only what I need, and most importantly, ensure that all my ingredients are fresh and don’t go to waste. That’s honestly the easiest way I’ve found of keeping things fresh ;]
    If I do end up having leftover produce or anything like that, I’ll usually put it in a ziploc bag for a day and figure out something to do with it. If not, it gets composted!

  2. This was a great post! We choose our food very similarly. A lot of farmers aren’t recognized as organic but are really!

  3. Awesome post, I did not see your post from last week but I am going to check it out right now!

    I currently spend a little more than $100 a week for two but have been really trying to reel it in recently! Thanks for even more inspiration, knowing you can do it helps me.

  4. Maybe reading this will keep my own grocery spending money in check (especially spreads and bars from whole foods- paycheck sucking things…)

  5. This is such a great post. I hadn’t heard of the dirty dozen and am so glad you shared that–I try to buy organic as often as possible but I’ll be sure to carry this with me :)

    Be safe tomorrow; what a crazy winter it’s been!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am saving this list for future reference so I know what types of fruit I need to buy organic and what types I can get away without it being organic strictly due to cost… we do agree with mostly everything here.

    I’m also a stickler for food labels. I mostly stick to the produce aisles and avoid the “filler” aisles (or the middle of the supermarket, as I call it, as much as possible) because the filler aisles seem to be tainted with preservatives to the max… except.. well… minus a bag of my must-have Snyder’s pretzels. It’s a guilty pleasure!

    - Vanessa
    Project Zen

  7. What a great post and very enlightening–I will definitely keep the dirty dozen in mind when grocery shopping from now on!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  8. i don’t meal plan and then go to the grocery store… i usually go to the grocery store and then meal plan. i buy all the things i keep in the house all the time and then whatever i think i’ll feel like, but i’m pretty traditional. then, if i find a recipe i really want to make, i’ll run to the store for whatever ingredients i don’t have (but i almost always have 99% of them!)

    maybe i’m just that much of a creature of habit, but i really do just buy the same basic things over and over again with little variation and i still manage to eat pretty well!

  9. @Monica – In a perfect world, I would do that exactly…buy only what I needed for dinner that day. Even now, I do this to some extent (not buying meat until the day we need it, etc). I think that’s truly the best way to shop. As much as freezing things is helpful, I wish we could eat everything as fresh as possible, all the time!

    @Stephanie – You’re right! Many small farms use organic farming techniques but can’t afford to get certified.

    @MegSmith – Glad I’m not the only one, thanks!

    @Meri – What isn’t a paycheck-sucking item at WF? I still love it there, regardless.

    @Charlotte – I know quite a few people that have printed it out and carry it with them to the store! And thanks, no plans to leave the house :)

    @Vanessa – I also find myself staying out of the middle aisles at the store, without even realizing it!

    @KT – No problem!

    @Katie – For breakfast and lunches, I always buy the same thing, but I’ve been cooking 3 new recipes every week and experimenting a lot, so I’ve been getting a lot of new (to me) foods! I love buying different things every week…makes grocery shopping even more fun :)

  10. Haha I’m definitely one of those twice-a-month shoppers, but you and I have had this discussion before–I hate grocery shopping! :)

    I buy canned tomatoes for when I make my own spaghetti sauce, and recently I made corn fritters and the recipe called for canned corn, but otherwise I literally can’t remember the last time I bought a canned vegetable like carrots or potatoes or beans or whatever. No, thanks. They’re always soggy and salty and blech.

  11. We grow as much as we can in the summer in our own garden and then freeze it. I think you are supposed to blanch beans and tomatoes but I dont bother. The tomatoes are great for adding to soups, sauces and stews. We also had frozen swiss chard which I add to sauces. I try not to buy too much produce at once but having two kids and a busy schedule limits me to grocery store visits. Grocery shopping with two little ones is NOT fun!

  12. @Tara – I bought canned corn like a month ago because it was on clearance and didn’t have additives, but that’s pretty much it, other than tomatoes or beans! I’m going to buy dry beans though, in the future.

    @HM – I’ve heard a bit about blanching but I dunno. I rinse beans to get the salt off. I can imagine that would be tough grocery shopping with the kids!

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