Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Paring Down

From shopping and cooking for two hungry boys, who have grown into young men and left home, to shopping and cooking for herself.

My guest this week, yoga teacher Cindy Lawrence, is learning how to pare down.

Yesterday, I wrote that Cindy is now likely to grocery shop several times a week because these days she has the energy and the time to look around for deals, picking up just what she needs to make simple, healthy meals for one.

As a 16-year old teen, her mother gave Cindy the car keys and sent her to King Soopers to do the grocery shopping for their family of six. At 24 she married, and a year later had her first son.

When we lunched and then walked through Whole Foods together, she remarked that this is the first time in 30 years that she's no longer responsible for shopping and meal planning for a family.

Learning how to pare down has its challenges. Yet her parents are thrifty folk from Kentucky who taught her to look for sales and BOGOF (buy one get one free) deals, a tip she employed shopping for her own family, and still employs shopping for herself.

As we perused the Good Stuff for Less items in produce, she went straight for the butter lettuce: 10 for $10 or $1 a head, and since she's on her own and no longer buying quantity, she picked one lettuce

In the dairy section she chose a dozen of the competitively priced 365-brand cage-free brown eggs and 2 packs of the 365-brand unsalted butter, which is not organic, but it does not contain synthetic growth hormones.

Now 2 packs or two pounds of butter might sound like a lot of butter for one person, but Cindy makes ghee with her butter; it's a staple in the Ayurveda diet which she follows as part of her yoga practice.

Read the article I've linked to for 10 healthful tips on using ghee. You might find that you're suddenly curious to try it. It's very simple to prepare:

1) Add a box of unsalted butter to a pot on the stove, turn heat to med.
2) Butter will melt and begin to boil.
3) Allow butter to boil then turn heat to low and let it simmer very gently for maybe 15 mins. You'll notice the white butter-solids disappear leaving only the butter oil, which is often referred to as clarified butter.
4) Once all the butter solids have boiled away, remove pot of ghee from the heat, allow to cool slightly, then pour into clean glass jars with screw-top lids.
5) The ghee will solidify once it's completely cooled. At this point, screw lid onto glass jar and store either in a dark, cool cupboard or in a cool spot in the kitchen out of direct sunlight.

From dairy we transitioned to seafood, where Cindy noticed the fresh whole trout on sale.

I alerted Cindy to the service WFs offers whereby they will skin, fillet, marinade and steam cook your chosen fish right then and there while you're waiting, and for no extra charge.

This is a great value-added when you're on your own and can't be bothered preparing a whole fish for yourself.

Cindy's grocery budget for a week is $80 and yesterday we learned that she shops maybe 3 times a week, often leaving her wallet in the car, taking a $20 bill with her and buying only what she needs with that twenty.

She said this helps her stick to her budget -- I love this tip for singles!

Given that Cindy's boys, their girlfriends, her mum, and friends drop by for impromptu meals, she stretches her $80 and sometimes, depending on whether the boys come for the weekend, her budget might increase to $120.

So she's paring down, but still providing food and family meals for drop-ins.

Tomorrow, I'll post some of her favorite meals for one and I'll include a couple of meals she's stretched to feed drop-ins, like me!


Unknown said...

Good job Cindy! I have noticed that Whole Foods has a lot more items on sale than in the past. I also find myself going there more than once a week, looking for those great deals. The other thing I have realized is I mostly shop the edges of the store; making fresh dishes that are not difficult and require a minimal amount of prepackaged items. I believe this helps with the budget also. As a side dish I made this arugula salad the other night. The parmesan cheese was on sale so I took advantage of it!


Louise Ross said...

Great tips, Julie, thanks for those. I'm sure single readers will find what you've said helpful, plus the arugula salad sounds yum.

In fact, I should post some meal ideas using arugula, i.e. arugula pesto, which is a nice change from basil pesto.