Posts Tagged ‘food’

Groceries for October 10: pre-travel week

October 11th, 2009 by Reinder

This week's groceries bill: €5.66. I only bought half a loaf of bread, a litre of milk, some bananas and a kilogram of tangerines.
It's gonna be an unusual sort of week though. I'm leaving for the United States (staying in Amsterdam overnight) on Friday, and the odds are I'll be doing stuff in preparation leaving little time to cook. At the same time, I do want to empty out the pantry some more, and that played a big part in my decision to buy very little. By Thursday, I'll probably be eating lentils for breakfast and canned food for dinner (keeps stuff to clean that last day to a minimum) and then on Friday and Saturday I'll eat mostly on the go, spending more on food and drink on those two days than I have in a month.

After that, ultra-frugal eating will go out of the window as I'm not going to inflict it on Aggie and her boys... but for me doing this the past few weeks has not felt like deprivation at all. I haven't missed more expensive food and have in fact enjoyed getting creative with what I had in the pantry and with the smaller amounts of food I bought at the € 15 limit. And with those tax bills coming in, and the cost of travel, plus the urgent need to save up for a wedding, emigration and a chance to get off the salaryman treadmill at an early age, it's very much a good thing that I can live for a month and a half of that little money (even though I did fall off the wagon a bit last week - but even then I merely went from being ultra-frugal to being frugal).

The one thing I didn't get rid of was the occasional craving for salty snacks. Apart from that, I adjusted well to snacking a lot less and not eating meat unless someone else paid for it. I think I ate a whole lot healthier as a result of simply being more mindful of what I bought and brought into the house. Like I mentioned last week, I lost quite a bit of weight as well, in combination with my increased running schedule. In fact, I lost so much that I began to worry about it and am now making myself eat a little more.

I'd do it again. Maybe I should have done it from the moment I came back from the US and saved a little more money that way.

A Wonko the Sane moment, on a pack of whipped cream

October 24th, 2008 by Reinder

Ingredients label found on a pack of heavy whipping cream bought in middle Tennessee:

Ingredients: Heavy cream, carrageenan, mono and diglycerides and polysorbate 80.
Contains: Milk

Isn't that just the sort of thing to make you wanna live in an inside-out house named "Outside the asylum"?

I Heart Kale

August 30th, 2008 by Reinder

While I'm on the topic of food, I heart Kale looks like an excellent resource if you like the bitter winter vegetable, kale, and want to do something other to it than use it in a mash. I like kale mash, or stamppot boerenkool but I always end up buying more of the vegetable than I need.

The blog has a lovely, upbeat tone, simple recipes and photos of the finished product as made. I'll forgive them their occasional adulterous escapades with other seasonal vegetables.

In Defense of Food and my shopping list

August 30th, 2008 by Reinder

I have broken down and bought a copy of In Defense of Food: A Eater's Manifesto. I'll take it off my Amazon wish list in a minute; in the event that someone's bought it as a birthday gift for me as suggested earlier: thanks - I'll make sure it finds a good home.

On first reading, there are some things in the book that I'm skeptical about, particularly when it comes to his own unexamined assumptions regarding the so-called obesity epidemic. I also noticed that writer Michael Pollan's working relationship with nutritionism is much more ambivalent than you can tell from the summaries, reviews and promotional excerpts. Still, on the whole, it's a valuable, mostly well-argued book with some practical tips for enjoying food and staying healthy (beyond the big one: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants).

One of Pollan's tips is to shop the periphery of the supermarket, and another is to avoid the supermarket alltogether. I'm going to try that last one for a week, to see if it's possible to get everything I need just from the farmer's market in Groningen. Note that while I say "Farmer's market", the stalls located on the Vismarkt do not form a true farmer's market: about a third of them are fishmongers and many of the others are run by grocery and dairy merchants, not farmers. But a lot of the produce on offer is local, and there are some farm-oriented businesses selling their wears there every day the market is open.

As part of the experiment, I'm going to bore you with my shopping list, because I need to write it down somewhere and then be able to find it again later. Here's what I got:
2 kilograms of tomatoes, from the organic produce stall, for snacking on and cooking with. These are a bit pricy but well worth it for their flavour.
1 cauliflower, also from the organic produce stall.
1 kg potatoes (cultivar Andijker Muizen) from the potato farmer.
1 sliced Waldkorn bread from a bakery stall;
1 1/2 kg bag of gingerbread drops (kruidnoten) from the same bakery stall. These are strongly associated with St. Nicolas' Day (December 5) in the Netherlands and people will grumble about them being on sale so early. I don't care - I'd eat them year-round.
3 bananas from one of the fruit sellers.
1 1/2 kg box of strawberries from the same fruit seller. This time around, I managed to get them home undamaged, which was partly due to this lot being better quality to start with.
1 250-gram box of wasabi peanuts from a nut stall.
1 1/2 kg bag of party mix (peanuts, cashews, raisins and some other things) from another nut stall.
2 bell peppers from a vegetable seller.
1 broccoli from the same vegetable seller.
200 grams of sun-dried tomatoes from Moritz the food snob (easily the priciest indulgence on the list, but worth every penny)
1 liter of buttermilk from a dairy stall.
1 liter of yoghurt from same.
1 kg red peppers, to snack on.

Total budget: € 40. Still in my wallet after the visit: €10. Clearly, if frugality was my only motivation to shop at the market, I might as well not bother. I do save money on stapels (and would save more if I were buying for a household of more than one person) but it gets canceled out by upgrades to organic produce or pricy yum-yums. Also, the large number of separate transactions makes budgeting more difficult.

I did get all my shopping done reasonably fast and with money left over to get more bread later in the week. I could get nearly everything I wanted: the only exceptions were milk, durable crispbread and potato chips, and I don't really need the latter two anyway. Because I was puzzled by the absense of milk, I asked at the dairy stall; they said they do offer it early in the week, but there's little demand and no structural supply chain as everyone gets it from the supermarket. That's why I got the buttermilk instead, but the lack of milk may turn out to be the factor driving me back into the supermarket later this week.

Michael Pollan, my time sink of the past 24 hours.

August 24th, 2008 by Reinder

I've spent far too much time in thepast day reading the website of journalist Michael Pollan, writer of In Defense of Food and a range of books, essays and journalism about the food (mostly) Americans eat. I particularly recommend his piece on Animal rights, which despite the obnoxious provocation at the top is one of the best-written pieces on the issue I've read.

I've added In Defense of Food to my Amazon Wish List in case any of my readers here want to give me something nice for my birthday on Sep. 14. Pollan's website has the introduction online for free.