MarocMama

eat well, travel often, dream big!

Shopping

Post 3 of 5

As someone who loves to cook and also has to be cost effective, one of the greatest keys in my arsenal is having a well stocked pantry.  I am always looking for a great deal and when I find one I make sure to stock up.  If you really decide to switch to a whole food lifestyle having items on hand is not difficult because most ingredients are simple, easily acquirable and affordable.  Sure there may be a few items that are a little more pricy but on a whole I’ve found that eating this way has been easier on our grocery budget. 

I have posted a separate page on the site that details my shopping list and what you would most likely find in any Moroccan pantry.  It’s straightforward.  I spend about $75-$100 a week on groceries for the four of us.  It’s a little harder in the winter because of where we live and there’s generally not a lot “in season” (imagine that, produce doesn’t grow well in 2 feet of snow and ice…)    I will add I don’t cut coupons.  I used to but really for the items that I purchase food-wise it just is not with the time to scour and look for coupons to fit in.  I also found that just shopping smart and sticking to eating in season and cutting back on meat consumption saved more money.

I also don’t like to spend a lot of time hopping from store to store so the fewer stops the better.  Here are some ideas for locations to consider picking up items;

- a local farmer’s market, often they have the most in season produce and to me I like to meet the people that grow my food.

- bulk food stores; they purchase large quantities of a product and then break them down into smaller more manageable sizes and the prices are often much, much cheaper.  I can buy 10lbs of organic flour for about $8 compared to $5 for a 2lb bag in the grocery. 

- Pick Your Own Farms.  Not only is this a great way to save some money especially on fruit, it’s a ton of fun to go as a family!  Everyone gets involved in the process and has a great time.  Look for farms offering this service, generally in the late spring to late fall. 

- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  This is a trend that has really picked up recently.  Essentially shares of farm produce are sold yearly.  They vary in price by the farm and what they offer and usually can be a full share or a half share, sometimes with the option to work on the farm to pay for part of your share.  Every week each shareholder receives a basket of the harvest for that week.  What is in the basket is dependant on what is being harvested that week but generally there are several items present.  While generally focusing on produce some farms also offer egg shares, or meat shares.  If you’re interested make sure to check out farms in your area in the fall or winter to sign up before spring. 

- Grow Your Own/Neighborhood Share.  Remember my post about my little container garden?  Part of why I started my garden was to help generate some produce that I wouldn’t have to purchase.  If you can’t plant in the ground using containers or trying out square foot gardening might be something to try out.  Also never underestimate the generosity of neighbors.  Where we live a lot of people have gardens, it seems almost a summer staple to have a backyard garden.  Often my mom and dad will end up with BAGS yes BAGS of produce from friends who have an over abundance of produce that they don’t plan to eat and are more than happy to share.  If you’re in the food community in your area perhaps arrange a neighbor share!  Also check out Neighborhood Fruit.  This is a neat site that people can add in the location of free public fruit trees in a community.  There’s nothing better than free food! 

This post is part 3 of 5 in Switching to a Whole Foods Lifestyle series.  Part1 and Part2 can be found here.

Do you have any other shopping suggestions that might be helpful to me or other readers?

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What is the difference?
Post 2  of 5
You’ve probably heard the term whole food, clean food, or slow food mentioned before on TV or in magazines, you’ve even heard about it here but maybe you’re not really sure what those terms mean and what all the fuss is about.  This post should help take away some of that confusion.  
Whole food refers to foods that are unprocessed or unrefined or that are processed or refined as little as possible before being consumed.
Slow food is a movement that supports regional and local cuisine.  It’s a commitment to strengthening the understanding of where food comes from and how it gets to our plates.
In this mix I would also include the organic food movement which supports the growth of food products without genetic modification or the use of unnatural pesticides and chemicals. 
Clear as mud right?  Don’t worry it’s actually pretty basic.  I follow these rules when picking food to buy and eat. 
1.       Is it in season?
2.       Are all the ingredients recognizable food items?
3.       Are there 5 or fewer ingredients on the label?
4.       Is it locally grown or produced?
5.       Is it organic?
Food doesn’t have to meet all my requirements (but it’s a big score if it does!)  I try to keep these rules in mind when choosing items that will work within my budget.   This is why; 
1.       Food that is in season is fresher, has traveled a shorter distance and is supporting the farmers who grow that product.  In summer this is fairly easy as produce is bountiful but if you live in a colde
r climate, winter is a more difficult time to get a variety of produce. 

2.       I don’t want to ingest dehydrated monoglutomate, however I will ingest wheat, milk, cumin, and the like.  If it’s not recognizable it’s probably not meant to be in your body!

3.       See #2 the more things are processed the less of a nutrient content remains.  I will bend this rule if all of the ingredients are natural.  This one can go either way in my book.

4.        I grew up in a farming state and have an appreciation for the hard work that farmers and producers of food put into the final product.  It’s not an easy job.  I completely support family farm operations and feel that products purchased from them are of a much better quality than those from a factory farm.  Whenever possible I go to the source and buy these products.

5.       Organic is last in my list of questions, not because I feel it’s the least important but because of the financial and accessibility of getting quality organic goods.  If I can buy locally raised cherries I’ll buy those before I buy organic cherries from California.
If you’re interested in reading more about these concepts check out some of my favorite books;
So what do you think of my rules?  What are your thoughts on this style of eating? Any favorite recipes, books, websites to share?  

Find part 1 of this series here.

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Why our Family Made the Change
Part 1 of 5 





I have decided to write a series of posts about why our family moved to a whole food/slow food/clean food lifestyle in hopes that our experience might be helpful to other individuals and families considering making the same change.  If you’ve been a reader of my blog for even a little while you might have noticed that the majority of recipes I share are whole food meals.  By whole foods I mean basic ingredients that haven’t been processed beyond recognition.  I cook with basic, good quality ingredients that don’t need the added chemicals and processing.  I’ve found that by using these ingredients, adding spices and different cooking techniques I’m able to create delicious food.  When you consider the great cuisines of the world, they all gained their prominence by using the same system of good ingredients, lots of love and different techniques. 

There was a time when I spent a few hours a week scouring store sales flyers, picking through coupons in the newspaper and online, and schlepping my kids from store to store to get the best “deals”.  One day I sat down and realized that the bulk of what I was buying was junk.  Is it really a great deal to get 10 boxes of pizza bites for $10?  There is a reason that some products are priced so low, and it’s not because the company wants to give consumers a great deal.  They are cheap to produce because they are modified food products.  In fact, in my opinion, they are not really even food! More like a mixture of modification that we ingest.  Not to mention the ridiculous amount of packaging that these products came with.  
I had been hearing and reading about the local/natural food movement for a long time and had long equated it with a granola-hippie lifestyle.  Not for me.  But I kept reading more and more and hearing more and more and it got to the point where I couldn’t ignore it.  So I searched out books and articles to educate myself about the reasons for this type of eating and the benefits that come from it.  I scouring labels and investigating our eating habits.  I slowly started to implement changes to see how my family reacted and if our budget was able to accommodate the change.  My kids did revolt a bit when their pizza bites were gone but it quickly passed.  I really love cooking, so making homemade meals from “scratch” was not really difficult for me.  It is not a hard change to make, and I hope you’ll come back to read the rest of the series for some inspiration and/or ideas to change your routine. Leave me a comment or email me<span class="Apple-style-span" styl
e="font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif;"> if you have specific questions and I’ll do my best to answer them individually or in a post. 
Make sure to stop back for the next 4 parts focusing on;
  •    What is whole/slow/clean food?
  •     A shopping list comparison and why it is an affordable option
  •    How to save money while implementing this style of eating
  •    The outcome and benefits of eating whole foods



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