Do you really need 6 heads of lettuce or 20 limes?

As we have gone through this journey, we developed a groove and what would seem as a daunting task to many is truly living for us.  When I started this journey, it started with butter and then I started to think about what I spend my money on. Like many Americans, I loved the Costcos, Sams and BJs out there.  As a matter of fact, I was a member of at least two of the three at one point and had a charge card with one.  I loved the convenience of going into that one store and buying EVERYTHING and in bulk.  That’s what America is all about, supersize everything, even lettuce.  I noticed that I spent on average $300 per visit.  I bought produce, canned foods, ready made meals, paper goods, detergent, etc. in bulk.  I would go once every 6 weeks.  I also noticed that I was throwing out about 20% of the produce that I was buying, because a family of 3 is not going to finish the 6 heads of lettuce, the 10 cucumbers, or the large tub of strawberries in a week or two before the produce go bad.  I was throwing out a lot of food.  Isn’t that money down the drain?  So I started by buying my produce weekly from the local grocery store.  I realized that I cut about 99% of food waste and I was saving at least $50 to $60 per month on just the produce.  What a revelation!

I also started researching produce in the super markets.  Produce are not picked when they are ripe because you have to ship them, so some are quite tasteless.  So I started searching out our local farms, I mean for crying out loud, my house is surrounded by farms.  In the winter, I started going to the local organic market once I realized that they carry local produce when possible.  I also frequented farmers markets in the summer as well as joining a coop in a near by small farm. The difference in taste was astounding.  A peach tasted like a peach, the bananas were sweet and incredible.  These were not Dole bananas on steroids, but they were small organic bananas from Peru where the banana tasted like a banana.  The North Carolina honey crisp apples were to die for.  I started buying my needs for the week.  I knew that my family will consume 5 apples this week, so I only bought 5.  This allowed me to buy the best apples even if the price per pound was much higher than their Costco bulk counterpart.  The key was, I wasn’t throwing out 20% of those bulk apples.  So if you figure that you are going to waste 20% for the apples in bulk, the price per pound is no longer much cheaper.

I started saving more and more as I started buying our weekly needs and being conscious to only spend about $60-$70 per week on produce and milk.  So now that I am saving money on my produce, where else can I save money?  Canned goods, poultry and beef?  I used to buy broth, tomatoes sauce and all of my condiments in bulk.  But did I really need 4 large bottles of mustard?  I also bought huge packs of boneless chicken thighs and breasts all under the guise that buying bulk was cheaper.  So how do I save money there?  Breasts are much more expensive than thighs, so I bought only thighs.  I thought to myself, there is no way I was going to be able to make broth and tomato sauce myself because I don’t have time, so there was no money saving in this area at all. I should just be happy with what I was able to accomplish with the produce.  Boy was I wrong! I hope my next revelation will inspire you to go on your own journey into self sufficiency and truly living unprocessed.

If you buy really good vegetables and greens, you will find that you don’t need all those salad dressings that are meant to cover and coat the veggies to give them some taste, but you will get the taste of each vegetable working in harmony together and all you need to enhance the flavor of the veggies is a little salt and some good finishing oil. Try this recipe and let me know what you think.

Serves 4

1 head of lettuce

a handful of Arugula

One small cucumber

a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes

half a small onion

a handful of spinach

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

2 tbl toasted sesame oil

zest of one small lime

juice of one small lime (optional)

Cut the vegetables to your preferred size.  I like smaller pieces.  Make sure that you mince the arugula and the onions; this will ensure that it is fully incorporated and you get the perfect bite each time.

Add the salt, pepper, zest, oil and juice if you are going to use the juice and toss the salad and serve immediately.

You won’t miss the dressing!

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