Monday, February 16, 2009

Grocery Shopping

Now, most of you when you need to go to the store get in your car and drive to whatever store you know you can get what you want.  Then you drive around the parking lot looking for the parking spot that is closest to the door.  Finally you run in, get what you need and then leave.

When we need to go shopping we usually have to get online first to try and find what ever type of store we think we might need.  Then we need to LiveSearch the location to be sure we can get our truck into the parking lot and there will be room to park.  Next we have to determine if we can take our trailer with us or if the parking looks too tight, where we can drop the trailer and leave it while on our shopping trip.  Then we head out to find the store in person.  We have about a 50/50 chance after all of this of ariving and finding the place posted with signs "NO Tractor-Trailers" or "No Truck Parking."  We have found at most of these places if we park way out in no man's land, out of everyone else's way (which protects us as well from all those crazy driver's out there) and speak with the store's manager explaining who we are and why we are there, we are allowed to stay and are treated with respect.  Remember you have to give respect to get it.  Leave a place as clean as you found it, ask respectfully and if they aren't happy to have your business, leave and take your money elsewhere!

Once we are done with our shopping and have checked out, we trek out to no man's land with our cart.  Next we have to unload the cart into the sleeper, a two person job.  My husband pulls the bags from the cart and hands them thru the back door to me.  I in turn toss them all on the bed.  While he returns the cart I start sorting thru and emptying the bags so when he returns we can get all this junk put away.  He puts everything away that is either heavy or goes in the overhead cabinets.  I put away everything that goes in the fridge/freezer (if he does it I can never find anything afterwards because he always says there isn't going to be enough room and just shoves everything in on top of each other) and the lower cabinets.  This system works, but it is a very delicate ballet of sorts with the two of us trying to move around each other and reach where we need to reach.  This is why the pre-sorting on the bed is so important.  All the things he needs to put away are put to the front of the truck and mine go towards to rear.  

Today was grocery shopping time.   We are in a familiar area in Maryland so we knew where we were headed to.  We decided to hit the grocery store first and then Walmart.

The grocery store we went to is usually a great place with fresh produce, low prices and a large health food section.  It is on its last leg if you ask me.  Their fresh produce was awful!  It was mostly either wilted or under ripe.  Their prices...WHOA!  We did score a few things we had been on the lookout for: $3.29/# Honey Crisp Apples, $4.81/4 oz jar Capers, $5.83/jar IM Healthy (soynut butter), etc  We walked out with two small plastic bags for over $50!!  

Now I know there are alot of Walmart haters out there, but trust me when you travel as much as we do they are a beautiful thing.  We do our best to locate Local Food Coops and frequent them, but in some areas we can't get to them without renting a car and that just isn't always practical.  So back to Walmart.  I have to admit that depending on the area of the country, you never know what you will find.  However, if you are willing to be flexible and buy what they have in that is fresh you can do OK.  Today it was about 70/30.  The fruit was in excellent condition with a large variety, but about half of the produce was really bad off.  Frankly a good part of the produce section looked like a compost pile in the early stages of decay, not produce on display for sale.  They also had little to no offering of organic veggies.  Our last shopping trip had netted several bunches of Bok Choy and Nappa Cabbage which were keeping in the bottom of the fridge nicely.  But the Mung Bean Sprouts we hadn't eaten fast enough, had gone bad in 3 days.  I was able to get fresh Mung Bean Sprouts, celery, red bell peppers & shredded carrots for steamed veggies.  I also scored the last three bags of Saifun (bean threads/noodles) in the store!  (Check out this link to a great recipe for these lovely noodles ) I was able to get most of what I would need to make delicious and healthy meals for at least a few more days including BOTH clover and mixed spicy sprouts, cucumbers, avocados, roma tomatoes, shallots, and red/yellow onions.  But no kale or leeks and I had to buy bagged salad mix yet again.

One big find was made while I looking for ground cumin and stumbled on a new recipe!  Cumin Hummus! (If you aren't familiar with Hummus check out this link A very simple recipe and since we just made a batch tonight, I can say, DELICIOUS!! 

1 can Chick/Garbanzo Beans
3-4 tbsp olive oil (I used safflower since I am out of macadamia and am allergic to olives)
pinch of seasalt and black pepper
2 tsp of ground cumin (We decided after testing it needed about double this amount)
1/2 tsp ground cayenne/red pepper (I left this out for our first try, because Randy has been complaining that I have been using it too often again, but NEXT time it will be in for sure)
Mix all ingredients in a food processor and enjoy!  I had to shut off everything else in the sleeper to use my mini-chopper (the generator being down and all) but it worked!

We use these types of dips for dipping whole wheat chips and sliced veggies into.  It also makes a really great fresh sandwich spread onto bread with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh sprouts!  If you use a hardy whole grain bread it is a meal that will stick to your bones and your husband won't complain about "sandwiches."

Ooops, back to the cumin.  I couldn't believe the prices on the ground cumin in the spice isle.  I mean $3.98 to almost $6. What are they smoking?  I lucked out in the ethnic isle and found a bag of ground cumin for $.84!  And before you say it, it was the same oz weight as the more expensive stuff, just in a plain bag.  I just took it back to the truck and poured it into the empty spice jar that fits my spice racks and VOILA!

You will learn after following my blog for a while that we love to eat and used to eat out a lot at unique places as we traveled.  This love was seriously endangered a few years ago when I developed severe food allergies.  It has taken alot of reading, along with alot of trial and error to get back to where we are now.  As a result we eat very healthy.  Almost no meat (the occasionally chicken or fish), no dairy, no eggs and mostly fresh ingredients.  I love to share healthy cooking ideas with others, particularly other drivers as I know first hand how hard it is to eat a restricted and healthy diet while on the road.  I am of course blessed with the sleeper we have, but even with the generator out there are still lots of very healthy options.  When we first started struggling with all the things I can't eat (eggs, dairy, peanuts, olives,  garlic & sulfites to name just a few)  and all the things Randy needs to avoid to keep his sugar levels down, everything seemed so bland and tasteless.  Since it is almost impossible for us to eat anything prepackaged I prepare everything from scratch.  So it has been our mission over the last 3 years to eat fresh and healthy, but to keep the food tasting good.  After all what's the point of eating healthy and living longer if you are miserable the whole time?  

I know that there are a lot of you out there who are just like my husband used to be.  Pizza, cheeseburgers and pop, please.  He certainly never thought he would be a health food junkie.  Now he will eat and even request all sorts of vegetables (spinach, leeks, kale...) that 2 years ago he barely knew what they were, much less ate.  It is all in finding the right recipe.

Almost any recipe can be altered to fit around food allergies, diet restrictions or just taste preferences.  Go to your grocery store and make a list of what is in season and on sale.  Then google those ingredients one by one and start reading through recipes till you find one that sounds good and just try it!  

I substitute another oil for the olive oil and fresh chopped roma tomatoes for the canned.  I completely leave out the garlic, anchovies, black olives and cheese.  We have had it over different rices and pastas, as well as by itself.  It is an awesome recipe.  Spicy with a hint of salty and full of robust flavor!  Try it and see for yourself.  It takes me less then 20 minutes to cook when I don't do pasta or rice with it and has very little clean up since it can be a one skillet meal.

I almost forgot the best part.  Remember those two itty bitty bags we paid $50 for.  Well, we walked out of Walmart with an overflowing cart load full for $102!

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