Food Planning: First Week of Challenge

Our normal way of grocery shopping and meal planning goes like this:

  • We take stock of what we have or have accumulated (from picking, growing, buying)
  • We come up with meals that utilize those items
  • We determine what ingredients we need to finish out those meals
  • We grocery shop

This way of planning works really well for us, it makes sure that food doesn’t go to waste and it enables us to buy food more efficiently.  We are going to try to continue to use this process, during our challenge.  For this week, we procured an amazing allotment of food between our CSA share from Red Fire Farm, and what we bought over the weekend from Red Fire Farm and Upinngil Farm‘s farmstands:

Our farmstand loot! (also picking loot from Red Fire Farm)

Okay, so we went a little hogwild this weekend- you can’t blame us.  The recent abundance of delicious in season local food is hard to resist.  We also have been feeling a little anxious about our food challenge and having enough food.

We sat down and took stock of what we had, and began our meal planning, and were able to come up with a very sparse grocery list.  Here is our little sheet that we use to keep track of this meal planning process.  We post it on the fridge every week.

Our Meal Plan

So, we only needed five items from the grocery store: tomato sauce, tofu, asian noodles, olive oil (we’re out of it), white wine, and chocolate. These items are a little indulgent, but not too bad for our first week.

We already knew that some of these items were organic or fair trade etc.  So we were able to head on out to our Whole Foods in Brighton and pick up these items (with the exception of white wine- Blue laws still keep alcohol out of most grocery stores in our area) while knowing we were working within our slots for the week.

When we walked around the grocery store, we were terrified.  In all actuality, we’ve had similarly small grocery lists; this was not new.  But the fact that we could not buy items, because they did not fulfill any of our food principles, was a little saddening.  No fish sauce! No coconut ice cream! Feeling limited while surrounded by an abundance is a bit of a trip. We tried to not look too hard at the array of now ‘restricted’ products adorning the shelves, grabbed our items and fled. Once home and comforted by our bounty of local food in the fridge (it was hard to find space to put our grocery items away!) we were able to sigh and say “we’re doing this for a reason, and its going to be okay.”

In researching the products we bought to make sure our food fulfilled our principles, I found that some of these products actually fulfilled more of our principles than expected.  To modify from the list above: How these fulfilled our ‘slots’ and a little bit about the products:

  • Tofu from The Bridge -is organic and from a small business,  but also, its soybeans are grown in Upstate New York, and processed in CT.  So it fulfills all of our principles. We have been buying this tofu for a while, and I must say that it makes principled eating delicious!  The tofu is very firm, and complex in flavor (has a very cultured taste).
  • Tempeh from Rhapsody Natural Foods (picked this up at Red Fire Farm) is organic and from a small business in CT, and does try to buy their ingredients locally (this is good; however not sure if it totally counts) So, we count it as  fulfilling two of our principles and so we can get two per slot; or it constitutes 1/2 a slot.
  • Olive oil from Alter Eco – organic and fair trade (takes up half a slot) ‘robust olive oil’ is really that: robust and really tasty!
  • Chocolate from Taza– organic and fair trade, even locally processed right here in Somerville! (takes up half a slot) And oh is it wonderful stone ground chocolate!

The first week of our challenge thus far is going well, and the food planning hurdle has been easily cleared.  Now we just need to see if we can handle not being able to go for evening walks to go pick up ice-cream.

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