Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
– Michael Pollen, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
My nan used to always say that what you spend at the greengrocer, you save at the doctor’s.
I have been going to the same greengrocer every week for the past six years – he has seen me single, pregnant, with a baby and now a son who tottles around the store with his little trolley opening blueberry packs and stealing nuts that fall into the dispenser tray. I think Bob is about 70 odd and he’s told me before about watching kids grow up in his store… I’m pretty sure that some of the boys who help carry my shopping back to the car are probably customer’s sons who were offered a job the day they turned 15.
Shopping this way is good for everyone; the fruit & veg isn’t plastic wrapped like the supermarket’s and I know that the person who buys the fruit at the wholesale market has actually tasted it and had a conversation with the grower. I can do almost my entire shop here waste-free, save for the odd milk carton or yoghurt tub, and it’s cheaper overall when you consider that I’m not buying much packaged food and instead making most meals from scratch. A quick stop to the butcher and the bakery next door and I’m done.
Starting the habit of visiting Bob each week and dropping into the bulk whole foods store to stock up every month is the core reason I think we’re so healthy as a family.
By shopping locally and avoiding the supermarkets it means we eat more simply, consume much less processed food, and even save money – even though we’re eating better quality food and supporting local businesses.
Here’s a general list of what we buy during the summer months (in the winter there tends to be more root vegetables for roasts and stewing meats, but the crux of it is largely the same).
+ Green grocer. Bananas, apples, passion fruits, berries, mangoes, watermelon, oranges, pineapple, peaches, apricots, melon, cucumbers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, rocket, avocados, carrots, celery, red capsicum, broccoli, zucchini, aubergine, dates, salmon/tuna, eggs, milk, butter, yoghurt, fetta, parmesan and a small cheese block.
+ Baker. A small loaf of grainy bread, plus maybe the odd hot cross bun or croissant popped into the bread bag for a treat when we get home.
+ Butcher. We only buy a small amount of meat each week and it changes all the time depending on the season, it’s usually two or three of the below options which we share as a family: a couple of chicken fillets, a few hundred grams of stirfry mix (which I bulk up with more veg and serve with eggy brown rice) or a few lamb koftas for a summer BBQ with grilled corn and capsicum, or maybe a roast chicken or lamb shoulder which we tear up for wraps and salads to last the whole week.
+ Bulk whole foods store. Nuts for snacks and salads – pecans, almonds, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, pinenuts, sunflower seeds and pepitas. Oats, black beans (for vegging up mexi bowls), brown rice, pasta, lentils, dried mangoes, pears and cranberries as well as bi-carb soda, bulk dishwashing liquid, washing powders, shampoo and conditioner etc which I keep in refillable bottles. I also buy Ted & Mems most delicious granola that my friend Sarah makes whenever I see her (which is often!), and that’s about it – occasionally there’s a trip to the IGA for Vegemite or vanilla essence or other things I can’t really make from scratch but the majority of my shopping is at the green grocer.
On average we would spend about $180 a week, which covers breakfast, snacks and about five lunches and dinners, leaving the fridge empty at the end of the week in case we want to take the night off and walk down to the pub on the corner for a counter meal.
Out of this shop our typical week looks like this:
- Breakfast – cut up fruit, a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of granola, or a green juice, muesli or maybe a slice of grainy toast.
- Lunch – usually leftovers of some sort – salads paired with a tin of Serena tuna or cold cuts of meat, or soup in the winter time.
- Dinners – salads with olive oil, nuts and seeds, a small amount of meat/fish/hard boiled eggs/roast veg/grains.
- Snacks – fresh fruit – bananas, apples, berries, nuts, dried fruit.
In keeping with simplicity, this way of eating essentially follows Michael Pollen’s theory of: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. A very simple solution to what I think has become such an unnecessarily overcomplicated health food scene.