I decided to compile a list of my favorite must-have grocery items. This stems from a combination of two things. One, my journey to become a Foodist: “a new approach to healthy eating that focuses on what you like to eat, rather than what you should or shouldn’t eat, while teaching you how to make good decisions, backed up by an understanding of what it means to live a healthy lifestyle.” Two, my want/need to save money. Hence, an experiment (with Steve, inspired by Tim Ferriss) to spend $15 a day, or $105 a week.
Let’s start with the amazing, cheap finds. Akmak Crackers. AR introduced me to these. At first, I thought they were a Jewish thing. Because she is, because I had never seen them before, because they reminded me of that Jewish cracker (Matzah) my old roommate (Jess) used to have in the apartment for certain days when she was only allowed to eat kosher, because I’m ignorant. I don’t know. Some rice cake, wafer-looking cracker that didn’t taste like anything.
The Akmak box looks like it’s from the 1970’s, and actually it’s Armenian. The first time I tried one by itself, I thought, boring and bland. But with a nice, thick cut of Dubliner Cheddar, it adds just the right amount of crunch while highlighting the cheese. Another time, AR made this amazing seafood salad. Ahi maybe? Anyhow, the crackers paired amazingly well. The best part – the ingredients. Real food.
On my exploration of real food, and to lose the diet mentality (with the help of @summertomato), I no longer look at nutrition facts. I look at ingredients. You know it’s not real food when you can’t pronounce it. It’s simple. Akmak crackers are made of: organically grown whole wheat flour stone ground, clover honey, sesame oil, dairy butter, sesame seeds, yeast, and salt. And! The box is only $1.99! It’s a steal.
When people think of Whole Foods, they usually think, expensive. For the most part, this is true. But not for my next favorite item – fresh bread. More specifically, Organic Baby Boule, which can be found with all their homemade bread, usually right next to all the desserts (stay focused, people).
Prior to this find, I’ve been obsessed with Dave’s Killer Bread (which is especially great for sandwiches). Dave’s is wonderful, but it is expensive at $6.99 a loaf, and it does have cane sugar in it (which at least, we know what that is, but still). Organic Baby Boule is a circular, un-cut loaf with minimal ingredients. It’s fresh, and it’s absolutely delicious. I’ve tried eating it with tuna fish or as some other type of open-faced sandwich, but nothing beats this scrumptious bread on its own. Cut off a slice, drizzle it with a little olive oil, and bake in the oven. Top with a little butter (or Earth Balance) and salt and pepper, and you have heaven in your mouth. Have I mentioned it’s only $1.99 for the loaf? Can’t beat it!
Over the years, I have definitely become something of a wine snob. In doing this $15 a day experiment, it was easy to see that I spend way too much on wine. So, in the spirit of saving money, I bought two bottles of Three Wishes cabernet ($2.99 each). It’s basically Whole Foods’ version of 2-buck chuck. I used to drink this stuff and think it was such a good deal. Oh, how I long for the days when 2-buck chuck actually tasted good. Unfortunately, it’s bad. I mean really bad, and I will not buy this wine again. But, I did find (actually, Steve found) a very affordable wine from Trader Joe’s. So if you’re on a tight budget and need your wine fix, I recommend Nero d’Avola. It’s an Italian wine for only $3.99. It’s not great by any means, but it’s certainly drinkable (and even enjoyable when you think about the money you’re saving!).
Alas, those are the only three steals on my favorites list. The following are expensive, but worth every penny.
Steve’s Paleogoods. Have you heard of Steve’s PaleoGoods?!? Oh my God. I’ve never done the paleo thing, but all of his stuff is amazing. The first thing I discovered was his grainless granola. I pour some almond milk over it for breakfast. Divine. Next was the sriracha sauce. So yum! And every single ingredient is real, natural, healthy, delicious food. I toss this sauce into any kind of chicken stir-fry and my mouth is happy.
I shared my love of @stevespaleo with Kelly one day, and not only was I blown away to find out that Kelly loved him, too, but that she KNEW him!
Well, she doesn’t exactly know him, but she told me that he owns one of the CrossFits in Camden! What?! How crazy is that? I hope I get to meet Steve one day. For Christmas, Kelly sent me a box of Steve’s Paleogoods, including this incredible Ginger Cilantro Sauce that tastes exquisite on salads or even pasta dishes (and I don’t even like cilantro!). She also sent me a bunch of paleo bars, flavors including Everything Bagel, Pizza, and Mint Dark Chocolate. I’m telling you, these things are so good and so good for you. Great for an on-the-go snack (or when you’re starving at work and don’t have time to really eat a meal).
Next up, coffee and tea. Tara introduced me to Chameleon Cold-Brew, which is a wonderful concentrated coffee. I was buying this for a while, until I realized that coffee doesn’t exactly help with my anxiety (such a bummer!). I like the initial effects of coffee, but I find that everything starts to tighten up faster in my neck and shoulder areas. So I started looking into tea. Steve introduced me to this brand called Rishi. I found an Organic Matcha Super Green Tea on Amazon and absolutely love it. I drink it with a little Heavenly Organics White Honey. There are so many honey options out there! No joke, there is an $80 jar of honey at Whole Foods. And it’s not big. That’s insane. This white honey is $6.99 and it’s so creamy and flavorful.
There are also so many types of dairy-free milk alternatives. I was reading about which are the best for you, and something somewhere caught my eye that said, “shop the refrigerated section vs. the aisles. Refrigerated options have a shorter shelf life, which means less artificial ingredients.” And so I found New Barn. So so good!!
This new tea fix is not exactly cheap, but I look forward to it every morning, it gives me the caffeine I need without the anxiety, and it’s still cheaper than buying something from Starbucks (or Dunkin Donuts for you east coasters).
Finally and unfortunately, I still have not been able to kick my Cheez-it habit. Is it a habit, or do I really just love these tiny little crackers?? Sigh. I’m working on it.