Along with the changes in our eating habits, comes a change in our shopping habits. We do cook every meal every day 90% of the time, and extremely rarely use boxes or pre-packaged foods. Buying essentially meats, vegetables, fruits, freshness is a tremendous factor. We value organic and grass fed foods, local farming and producing, and seasonal eating. During the summer, we eat from our garden (and the planning has begun for this coming season!) and farmers markets. For much of the year our meat and eggs come from a farm. During the winter, our farm takes a break, so if we haven't stockpiled, we need to find meat and eggs that we can happily eat! We've gotten a bit spoiled in terms of quality.
Instead of shopping once a week at a big grocery, I now shop several times during the week at a farmers market and my local Trader Joe's. Sometimes I go out to Whole Foods, but that's only for stuff I can't find anywhere else that I am willing to shell out some cash for - that place is expensive! I had been frequenting the outdoor market on Saturdays, but with the winter weather, there were many Saturdays I skipped it. Now we have two weekly winter markets, one of which is indoors which makes me super happy.
It does seem a little crazy to make so many trips to the markets during the week, but I really enjoy the fresh, local food I can buy as well as the community. It's similar to shopping in Europe - you have to go to the bakery for bread, the butcher for meat... I like that. So what's the big deal about shopping at the farmers market? How is it different than a nice grocery store? What do people sell in the winter? I know you are just dying to know.
Our markets sell pork, beef, chicken , lamb, winter squash, onions, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, salsa, wine, bread, apples, canned items (pickles, relish, jams), baked goods, spices, coffee, eggs, milk (cow and goat), ice cream, yogurt, sauerkraut, butter... everything you need to cook a meal. I love shopping the market because I know my farmers! I can ask questions about how the animals are raised, what they are fed, what crops are sprayed with, how they bake their gluten free bread, where they process the sausage, etc. I love that I can decrease pollution and gas usage by buying locally. I love that some of the veggies were picked that morning, or the eggs were laid yesterday. I love that my food has no packaging (or very little), and I decrease what I send to the landfill that way.
Isn't it expensive? Food is our fuel. I am perfectly willing to spend money for good nutritious, fresh food that will help me feel great, run efficiently, and stay healthy. That being said, at Saturdays market I spent less than $40 and got a whole chicken, a dozen eggs, a pound and a half of bacon, a pound of potatoes, a pound of carrots, avocado salad (mmmm, that was good!), a few cookies, and some yogurt. Not bad. We had the avocado salad and potatoes last night with some steaks, made mini quiches with some of the bacon and eggs (we use these for easy breakfasts and snacks), and had the chicken tonight with leftovers for lunches tomorrow.
So head on out to the market! Talk to your farmer and eat well!