Friday, February 17, 2012

Fresh Friday - Cabbage and Managing the Food Budget

Hello! It's been a while since I've done an official Fresh Friday. But don't think that I've forgotten about the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables! In fact, I took two weeks to focus on eating more fruits and veggies. Those two weeks definitely helped me reset the way I look at food. Now, a meal doesn't feel complete unless there is something green on the plate. And I'm finding that fruits make a healthy and delicious snack that I can get use to.

Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables might make your grocery bill go up, but it doesn't have to. Plan your meals based on what produce is in season AND on sale. Each week, I get fliers from the grocery stores in the mail. I circle the sale items I want to get and then plan my meals around that. This is especially helpful with meat! I almost never buy meat unless it is on sale. When chicken breasts go on sale, I stock up. I'll portion them out into freezer bags and freeze them for later use in a recipe, or I'll marinate them overnight and then freeze them so I can just defrost and throw them on the grill or in a pan for a quick weeknight dinner.

The most helpful tip I have to offer if you are looking to eat healthy and eat at home more is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Seriously. It takes some time. You have to sit down with the computer, your favorite recipes, and the weekly grocery fliers. But it is so worth it! I have saved so much money planning out my meals and therefore eating out less, all while consuming healthier food. I usually plan 3 dinners. Lunches for the week consists of leftovers and possibly a separate meal cooked for lunch only. Breakfast is either the Green Monster Smoothie, egg white scramble, or oatmeal. I never plan 5 dinners because more often than not with our schedule something will happen and we won't get to it, or we will have extra leftovers, or we will just pull marinated chicken out of the freezer and have that. After I figure out what is on sale, I go through the recipes I have bookmarked and decide what to make. I try to pick recipes that share some of the same ingredients so nothing goes to waste. I then make a spreadsheet that breaks down where to get what according to price.  I have three main stores I go to - Ralphs, Sprouts, and Trader Joe's. More often than not I end up going to two stores, mainly Sprouts and Trader Joe's, to get the goods. Click --> HERE to see an example of my spreadsheet. Another great place to shop is Target's food section. If I'm at Target picking up household goods I'll stock up on things like shredded cheese, dry and canned goods since they tend to be cheaper at Target. I get most of my meat and produce at Sprouts on sale. It does take a little bit more work to be a thrifty shopper, but once you get a system in place that works for you, you'll discover it's not that much more difficult and the reward of having more money in your pocket for the important things, like shoes, is well worth it.

Speaking of being thrifty - let's move on to Fresh Friday: Cabbage. Cabbage is super cheap! It can be snagged for less than a $1! And it's healthy for you! Cabbage is a good source of Vitamin C, Potassium, and fiber. Cabbage also contains nutrients known to have anti-cancer effects.* Cabbage is also extremely low in calories. If you're thinking, yes this all sounds great - but cabbage is gross. Then stop steaming it and try roasting it! (For the record though, I do enjoy steamed cabbage.

Roasted Cabbage Wedges
Serves 4 as a side dish

1 head of green cabbage
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive oil spray

- Preheat oven to 375. Rinse cabbage and remove outer leaves. Cut cabbage into fourths.
- Spray roasting pan with olive oil spray. Place cabbage wedges cut side up in pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
- Roast for 10 minutes. Flip Cabbage so cut side is down on the pan. Roast for 10 minutes. Flip one more time if desired and roast for another 10 minutes. 

- Serve warm with desired main dish.

*Nutritional information from here.

Disclaimer: To get the maximum amount of health benefits from cabbage it is recommended to eat it raw or minimally cooked.

P.S. I got a new camera! I real DSLR camera. I got the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. So bear with me and my photos as I learn to use it and work out the kinks.

Peace, love, cabbage, and happiness!
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