Grocery Shopping Habits

So what are your grocery shopping habits?  We all have them and I’m sure that we all (mostly) stick to them, probably without realizing it.

What do you buy when you grocery shop?  If you were to look at our receipts, you would see lots of veggies, fresh and frozen, meat, chicken and fish, whole grain products like bagels, wraps, brown rice, millet, bulgar wheat and whole wheat flour, canned tomatoes, honey, dark chocolate, dried fruit and nuts, herbs and spices, low fat dairy products such as sour cream, cottage cheese, milk and yogurt, olive oil, dried beans, condiments and of course paper products and toiletries.

Did you notice anything odd about our list?  Anything missing?  To some of you, items that may be missing are cookies, cakes, ice cream, soda, candy, ready-made foods and meals, processed foods, snack foods and anything full-fat.

Now I’m not saying that I never buy any of these items, but it’s far and few between.  I don’t buy cookies or cakes as I make my own and only ones that I should be eating (holidays don’t count!)  Ice cream I get only if on sale, usually Ben & Jerry’s and it has to be a really good sale price.  It normally goes for about £4.45 so sometimes it’s on sale for £2.00 and even then I only buy one and get the frozen yogurt.  I haven’t drank soda except for maybe a handful of times since I moved over here in 2005.  The extent of my ‘candy’ is buying a bar of dark (75% cocoa) chocolate each week.  I don’t eat the whole bar at once, just break off a piece to satisfy my sweet craving.

Ready meals? We cook from scratch every night.  Much tastier, healthier and there’s nothing in our food that we can’t pronounce!  The only processed foods we’re guilty of buying is a package of deli sliced ham.  And no snack foods either; no chips/crisps or pretzels, nacho chips, etc.  I have gotten vegetable chips, but even those are a rarity.  If I want a snack of sorts, I’ll have a piece of chocolate or a half of a banana with some of my homemade peanut butter, a handful of nuts or a cookie that I’ve made.

I’ll be the first to admit that I need to lose a few pounds, but it does amaze me how much junk other people buy.  Do you ever look in the carts of other people?  I hate when I see a bunch of cakes, cookies, ready meals…and the person doesn’t look like they should be eating that stuff…It’s probably why they do look like that.

Do you take a list with you and stick to it?  We ALWAYS take a list with us.  We jot down things on the list as they are running low or out so that by the time we shop on Saturday, we know exactly what is needed.  On occasion there are things we forgot to jot down and remember we need it when we see it at the store.

Coupons?  Unfortunately the UK isn’t as big on coupons as in the US so we really don’t use them.  Once in a while you may see one in a magazine or the newspaper.

How do you decide where you shop?  Convenience?  Prices?  Selection?  We shop at three different stores for the main groceries.  Lidl, a discount store, mainly for our fresh veg and paper products, Tesco and Asda, (which is the sister store of Wal-Mart).  We buy different things at the different stores either for price, selection or quality. We do have a Sainsbury’s (right across the road from Tesco) and go there only on occasion (they’re a bit pricier than the other stores) if we’re having trouble locating something.

We don’t impulse buy unless it’s an item we use and it’s at a great sale price.  The same theory goes for BOGOF (buy one get one free) offers.

We also shop at our local farm store.  It avoids the middle man and we know the food hasn’t traveled a long distance to get to us and the prices can usually be better than the stores.  Where else can you buy four cauliflowers for only £1.00 (or 30p each)?  This is an even better deal especially since last week, in the reduced to clear section at Tesco, we saw a cauliflower for £1.87…and that was the reduced price!

We always take our own bags with us instead of using the plastic bags provided by the stores.

So how do you shop?

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BEANS, BEANS AND MORE BEANS

Beans, beans, the musical fruit….

We eat a good amount of beans in this house, not only because they’re healthy, but because, well, they taste good and are very versatile.  And because we eat so many, we don’t buy them in cans, but instead we buy them dried, in bulk (much cheaper, too).  Now I can hear many of you moaning about this already, saying ‘Oh, I can’t be bothered’ or ‘I don’t have the time for dried beans’…Poppycock!

I soak the beans overnight in cold water and then the next morning, I cook them.  Most beans take about 10-15 minutes of hard boiling, uncovered and then anywhere from 30-60 minutes of simmering, covered.  DO NOT ADD SALT TO THE WATER as it will toughen the beans! Once they are done, I drain them well and leave them to cool for about 30 minutes, stirring them around a bit every few minutes to help them cool down.  You want to make sure you drain them well and stir them around as that helps get rid of most of the water.  The dryer they are the better it will be when it comes time for defrosting because they won’t be just a big clump of beans, but instead, they’ll be pretty much separated.

I then put them into a lightweight plastic bag, weigh and label them and pop them into a zippered plastic freezer bag and pop them into the freezer.  Then when you need beans, you have them.  Just remember to take them out to thaw for a while, or pop them in the microwave for a minute or two.  You can even sit the bag in water to help the thawing process along.   I reuse the outer bag for the next time I cook beans.  The blackeyes below I just cooked this morning.

We usually have 4-5 different varieties of beans in the freezer at one time.  As of right now, I have Cannellini, chickpeas, kidney and black eyes in the freezer.  In the cupboard we still have other beans such as haricot, pinto, butter, black and nigerian along with red and green split peas.  Next week I’ll probably cook up some more just so that we have a good stock, then I won’t have to worry about cooking any for a while until we start to get low.

Now, granted I don’t have to go out to work every day, so I have the time to do all of this, however, for those of you who work, you could manage to do at least two different beans over the weekend.  Soak on Friday night to cook on Saturday and soak on Saturday to cook on Sunday.  Do this over 2-3 weeks and you’ll have a nice stock of beans in your freezer at a fraction of the cost of canned.

Terri’s Tasty Tip…

SPICED CHICKPEA DIP

Blitz together 125g/4oz. ricotta cheese, 400g/14oz. chickpeas, juice of one lime, handful of coriander/cilantro leaves, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 chopped & deseeded chili pepper, 1/2 tsp ground cumin and 1 tbsp olive oil. 


Serve with naan bread or raw veggies.