Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friggin', Fraggin' Frugal

As you might expect, I went for my weekly shopping trip to Whole Foods yesterday. Once there, I was amazed to discover price increases--over the span of a week. The yogurt I normally buy (Stonyfield Nonfat) is now 99 cents per cup compared to last week's 89 cents, and I can't even afford almonds anymore. I usually buy a one pound bag, but that would set me back $6.39! Granted, nuts are a high-price item, but last week I am sure they were $5.99/lb. Frozen fruit is of course more expensive these days since berry season is pretty much complete, so it looks like I will be buying frozen peaches and pineapple chunks for a while. At least I got some steals on fresh produce (local eggplant! organic apples!).

These increasing food prices particularly sadden me because generally I am a frugal person, but I choose to spend money on food; I have habitually opted to have high-quality groceries be my "luxury" items. I acknowledge that I could shop elsewhere at places that perhaps have better prices (Kroger, SuperTarget,etc.), but 1) I don't have a car, and these places are not as proximal to campus, and 2) I find that other stores do not carry the quality or brands of products that I like to buy.

I apologize for this rant, but I just became quite irked when I realized that I haven't been able to afford $1.79 Larabars for the past few weeks (I
still haven't tried the PB Cookie or Coconut Creme Pie flavors!). Mom, if you're reading this, those would make excellent stocking stuffers for Christmas :)

When I look at my diet over the past few days, I realize that perhaps food that good and good for you is worth a few extra bucks...

I have been neglecting my Nutiva hemp protein for a while, so I decided to use that for my smoothie the other night. This one included strawberries, coconut, and soymilk. I love the texture that shredded coconut provides--I used it both within the smoothie itself and on top. Thursday
The love affair with coconut continues...A whole wheat mini bagel with cashew butter and shredded coconut, plus a peach-soymilk smoothie with wheat germ. I was busting at the seams after this one--this breakfast gets two thumbs up on satiety. My last class on Thursday got cancelled so I headed to the gym earlier than usual. An earlier gym time and a super-filling breakfast left me in need of a smaller pre-run snack: the other half of a chocolate chip Clif bar. For lunch, I used a great recipe from VegWeb as inspiration. The combination of spices and tahini, plus the buttery chickpeas made for an excellent dish. That's couscous and a salad with carrots on the side. I got creative in the kitchen that night. What I ended up with was an agave-mustard tofu dish. I simply combined minced garlic, dijon mustard, agave nectar, a little soy sauce, and some water and poured it over some slabs of tofu and baked it in the oven for about 25 minutes, turning once. YUM!! I am definitely on a sweet-tangy kick lately, so I really enjoyed this. Along with it, I had steamed brussels sprouts, red quinoa, and a salad with peanuts, orange slices, and Bragg's. The blender concoction of the night ended up being a thin shake. I used a frozen banana, soymilk, cocoa chili hemp, and coconut. The flavor was awesome, but next time, I'll use less liquid, because this didn't have the right consistency. Friday
After sleeping in a bit and making a leisurely trip to the gym, I decided on a fall-themed breakfast. I made stovetop oats with unsweetened applesauce and cinnamon, topped with wheat germ and crunchy PB. (Note the
article about Panda Express on the front page--there are some intersting comments at the end of the piece). Following my depressing trip to WF, I came home to use up some leftovers for lunch. I cooked some chickpeas with canned tomatoes, basil, and oregano. I stuffed that mixture into a pita and served it alongside a salad with balsamic vinegar, a juicy peach, and pistachios. I had a "sisterhood retreat" last night, so a few of us girls headed to McAlister's Deli for dinner. I ordered the Taco Salad with the veggie chili (sans cheese and sour cream). This was my first time to McAlister's, and I think I would return again--they had lots of veggie options, and it's all pretty substantial, not just pathetic salads. I didn't take a picture, but here is what it looked like (from
The evening consisted of many goofy games--and much snacking, of course. I managed to find a few healthy options. Someone was wise enough to bring fruit!
So I snacked on lots of grapes, an apple, plus a few pieces of candy. Not quite as nutritious as my usual smoothie, but tasty. Here's a picture of the snack table, post-snackfest:
Now I am off to relax and maybe do some stats HW. Enjoy your afternoon!

PS Get excited for product reviews tomorrow!


Ruby Red Vegan said...

Oh no, food shopping trips aren't supposed to be depressing! I love that there are others of my kind -- groceries are my luxury items too! I'd rather spend $25 on food that on one shirt at the mall. I am so sorry that your Larabar prices are so high. The PB one has been 1.69 for the longest time at my local TJ's, but it went down to 1.29 today and of course I got one! They really are amazing.

Your baked tofu sounds awesome! Agave nectar and mustard are magical together. As soon as I saw your smoothie in the first part of this post, I had to make my own smoothie and top it with coconut. I loved the texture! And I had a coconut soymilk mustache after. :)

shelby said...

I have to make that tofu very soon! I love those two ingredients together. =)

linds said...

I hate rising food costs :( Like you, my luxury items and any extra in my budget are in food. I wish I could get $1.79 Larabars!!! I'm in Montreal and they are $3.00 each. A little too high to have them often :(

VeggieGirl said...

I went to Whole Foods yesterday too!! My second home :0) The way I look at it, at least the food you're buying at Whole Foods IS worth the price (since it's high-quality).

LARABARS!!!! Nice choice ;0)

ttfn300 said...

OOh, I'm really liking that idea for coconut in/on the smoothie!!

eatingbender said...

I'm so there with you on the food prices. Incredibly frustrating. I have a Whole Foods super close to me so I would love to just be able to buy everything from there, but it's impossible. I just hope that someday, higher quality food will be the only option and therefore bring all prices down.

I love the idea of sprinkling coconut on a bagel or toast with nut butter! And that tofu dish sounds incredible - I love the salad with the orange slices on the side. Food blog preparation at its finest!

I can't wait for product reviews!

sportsnutritionliving said...

The prices are def so frustrating... i try when I can to buy bigger sizes to save money like the stoneyfield farm large container. There are certain things that I think are def worth you buying for health reasons. And i think you do a great job of using your leftoevers and not wasting food!

I have never thoguht to try to strawberry and coconut combo but it looks very tasty I will def have to try that.. an I love the coconut as a topping on the bagel. VEry creative!

Virginia said...

I love McAllisters, or at least I did before I went vegan almost a year ago. I will have to go back and see if my local chain has veggie options.

I hear ya on the rising food prices. It isn't always cheap to eat healthy!

ChickPea said...

Ruby: Don't worry, I wasn't THAT depressed. I mean, I still got some tempeh finally, so that's a good thing:)
You picked the precise adjective for agave and mustard--magical. I use that combination for so many things, and it's always good!
I am so glad that I inspired you to use coconut! You should take a picture of the coconut soymilk mustache next time:)
Shelby: Please do! Tell me what you think!
Linds: Oh man, I think I would be very sad if Larabars were $3. I guess the expense makes them all the more special!
VeggieGirl: Yes, WF is definitely my second home as well. I could seriously spend hours in any WF location.
I knew you would appreciate the Larabar story.
ttfn300: Coconut is a great smoothie topper! I think it's one of those underappreciated ingredients.
EatingBender: Yeah, I remember my sister saying that there was a WF really close to campus, but she was never nearly as obsessed with health food as we are, so I doubt it was a big temptation for her while she was at NU. Anyway, I agree that good quality food should be the only option, so that everything would be cheap. We can hope...
Haha, you totally have me pegged. When I was preparing that salad, I was going to just throw it all together, but I decided to make it pretty since I would be photographing it. Oh, food blogging.
SportsNutritionLiving: That's a good tip to buy in bulk--I was about to buy the bigger container of vanilla yogurt, but I decided against it because I like to have plain sometimes too.
You're right--I do use up all my leftovers, even if there are just a few tablespoons of beans left!
Glad you like the coconut idea--try it and let me know what you think!
Virginia: I think my salad was vegan, as far as I could tell. I just requested it without sour cream or cheese. They had a veggie sandwich (which came with Swiss) and a veggie spud (which also came with cheese), but they seemed pretty accommodating about leaving things off.