Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Good Deal Food Shopping

It's been fun going around to the variety of markets here shopping for my food staples.  Although I'm new to living in Oregon, I've spent a bunch of time vacationing here so I'm very familiar with the area already.  The big difference is that this time I'm looking closely at prices.  Since there is a ton of competition as far as selling food goes, a lot of good deals are to be found.  I suppose that's what happens when you have so many people living together. 
An aside here:  I'm overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people and traffic.  I knew, of course, what it was like, but this time I'm not going home to a small town where I know almost everybody.  It reminds me of the movie Crocodile Dundee from the 80's when Dundee learns there are 8 million people all living together in NY City and says something like 'this must be the friendliest place on earth!'  
In Aspen I shopped where I worked and bought a little food every day or every other day to stick in my backpack on the way home.  I also purchased my meat from ranchers in bulk.  It's quite a change up having to drive to the store a few times a week.  Anyway, a few quick impressions before I tell you about the deal I stumbled upon.  First, prices in general are way cheaper here.  There are big discount stores and some of them have items that you would only have found in 'natural' stores a few years ago.  Things like Kerrygold cheese and greek yogurt.  Second, there is no sales tax in this state.  If an item is $9.99, that's the amount you owe when you pay at the register.  I had a 10% employee discount at the store I worked at and that BARELY covered the state and county sales tax.  Scary.  

The best price I've found on ground grass-fed beef here is in Trader Joe's which has it at $5.99/lb for the frozen brick (Angus no less).  At most other places it's at least $6.99/lb for frozen and even more for fresh.  In my mind, $5.99 is a very good price.  I paid more in Aspen even when I bough it in bulk quantities from local ranchers.  And buffalo was even more spendy.  One evening my bro and I were Xmas shopping and he asked if I wanted to go into another grocery store that was in the strip mall we were at.  My exact words were 'Sure, I always like going into grocery stores'.  Now, I've been to this place's sister store and know that it is of the higher end variety.  That is to say, if one is looking to save money, you wouldn't be shopping there.  So imagine my surprise when I was perusing the meat section and came across fresh ground grass-fed beef on a buy one get one free deal.  Their everyday price was $7.99/lb for that item, so the discount put it at 4 bucks a pound.  As you can guess, I was a little skeptical.  There was a hand written sign with ubiquitous 'buy one get one free' stickers on the packages.  Not being one to pass on a good deal I first purchased 6 units and brought them home where I then looked the company up online to see if they were putting out a legit grass-fed product.  Check on that one (from the PNW too).  Next, I had some for dinner to see if it tasted good.  Another check.  Then I put the rest in the ice box to see if it froze well.  Bam ... good to go.  The finale of the story involves me going back there multiple times, sometimes twice a day, to stock up.  I stuck the product I purchased in the freezer and when it was solid I pulled it out of the plastic tray and sealed it in a smaller bag.  I wound up purchasing 60 units in total!  The meat manager there must have thought his bogo sale was going pretty gangbusters.  Heck, on the third day he almost doubled the amount of space he devoted to the sale (he could only fit about 14 out at once in the beginning).  

I suppose I could have asked the meat manager to package me up a bunch at the sale price and would have only had to come in one more time, BUT, I was worried he was going to figure out that he was essentially giving that stuff away if he noticed one person was completely pimping out their freezer with it.  Who knows, perhaps they were sitting on a bunch and figured it was better to get rid of it at cost than to lose it.  However, it sure doesn't seem like old product to me and I'm not exactly a rookie when it comes to consuming grass-fed ground beef.

Takes after his crazy uncle
The lesson here is to be on the lookout for good deals.  Even on high quality food.  Deals and Aspen are not synonymous so this is all a bit new to me.  

It's also strange for me to not be working during the holidays (or at all right now)  I worked my butt off this time of year in that small mountain town. 

Happy Holidays to everyone and best wishes for 2014!

PS One of the many perks of living with family is stuff like finding selfies of your nephew on your phone with his tongue sticking out.  Stinker!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

School fiber

I was with my bro picking up his kids from elementary school the other day when I snapped the two pics below of the bottom portion of their lunch and breakfast menus (pickup is in the cafeteria).  Since they're a little hard to read I'll just recap and tell you that they use the words whole grain/wheat and fiber a whopping 14 TIMES in the bullet points!

Those unsuspecting kids must have a serious whole grain deficiency.  I imagine most of them get nothing but meat, eggs and veggies at home.  Poor little guys.  Not to worry though, the school, following the government guidelines, will make it all better.  Horror the thought that one might actually want to minimize this stuff in their diet.  No room for lost souls I suppose.

Makes me pity the janitors in our schools with the amount of insoluble fiber being served up these days.  Yikes.

Oh yeah, they offer 1% white milk or fat free chocolate milk.  Conventional Wisdom is alive and kicking my friends.  Alive and thriving actually.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas cookie kryptonite

I've made it to Oregon and I'm settling in here with my brother and his family.  I plan to take some time off before I start the next chapter of my life, whatever that may be.  Perhaps I'll even do a bit of traveling around this area to check out my new home.

As I've mentioned before my sister in law is a registered dietician of the conventional wisdom type and we stay away from the nutrition talk, which is totally fine.  And as much as I cringe at the majority of food choices in their household, I'm big enough to stay quiet.  What do I know anyway, I learn everything from the internet machine

Okay, I'm not going to use this forum to gripe about their eating habits.  I'm just going to poke fun now and again.  Like the following.

You know I'm not dogmatic in my approach to nutrition in general and paleo/primal in particular.  I also consider myself pretty darn healthy and don't sweat it when I have gluten or seed oils on rareish occasions.  So I figured being with the family and all it was going to be cool to partake in some holiday baking and have a treat or two.  I wasn't at all going to blink about having some gluten.  And then came out the kryptonite.  CRISCO.  Lots and lots of Crisco.  In the mix and on the pans. It was enough for me to only man up and take a 'bite' of one of the kids treats.   My 'bite' would be stretching the definition of the word really.  I know it wouldn't have been the end of the world and all, but I just thought it funny how much of a turn off that was for me personally at this point.  I believe that stuff would better serve as lubricant on the bottom bracket of my bicycle.  I considered asking nicely if we could use butter to make one of the recipes and then realized that their idea of butter is the country crock spread in their fridge, which is, as you can guess, made from seed oils.  Ah well, at least I have chocolate to cheer me up.

I'll admit to making cookies and such with shortening growing up (right mom!)  The difference now is that they make it in 'sticks' like butter in addition to the big tubs we used to get.  Oh, and that I've learned a thing or three from the interweb thingy about nutrition as well.  I wonder if they think I'm crazy paying so much for real pastured butter?  On second thought, never mind that question