Where do You Shop? Do You Have a Favorite, or Shop Around?

I finished up what I wanted to accomplish before work this morning, leaving me with questions about why and where others shop.

Date-Nut Butter was on my to do list.  Needing to pick up some dates for this yesterday, I decided to give Aldi’s a try.  I keep hearing people talk about how much they love it.  I’ve been in a few times and walked out, not really getting the big deal.  The first thing as you walk in the door is an entire aisle of chips, candy and other bagged and processed items.  I also don’t do well with warehouse shopping.  It feels like a Rack Room for food.  The out of date items, the brands that no one can sell, sitting on the shelves for who knows how long.  I’m NOT saying that’s true…just feels that way to me.   But, yesterday I was going to see what I could purchase!  I found some trail mix selections.  Different nut and seed varieties.  I like to buy a couple of different ones and mix them together.  Price wasn’t bad.  Ok…first purchase.  Next, I found spicy mustard.  I needed some, and it looked as good as any.  The produce didn’t look too bad.  I found my dates.  They were Medjool, although the price wasn’t any better than Trader Joe’s.  But freshness is the most important element.  Let’s try them.  That was about all I needed, so that would be my first buying experience with Aldi’s.  As for other warehouse stores, I’ve tried Sam’s with no luck, but never been in Costco.  I know they are loved by many, so call me crazy!

I opened the nuts when I got home.  These were nuts I would use in my Date-Nut Butter as well as make my own trail mix.  They weren’t as fresh tasting as I’ve had, but mixed in with other things, probably wouldn’t make much difference.  This morning I used them for my nut butter.  After processing them in the food processor, it was time to add the dates.  Definitely not as fresh as Trader Joe’s.  Some were hard to cut open in order to remove the pit.  Some were fine.  I added my warm water and turned on the processor.  Gonna need a little more water to get these to break down.  Fresh dates don’t need too much added water, but these were a little harder.  Again, making me wonder how long they had been packaged.  I added the water, got things mixed and processed.  Date-Butter ready.  The taste was good, I can’t complain about that.  Not feeling like I’m eating fresh ingredients, I can question.  It didn’t seem like the price savings was great enough to compromise quality.

Which brings us to the many other choices out there.  I have mostly been a Harris Teeter shopper.  I find their rotisserie chickens to be the best, and I usually feel pretty good about their produce.  Like most places now, you can opt for organic or not.  They have the best deal on kale…large bunch that seems to be fresher than anywhere I’ve shopped and a great price.  I was never a Trader Joe’s shopper until my daughter started working there.  It was nice, of course, for the discount, but I also found out what the fuss was about.   Everything is good quality and usually at a very good price.  I now only buy my meats and eggs there.  And…as you well know…dates!  I also find their nuts to be fresh and reasonably priced and I love their bags of already prepared produce.  If you hate the preparation of vegetables, this is the way to go!  I am such a fan of the cauliflower rice.  It’s so versatile and adds a great texture to any dish.  I use it as a side dish, or add other ingredients and make a meal of it.  So simple and ready in no time.  That’s a great one for  a “too tired to cook” night.  Throw in a few of the already 20170526_184432prepared veggies and you have supper before even thinking about how going out might be a good idea.

I do occasionally try the higher end stores.  Whole Foods has some good choices and sometimes you can find a good price or a sale that will make you glad you came in!  Fresh Market is a beautiful store, but I only shop there when I’m feeling a bit extravagant!  Where is your favorite?  I think we all gravitate to one place as our go to, maybe venturing in another on occasion.  I’ve tried most in my area – oh, I left out Ingles.  Never knew of them until moving to this area.  I do find them expensive and some things are very questionable.  They are a last resort for me, but will go if needed.

I don’t think most people like to shop around, it can be very time consuming.  But, after years of looking for the best deals, watching all of these stores evolve and wanting the freshest quality at a reasonable price, I feel like I know exactly where to go to get what I need.  Funny, but it actually makes shopping easier.  If I know what I’m after, I can go right to that store and I’m done.  No shopping around, wandering through the aisles, or wondering if I got the best deal.  So, although I may travel to different places, it has, for me, become a time saver!  What are you looking for in a store?  Do you shop around, or stick with what’s close?

How about a Cauliflower Rice vegetarian dinner tonight?

Easy Vegetarian Cauliflower Rice

1 Bag Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Rice

1 Bag Snow Peas

1 Pint Heirloom Grape Tomatoes

1 Red Pepper, chopped

1 Red Onion, diced

2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and chopped20170526_190926

1 Can Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed

Juice for 1/2 lemon

2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet, heat olive oil and add onions and garlic.  Sprinkle vegetables with a pinch of salt.  Turn heat to medium/low.  When onions are a bit translucent, add tomatoes and red pepper.  Let cook 3-4 minutes and add snow peas, stirring into other vegetables.  Cook 3-4 minutes and stir in garbanzo beans.  Add cauliflower rice last, along with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Stir to incorporate all of ingredients.  Let cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Serve with sliced avocado.  It is a meal in itself!  Mix it with chicken or salmon the next night, and you have a completely new meal.  Enjoy!

Until next time –

Embrace your age…it’s who you are!

I’m Too Tired to Cook, but I Don’t Want to Go Out…

When I lived in Charleston, the one big question of visitors to the Holy City was “Where should we eat?”  Such a great question in such an incredible foodie town!  There is a charlestonrestaurant on every corner and in each building in between.  Rest assured that if one closes today, there will be one in line and ready to open tomorrow.  It’s almost like the line at Home Goods, each customer waiting for the cashier to yell “Next”!  How could you not find a place?  Problem is, I am the wrong person to answer that kind of question…   Eating out is not my thing, even in a town with so many fabulous choices.

 

Going out to eat is one of the most frustrating activities I seem to encounter.  There are too many decisions involved, and I can’t ever seem to resolve them.  Many a night on my way home from work, I would think grabbing a bite out would be a great idea.  So, I’d call my daughter and start the process.  And it was a process…where should we eat, what do you feel like eating, that’s really expensive, I’m too tired to go back out…the list was endless.  And, after 30 minutes of deliberation, we would always realize that what we felt like eating, what was the least time consuming, what was most cost effective and where we should go, turned out to be a meal at home.  Truth be told, I’d rather eat my own cooking anyway, since I know from whence it came!

 

Much to most people’s disbelief, cooking at home is the easiest solution to that satisfying dinner after a long day.  You know what you are putting in your body, dinner can be made, eaten and cleaned up faster than going out, you certainly don’t have to change or freshen up to eat at home, definitely less expensive, and by far the healthiest choice.  Don’t get me wrong, a nice meal out with good company, when I’m looking forward to it, is a lot of fun.  And a spontaneous night out can wake up a boring week.  That’s what the eating experience should be…fun, enjoyable and savored.  But for the night after a long day, I hear many folks say that it’s too much trouble to cook for one or two.  I do it every night and find it much easier than going out.  My routine is usually to come home, a nice long walk with my little furry friend, maybe water the plants or take care of something

kipper at craggy
Kipper

 else that needs attention around the house and then prepare my meal.  I do, sometimes, think I don’t feel like going through the motions of preparation, but once I have put the day behind me and start the process, I rather enjoy it.  As I  start getting a feel for the direction of the meal, putting it together is very satisfying.  On most occasions I have enough for leftovers and I feel like I’ve treated myself to a wonderful night out if I dine on the patio. If my daughter is home, nothing is more fun than preparing a meal together.  And the benefits of a  meal prepared with love and fun are far greater than any restaurant can offer.

 

I have since moved to Asheville, another foodie town, and nothing has changed.  Although the thought of stopping to get something on the way home, or going out to grab a bite still enters my head, I find myself continuing to enjoy my meals at home.  Many weeks I’ll pick a day and cook some things for that night as well as the week ahead.  My

roasted chicken
Lemon Roasted Chicken cooked in a cast iron skillet

favorite food to cook for the week is a whole roasted chicken.  Cooking meat on the bone is so much more flavorful and excellent for the health of your bones. Wow is it good when it’s fresh out of the oven, but, oh the things you can do with it after that.  And you never feel like you’re eating leftovers!  I can almost eat an entire week on a chicken, at least 4 or 5 days.  With nothing being too complicated or time consuming.  I am all about simple!  Roasted Chicken and Avocado Chicken Salad is an entire meal in one, and great for this time of year.  Chicken vegetable soup is a very quick fix.  Grab some chicken broth and whatever veggies you might like to add, if none at home.  I love the bags of cauliflower rice that you can cook quickly and add anything you want for an entire meal.  Add some cut up chicken to that, with some baby spinach and mushrooms,  or grape tomatoes and you are all set for night 4.  If there is any chicken left for night 5, make it a stir fry.  Onions, snow peas, broccoli and your cut up chicken.  You’ve had lots of good meals, with little fuss.  Don’t forget the bones of the chicken left to cook up some broth for the next chicken soup or a special treat for the pup!!  Mine loves chicken broth in his supper!  Everyone is happy!

 

20170130_183403
Chicken Veggie Soup

 

20160506_192227
Cauliflower Rice
20150710_212109
Chicken Stir Fry

So, go on, live a little…create that great, healthy, inexpensive, time saving meal at home and enjoy all of the love and happiness you’ve put into it!  Let me know your favorite meal to prepare for the week.  How do you mix and match your leftovers?

Try my tasty Roasted Chicken and Avocado Salad and let me know what you added to make it your own!

 

Roasted Chicken and Avocado Saladchicken salad

 

1 Whole Chicken, roasted or 4 Bone-In Chicken Breasts, roasted

1 Small Sweet Onion, diced

1 Pint Grape Tomatoes, cut in half

½ C Pumpkin Seeds

1 Avocado, cut into pieces

Juice from Half Lemon

Juice from Half Lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Pull chicken off of the bone and rough chop.  Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Serve over mixed greens or spinach.  One of my favorites is Arugula.  Add Blueberries for a little fruit sweetness, if you like.   Enjoy!

 

Until next time…

Embrace your age…it’s who you are!