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Macro Monday: Checking in / Markets / Grocery budget chats.

Hi there friends,

It's been awhile since the last Macro Monday! But now it's June, and June is a lovely month. So Happy Macro Monday!

I've been feeling more inspired by cooking again lately, and am working on a few recipes I'd like to share with you soon.

One of these is a vegan lentil bolgonese sauce. I have a bit more tweaking to do, and then I'll send it your way.  

And another recipe in the works for you is the lovely vegan wholegrain carrot cake I made at Easter. It had a lemon cashew icing, and was delicious. If you follow me on instagram (here's the link!), you may have already seen it. This carrot cake was super healthy, hearty, and very much like what I imagine baked oatmeal would be like. I enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast.

Other than that, I have been doing some gardening, and have already enjoyed eating kale and komatsuna from my little container / pot garden on my balcony. The weather has been fantastic, and T & I have been spending as much time as possible outside. 

GROCERY COST / BUDGET CHAT

I have been doing the larger part of my produce shopping at my local market again, now that it's open at full capacity. This has gotten me thinking a lot about grocery budgets. If you've seen my instagram posts, you'll know that I love sharing pics of my weekly grocery haul. Sometimes I just get a few things, but usually I get a large full basket full of a variety of produce, and while the berries are in season, lots of berries. I try to make this my only produce shop for the week, and this usually works just fine for T & I.

In my experience, at least here in Victoria, despite what many people think, this is much friendlier to our grocery budget, than if I were to buy the equivalent organic things at most grocery stores. And sometimes, I feel like it's even better priced than some of the conventional produce. I know that Vancouver Island has an amazing growing season, but I just can't get over how fairly priced the local and organic veggies are.

In case you're interested, I'll list a few items I regularly buy, with the market price listed first (M), and then a common grocery store (GS) price after:

DAIKON - $2 - 4 M // $5-10 GS (side note: perhaps cheaper in china town).
KALE - $2 -3 M // $3-5 GS
SPROUTS - 2 packages for $5 M // $3-5 per package GS
STRAWBERRIES  - $4-6 M // $5-7 GS (on sale perhaps you can get them for $4).
Fresh BASIL -  $3 giant bunch M // $3-5 GS for a smaller container
Mixed SALAD GREENS - $3-5 M // $4-7 GS 

Here's my giant basket-full of veggies from this weekend:

In case you're wondering, all these vegetables are local (duh), and organic. The quality of these vegtables are MUCH higher than anything I can find at the grocery store. The daikon alone is about half the price of what a similarly sized organic daikon would be at any store, and it is of such higher quality I can barely even compare the two. (most daikon I find at stores is either limp, spongy, or worse yet often moldy!).

This Saturday I packed my basket full of: komatsuna, broccoli, daikon, sprouts, green onions, radishes, collards, salad turnips, the most beautiful green leaf lettuce, basil, mixed kale, baby summer squash and the most tasty little strawberries. The hummus I bought from a local shop on the way home so I haven't included in the price. The total for all these vegetables was $37 CAD. Now, I'm definitely no financial wizard, and perhaps I'm crazy, but this seems like a STEAL of a DEAL! Also considering both the turnips and daikon are sold with their beautiful tops - you can eat these like any other leafy green. I'm all about the 2 for 1 veggies.  I am fairly confident that had I chosen to buy all of these things at a health foods store, I would have paid much closer to, if not more, than $50 CAD. And perhaps more like $40 - 45 for the organic versions purchased at a conventional grocery store.  

I would say this is likely the average amount of produce I buy weekly at the market (some weeks more, some weeks less), but when the berries really start to roll out, my weekly produce price will increase as berries are my fav and are our ultimate summer treat and I will be adding those along to my regular veggie haul.

How much do you spend per week on produce? What do you think - especially fellow Canadians - does $37 seem like a reasonable price, expensive price, or good price for this basket full of organic produce? I'm honestly curious here and welcome your opinions. If you think I can do better, I'd love to know how! (other than growing all the veggies yourself, as I'm doing the best I can at the moment with my balcony garden). 

It makes you think and realize - if you stick to eating veggies, and then items from the bulk bins (whole grains, dried beans, nuts and seeds), with the occasional detour for things like tempeh, tofu, fish, high quality bread, oils, etc., healthy groceries can definitely be affordable.

And one more thing: I understand if organic produce is not importance to you, but it is to me for a few reasons. Firstly, TASTE! Not always, but most often, organic versions are tastier. Seriously. Especially local and organic veggies - so much PRANA! Secondly, the nutritional content issue. Most organic versions of food are higher in vitamins and minerals. Usually, they are grown in better soil yielding more nutritious crops. More nutrition bang per bite. And lastly, obviously, the potential chemicals used in conventional crops are a bit scary. I know that many big organic chains use "organic" pesticides that are supposedly better (they may or may not be), but in my own experience, I have never had organic strawberries that tasted like chemicals, but I have had regular ol' strawberries that do. And ditto that for grapes and all other berries. YICK. 

I'm not completely rigid over organic - I do tend to follow the dirty dozen / clean fifteen guidelines whenever buying 100% organic produce is not possible. And I will try to choose local foods with equal importance as organic because I believe it is the most responsible thing to do environmentally speaking, but I also understand reality and budgets, and I do realize that often organic foods can be more money.

That is why I'm SO EXCITED when it's market season, because my grocery bills usually drop! 

So to wrap up please, tell me about your healthy, perhaps organic, grocery budget tips and tricks!

Check back soon for those recipes <3 <3 <3 

And I'll leave you with a beautiful article written by Phiya Kushi that I found to be extremely inspiring.
Β 

Vegan Ramen with Brown Rice Noodles

Oh mama.

First, just to clear the air - I have never actually had a bowl of real ramen. Yes, I've had the packaged instant ramen noodles back in the day. Does anyone else remember that terrifying phase in the 90s where kids just ate crunchy ramen noodles out the bag at lunchtime? Though I was sad at the time, looking back now, I am so glad my mom wouldn't let us do that. And I've had some fish or veggie ramen out at restaurants before, and they've been wonderful. But I have never had a bowl of delicious, high quality ramen out a good Japanese place or ramen shop - here in Canada, or when I was in Japan.

But don't worry. My guy T, who has indeed tried and loved many a real ramen in his day, loves this version just as much. So do I. I bet you will too.

It's super quick to make, very warming and satisfying on a cool winter evening, you can use up all the odds and ends kind of veggies in your fridge, and really let's be honest: eating squiggly noodles is just fun.

Vegan Ramen (with Brown Rice & Millet Noodles)

for two.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of brown rice ramen noodles. I use this one here, by lotus foods. FYI - they have it at Costco - a 10 pack for around $10 <3
  • 4 - 6 cups of water, or soup stock (we like a lot of broth with our noodles, so we use 6 cups)
  • Veggies of choice. We love: thinly sliced daikon or turnips, carrots, mushrooms of any kind, broccoli, greens - especially cabbage, and green onions.
  • Protein of choice: chickpeas, or some tofu are delicious. Sauteed tempeh would also be mega-yum.
  • lemon juice or vinegar.
  • 3 tsp miso paste of choice (we rotate through mugi miso, a millet miso I picked up, and brown rice miso) OR 1 tbsp shoyu.
  • some spice, if you like it hot: chili pepper flakes, a dash of cayenne, some grated fresh ginger
  • dash of nori flakes or other seaweed flakes.

Directions

  1. Heat up a dash of toasted sesame oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Saute your veggies, starting with the green onions (you can add a pinch of salt), and then add the rest one at at time, starting with the thicker or longer cooking veggies first. Leave out the greens to add in later (unless you're using cabbage, if so, throw them in now).
  3. If using tofu, add it in now and saute for a richer flavour. You can also throw it in later.
  4. Add in soup stock / water.
  5. Bring to boil, and let simmer with the lid on until veggies are fairly tender. If you slice your veggies thinly, then probably around 10 - 15 minutes.
  6. Somewhere along the way, add in a squeeze of lemon, or a dash of brown rice vinegar, and any spices you desire. If using shoyu rather than miso, add the shoyu in now.
  7. Add in sliced greens, and the ramen noodles, and let simmer for about 4 minutes (as per package instructions).
  8. If using Miso, after you put the noodles in, stir your miso with a bit of water or some stock, and add to the pot. let simmer on low (not boiling) for about 4 minutes.
  9. I usually throw in some seaweed flakes near the end, after the noodles are added.
  10.  Enjoy! I like mine with a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime.