Books, my skinny kid, evil Nutella, & blogging under the influence

This lovely Friday night, I’m linking up with Anne for Quick Lit and with Kelly (finally!) for Seven Quick Takes.

I’ve been reading . . .

1. Cassie’s post--what do you think about the idea of sex scarcity as the primary male motivator on a societal level?  Meaning that, if we women give it up too easily, men, by and large, will devolve into oafish man-boys who while away their lives playing video games and viewing porn in their parents’ basements.  (Cassie does not put it so bluntly, but I do.)

2. This article, handed out at a parents’ night at my girls’ school recently.  I read it already some months ago, via Mary, I think.  What a blessing to have a school that shares this wisdom!

I find it fascinating that in the gospels there is not one mention of Jesus coming against immodesty, even though among his followers were prostitutes and the like.  Jesus emphasized cleaning up the inside while the Pharisees were the ones preoccupied with cleaning up the outside.  We must as ourselves: Which are we more like — Jesus or the Pharisees?

. . . .

We have gone [the Pharisees’] way when we judge others.  It is easy to miss this area of pride because we may not express our judgments “arrogantly”; we may instead wrap them in compassionate-sounding words.  Arrogance wrapped in concerned tones is deceiving. . . . We will think we are just making observations and feeling pity, when in fact, we are looking down on others from or lofty place of confident enlightenment.  It is a high view of ourselves that allows us to condescend to and belittle others in our mind.

. . . .

[W]e will also imagine others are judging us.  Consequently, we will find ourselves frequently being defensive.  We assume that others will think lowly of us for some perceived inadequacy, so we offer unsolicited explanations and clarifications for us or our children. . . . If we live under fear of judgment, not only will we tend to be on the defensive, but whenever we are in a public setting where our children might be “watched,” we will put pressure on them.

The middle paragraph–I think I will live my whole life still working on that.

3. Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub.  This was an interesting read.  It introduced me to this video (“Sugar: The Bitter Truth”) on the dangers of fructose, which was very interesting and enlightening.

4. Skinny Girl 1 (not a book): So I resolved that the whole family would be off sugar for the month of January, birthdays excepted. Pat and I also decided that the whole family would be on the Perfect Health Diet for the month of January, to see if we noticed an improvement in the girls’ health and behavior.

Up until now, Girl 1’s diet consisted primarily of wheat and fruit and carrots–bread product with Nutella for breakfast, bread product with Nutella for lunch, pasta for dinner, with fruit and carrot sticks and Goldfish crackers on the side.  I hoped that taking wheat out of the picture would whet her appetite for more nutritious food.

Well.

If Girl 1 doesn’t like what’s offered, she doesn’t eat.  She now eats egg and banana pancakes (with lots of maple syrup), but other than that, her palate has not broadened.

I weighed her on Wednesday and found she had LOST a pound since last May.  She’s now about 50″ tall and weighs only 48 pounds.  I don’t know when the weight loss started, because I haven’t tracked it until now.  Likely she lost weight when she had a stomach bug around Christmas.  She went several days hardly eating and never quite got her appetite back.  Also, a few months ago she decided she didn’t like milk and cheese; that can’t help.

So anyway, the girls are now off the Perfect Health Diet.  I ordered pizza last night and made chocolate cupcakes this afternoon.  And of course that led me to cheat on my diet, too.  But I’ll be better tomorrow.

Eat, little girl, eat!

5. Another thing on my list of things that didn’t work in 2014 was buying Nutella on the reg.  (It was on my Forever Grocery List.)  The girls got very attached to it and me, well . . .

It's been an eat Nutella straight from the jar kind of day

It’s been an eat Nutella straight from the jar kind of day

that kind of day–> every day –> I gained a lot of weight.

I appreciated Elizabeth Esther’s post for the reassurance I wasn’t the only one thwarted by the devil-in-a-jar.

6. I got this book for Girl 1 for Christmas, and she’s off to a good start with it.

I Can Draw People from Usborne books

7. Perhaps I mentioned this already, but I’m reading the Ramona books with the girls.  Sometimes I read aloud, sometimes I play the audiobook read by Stockard Channing.  So much fun.  The chapter in Ramona the Pest where Howie takes Ramona’s old stuffed bunny-turned-cat-toy to Show & Tell–hilarious!  I read it aloud to the girls and laughed so hard I cried.  (I may or may not have had a touch of PMS at the time.)  The girls were fascinated and a little scared.

Happy weekend folks!  I raise my second glass of cheap pinot noir in your honor!  (Or I would, if it weren’t empty already.)

XOXO

Advertisements

Five Favorites: Meals To Bring To A Friend

I help coordinate meals for new moms in my parish, and I love this ministry.  It’s a concrete way to carry out the corporal work of mercy “Feed the Hungry.”  Maybe the people you bring a meal to aren’t going to starve without your meal, but you are literally feeding the hungry.  And I know what a blessing it was to be fed by the friends and friendly acquaintances who brought meals after I had my babies.

Link-up at From Little Hands

So I’m linking up today with Maia and with Hallie and listing some favorite meals to share:

1. Man-pleasing chicken: Don’t be put off by the name.  It’s woman-pleasing too!  I use a bag of individually frozen chicken thighs (defrosted).  Easy to make and so, so good.  gluten-free and dairy-free.

Man-pleasing chicken

2. Bare minimum mode chicken a la Jen: I chop up potatoes and onions and add some baby carrots, drizzle olive oil and shake on salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil and marjoram.  Then I put frozen chicken breasts on top, drizzle and shake some more, then bake at 425 degrees (F) for about 45 minutes.  It’s a great one-dish meal and it smells awesome.  GF, DF.

3. Creamy parmesan chicken.  You can make it using either mayonnaise or yogurt.  This was a hit each time I made it.

Parmesan crusted chicken

 I’d love to bring homemade desserts and sides, but usually I just make rice and bring a bagged salad kit and ice cream for dessert.  I still remember when my youngest biological sibling was born, and my family received lots of meals.  It was heavenly for us kids . . . ice cream every night!

Actually . . . these three meals are it.  I stick with them most of the time.  I’ve made some doozies in the past though . . . .  One time I made shrimp alfredo and decided to cook the pasta and mix the sauce into it before the 30 min drive to the person’s house.  I shudder to think of the gloppy mess it must have become. . . . And I used to find myself trying out a recipe for the first time the afternoon that I’d promised to bring a meal to someone.  No more!

So to finish out my list,  other favorites for meal deliveries are:

4. Disposable dishes: I try to bring the food in aluminum pans or other disposable dishes so that the recipients don’t have to wash and keep track of and return a bunch of dishes.

5. Pizza delivery: If you don’t have time to make a meal for someone, consider ordering them a pizza.  It feels like a cop-out not to cook, but I think it’s usually a treat to have a fresh, paid-for pizza delivered to your door.  This isn’t always affordable, although a lot a pizza places have mid-week specials.  Also, a rotisserie chicken is a good choice when you’re running low on time.

6. (Bonus!) TakeThemAMeal: Great online meal scheduling calendar.  Very easy to use and prevents people  getting the same dish over and over.

What about you?  What’s your go-to meal to bring to people?  And what was your favorite meal to receive?

Perfect Health Diet: The Results Are In, Part II

Why We’re No Longer Going Gluten-free

Short version: Some improvements.  Not a panacea.  Not following it closely this year.  (You can read part 1 of this post here.)

Long version:

I want to preface this by very clearly stating that we did not follow the diet exactly, or even close to exactly.  

We started out being “good” even when eating out or eating at other people’s houses.  But that fell by the wayside real fast.  And even when eating at home, we had some weeks where we fell off the wagon completely.

But for the most part, I followed the Perfect Health Diet for the meals and snacks I prepared at home for Pat and me, which make up 80- 90% of our food consumption every week.

My main reason for trying this in the first place was to help tame my sugar cravings and food addiction tendencies.

  • Result: Improved.
    • Not surprisingly, the less I eat sugar and processed foods, the less I crave them.  But the problem has not gone away completely, not by a long shot.
    • If I eat balanced meals (protein and carbs), I experience fewer cravings.
      • Not enough protein –> hungry between meals;
      • Not enough carbohydrate –> sugar cravings between meals.
    • I did seem to experience less hunger and fewer cravings when taking all the supplements that the PHD recommends, but I haven’t been doing this long or consistently enough to tell for sure.  Taking all the supplements recommended–plus a few that I’ve added for various reasons–is just too much for me to keep up.
This isn't even all of them.

This isn’t even all of them.

  • Energy/ overall sense of wellbeing: Honestly, not a huge difference.
  • Weight: Pat lost ~ 12 pounds but has started to gain it back.  I did not lose any.

  • Plan going forward: Keep following most of the general principles but not the Perfect Health Diet per se, particularly, because . . .

We’re just not gluten intolerant.

(Double negatives . . . hmmm. “We’re gluten tolerant.”  Is that better?)

We eat a lot of meat and rice and potatoes and vegetables, and that’s all well and good.  But often enough I made pizza or pancakes or pasta or muffins, and used gluten-free ingredients for them.  This requires additional expense and effort.  I found myself thinking, “Why am I bothering with this when we tolerate gluten just fine?”  I can’t come up with a good enough answer here.

(For a while I thought Girl 2’s eczema was caused my wheat, but I’ve since concluded that it isn’t.  Also, Pat’s weight loss seemed possibly due to cutting out gluten.  But given that he shows no other signs of gluten intolerance, I’m not so sure.)

The Perfect Health Diet book is insistent that all grains and legumes, other than rice and a few less common ones, are bad for all of us, in general.  I found this one of the least convincing sections.  But then, I don’t have a scientific background, nor did I do much additional research on the issue.

Regardless, it’s a lot of effort to avoid grains without a specific health problem as motivation.  Going forward, I’m going to direct my energies elsewhere.

I want to keep up the following:

  • Avoiding processed sugar as much as possible, and using honey, maple syrup, etc. only sparingly.
  • Avoiding processed foods (chips, crackers, breakfast cereal, etc.)
  • Avoiding vegetable oils (corn, soybean, etc.) and instead using butter, coconut oil, and olive oil.
  • Keeping most of our meals meat-and-vegetable based, and not making many meals based on pasta, bread, or other grains.
  • Continuing to take supplements, but just the ones that most directly address my specific nutritional needs/concerns, rather the full panoply recommended by the PHD.

This past year brought into focus one issue very clearly: my food issues (and mood and energy levels and  overall well-being) are influenced very strongly by hormones.  I can be “good” for several weeks and then it comes to be that time of the month before that other time of the month and *bam*

eat-all-the-things

So my priority for the coming year is to address this issue, and I’ll be blogging about it more in the coming weeks.

Health & Nutrition: Whom To Trust?

I unwittingly mentioned to Girl 2’s allergist that Pat and I don’t eat gluten.  She looked at me like I had two heads.

“That is a 4 billion dollar industry,” she said accusingly, implying that I had fallen for the hype.  (“And wheat is probably a 400 billion dollar industry,” I wanted to retort, but didn’t.)   I mentioned that my husband has lost weight this way.  “Well yes,” she cut in, “cutting out gluten reduces calories.”

Well, what I meant was, he’s lost weight without any discernable reduction in overall calories.  I know that cutting out gluten-containing foods, without making up for the lost calories elsewhere, would cause weight loss.

Apparently I had my “STUPID” sign on my forehead that day, because that’s how she was treating me.

But I really don’t care what she thinks and I didn’t want to discuss Pat’s and my diet, anyway.  We were there for allergy testing for Girl 2.  (She came back “very slightly positive” for a multitude of foods, including chicken.  Chicken!  Who’s allergic to chicken??  The doc said not to treat the results as true positives and to keep feeding her as normal.  Clear as mud, as my dad likes to say.)

But the conversation got me thinking about this Perfect Health Diet experiment we’ve been on, and other alternative nutrition/ natural remedy type things I’ve been trying.  If you read enough from that non-mainstream point of view, you start thinking it’s normal.   Then, *bam* mainstream hits you in the face.

I’ve always been more of a mainstream kind of gal, when it comes to health and nutrition.  So how did I jump on this crazy train, anyway?

I guess my point of departure was the sugar craving and overeating problem I’ve had for forever.  Jennifer’s experience was so positive, it seemed worth a try.  And the Perfect Health Diet book and related nutrition authorities like Weston A. Price, etc. seem to make sense.  They address issues that mainstream nutrition authorities leave unanswered.

For instance, humanity has been eating eggs for millions of years, until we “discovered” in the 1980s (or whenever it was)

Butter and a butter knife

Butter and a butter knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

that they’re bad for you.  Then we “discovered” in the 2000s that they’re good for us after all.  Or trans fat: decades ago the common belief was that margarine and other partially hydrogenated vegetable oils were healthier than butter and lard.  Now, it turns out, the trans fat contained in those items is really bad and we were better off with butter and lard.

Maybe it makes sense to just eat eggs.  And cream, and butter, and steak.  Americans started getting so obese after we were told to stop eating this stuff that people have eaten for forever.  (Of course, people have been eating wheat for a heckuva long time, too, which is why I’m not a firm believer . . . yet . . . in the anti-gluten aspect of our diet.)

Not being a scientist, though, I feel like either “side,” so to speak, could be pulling the wool over my eyes.  For example, Perfect Health Diet et al. speak of the “lipid hypothesis.”   They pretty convincingly argue that the supposed connection between saturated fat and heart disease (and related ailments) is unfounded.  But I feel like the mainstreamers, the proponents of the “lipid hypothesis,” could argue just as convincingly (like this, perhaps).  I’ve yet to see a good side-by-side comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of each position.

Scientific data are so easily manipulated to support one position or another.  Scientific studies themselves only prove so much.  And I have neither the ability nor the patience to read the scholarly literature myself.  So most of us read a few books or articles written for laymen (“secondary sources,” if you will), and decide to toss our hat into one ring or another.

And as I buy gluten-free products for my family–none of whom has a discernible sensitivity to gluten–and toss back gaggingly large handful of supplements every day . . . I start to second guess tossing my hat into the non-mainstream ring.

IMG_4612

Or course, a lot of what we’re doing (or at least trying to do), is what everyone agrees is healthier: avoiding processed foods, avoiding sugar, eating more vegetables.  But choosing coconut oil over canola?  Ribeye steak over chicken breast?  White potatoes over whole wheat?  Cream over skim milk?  Sometimes it feels right to me, sometimes it doesn’t.  And with different authorities saying different things, all I’m really left to go by is my gut instinct.

For now my gut tells me, “So far, so good.”  I haven’t seen any drastic improvement in my health.  But Pat’s lost weight, and my sugar/ food issues are better, if not gone.  I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but soon we’ll schedule our yearly physicals.  Depending on how our blood work looks, we’ll reassess.

Until then . . . I’m enjoying all the butter.  😉

Menu Plan Monday Plus Healthy Avocado “Ranch” Dressing

Lately I recalled something my sister-in-law unexpectedly said when she spent a semester Rome and was talking to us over the phone:

You know what I miss? . . . Raaaaanch dressing.

There she was in Italy, eating wonderful food every day, and she missed that uniquely American blend of soybean oil, buttermilk, and high fructose corn syrup.

I know exactly how she felt.

I am sick of oil and vinegar on my salad.  So I concocted a little Avocado-Ranch-ish concoction.  It might not taste exactly like Hidden Valley, but it’s delish and it’s Perfect Health Diet compliant (or at least it can be, if you make your own mayo).  Here it is:

Primal Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2T mayonnaise (you can make your own from olive oil and egg)
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2/3 c. whole-milk yogurt (preferably not Greek)
  • 2 T rice vinegar (or white vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried dill

Mash up the avocado and then mix everything together well.  Makes about 1.5 cups.

Primal avocado "Ranch" dressing

Primal avocado “Ranch” dressing

You can leave out the mayonnaise and increase the yogurt a bit.  It’s tangier and a bit less creamy, but still good.

I’m  linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday today.  Our menu has stayed pretty much the same the past few weeks.  Here’s what it looks like:

  • Breakfasts: Usually banana-egg “pancakes”
  • Lunches: Leftovers, plain yogurt with frozen blueberries, or rice cakes with cheese

We usually eat rice or potatoes on the side, along with either a green salad or a cooked, frozen vegetable.

Have a delicious week!

Shopping for the Perfect Health Diet at Walmart

The Results Are In.

English: Walmart Home Office, the headquarters...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Our total grocery spending for September was $1078.  (This includes diapers, paper products, cleaning supplies, and over-the-counter medications.)   I made all of our main, weekly grocery shopping trips at Walmart
  • This is a slight increase from our August total of $1059, when I did the bulk of our shopping at Aldi.
  • Factoring in the $22.40 required for gasoline to shop at Aldi that month, however, the total was $1081, which means . . . .

My grocery costs were basically the same at Aldi as at Walmart.

  • Our 12-month average before I started this experiment was $1188.  Wal-mart always has been my primary grocery store in theory, but I had slipped into shopping more and more at the closer, more expensive “regular” grocery store.

Shopping at Aldi and Walmart resulted in a net savings of $107-110 per month, or about 9% of our average monthly grocery expenditure.  

  • During both months, we made smaller trips to other stores as needed.  In August, these smaller trips added up to a full 50% of our grocery bill.  I attribute this to Aldi having a smaller selection.  In September, our smaller trips to other stores were only 20% of the total.

My spreadsheet has prices for various items at Walmart, Aldi, and our local grocery store (Martin’s).   You can see it here: grocery price spreadsheet.

Advantages of shopping at Walmart:

  • It is in near to our house,
  • It has low prices, and
  • It has everything.

Disadvantages of shopping at Walmart:

  • It has everything.  I can’t seem to walk out of Wally World without spending $230.  Why $230?  I don’t know, but the total is usually $230-something.  Our non-grocery household expenditures were $250 more the month I shopped at Walmart than when I shopped at Aldi.  Coincidence?  Probably not.  But there are so many other factors involved here that I’m not including this in my analysis now.
  • Okay, it doesn’t have everything.  I still have to go to other stores for items like rice syrup.
  • Also . . . I hate it.

Man, I really hate shopping at Walmart.  It’s huge.  It’s ugly.  It’s depressing.  I know I’m being classist here, but the general population there . . . you know . . . .  (As Pat put it, “We always see people we know at Target, but we don’t see as many people we know at Walmart.”  Yeah.)

Sometimes we went together as a family on the weekend.  This works, but Walmart is such a crowded, depressing place to be on the weekend.  It’s not so bad on weekday mornings, but that entails my taking the girls on my own.  That never, ever ends well.  And Walmart at night, after the girls are in bed, is a very scary place.

But a slightly more pleasant grocery shopping experience is not worth $1300 a year to me.

My plan going forward: Regular weekly trips to Walmart, plus one monthly trip to Aldi for items like maple syrup, frozen blueberries, and cheese, that consistently are cheaper at Aldi.  I’ll also try to make a monthly trip to the nearest grocery outlet (over 30 minutes away).  It has great prices but its selection varies widely.

What about you: where do you do your grocery shopping?  And if you follow a whole foods/ paleo/ GAPS/ Perfect Health Diet type of diet, how do you keep costs down?

****

I Say M&Ms, You Say Scrambled Eggs: M&Ms! Scrambled Eggs! M&Ms! Scrambled Eggs!

. . . And Calf Liver and  . . . Epsom Salt Baths

I’m finally reading the second edition of Perfect Health Diet (“PHD”).   I’m particularly intrigued by their advice on nutritional supplements.  Apparently deficiencies in copper, zinc, and magnesium are quite common, even for those following a healthy diet.  You know what contains all of those nutrients?  Chocolate.  You know what I crave almost all the time?  Chocolate.  Hmmm.

Dark chocolate also contains iron, which I might be deficient in also.  I’ve started taking Floradix.  It’s too early to tell for sure, but I think it’s improved my energy levels.  PHD warns against iron supplements . . .  except for menstruating women.  Well, guess what I am?  And guess what I crave at those particular times of the month?  Hmmm.

I must admit I tried to follow the PHD supplement recommendations early on, but I quickly tired of taking so many pills, especially as I have to stagger them throughout the day to avoid stomach ache.   According to PHD, it’s basically impossible to get enough copper unless you eat liver every week, or possibly a LOT of chocolate.  I just cannot do organ meat.  Not. Going. There.  And chocolate prices are on the rise.  So, supplementation it is!

Problem is, sometimes M&Ms call out my name like you would not believe.  The dark, more bitter stuff just doesn’t compete.  PHD mentions that cravings for sweets often indicate a need for protein.  I have noticed that if I’m craving sweets but eat protein instead, the cravings go away.  The hard part is force myself to eat protein instead of the sweets.

So, I’m hoping not be undone by M&Ms (or chocolate peanut butter) so much in the future.  Next time the cravings hit, I’ll quickly down some scrambled eggs, with a chaser of dark chocolate, and then jump in an Epsom salt bath for some extra magnesium-y oomph.

We’ll see . . . .

Reading PHD again also reminded me that I should be eating less chicken and more beef  . . . or lamb or goat or liver so . . . beef it is!  Here’s my menu plan for the coming week, with an extra helping of beef.  I’m  linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday (better late than never):

Melt-in-your-mouth parmesan chicken breasts

  • Lunches: Leftovers, salads, and um, leftovers.  Oh, and plain yogurt with frozen blueberries.  Pat eats rice cakes with cheese a lot.
  • Dinners:

Monday: Paleo crockpot beef brisket (Really tasty and easy; I use chuck)

Tuesday:  Pan-fried salmon with rice and green beans

 

Wednesday: Yummy Baked Thingy (ground beef casserole)

Thursday:  Tilapia with spinach and tomatoes baked in foil

Friday: Shrimp stir-fry with rice noodles

Saturday: Parmesan chicken (using Greek yogurt instead of mayo)

Sunday: Crock-pot lime beef stew (trying out a new recipe)

Have a delicious week!

This Week’s Menu Plan

Real quick-like, here’s my menu plan for the week.  I’m  linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday:

  • Lunches: Leftovers, salads, and um, leftovers.  Oh, and plain yogurt with frozen blueberries.  Pat eats rice cakes with cheese a lot.
  • Dinners:

Monday: Shrimp stir fry with rice or rice noodles

Tuesday: Man-pleasing chicken  (so good; one of our favorite recipes)

Wednesday: Spinach and tomato frittata


Thursday:  Paleo crockpot beef brisket (Really tasty and easy; I used chuck)

Friday: Salmon cooked one way or another

Saturday: Cajun-spiced tilapia

Sunday: Back-to-school BBQ with Girl 1’s school

Have a delicious week!

 

New & Improved Menu Plan

I added some new recipes to our weekly meal lineup:

Easy chicken and spinach from Paleo on a Budget.  This is very easy and yet so good.  The lemon and basil flavors blend so beautifully.  I left out the garlic.  (**Just made it again using frozen spinach, which the recipe calls for.  It’s fine but better with fresh spinach.)

Easy spinach and chicken from Paleo on a Budget

Yummy baked thingy, also from Paleo on a Budget.  It’s kind of a cross between a hearty bolognese, a meatloaf, and chili.  So simple, endless variations.  Very satisfying.

Wilted spinach with scrambled eggs and avocado.  For breakfast!  Thank you Michaela for this idea.  Never would have thought of it on my own, and it’s great!

Hearty sausage fried rice a la Jen Fulwiler: I made this last night.  Very yummy.   I couldn’t fit the full four cups of rice in the pan along with all the other ingredients, so mine ended up being more sausage and veggies and less rice.  I used Jimmy Dean’s Italian sausage because it doesn’t have MSG, unlike some of the other varieties.   Will be making this again.

Finally, salmon with zucchini baked in parchment.  (I used foil.)

This reminds me of these guys:

Can anyone tell me why???  Is anyone out there as much of a creepy fan as I am?? *

So here’s the menu plan, linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday:

Monday: Sausage fried rice (above)

Tuesday: Paleo crockpot beef brisket (I’m using chuck; we’ll see how it turns out)

Wednesday: Chicken and spinach (above)

Thursday: Yummy baked thingy (above)

Friday: Salmon and zucchini in parchment (or aluminum foil, as the case may be) (above)

Saturday: Man-pleasing chicken  (so good; one of our favorite recipes)

Sunday: Shrimp stir fry

Have a delicious week!

* The answer can be found in this article.

Can You Shop for the Perfect Health Diet at Aldi? Yes, but . . .

**Update: I get a number of hits on this post from people searching for whether Aldi has coconut oil.  As of November 8, 2014, the answer is now yes!  They have a 14 oz. jar of unrefined coconut oil (“Simply Nature” store brand) for $7, as I recall.  It was near the baking ingredients and cooking oil.****

 

I made my four main weekly grocery shopping trips at Aldi last month, hoping to lower our grocery spending.  Here’s the lowdown:

  • Our total grocery spending for August was $1058.72;
  • Our 12-month average before last month was $1188.32 (I had miscalculated this slightly in my earlier post);
  • I spent about $22.40 more in gas, as Aldi is a ways away from our house;  therefore we achieved a

Net Savings of $107.20, or 9% of our average monthly grocery expenditure.  

This is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s less than I had hoped.

The disadvantages of shopping at Aldi were

  1. The distance (not an issue for everyone, obviously),
  2. The self-bagging system: I find this especially burdensome when I have the kids in tow, and
  3. The limited selection: I still had to make trips to other stores to get things like coconut oil, coconut milk, dish soap, unsweetened almond milk, and all-natural peanut butter.
It takes all my moral courage plus a bag of chocolate pretzels to get through a grocery trip with this one.    And then I have to bag my own groceries???

It takes all my moral fortitude plus a bag of chocolate pretzels to get through a grocery trip with this one.  And then I have to bag my own groceries???

The advantages of shopping at Aldi are

  1. The limited selection: this has an upside.  I made do without some items or buying less expensive alternatives.  For instance, Aldi doesn’t have jasmine rice  (they had it when I went on Nov. 8, 2014), so I settled for less-expensive regular rice.  Aldi only has artichoke hearts in cans.  I prefer buying them in glass jars, which is more expensive, but I made do with the cans.  Etc.
  2. The price.  Obviously.   Aldi beats out the other stores for almost every item on my list (you can see my slightly updated grocery price spreadsheet).  I was tickled to find a good price at Aldi for real maple syrup:

IMG_3446

It’s sooo much better tasting and better for you than the fake stuff.  It isn’t Perfect Health Diet compliant, as far as I know, but I use it in small amounts for this recipe, a favorite of ours:

Man-Pleasing Chicken (woman-pleasing too!)

and for occasional treats like this:

For September I plan to make our weekly grocery shopping trips at Walmart, which is much closer to me.  Its prices are higher than Aldi but only marginally so.  I am hopeful that price difference will be cancelled out by the savings on gasoline.  We shall see . . . .

****