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Groceries + Budget Hacks

food shopping is cheaper than a doctor

Grocery shopping requires balancing financial budgets with health. Let's start our action-hero cooking adventure with the fundamentals - shopping for groceries without breaking the bank. I shop via five main sources, and I grasp how fortunate I am to have these choices as I'm on a budget and having options helps.

  1. an international supermarket packed with produce, bulk beans, etc

  2. Aldi and Trader Joe's for selected items

  3. a small Asian market for selected items

  4. online for bulk foods at a lower price 

  5. farmer's markets

Depending on where you live, prices and choices can vary greatly. Start small and slowly, then go from there. Occasionally, I splurge on things like fancy mustard, vinegar, or San Marzano tomatoes. If the budget allows, some foods in particular are recommended to buy certified organic (and non-GMO). Check out the "Dirty Dozen + Clean Fifteen" lists at Learn More About Groceries + Budget Hacks below.


Where to Shop? / What's a Food Desert? / Two Essential Lists / Sprout It! Grow It! / Cyber Shopping / Meet Ron Finley - Guerilla Gardner in South Central LA / How to Read a Nutrition Label

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Where to Shop?

(turn a food chore into a fun challenge)

I watched a video during my eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate course, which showed how to shop in a supermarket - where to spend most of our time and what departments or aisles to avoid. For a mostly recovered food junkie like me, I've learned to navigate markets so that I don't buy items I can't resist when I get home. 


I'm also a Cookhouse Hero on a budget whose food doesn't get tossed. A low-waste kitchen, where everything is used and re-created, is the ultimate goal. I hope you look forward to trips to the store and can think of this as a fun adventure. Along with having more control over the content/ingredients in your foods and beverages, your bank balance will smile.     

What's a Food Desert?

(limited access to nutritious food)

From Wikipedia: "A food desert is an area which has limited access to affordable and nutritious food, in contrast to a food oasis, which is an area with more access to markets or produce shops with fresh foods." Some community advocates refer to this as Food Apartheid highlighting race disparity and methodical exclusion. 

Citizens of color, rural populations, marginalized communities, and poor people from all walks of life are too often limited to expensive corner markets, convenient stores, or fast food. When a meal costs a few bucks at a fast food joint, and these places are everywhere, it's no wonder health statistics in disenfranchised communities are grim. Watch advocates in Washington DC create positive forward momentum and intelligent change. 

"You know you're in love when the two of you can go grocery shopping... together."

- Woody Harrelson, American Actor + Playwright

Two Essential Lists

Don't like lists? Time to get over it. Love lists that satisfy your A-type personality? Cool. A low-waste kitchen includes a pantry list and a groceries list. Essentials and honorable mentions are included. Paying attention to these lists is indispensable for cooking whole plant foods.

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Sprout It! Grow It!

Broccoli is boss, and broccoli sprouts are even bossier! Sprouts are easy to grow and less expensive than at the store. If you have kids, sprouting is the ticket for making nutrition fun. Same goes for gardens - with pots or plots, get down and dirty and connect to Mama Earth. 


Sprouting seeds and beans, and growing food at home or at a local community garden, calms down the chaos and soothes the culinary soul. Soil can be sexy.

Cyber Shopping

Cookhouse Heroes are known for shopping hard and getting great deals from the best places on bulk items not affordable otherwise. As much as possible, let's shop directly with vendors. Some people are convinced that the only choice is Amazon. Please reconsider, if you possibly can.

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"Growing your own food is like printing your own money."

- Ron Finley, American Food Desert Activist + Educator

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