Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Farmers Market Meal Fest
I was invited by Aleks to share some of my insight on living ethically on a limited budget. Being a starving artist, being frugal with money is kind of a life style choice. I am happy to discuss some of my habits. When I saw a post about Sun Tea and a post about Roller Derby, I was inspired.
First off, I am vegetarian and I try very hard to eat healthy, and do it without costing me a fortune. One of my rules is never to eat anything with more than three ingredients in it, and preferably only one. The great thing about this rule, is that most things with one ingredient are pretty inexpensive. Another rule I have been abiding by, is an effort to eat locally grown foods as well. The best place I've found, besides growing my own garden, to stick to my guidelines is to attend Farmer's Markets. Farmer's markets sell fresh fruits, veggies, dairy products, canned goods, meats, plants, and bulk items (each one is different). Tables at Farmer's Markets are usually from local farms from the area and feature incredibly good prices on extremely fresh and healthy foods.
There are a few disclaimers about buying food at Farmer's Markets. You need to cook. Because its easy to spend a few dollars and end up with a fridge full of rotting vegetables a week later. Secondly, you need to plan ahead what you are going to make with the food, and make sure you have time to make it. If you are crunched for time, it can be a bad investment. Also, if you are making small meals at a time it can hard to use all the ingredients, so it is extremely beneficial to make large amounts of a certain meal and eat the rest for lunch or leftovers over the next few days.
I often spend $20 dollars at a Farmer's Market and it can make 8-12 large meals, depending on the items I buy. And usually you will have food left over for snacks. That is some good value. And even with my modest cooking skills, everything tastes really good. I try to plan veggies to saute, cook in stew, chilies, soups, toppings for pizza and ingredients for burritos. In the future, I may try to put up a few recipes and the process of making bulk meals from one visit to the Farmer's Market. I often freeze my burritos, or tupperware future lunches.
Now, when I have a girlfriend, roommates, friends or family this Meal Fest is a fun gathering activity. Sometimes we will pool our money to buy even more things and share all the food and make many different meals to share. I also attend Farmer Markets when I am all by myself and although it takes more time and is not as much of a party, it is still a really smart move financially.
If you want to eat healthy, save money and support your local farmers; Farmer's Markets are the only way to go.