Friday, February 26, 2010

Affording to eat well

I had mentioned a while back that I'd like to defend the cost of food at places like Whole Foods. I really could write a lot on this subject, but mainly I shop at Whole Foods (and believe me, I'm on a STRICT budget) because I care about what my food is made of. I know that it probably costs me more than most people in my tax bracket care to spend, but I know that I'm not going to inadvertantly buy MSG or Red #40 or High Fructose Corn Syrup. It just is not going to be at Whole Foods. Now, I know that I can probably read the labels at Harris Teeter and get out of there without any such scary "ingredients," but I really like that I'm buying at a store that is on-board with the whole philosophy (kind of like having a baby at home as opposed to a hospital).
Okay, I've read The Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I understand that there is a difference between what Michael Pollan calls "Industrial Organic" and the real thing (as in local organic). I do my best to buy locally from the farmers' markets and other local sources, but there are times that I need to get to one place and do all the shopping then.
It takes a paradigm shift to swallow spending more money. So, as for defending the prices, I'm happy to pay a little more for the confidence that I'm buying GOOD food that is actually food, not food with junk added to it so that it can sit on my shelf for 2 years. I'm happy to provide for my family real meals that have been cooked here at home and not at some factory.  And, yes, we do spend a little more, especially on things like organic chicken and grass-fed beef. But the way we get around that little hiccup is to eat less meat. Portion sizes have gotten way out of control over the years anyway, and some people don't realize that a serving of meat should be about the size of the palm of your hand. Here are a couple of ways that I've stretched out our meals.
While I'm not Catholic, Paul is, so I like to do seafood dishes on Fridays during the season of Lent. Last week we had fish 'n' chips. Tonight we had salmon chowder. I adapted a recipe that I'd found on All Recipes.

Salmon Chowder
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Onion (medium)
2 Cloves garlic, minced
3 Stalks celery
1/2 C flour
6 C Chicken or vegetable broth
1 Lb. Potatoes, cubed
1 Tbsp. Fresh tarragon
1 Tbsp. Fresh thyme 
1 Lb. Salmon fillet, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 Vermouth (or dry white wine)
1/4 Teaspoon Hot sauce
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Black pepper
1 C heavy cream
1 Bag of frozen sweet corn

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, combine the butter, olive oil, garlic, and celery. Cook until onions are soft and transparent. Stir in flour to make a roux. Gradually add broth and stir until thickened. Add potatoes and herbs. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Stir in salmon, vermouth, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Simmer over low heat, uncovered for 10 minutes.
Add cream and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let boil once cream is added. Add corn and stir just to heat through. Serve hot.
This recipe is so easy and absolutely delicious! We ate until we were full, and I know we'll have enough for at least lunch tomorrow! It's a great way to stretch out a main entree that could potentially be on the pricier side.

I also like to stretch out a whole organic chicken by roasting it with a ton of fresh veggies one night, and then turning it into soup the next. This little vegetarian-fed hen cost me about 10 or 12 bucks and fed us three times!


  1. Paul is over here drooling over your salmon chowder. ;) Happy seafood Fridays!

  2. Tell him it's a REALLY easy pescatarian meal! He could make it sometime while you and I go on a trip! :)

  3. will you please share your chicken soup receipe? it looks delicious and not matter what I try, mine is always bland.

  4. Kristin, sure! I sautee onions, celery, and garlic until soft, then add chicken broth and bring to a boi. Then add chicken, carrots, and chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme and parsley). You can add salt and black pepper, too. Bring the temp down to a low simmer, and simmer for a while (however long you want, really). Then just a few minutes before you want to eat, add the egg noodles. Just before serving, I added a bit of cream for that little something extra. Just make sure you're using a good organic chicken and good broth. :)

  5. I never put broth in it, i always use water thinking the chicken carcus will flavor the water. Big mistake I guess. I'll try your way and let you know how it turns out.

  6. Now, you can make your own broth with a chicken carcass. That's the most healthful and most economical way to do it, but it takes some time. That's really getting the most out of your bird!