Clean Plate

Eating Experiment No. 2: Preliminary Findings


to spend as little as possible on food while still getting all my nutrients. Total failure!

My daily and per-meal cost of eating isn’t all that high, though it could be lower. So many commenters made great points and posted amazing perfect-eating-day plans, which I’m still plowing through and hope to compile soon. Loved the fried rice I made, the kale omelet, and lentils! I also love the way that my more healthful eating has made me practically immune to chocolate temptation. I kind of love MyPyramid’s analysis tools, though I could see getting really obsessed with them; so I wouldn’t recommend them for everyone, and I wouldn’t take the numbers too seriously.

Hated: I hated being sick, obviously.

Learned: I learned a lot this week. Some of my favorite foods (pineapple, Cara Cara oranges) are pricey, but I don’t seem willing to give them up. However, I did learn that I’ve been spending $7.19 on a 28-ounce can of McCann’s Steel-Cut Oats at (my grocer of choice–yes, not the least expensive place to shop), when the same amount at Trader Joe’s costs $4.99! Also, 75 cents for an apple is a lot! However, if you are buying for a large family, it makes sense to buy larger, less-expensive bags of fruits and vegetables. Since I’m only buying for two, it still ends up being cheaper to buy fruit by the piece though the per-ounce cost might be higher. I should be buying my dry goods in bulk. Who’s got a recommendation for a good, inexpensive bulk-foods Web site?

On a separate note, I need to work harder to get vegetables into my daily eating. And beans are a wonder food: They’re inexpensive; come in many varieties; supply protein, carbohydrate, and loads of other good things; and are very low in fat. And there’s nothing wrong with beans for breakfast!

As always, I need to plan ahead more. It’s not realistic or fair to expect myself to cook a meal from scratch when I get home from work at 7:30 at night. (I haven’t practiced guitar once since I started this project.) It would be great to have some meals banked for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the week. Obviously I need to make a frittata, as several commenters have suggested. What a great idea!

Foods I like I need to order more of, like cottage cheese. Why do I order only one container of it each week?

Surprises: A lot of commenters mentioned that I’m not eating very much. Part of it was due to illness this week, but I wonder if my appetite is adjusting. I was surprised at how god-awful my coffee is.­ I’d obviously grown numb to the taste of it and should work on making it better and drinking less of it. I really love green tea–that’s not surprising; what’s surprising is that I usually drink that before coffee in the morning. I’m still surprised at how much I like kale. Some of my photos look much better on my black dresser than on my farmhouse dining table. A homemade salad costs more than I thought.

Conclusion: Spending as little as possible on food apparently isn’t a huge priority for me. I suppose if it had to be, it would be, but I prefer to make healthier choices and choose foods I like, even if they are out of season.

My grocery order this week came to $120, a little lower than my usual weekly total cost, but I made better choices. I used MyPyramid to choose foods by group, so I made sure I got items from each food group (grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy, fats), each subgroup (for vegetables: leafy greens, orange, starchy, other), each color group (red, orange and yellow, green, blue and purple, and white; see chart below), and for each meal. I also came up with dishes to cook this week; I’ll be precooking on the holiday tomorrow.

Next Up: Tomorrow I discuss one of the greatest healthy-eating obstacles of all: time.