We don't automatically purchase the cheapest item in a category. Quality also forms a significant part of the equation when choosing food. How much sugar, how much salt and what other additions are made to place the product on the shelf. Anchovies in Extra Virgin Olive Oil are more expensive but better for you than those in Cotton Seed Oil. The most expensive brand is not always the best quality, often the price includes their marketing costs.
Country of origin plays a significant part in our decision making. Does that country have a reliable mechanism to prevent adulteration? What farming practices and reputation does a country maintain. Some countries are immediately suspect.
With seafood products we not only look at country of origin but also fishing method and sustainability of that species. Fresh seafood can be very expensive while frozen seafood can be quite cheap.
We also try to buy organic or Bio Dynamic wherever possible.
We keep an extensive pantry for a few reasons.
- Preparedness means having sufficient stocks of food in the event of a disaster such as bushfires and floods.
- Shopping on a monthly basis also means we need to stock extra. Some places like the wholesaler we only visit every few months.
- Sometimes a store will carry an item we like or a new item we try and find terrific and then they don't have it again either at all or for months. For items that we frequently find out of stock we always stock a few extra.
Our cooking is reasonably diverse, Asian, Indian, Italian,Greek, Spanish, French, Japanese and so on. Hence we keep a lot of herbs and spices and items which feature in specific countries cuisine.
We keep a number of frozen products such as Mussel Meat which comes in one kilogram packs at only $10. Frozen Whole Sardines are $10 in one kilo packs. Frozen Hoki fillets are less than $7/KG in 6.8 KG shatter packs. Smoked Salmon is a marvellous treat which is inexpensive if you buy the Trimmings. The dogs don't miss out as often you can pick up a few packs of Lamb offcuts for $4/KG.
At the wholesaler we buy most herbs and spices that we can't grow in large 400 gram containers. Coconut milk by the carton. Olive oil in 3 litre tins. Coffee beans by the kilogram.
The same applies in the garden. we try to grow as many different vegetables and fruits as possible. Each have their own special advantage.
Nutrition & Health
I read one blog that someone wrote where they only purchased items in the shops that were marked down thus saving bucket loads of money. The concept seemed fine on the surface until you saw what was being consumed. Packets of custard, sugared flavoured yogurt, pre packaged meals and the list goes on. An opportunity to save money now, ruin your health and spend bucket loads repairing the damaged body at a later stage in life.
We don't keep or eat any of those breakfast cereals such as Corn Flakes, All Bran, Special K etc. They carry far too much sugar and are expensive processed material when compared to the raw ingredients.
Food is medicine.
Variety and freshness are key to good health.
Remember Michael Pollan's advice "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants"
Probably the first two words are most important. "Eat food" means to eat real food -- vegetables, fruits, whole grains including fish and meat. Avoid what Pollan calls "edible food-like substances."
Pollan's Guidelines are:
- Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. Those neat little packaged products that espouse healthy credentials yet have 15 unpronounceable ingredients listed are not health providing.
- Don't eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.
- Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
- Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. There are exceptions such as Honey
- It is not just what you eat but how you eat. "Always leave the table a little hungry,"
- Enjoy meals with the people you love at regular meal times .
- Don't buy food where you buy your fuel.