So I’m full speed ahead into week 2 of my $25-a-week good food challenge and so far so good. This week’s grocery total was $21.32. Almost a quarter of that was my purchase of a pound of Laura’s Lean Beef – cattle raised on a diet of natural grasses and grains, without growth hormones or antibiotics. I’m up to my eyeballs in beans and am ready for a little variety. But at $4.99 a pound, a pound is about all I was willing to purchase on a $25 budget. I did the bulk of my shopping at the supermarket because I wasn’t able to make it to the farmer’s market this week. Laura’s was the only brand of grass fed beef available, and there was no ground turkey (my usual ground meat purchase) that was processed from cage free turkey.
The toughest part of this week’s challenge was not sticking to the $25 budget. It wasn’t giving up processed foods or refined sugar. No, the toughest part of this week was stopping myself from counting calories and weighing myself.
I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that over the years, tracking what I could and couldn’t eat and weighing myself have become an obsession. Ironically, none of that obsessive tracking did anything to stop me from gaining weight. But it’s become so much a part of what I do and who I am, that not doing it seems foreign to me. Enter my public declaration on Women at Forty that I’d do neither. Never one to lie (well, not to large groups of people at once) I refrained from calorie checking and weighing myself – despite being tempted several times. There’s something to be said for going public.
Today begins day one of my $25 good food challenge. For those not in the know, last week, after being inspired by Oprah’s Food, Inc. episode, I challenged myself, during the month of February, to eat only healthy, whole foods all on a weekly budget of only $25. I’m fortunate to live nearby to a great farmers market, a Trader Joe’s and even a vegan food co-op, so finding whole foods wasn’t going to be difficult, but getting everything for $25 might prove to be.
Well, I’m glad to say that after sketching out a menu for the first week of February and going shopping this weekend, I came in at a grand total of $23.22 for my first week of shopping. The list of items I purchased includes fresh fruit (even some organic) like apples, bananas, cantaloupe and honeydew – organic chick peas (hummus anyone?), brown rice, six grain bread, tofu and soy milk. That’s pretty much it. Including the rolled oats I already have in my pantry, that’s 14 items. Let’s see what I can do with that.
For weeks now I’ve been seriously rethinking this obsession I have with food and my weight. Specifically it’s occurred to me that for almost all of the past decade, my obsession with controlling (unsuccessfully I might add) what I eat and don’t eat has centered primarily on weight loss. This focus on weight and not on health has caused me to become unhealthier. Yo-yo dieting, pre-packaged diet meals, low carb, low fat, sugarless…you get the idea. My quest to lose weight devolved into me eating man made substitutes for food and came at the expense of eating food the way it was intended to be eaten.
It’s time for a change, a real change – an “I’m about to turn forty so I’ve got to start taking this seriously” change. I’ve been heading in this direction for years now, but eating for health was far down on the list, somewhere behind carb and calorie counting and fat monitoring. And while I’ve never been a lover of junk food and have always preferred fresh fruits and vegetables over sugary desserts – when it comes to food, the choices I make every day are made unconsciously, out of habit, and with very little regard to health and where my food is coming from.