Not long ago I read a post on one of my new Frenchie blogs.  She was talking about the way French people shop for food, and the beautiful market baskets, or panniers, that they carry, which hold just enough for one or two day's worth of food; about their tiny kitchens and refrigerators, and their well-stocked pantries; and about cooking from ingredients rather than recipes.  As usual, I let out a heavy sigh and thought, "If only I could shop that way!"  For the first time ever though, after a moment's pause, I found myself thinking "Oh wait!  I guess that is the way I shop now!"

I did go to a big supermarket in a nearby city yesterday, but now it's a monthly thing, rather than weekly, and I was in and out in less than 30 minutes, instead of the two hours it used to take (more if I had tired, whiney kids with me, who wanted every horrible, unhealthy thing they saw!)  Here's how my typical week goes now:

Every other weekend I go online to see what The Bountiful Sprout has to offer that cycle.  I order a selection of whatever veggies happen to be in season, a bit of grass-fed meat or poultry, some eggs and cheese, and possibly something from one of our baker/producers, like the yummy peanut butter protein bars, or something I can divide up and freeze, such as spelt tortillas, rosemary focaccia bread, or maybe even a few of those little chewy almond cookies, which go so well with a cup of hot tea.  The following Wednesday afternoon I stop by TBS to pick up my basket of loot.  On the alternate Wednesdays, I stop by our local farmers' market instead.  Both are held from 3-6, which makes it easy for customers to stop by after picking the kids up from school, or on their way home from work.  Have you ever noticed the lack of whiney kids at farmers' markets?  Instead they seem to be having a grand ol' time!
Once home, I make note of what I bought in my seasonal-eating notebook, and jot down anything in the pantry or fridge that needs to be used up soon.  Let's say I had picked up some fresh green beans,  cherry tomatoes, and a chicken, and already had some carrots in the fridge, and fingerling potatoes in the pantry.  What would I do?  Well, I'd flip through my notebook to the section where I list all my favorite things to do with each vegetable, and look for a couple of items that combine these particular ingredients.  Maybe I'd decide to make a simple roast chicken with carrots and potatoes one night, and then use the leftover chicken and potatoes, along with the green beans and tomatoes, to make a lovely Provencal salad the next.  This week I broke down and ordered that eggplant you see, since there wasn't a lot to choose from, and was just wondering how I was going to sneak it past my hubby, when he announced that he had to go to Houston.  Maybe he saw it in the fridge.  Or maybe it was that pate' I picked up in San Antonio that ran him off.  Not sure, but whatever the reason, it's gonna be a foods-John-hates week of feasting!  I've even defrosted a few of those chicken livers that have been in the freezer forever.

Since I always have plenty of pasta, canned and dried beans, and frozen leftovers or pizza crusts in my larder, I can usually pull at least one more meal together without having to go to the store, especially if I can pull something fresh out of my garden to go with it.  This week I grabbed an onion, some garlic and a can of diced tomatoes out of the pantry, simmered them up with that eggplant until most of the juice had evaporated, poured it into a baking dish and topped it with some cheese I had in the fridge, to produce a lovely gratin.

By the time I've used up Wednesday's booty, it's usually the weekend, which means we will probably go out to eat one night, and can go to a fun Saturday market in one of several surrounding towns to get more good grub.  There is a grocery store right next the place where I exercise and take Zumba classes several times per week, so I can always stop in there if I'm running low on milk or toilet paper, and anything they don't carry (or charge waaaaay to much for -- such as John's favorite cereal, which he eats almost every day -- $5 for a tiny box there, but only $3.50 or less at HEB!) get's picked up on my monthly trip to the supermarket.  I just love it that, not only are my shopping trips quick and hassle-free now, I have also eliminated the ordeal of making out seven day's worth of menues and lengthy grocery lists each week.  Now that's what I call livin' the good life!


Main Course

Know what might make it even better?  Trading in this mish-mash of totebags I carry around in the back of my car, for just one of those oh-so-chic panniers!
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Reviewed by juragan asem
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Rating : 4.5