Spring: Time for Wishful Beginnings

FreshFood1This week the temperature in our flat hit 25 degrees without any artificial heating. It’s only rained once this week. The sun has been out 4 of the last 7 days.

Spring has arrived.

And with spring’s arrival I get three main itches: to minimise my belongings, to get outside more (photography/exercise/fun), and to eat more fresh food.

That last one — that’s the one which feels both the hardest, and the most possible. It’s possibly the most important, too.

Why is this important?
I want to be healthy.
I want to know what I’m putting into my body.
It’s nice to be in tune with the land (not the main reason, but a nice thought if I’m doing it anyway).
I like supporting local businesses.
I agree with cheap and tasty sustenance.

Chuck Wendig has some pretty decent points about the pros of this idea here. And then I saw this image. No more reasons needed.

Fresh Options

However, there are four key blocks with changing our diet in practise: Convenience, Cost, Availability & Will-We-Eat-It.

Convenience. We live in a village (actually, it’s called a “local government sub-division” but whatever) with 2 local mini-mart shops — one at each end of the road. For anything more than milk, crisps and beer, we need to drive to a shop, which is automatically an extra effort.

Our nearest town centre doesn’t have a market, but it has a greengrocer, a frozen food shop and a pound shop. When we shop there, we get fresh, local fruit and vegetables, cheap toiletries and frozen meat.

If we travel a little further, on the right day, we can get to a town market; with mostly clothes and incense stalls, but some food tables are available. Slightly further away, we have a massive supermarket, where we have loyalty cards and there’s free parking.

Cost. On some of the stalls in the market, the prices are more than that of a supermarket. I don’t mind paying more for local produce, but twice the price on every item just isn’t feasible long term (especially when trying to talk my partner into getting it). In the supermarket, we get 1kg apples, out of season, for a quid.

Availability. I’m a fussy eater. But I know this, and I push my boundaries. In 2014, I added eight new vegetables to the list of foods I eat. So far in 2015, I’ve discovered I can eat three more.

So although I’m fussy eater, and that limits me, I do eat fresh food and I do try new foods. But the chance of a local market or greengrocer having the items we both eat, within our budget, at the time we shop — it isn’t that high. We usually get apples and grapes, but if we were to increase our fresh food intake, realistically we’d need more variety and that tends to be a block when I take into account the likelihood it will be eaten, especially if I don’t like it.

Will-We-Eat-It. We consume a lot of processed food. I never had crisps as a child, so they’re something I relish having as an adult. My partner grew up with fizzy drinks and there is constantly a bottle open, though I rarely drink them. He snacks on prezels and tortilla chips, while I tend to snack on cakes and crisps. We have a tiny freezer which makes our staples of pizza and processed meat important purely because chicken nuggets squish nicely into the 5 inch space.

I want to eat healthier. My partner… isn’t that bothered. He doesn’t blame his tiredness on his diet, and because he works 14-hour shifts without a scheduled lunch break; it’s really tricky to manage his eating habits.

Compromises and Measurements

This week, I bought fresh vegetables and fruit. We’re having roast tomorrow, which will be fresh with the exception of stuffing mixture and a yorkshire pudding each. We grow herbs on our windowsill, and have fruit with vanilla ice cream for dessert. We’ve made our own bread (we eat it within two days, and it’s more expensive than store bought bread for sandwiches, but as an extra snack, it’s probably healthier than pretzels.)

So rather than only buying fresh food, I’m aiming to increase our fresh food intake, and this means I’m looking for lunchtime alternatives that do not require heating and British-available fruits and vegetables that are versatile in terms of being edible raw and cooked.

What fruits and vegetables would you recommend?

What is a good alternative to crisps or pretzels?

2 responses to “Spring: Time for Wishful Beginnings

  1. For lunches, hubby likes to make bean salads at the beginning of the week and as long as they have a dressing like oils or vinegar, they keep well in containers in the fridge. Usually he will use 2 cans of beans and pulses, such as red kidney beans, chickpeas etc (the KTC ones are normally 3 for £1 in most supermarkets) and then choose around 3 different salad vegetables to add in, such as celery, cucumber, cherry or plum tomatoes, peppers, carrot and so on. Sunday night he just chops everything up, drains and rinses the pulses and then combines it all and puts in 4 different pots with chilli oil or olive oil and balsamic, for example then he can grab them on his way out of the door (he does half days on Friday). If you pre-prepare veg for the week for salads, or for dipping in houmous or whatever, if you store it in plastic containers in a bit of water, it should keep quite well.

    Cous cous, quinoa and rice are all good for mixing with salad veggies and a dressing and quinoa counts as protein so should keep you fuller for longer, or you can throw in some tofu or chicken or whatever it is you like.

    Good veggies for snacking on are celery, peppers, carrots, mini corn, sugarsnap peas. Strawberries seem to be in season at the mo, freezing grapes makes them more fun, pineapple keeps well. Maybe make a fruit salad with apples, oranges, melon, grapes and pineapple and a squeeze of lemon juice and keep in a big bowl covered with the cling film in the fridge so you can just get a scoop when you want something sweet to snack on, or again put in little pots for on the go.

    Alternative savoury snacks I would say popcorn (done yourself), unsalted nuts and raisins, homemade sweet potato crisps (you can do them in the microwave -have a google). You can buy a bag of popcorn kernels for about 79p and just do them in a pan and they last aaaaaages. You can then eat plain or make your own seasonings or buy seasonings.

    Anyway I‘ve waffled a lot! Sorry!

    • Thanks for commenting.
      I already do pasta salads and cous cous but find they’re not that filling on their own so tend to add in chocolate bars and crisps.

      I had no idea you could eat baby corn raw (although makes sense, really) and will definitely look at microwavable sweet potato crisps!

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