Thursday, July 21, 2011

Baby Steps to the No Grocery Store Challenge

As the work-at-home mom of two toddlers, I feel like if I take on one more thing, I'll spontaneously combust. So despite already mostly being on board with the No Grocery Store Challenge, I'm not joining Kelly in trying it yet. I have been thinking about the challenge, though, and I realized that I am already doing quite a few things that require little to no extra effort. If you, like me, can't sign on for the whole enchilada yet, here are some things that you can do that still make a difference and keep you out of the grocery store.

1) Bake your own bread. I wrote a whole blog post a while back about baking my own bread. Using the wonderful book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, you can mix up enough dough for four loaves of artisan bread in less time than it takes to get to the grocery store and back, and when it's time to bake, the prep takes about 5 minutes. What results is wonderful, fresh-baked bread, WAY better than the dessicated loaves found at the grocery store bakery.

2) Grow your own herbs. This summer has been notoriously unsummer-like here in the Seattle area, but nonetheless, the herbs in my garden are thriving. I've got an abundance of mint, sage, oregano, thyme and lavender outside, and to keep it from icky, herbicidal, basil-loving slugs, I am growing basil inside, in my kitchen window. There's something romantic about stepping out onto your back deck or reaching over to the windowsill to gather herbs with which to season dinner. They are unbelievably easy to grow and growing your own saves a lot of money, especially when you consider the teensy amount that you get in those clamshell containers in the produce department.

3) Bake your own goodies. Since the first time I had cake made from scratch, I have never been able to consider making cake from a mix again. Same with cookies, brownies and cupcakes. There is nothing worse than a disappointing baked good. You're craving it, you eat all those calories, and then it wasn't even good! It's a total rip-off. So I avoid the bland, mass-produced baked goods in the grocery store and bake my own at home. Here's my favorite chocolate cake recipe, which is amazing with homemade buttercream icing. Also, here's a recent discovery, awesome sugar cookies that go together from scratch as fast as a mix would.

4) Get your produce for the week from the farmer's market or the produce stand. I love our local farmer's market so much, I'm sad when its season ends in the fall. I love all the super-fresh, local produce, but I love it even more for the human connections that my family makes there. We know our favorite farmers and bakers. They have become friends. My fruits and vegetables don't come from some faceless rack that sprays water every few minutes, they are handed to me by the smiling human being that grew them. They weren't grown a world away, they were grown a few miles away. That is priceless.

To do the entire No Grocery Store Challenge right now would cause me to have to do more errands than I am currently willing to do. But three out of the four things that I listed above don't even require me to leave the house, unless I run out of ingredients! That I can handle. Are there bits and pieces of the No Grocery Store Challenge that you're already doing, too?
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