Sunday, November 22, 2009

Charity Challenge for Thrifty Cooks Who DON"T Shop at Wal-Mart!

This blog is hosting a charity event challenge to try and prove people can feed their families healthy inexpensive meals without relying on pre-fab, unhealthy food at Wal-Mart. The blog refers to the commercials claiming that you can make a fresh meal for less than $2 per person, but the meals shown are full of unhealthy junk food like sugary pastries and frozen garlic bread. The challenge is to remind us all to support local businesses and buy fresh foods whenever possible.

I should preface this by saying I rarely shop at Wal-Mart; we go to the one in western NY near where we camp every July, mainly because we can get everything we need in one place and there aren't many options in that area. I have tried not to shop there if we can patronize a smaller business, however, and this year discovered an Amish-owned greenhouse I love that convinced me to never buy overpriced sad-looking annuals at that Wal-Mart ever again.

But yesterday my husband and I did stop there; it was on our way home, we wanted a new DVD, and needed two items for dinner. They didn't have the DVD we wanted (Season Four of Battlestar Galactica), but I got a different one (Season One of Hex). Also, we got much more food than we planned because we were hungry and the prices and selection were so tempting. Peppered slab bacon! Cracklin' Oat Bran! Raisin Bran! Hershey's Special Dark baking chips! Romaine lettuce hearts! Natural chicken wings! Corn dogs! (Okay, that was my husband)

We felt a bit sheepish, coming away with so much more than we meant to, but also knowing we rarely buy food there. But I could completely understand why people would want to shop there, given the excellent prices. They even carry plenty of organic stuff, now (as mentioned in the documentary Food, Inc., Wal-Mart now carries organic Stonyfield Farms yogurt products. As my husband put it, just because the company is evil, doesn't mean the store is. Good point.

But I know I would never start doing all my shopping there, even if we were forced to tighten our belts. I am already a thrifty cook and shopper and I absolutely support our farmers' markets and locally grown foods. Our neighborhood market ended last week but one grower who has a CSA plan is still meeting locals once a week for the next three weeks to sell them anything they want from his list of available produce. This week I'll get some kale, watercress and eggs from pasture raised chickens.

So, can I cook a great-tasting healthy meal using fresh ingredients for less than $2 a person? You bet I can! And so can you. I'm going to take on this challenge and provide some recipes, and the blogger is even donating $2 to a food pantry for every qualified link. This is a win-win!

Some recipes I plan to share: Pasta with white beans and spinach; Black bean quesadillas; Baked penne pasta with Italian sausage.

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