Gotta Love Paul Newman

Gotta love a guy named “Paul.” Seriously, some of the greatest guys in history (or at least the 21st century) have been “Paul”Ps. Paul McCartney (arguably the best Beatle…clearly I’m biased after literally bumping into him in NYC a few years back). Paul Simon. Paul Newman. Seriously, it’s a sad thing “Paul” is off our baby-naming list, but we’ve both gotta like the name. *shrugs*
We appreciate Paul Newman less for his acting skills (although I love those piercing blue eyes…and Cool Hand Luke? Love it. NOBODY can eat 50 eggs. Ha.) and more for the charity work his company, Newman’s Own, still does, even after his death in 2008. Truthfully, what we appreciate the most is the fact that many of their products are all natural (and some even organic), so when I’m making my grocery buying decisions, I consider health (including a deep look at the ingredients and nutritional facts, when it’s a prepared food – we try to keep it low-fat/low-cholesterol/low-sodium when possible) and value, but when a Paul Newman product costs a tad more, I may still opt for it.
For example, two of our always-have-on-hand food staples (y’know, for those nights when Mama just ain’t up for cookin’…which can be often lately) are the Newman’s Own brand. The first is his jarred tomato sauce. I know, I know, I could make my own and freeze it and blah dee blah blah…but when his organic marinara hits our taste buds just fine (mind you, I do kick it up a bit with my own “method”…which I’ve tried to teach Dave in the event that our kids get a taste for it and something ever happens to me…I’m not morbid, I’m Irish) and save me a buttload of time, I’m all in. The occasional coupon helps on the “value” front, too.
The other food staple that I like to keep in the fridge is one or two of the Paul Newman frozen pizzas. The pizzas are a traditional “frozen pizza-esque” thin crust, but the ingredients are thoughtful. The pepperoni is uncured and nitrate free (except that which occurs naturally), so I feel okay about eating some once in awhile during my pregnancy. While I’m itching to try their supreme, I know Dave’s not a fan, so we pretty much stick with the four-cheese or pepperoni. I did recently pick up the buffalo chicken style since it’s one of my man’s favorite flavors. Update: We tried this last night. Dave loved it. Me…not s’much. There was some heat to it (which I’m not a huge fan of), but not a lot of flavor for my taste. Maybe this means I get to try “supreme” someday as payback. 😉 Just kidding; we try to keep things fair here, especially food-wise. But, yeah, if you’re into buffalo chicken, you may like it.
Another awesome thing about the pizza? Once in awhile, you’ll find a coupon on the back of the package – usually for ANY Newman’s Own product (strangely, not pizzas, though). Dave usually looks for those boxes first. Gotta love a man who’s into a bargain.

That being said, these ain’t cheap. At least, at Hannaford, they’re just shy of $6. We can occasionally get them with a coupon for close to $5. Honestly, I look at it this way – it’s still cheaper than buying a pizza from a local pizza joint (and easier…and faster). Plus, knowing the charity factor involved, I feel better about the price, too.

So, if you haven’t tried any Newman’s Own stuff, go ahead! They try hard to keep the ingredients as-good-as-pre-packaged-food-can-be-for-you. Or, if you’re not in the mood to try their stuff, just watch Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Either way…can’t go wrong with a “Paul.”

Aldi’s Is All That

Yes, I totally said “All That”. And, yes, that was a Nickelodeon show back in the day. Sorry, I clearly didn’t focus on coming up with an awesome title – I just had to share an awesome grocery shopping experience I had at Aldi’s tonight. Unfortunately, it didn’t involve any organic food items. It DID include all-natural food, though. Add that to the fact that we got all this for $36.11 and call me a happy lady:
Sorry for the shoddy cell phone picture. Here’s an itemized rundown of what that small chunk o’ change got us:

– Fresh asparagus
– Baby carrots
– Roma tomatoes
– Fresh salsa
– Strawberries
– Green Grapes
– Variety pack of onions (sweet, white, and red)
– Variety pack of peppers (yellow, red, and orange)
– Lemons
– Limes
– 3-pack of Romaine hearts
– Broccoli crowns
– Frozen peas
– Frozen edamame
– Frozen fine green beans
– Irish cheese (since I can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the way I’d LIKE to this year ;-))
– Shredded parmesan cheese ($1.99 compared to Hannaford’s $7 tiny wedge)
– Sweet potato chips
– Pita chips
– Croutons (in case you weren’t aware of Dave’s addiction to salad)
(And non-food related…)
– Baking soda (less for cooking, more for hair)

– ONE roll of paper towels (69 cents! We usually purchase an eco-friendly roll or two as needed from Hannaford, but we were out and I couldn’t turn down that price)

While the meat at Aldi’s is far from grass-fed or well-treated, I do like to look over the seafood sustainability. While they had some salmon that was wild caught, it happened to be caught near China…just didn’t sound right. I was shocked to find that the made-from-minced-fish fish sticks actually had a sustainability guarantee AND listed exactly where the fish were raised, how they were caught, and WHAT the type of fish was. Too bad we’re not big fish stick people around here; or, at least, my hubby isn’t. It could be a possibility for Fridays with kiddies, though.

I was also surprised at how many items DIDN’T have high fructose corn syrup in them — including breads (which are VERY hard to find at Hannaford). Unfortunately, all their yogurt options had some form of corn syrup (yuck?!), so we didn’t go there.

The prices on the fruits and veggies I bought were CRAZY! The asparagus was a bit thin (which I see as “tender” rather than the woody, tree-like ones that are sometimes sold), but a pound cost $1.89. The baby carrots were $.89. A pack of numerous Roma tomatoes was $1.69. Strawberries (I believe 2 lbs!) for $1.89?! Grapes (another huge container) for even less?! Compared to our trips to Hannaford (which, admittedly, at least has organic options), it’s nice to go for an occasional stock-up that doesn’t leave you completely depressed — financially AND emotionally.

Oh, and all the chippies that I got are all-natural (and usually include 3 ingredients). The salt is sea salt. See? More and more impressed by what Aldi’s is doing to reach out to conscientious customers. Suh-weet!

Now, the goal is to NOT allow myself to waste all this good food. My biggest challenge, I think, is that I don’t plan meals around the foods that I purchase, so gorgeous food goes to waste. It’s a mortal sin, as far as I’m concerned, and makes me feel terrible when I have to throw anything out. Atop that, I feel worse when I know we’ve spent more (at the farmers’ market or Hannaford) – which is totally worth it, knowing the importance of organic. But, the occasional budget-friendly trip to Aldi’s definitely helps with the ol’ grocery funds.

So, I’m off to figure out tonight’s dinner and map out some other menus for the upcoming week or so. How do you eat healthy on a budget? Do tell!

First Meatless Monday

Yesterday, I received a cheerful, super-excited email from Dave with a link to a CNN article about meatless Mondays. While this concept is nothing new — especially both growing up Catholic (which made Fridays the meatless days rather than Mondays) — and Paul McCartney, among others, have been doing it for awhile — it’s new to us. Or, at least, a new idea to try. So, we made a couple of large salads and ate plenty of pasta with veggie-laden tomato sauce. Oh, all while watching the 3rd installment of our Netflixed Ken Burns’ “Jazz”. Fun night!

So, after one day of it, what do I think? So far, it didn’t feel like anything different. I think that if we went vegetarian for a few days a week, it’d be much more noticeable. But, we were still excited to be making an effort and, in a way, feel like we’re part of a bigger “movement” — although we’re not ones to be categorized (especially politically, and particularly since Dave takes his news job very seriously) or do things because a group is doing them. 🙂

Last Sunday, we did some shopping at Hannaford to start our process, from buying their bulk corn meal and raw sugar to picking up some great fruits and veggies. It’s hitting the pocketbook pretty hard, but it’s not getting us down. Oh, I even got some organic shampoo and soap, which Dave loooooves the smell of — I’m getting used to it. 😉

I’m now off to research soap-making. I find myself getting distracted by about a million different things to research, from safe cosmetics to Earth-friendly cleaning products, when I’m suddenly hit with “get simple about it — look up historic ways of doing this” to stay true to my historical interests and to avoid overdoing things. Thanks for checking in! Things are definitely going very well and even bringing Dave and I closer and closer together.

By the way, check out Dave’s blog, Dave’s Path to Enlightenment, where you can follow his thoughts while reading and learning more about the how to incorporate Buddhist concepts into his everyday life.