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Feeding your family healthy by shopping local sales - bargains for 8/5/10

Sprouts has some amazing deals on fresh produce this week. I got our family grocery shopping for the week done for just under $45 yesterday. For this amount, I bought everything except milk and fruit. However, I bought some expensive meat items - elk meat and cod. If you bought meat when it was on sale and froze it (something I advise you doing if you've got a freezer) or if you substitute cheaper, non-organic meats -  you will be able to save about $10 off this bill.

So, what are the amazing deals? Well, first off, red peppers are on sale for only $0.77 apiece. Yellow corn is selling for 10 for $2. Blueberries are selling for under $3 for 18 ounces. And avocados, lettuce, tomatoes and pears are also on sale. Given the great deal on red peppers and tomatoes, I decided this was a great week to make ceviche - hence I spent the money to buy a pound of cod, since I recently used up all my frozen cod. Now I know - next time there is a sale on cod, I'll stock up. I do still have an organic chicken, a couple of wild Alaskan salmon filets and some organic steaks in the freezer, so I'll be using those up in the next month. However, Rick and I have become addicted to ceviche.


For those of you who don't know, ceviche is a great summer meal or side dish because you don't need any heat to make it. You "cook" the fish in lime juice instead of on the stove top. The acids in the juice "cook" the fish. Now, one thing to be careful of - in order to make sure ceviche is safe to eat, you must first make sure to freeze it for 48 hours, or buy already frozen fish. Then gently thaw in the refrigerator before turning it into ceviche.


I usually make over a gallon of ceviche at a time, and then Rick and I will just eat it plain or we'll make tostadas out of it. To make a tostada - take a corn tortilla and grate a little cheese on it. Stick it under the broiler until the cheese melts, top with some shredded lettuce and 1 1/2 cups of ceviche. This makes a wonderful light meal on its own, or you can serve it with a cup of black bean soup to make a heartier meal.


A gallon of ceviche never lasts us the whole week - it's just too delicious. Marinating the cod in lime juice makes it wonderfully tender and delicious. Many of our friends who normally don't like fish love ceviche.


Anyway, our recipe for ceviche - dice up 2 red peppers, 3 tomatoes, a cucumber and 3 avocados into bite-sized pieces. Finely mince a jalapeno pepper, discarding the seeds for a mild ceviche and including the seeds for a spicier one. Finely mince half a red onion and 2-3 cloves of garlic. Put it all in a container with 2 pounds of cod, cut into bite sized pieces, and the juice from 4-5 limes. Chop up half a bunch of cilantro and add to the mix, along with salt to taste. Let it sit in your refrigerator overnight so that the fish can cook and the flavors can blend. Voila, ceviche! You can also add cooked corn kernals, chopped up olives, finely diced squash and/or grated carrots to the mix, if you like. I prefer not to, but I've tasted wonderful ceviche with those ingredients. If you don't like cilantro, substitute parsley. And you can substitute lemons for the limes if you like.

In addition to the ceviche, on the menu this week are several protein-rich salads. Sprouts also had a sale on deli meats, and I still have some cheese from their last cheese sale, so - to make a great salad for two - start off with 4 cups of lettuce and/or spinach. Add 1/2 cup of sprouts, 1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup diced red pepper and 1/2 cup of diced cucumber or yellow squash. You can also add shredded carrots or cabbage, if you like. Chop a couple of spring onions - whites and part of the green - and add to the salad, and also a tablespoon of dried cranberries or raisins. Toss all of this with a home-made vinaigrette or honey-mustard dressing, and divide between two plates. Then top each portion with a couple of ounces of sliced ham or turkey, cut into bite sized pieces, an ounce of grated cheese, and a hard boiled egg cut into quarters. This makes a wonderful light meal served with a whole wheat dinner roll. And, again, no cooking!


I'm also making black bean soup this week, and a stew with the elk meat and a variety of root vegetables - potatoes,onions, carrots and turnips. I flavor my stews with a sprinkle of thyme and a bay leaf, plus salt and pepper. Right before serving, I toss on a bit of finely minced parsley.


Also, for a light nosh, I'll be serving up sliced bartlett pears and some Stilton cheese I'd bought while on sale. To round out the meals for the week - I'll be doing a stir-fry with 8 ounces of pork, a head of broccoli, a white onion, a red pepper and some yellow squash to serve over rice, with some potstickers from Sam's as an appetizer and some home-made egg drop soup.


In addition to the $45 I spent at Sprouts, I'll also be buying some raspberries over the weekend from Randalls at $0.99 a package and some mini croissants, a seedless watermelon, a mango, and a bunch of seedless grapes from HEB. Add a gallon of organic milk, organic cream and a dozen eggs. Total weekly grocery bill - $60. Note that I did have the potstickers from Sam's already in my freezer - however, these are about $10 for a package for 48 potstickers. I buy a package once every 2-3 months and thaw out and cook what I need per meal.


If you want to save some money, buy non-organic milk and cream, make your stew with non-organic hamburger meat or stew meat, and instead of cod, get yourself some trout fillets from HEB for $5.48 a pound, or any other white fish that you like that is on sale. Your total grocery bill will be a little under $50.

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