The Daily Beet

17 Jul Saving Time with Char: When Time is Money at the Dollar Store

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When I talk to people about being plant-strong, I always   hear comments about the time factor they perceive that is involved with making delicious, plant-strong food.  If you read this blog, you know that I have shaved corners on every angle of food shopping and prep.  Following the time factor, the next thing people generally ask is about the cost factor of grains, fruits, and vegetables.  Most people will agree that shopping plant-strong is far more economical than shopping for animal products.

Tonight I had to run to the dollar store.  I needed a mailer because the transmitter on my   heart rate monitor is broken.  It needs to be sent in for a diagnostic evaluation…who knew?  I may be lost   without it, but am hopeful for a speedy return.  It’s a Polar FT4, and I love it.

As I found my way to the stationery aisle, I noticed that the store had been reconfigured to accommodate freezers and refrigerators.  It got my plant-strong wheels thinking…could I shop in a dollar store to make a few meals?  All of a sudden, it became an adventure for me.  Here’s what I found out for you…

  • There are many “name-brands” of foods in the freezer and on the shelves.  I would make certain to check the expiration dates, just to be on the safe side.
  • You can spot an occasional organic item.
  • Lots of dried beans, black, pinto, and red.
  • There were salt-free tomatoes (no sugar added, either).
  • Corn tortillas without added fat.
  • Unsweetened applesauce.
  • A huge assortment of spices and herbs…including HOT SAUCE!
  • Brown Rice
  • No Whole Wheat Pasta

I could go on.  I will say that the freezer was a plethora of frozen veggies and fruits.  The size of the packages ranged from 10-16 ounces.  My favorite, Brussels Sprouts, was there.  This dollar store had a total of thirteen vegetables.  And the frozen fruit?  Mango.  Mixed berries.  Peaches. Pineapple. Melon.  It was a cornucopia of fruit…ready for “ice cream” making.

My point is this.  I am not saying that you need to run to a dollar store and stock up…but, let’s say you are on vacation, and nearly out of food…and money.  You could sustain yourself with frozen veggies, beans, frozen fruit, and more from the local dollar store.  Take some time to cruise the aisles.  Delicious meals are at your finger tips.

And, I will fess up.  Yea, I got the mailers, but I also got frozen mango, mixed berries, and four types of green veggies…just to keep on hand.  I ended up spending less than TEN DOLLARS, and I have a nice reserve of food.  Never think that being plant-strong is out of your fiscal reach, because there are always ways to achieve plant-perfection.

Avoid the junk.  Hunt for frozen.  Your pockets will thank you.  And so will your baggy pants!

Happy Shopping!

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 7.39.08 AM

Or foods from your freezer!

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Char Nolan for Engine 2
Char Nolan

Char Nolan is a blog contributor and Engine 2 Extra Coach. She's been plant-strong for almost five years. From Philadelphia, she works in the plant-based whole foods arena, and is also the "vegan features writer," for the "Town Dish." She's lost a great deal of weight from being plant-strong, practices yoga, and is always dabbling in her kitchen to create new, plant-strong recipes. Armed with a degree in public health, Char also holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from e-Cornell.

  • Anna G
    Posted at 10:07h, 17 July

    I’m going to go dollar store hopping and see which ones in my area carry frozen foods! Thanks!

  • Bonnie
    Posted at 10:31h, 17 July

    Thank you so much for this. Our household income has been cut in half from the tough economy but I still want to eat healthy and am now converting over to plant-strong eating. I will definitely check out the dollar stores around me.

  • Chris Haines
    Posted at 10:31h, 17 July

    I stopped by a mom and pop Chinese store, soups can beans, rice, coconut milk, mangoes, onions, garlic, peppers, lettuce of all kinds, greens, fruits and vegetable I didn’t know their names. It was so much fun, learned a lot asking the owners, and it was cheaper compared to main line grocery stores.

  • Pam
    Posted at 10:52h, 17 July

    From the 99c Stores here in Southern California, Thursdays is when the fresh produce comes in and boy does it come in and in and in. Tons of different lettuces, kale, broccoli, cauliflowers, carrots – potatoes of all kinds – peppers, different fresh herbs, limes, lemons and tons of boxes of fruit. Super cheap bananas too. You can’t leave it though until Friday afternoon as most of the good stuff is gone. Sometimes they just bring boxes out and leave it – no unstacking ‘cos it goes that quick. Just thought I’d add to the dollar store experience for some.

  • Julie
    Posted at 11:00h, 17 July

    Great article! It is still a good idea to do price comparisons. Some things are still less expensive at my discount grocery store (Winco). I know canned beans are not ideal, but I usually keep some on hand. Canned beans are $.79 at the Dollar Store near me, and usually on sale at Winco they are &.68-$.71.

  • Jaden Levi
    Posted at 12:16h, 17 July

    You people are idiots. I just came from reading your PLANT PROTEINS ARE COMPLETE! That article springs from YOUR misconception as to what Biochemistry stated. No one but the misguided health gurus like yourself ever said that eating a variety of plant foods resulted in an incomplete amino acid balance. The fact is INDIVIDUAL plant sources of protein with the exception of soya, spirulina, quinoa and a few others ARE deficient in certain amino acids. In some cases SEVERELY so.

    Legumes are deficient in methionine and grains tend to be deficient in lysine etc. You don’t have to pair foods in each meal to make sure you get all the essential amino acids. No respected authority ever said that.

    I have 3 years of Biochemistry and Biomedical sciences under my belt and am in final year of medical school. But of course saying that will make you people hate me more. You seem to love throwing out science for whims and fancies. And just so you know, I AM a vegetarian.

    • Tina
      Posted at 12:31h, 17 July

      I wouldn’t listen to you because you sound so angry! I don’t think they way to be heard is to say “you people are idiots”

    • rablinrn
      Posted at 19:26h, 17 July

      Dr Levi,
      I would like to welcome you in advance to our broken medical world. I hope you engage in the works of Dr Esselystyn, Dr Ledderman, Colin Campbil, Dr Furhman, Dr McDougall….I could name several more. Perhaps the argument isn’t about “complete” protein, but about what foods are healing and non harming to the body. I hope you enjoy medicine and can find a positive way to reach the public.

    • JavaGen
      Posted at 09:01h, 18 July

      Jaden- What a strange post you’ve made. I’ve heard that myth perpetuated in plenty of places- that is that we need to eat certain foods with other foods in order to get a complete protein. If I remember right that article actually agrees with you that we don’t need to eat a variety at every meal to get a complete protein. Why don’t you post your comments under the actual article? It’s very confusing to see it here.

  • Kathy Goshe
    Posted at 14:42h, 17 July

    I don’t understand what your point is Jaden Levi? And why are you so angry. I’m not being sarcastic or mean. I really would like to hear your vegetarian opinions on how I can eat healthy. I don’t think that every food has to be a complete protein since I eat a large variety. Please share your Biochem knowledge with me. What can I eat and get the needed nutrients? Thanks in advance.

  • Vegan Gypsy
    Posted at 17:06h, 17 July

    What a great post! Though I try to eat as much non-GMO organic, minimally processed food as possible, sometimes Real Life gets in the way and we find ourselves on a tighter budget, too far away from a Whole Foods, etc. and need to make the best choices we can under the circumstances. There’s a misconception that to eat plant-based/vegan you need to spend a lot of money, and that’s simply not true. Thank you for confirming that fact!

  • Linda Bryant
    Posted at 21:41h, 17 July

    I’ve been amazed how easy it is to shop Plant Strong, much faster since I can skip all the meat,dairy,packaged goods. Cheaper, too. The 99 cent store in the Sf area has quite a bit of good produce and was a source of low sodium V-8 juice, good for emergencies but not there recently, Linda

  • Penny
    Posted at 12:04h, 18 July

    I did a big grocery shopping this week. Should last close to two weeks. In lured were four cans of organic beans at $2.49 each, five containers of various ziplock items, and two Mrs Dash items. I spent $114. I also got frozen brown rice and veggies.

    I am one person, and I save a bundle now that I eat this way. Remove the beans and containers and Mrs Dash and I was about $85.

  • Lori
    Posted at 22:48h, 21 July

    Awesome! I read this story along time ago I read about this Rich Bel Air movie producer who had this big dinner party. At the end of the dinner party he revealed to all his guests that all the food was bought at the dollar store! Pretty fun huh?

  • Jean Hayes
    Posted at 21:24h, 27 July

    Great article Char! I will be sharing this with people who think my way of eating is too expensive!

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