Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 181- Florida Avocados Are Weird

No, really, they are. So... I had a Florida avocado. I figured avocado = good. It usually does, right? Yeah... not so much.

See, I tried to follow the instructions on the interwebs for figuring out if it's ripe enough to eat yet. They just said "when it's green and gives a little when you squish it." Which really didn't work for me, because it was green Thursday but also still (I thought, anyway) hard. Yesterday evening, though, it had turned brown and *still* felt hard to me.

It was, of course, well on its' way past over-ripe. The whole center section had turned black, the fibers (which I always want to call spindle fibers, like in mitosis) dark and extra fiber-y. The central seed had even pulled away from its seed-cover-thingy (botany is FAIL for me, sry), so I had to pry the cover out separately.

So that part was an adventure. I decided (since I had to use the bits that were still good *now*) to make guac.

Normal Guacamole-
  • 1-3 large, ripe California avocados, seeded and skinned (usually use Hass, 'cause that's what they have at the store)
  • 1/4 small red or yellow onion (often less), diced
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, diced or crushed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • juice of 1/2 fresh lime or lemon
Smoosh the avocado with a fork, add everything else (salt and citrus juice to taste) and mix well. If you're feeling fancy you can add chopped cilantro and/ or tomato.

Hass avocados are fattier, though. They have a slightly different flavor. I avoid eating them when they start to grow woody inside. Or when the seed starts to look like bleached brain (it really did). This was... somehow watered down. It kept absorbing salt. Part of the off flavor could have been the over-ripe state of the fruit. Part might have been because I used vinegar, had no garlic, over onioned (yeah, right), and forgot to add pepper. I think it was because the avocado tasted different.

I still ate the whole bowl worth, don't get me wrong. I think in future, though, I'll either use a mix of these watery avo's and the more tasty California varieties, or just stick with the more expensive (and familiar) non-Florida types. you could probably use them really well someplace where they're filler, fat-adder, or otherwise not the main event and have it work- something like buffalo "chicken" wraps.


Shopping may happen today, may happen tomorrow. More likely I'll go early Sunday while every one's at church. That way I won't have to fight mobs and the stores shouldn't/ won't look like they've been decimated by locusts. I hope.


I know there are some meal planners out there. What's your process? How do you go from "WTF will we eat this week" to shopping list? Do you plan out fruit or veg servings while you shop?


  1. I start with a recipe. Of course, I should preface all this with "I live alone, and don't have to share kitchen or fridge space with anyone". But I start with a recipe, and then I shop specifically for that recipe. Since most recipes are at least 4 servings, I get 1 meal plus 3 for the fridge/freezer. Eventually this builds up a cycle so that I've got 3 or 4 options for meals already made and make just 1 or 2 new meals each weekend, but to get started I need to do a lot of cooking in a few days.

    And I usually have spinach, tomatoes, and sprouts in the fridge for a salad if I think I need it to veg up the meal.

    I do this for all 3 meals, too. But I don't vary breakfast or lunch as much as dinner. So right now I have fresh bread, avocado and prosciutto for breakfast, quinoa tabbouleh for lunch, and mushroom ravioli, masa cakes with spicy slaw, and sauteed chicken with leeks in the freezer. Tonight I'm going to make gnocchi, Monday I'm going to make cocunut calamari, and that should have me set beyond next weekend, but I'll make something next weekend just to keep the variety up. (I just got back from 2 weeks vacation, so I'm short on food right now).

  2. I base the food I buy on what's on sale at the grocery store. Sometimes I look at flyers, usually I just wander around the store looking at what's on sale and make meals around that. I have a really good memory for prices and so can remember what is a good price for any of our regular staples. My husband and I are omnivores, so as the meat is the priciest item usually, I base the meal around what meat I've gotten on sale. Then add in appropriate sides that are also reasonably priced. Last night I made tacos, because I had everything but the meat and the taco shells. I fried the corn tortillas (a first for me) into taco shapes in vegetable oil in a frying pan. My Hispanic sister-in-law told me how to do it. It takes a little practice to get it right and not burn yourself, but those were fresh delicious taco shells. :) Much cheaper than flour tortillas too. I buy cheese in 5 lb shredded bags at the restaurant supply, so we always have cheese on hand. (It cost less than $2 a lb to buy it like this!) I tend to buy things like pork and beans, canned chili, canned veggies when I see them on sale and so always have the ones we like to eat on hand. I probably keep a lot fuller pantry than most people and then base our meals around what meat/fresh vegetables are on sale.

    My husband also takes his lunches to work (I work from home) and so I usually make a meal that serves 3 so we have leftovers for his lunch the following day.

    I almost NEVER decide on a meal before going to the grocery store. That is a very expensive way to eat. Things are inevitably jacked up in price and it really frusterates me to pay $2 a dozen for eggs (for example) when I got them the week before for $1.09. So my meal planning always ends up being on the fly at the store, but I've gotten good at it. Usually on Sundays I will make a larger run to the store and buy enough to have at least 5 of the following weeks dinner meals planned out. If I buy something like a 10 lb bag of potatoes, I take that into account and have potato salad one night, baked potatoes another night, and fried potatoes another night. By the time the potatoes are gone, we are burned out on them and I don't buy them for another month to month and a half. I am fortunate to live in an area with good prices on produce and usually decent sales on meat.

  3. Heidi,

    I've actually cut my grocery bill in half since I went from weekly purchasing staples and cooking most every night to shopping around recipes and cooking a few times a week. My food waste has also become about nil.

    But then, I also don't buy pretty much anything in a can, box, or pre-made. Making my own bread and pasta, and switching to dried beans has had a huge impact. I also have a very inexpensive, local source for meat, but still, planning meals as I shopped was a very wasteful strategy for me. Working off a recipe, there are usually always generic versions or substitutions that can be made to keep expenses down.

  4. Heidi- I'm thinking you must have tons more self control than I do. I've been known to change everything around on the fly when prices were way off what I expected (thinking broccoli or onion prices, here) but building my whole list at the store leaves me with a very scattered looking basket of stuff. Usually a bag of chips, a pint of ice cream, and a tomato.

    I like to use the sale flyers in the Wednesday mail to work out what's most affordable. I don't have much of a pantry and most of the stuff I (should) eat isn't the stuff that goes on sale often, so other than produce, it tends to be cheaper for me to work it this way.

    Kim- How often do you rotate in new breakfast or lunch? Also, how do you deal with "new" recipes or ones that call for "luxury" items? Do you limit them some way?

  5. Ok, I had a post, but it seems to have been lost in the ether. Trying again:

    Breakfast and lunch are usually smaller portions, so I just eat straight through them, and they last roughly a week. Which is convenient, because much longer than that and I'll get sick of it.

    Most of the recipes I've used lately are new. The key is knowing what things taste like so you can see what the 'goal' of the recipe is, and substitute if necessary. A lot of it is easy - cheaper cheese, making something from scratch instead of buying it, that sort of thing. I try not to jump straight into a recipe full of ingredients I'm not familiar with. Instead I ease in to a new set of ingredients one at a time, (or a new cuisine), to get an idea of how I like it, what it usually costs, and what I might be able to substitute for it. That's what the quinoa was. It was hella expensive, but if I like it, I'll try to find a cheaper source (unwashed bulk looks like an option). Otherwise, lots of people seem to use bulgar wheat instead, so I might give that a try. But as I get deeper into the home-made realm, most of the pricier things disappear from the list. I'm not going to buy wonton wrappers, I'm going to make them myself.

    Since I can get good meat cheap, it's really just produce I have to worry about, and since I'm only buying exactly what I need and using it right away, I can keep costs down. Plus, it's the cost per serving that matters most. Most of my meals average between .25c and $2 a serving, and it's usually under $1.

    But I also avoid recipes with more expensive ingredients, except for rare 'splurges', and then I try to stretch those ingredients as far as I can. I spent $5 on a wedge of gruyere a few weeks ago, and I'm still working my way through it. Shirred eggs and gruyere buttermilk scones, yum!

    I've also learned that there are a lot of things out there cheaper than my previous go-tos that are really good. Most of my food budge used to go to bell peppers - I ate red and green bell peppers pretty much every day, but they cost a fortune. Now I eat a lot of spinach, and sprout my own alfalfa. Plus I go for local over organic, and generally buy the cheapest version of everything and don't worry too much about slave wages, etc. If I could afford to shop at Whole Paycheck I would, but I can't, so I buy the cheapest food around and don't run the AC during the day, instead. I can only afford so much social consciousness on my budget.

  6. I am a meal planner. I'm also not a vegetarian, so meat can be my most expensive part if not done right so I always freelance for way on sale meat and freeze it whenever I shop.

    Then to meal plan, I start with finding recipes (cookbooks and that have the cheap meats already in my freezer plus whatever other expensive ingredients I already have. I usually keep myself stocked w pasta, rice and dried beans as fillers from whenever those were on sale. Then I make a list of the few ingredients I don't already have. And of course, while I'm there, I freelance for more cheap meats.

  7. Kim- I'm with you on the one odd splurge used sparingly. I used to (when there was $$$) pick up a "pint" of Haagen Dazs lemon sorbet. a spoon every once in a while was a great treat. Likewise with something like good chocolate- a bite or two is/ was enough.

    mmmbah- Figuring out your most expensive recurring ingredient/ type of ingredient is super smart. I think my main expense is in veggies, but I'm not totally sure.

    I know portion control can also be super important. Had that chat with Mom in the last month or two- over how big a serving of meat was- she was thinking 6-8 oz, certain I was wrong when I said 3. Googled it and 3oz it is. Veggies, though, most portion sizes are volume, not weight. Makes it tougher to price.

  8. Kim,

    I would LOVE to cook a few times a week and have tried to implement that in our household in the past. My husband HATES it and would end up going to get fastfood rather than eat "leftovers". A lot of how I purchase and cook food has to do with what he wants to eat. He was raised in a family that often went hungry as children and so I understand his desire to have a good new meal each evening. This is definately not something I would do if I lived alone. You make concessions in marriage though and a little higher grocery bill is one of mine. :) I definately agree only cooking a few times a week would definately cut down on your grocery bills. We tend to have very little food waste though. I am not sure how that happens to people?

  9. I just get things that have a multitude of leeway in them for dinners. When I go shopping I pick up things with the hope of using them that week or I toss them in the freezer the next day (for meats). It's pretty universal stuff and my latest thing has been to find ways to make things we used to buy premade/processed (bleh!) and make it from scratch (for example sloppy joes). I also keep a running supply of things that just seem to be used in everything when we cook: garlic powder/minced garlic; onion powder/real onions; cajun seasoning; cumin powder; canned whole/crushed tomatoes; canned/dried beans; dry brown/white rice; and our newest find Sriracha sauce.

    When I think about it, I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kind of cook. I make sure I have a few things that I "might" want to do for dinner, but chances are I change my mind at the last moment because it depends on my energy level. No energy = fast, easy fixes (aka pasta and sauce).

    Plus, I just keep searching sites like especially if I have an ingredient that's about to go off and need to use it asap.