I shop for groceries 4-5x a week here in Spain. Either I go to a nearby market or stop by a fruit stand. In this post I’ll talk a little about grocery budgets and share a little about my grocery shopping experience in Seville, Spain. The above picture is today’s grocery haul.
This Grocery Haul
This grocery store is only a few steps from my flat and for 9.10 € ($10.74) I was able to get everything you see above.
The baguette came from a bakery nearby because they have delicious breads. I tried buying bagged bread and it wasn’t pleasant – made me feel bloated and gross.
I avoid buying packaged groceries but today was Saturday and everything was closing so I had to rush. Normally at the local fruteria I can get all my produce without the excess packaging – it’s such a waste otherwise.
Packaging is shitty for our health and shitty for the environment and avoidable. Even as far back as the 1980’s when I lived in Germany, people were taking their foods out of the individual wrappings and leaving the packaging behind for the store to deal with.
- cooked red beets
- Roma tomatoes
- romaine lettuce
- ripe avocados
Cooking at Home
Cooking at home requires time, head space, and skill. It’s unpleasant to cook at home when you’re stressed about work or have to constantly rush through the process. Fortunately, I no longer have to contend with any of that.
head space is necessary because cooking (meal preparing) is a pleasant experience. You want to cook with your eyes, nose, and taste buds. Enjoy a glass of wine and hopefully have someone you can cook with.
The skill part isn’t about being a chef, rather creating realistic dishes which you would enjoy eating and which don’t cost $250 in ingredients. Less is always more and experimenting – knowing how to experiment – is one of the best skills to possess.
This kitchen in Seville has a cutting board, a microwave, some bowls, and plates. I have a knife and fork as well – so it’s not all ghetto. There is a mini fridge but no cooktop or oven.
I am mastering the shit out of microwave cooking. Who knew! The key is cooking in steps and knowing how to adjust the wattage which doesn’t correlate well with an actual temperature.
Spices are overrated. I only have white pepper in my apartment in Seville and I’m loving most of everything I’ve prepared so far. But this takes a little getting used to. If you’re going to try it, it’s good to eat bland food for a while and then slowly add in a few things.
A little oregano, cumin, basil, or cinnamon can make things exciting but don’t underestimate a little lemon or lime drizzle. It’s often all the other spices that take up excess space and make cooking harder.
Those of you who are trying to lose weight, control your arthritis, manage acne, mood, or have eating disorders, will benefit drastically from cooking at home. Your kitchen becomes your little experiment lab and you can find the right things to curb whatever is curb-able through diet.
I shared with you guys my insane hypertension situation. I’ve been able to turn it around with diet since my exercise routine is already pretty good.
Cost of Food
There are many ways to curb the cost of food. You can buy things which are local and in season and resort to frozen stuff when necessary.
But there is more to the cost of food than the price tag. As someone who is financially independent, I feel responsible to eat and shop sustainably.
I try to make sure that the things I buy are grown locally. When I buy frozen, I avoid items which are imported. Whatever cost I save on buying cheaply is lost on the food quality and, of course, it fucks with our natural resources.
One of the reasons that I am vegan is because animal meat is far too taxing on the world. I also don’t see a need to torture an animal in a farm just for us to kill it and eat it.
There is nothing wrong with eating meat but as a society I am not sure we have developed an appreciation for animals, pets included. Frankly, we are irresponsible as fuck when it comes to animal lives so I feel the need to do my part.
By no means am I trying to come across as enlightened or anything. This is just my journey, my beliefs, and what I feel I need to do; I respect anyone’s lifestyle decision.
A grocery budget of $450 versus $350 really won’t make a difference in the overall scheme of things unless you are budgeting down to every dollar.
When I was super frugal, I made sure to keep my budget under $300 while still buying mostly organics in the US. This made sense because I would take the $50 savings and send it right off towards my student loans and credit cards.
On occasion I would even skip the organics and go for the added pesticide. I can’t say all the decisions I made back in the day to be frugal were wise but most have panned out for me.
Dining out is great, especially as a treat. But it can get expensive in places where the business owner has a lot of overhead like a minimum wage of $15/hour or high costs to meet city regulations.
In Seville, Spain dining out is fairly inexpensive. The portions are small enough that you don’t feel like you are stuffing your face. The only issue which remains is how healthy the food is you eat out versus when you dine in.
In moderation, I’m sure it’s just fine.
A little olive oil, some salt, and the occasional fancy mushroom should be plenty to add a little more flavor to an otherwise healthy meal.
I mostly cook with rice, beans, and add a few vegetables to make it delicious. This make for fairly healthy meals. Topping it off with something fresh makes it a complete dish – maybe some tomato slices, some basil, or mint.
My salads are avocado, tomato, lettuce, raw zucchini, and maybe walnuts or croutons. A little apple cider vinegar, lime, and pepper makes it spectacular. I haven’t found apple cider vinegar in the markets yet, still looking.
Cooking for yourself requires more creativity. When multiple people are in the household then there are usually guidelines you can follow. Cooking for yourself makes it hard to ask yourself what you wanna eat and don’t wanna eat. You go grocery shopping feeling like x and come home realizing you preferred y. But eventually you’ll get the hang of it.
I’ve gotten in the habit of making a little salad, a soup, have some fresh carrots to munch on, and make a hot main dish as well. Some things just stimulate the appetite even if you weren’t particularly craving something at first.
What I’ve Made…
Rice, spinach, zucchini, with some cubed red beets on top.
Lettuce, tomato, avocado, cubed raw zucchini, and a few slices of beets.
Baked potato, baked carrots, with some rice.
Baguette sandwiches with avocado, tomato, lettuce, and lemon juice.
Baguette sandwich with zucchini slices, beet slices, and mashed potato.