I have been lucky enough to have enjoyed an extended holiday this year and have just returned from a month in the beautiful city of Rimini in North-East Italy. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the benefits to be gained from eating a Mediterranean diet and of course Italy is one of the countries who enjoy this way of shopping, eating and cooking.
Even though people may think that to eat in Italy means filling up on pizza and pasta, they do actually eat very little of that, in comparison to their consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables and lean protein.
I have to say that I did think I would have gained a lot of weight during this month, (mainly down to Prosecco consumption, more than the amount of food!) but am happy to report that I am pleased with only a 4lb gain in 4 weeks! And I have to say that this has taught me a huge amount about how I now intend to feed my family.
True Italians cook according to what is freely available, (preferably from their back garden,) and base their menus around that. A true Italian will go and see what they have available and then decide what will be for dinner that evening. I even went to some restaurants who don’t have an ‘official’ menu as it can change daily dependant on what’s in season and what mood the chef is in!
So the main thing I have learned from this holiday is to shop fresh, shop local and try and base my menus around what is truly in season, rather than what supermarkets decide is always available. And for me that has meant a slight re-think on my shopping budget. I know that we are all aware of the need to try and save money on grocery shopping and what I am suggesting might not be the way for everyone, but if I cut down on fresh meat and bulk out meals with veg, it need not be as expensive a way of eating as you may first have thought.
I have also re-thought about how much oil I use in cooking. I have known for a long time that any oil which is solid at room temperature, (such as lard etc.) is not good for us but I always thought that I was okay with normal vegetable or sunflower oil. Maybe it was due to the amount of time I spent there but I did find when I got back here and used my usual oil, it felt as if it were leaving a coating in my mouth, which was rather unpleasant, to say the least!
This led me to look at discount stores such as Aldi, (my old favourite!) and Lidl for their own olive oil which has long been known as oil which is heart healthy. I am pleased to say that Aldi’s olive oil actually won out in an independent taste test and also on value for money! So this one small saving means that I can also buy their Super 6 fruit and veg to bulk out my meals.