In my last post, I touched on virtual water, and how a small diet change can make a big use in water usage in drought-strapped California.  I posted a recipe, which while not amazing in its water-friendly qualities, did allow for a hearty meal without the use of meat or animal products, a major use of virtual water.  I justified my use of high-water foods with the argument that since I already owned pasta and peanut butter, at least I wasn’t buying new heavy-water-usage products. Yesterday, I encountered a slightly different challenge.  It was my first trip to the grocery store since vowing to reduce my water usage, and I had to make some purchase decisions.  I wouldn’t be able to shrug off some water-intensive foods by saying they were already in my cupboard; now was the time to be thoughtful and contemplative in my purchasing.  I surprised myself by making some decisions that were water-saving (and incidentally, money-saving) without feeling like I would short myself out of filling meals.  What did I buy?

  • A lot of potatoes.  Those who viewed the virtual water chart in my last blog post will remember that potatoes are one of the most drought-friendly crops a person can eat.  Plus, there are plenty of potato-based dishes that can serve as a satisfying main course.  Baked potatoes, funeral potatoes, knishes, hash browns, and mashed potatoes are all dishes I’ve been happy to build a meal around.
  • Stir-fry vegetables.  Fresh fruits and veggies are not water-intensive, and cooking a vegetarian meal can be very easy when you can take a veggie-heavy meat dish and just cut out the meat.  I already made a really tasty vegetable curry for dinner last night, and plan in future meals to make vegetable stir-fry, vegetable soup, and of course, stir-fry vegetables can also be served raw in…
  • Salad.  I’m a firm believer that salad isn’t a meal on its own, but as a side to complement those baked potatoes or a grilled hummus sandwhich, a good salad can make for a filling and satisifying dish.  I picked up some romaine hearts and spinach, and will mix them with mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower.  Top that with some chow mein noodles for crunch and feta cheese (hey, I’m not cutting out all animal products), and that sounds like a meal.

Am I the go-to resource for all your eating a grocery shopping needs?  Of course not.  And since I’m new to this whole low-virtual-water thing, I’m open to hearing thoughts from any readers here on other dishes to try.  In the meanwhile, I’ll keep you updated on my progress!