For Lent, I Gave Up….

A traditional Catholic practice during Lent (the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter) is to abstain from something you like.  (Enquiring minds have deduced that this is why Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, came into being…one last self-indulgent blowout before the 40 days of self-denial.)

I’m not Catholic but I decided that some self-denial would be good for me.  So I gave up my penchant for frugality.   😉

Now the self-denial is typically not broad but focused.  One doesn’t give up all bad things but one bad thing, such as smoking.  I too focused my self-denial on one thing: food luxuries I like but which are fairly expensive.

My foray into self-indulgence was aided and abetted by some extra cash that came my way.  My insurance company rewarded me with a $10 Amazon promotional code for taking a survey.  I received a $30 debit card as a rebate when I bought a new hard drive earlier this year.  Finally, my tax refund was almost $2,000.

I set aside $150 for edible goodies I don’t regularly buy because their cost per pound approaches a good cut of steak.  Specifically, fruits and nuts.

One of my purchases was dates.  I decided I could “make do” with Deglet Noor dates rather than the pricier Medjool ones.  Not that I was being a slacker in my self-indulgence.  The Deglet Noor dates are very popular but smaller and a bit more fibrous than Medjools.

But they say  “size doesn’t matter.”  It’s true about dates too! 😉  Not to mention that folks my age can always use more fiber in their diet… Also, I prefer the sweetness of the Deglet Noors to the Medjools, which I feel are too sweet. (Similarly, I prefer dark chocolate to the sweeter milk chocolate.)

So I went over to Amazon and found a three pound container of highly rated pitted Tunisian Delget Noor dates for $19.  Math wizards have calculated that comes to $6.33 a pound.  I’ve bought top sirloin steak for less than that.

Another fruit I don’t treat myself to very often is figs.  Fresh figs are the way to go but they’re seasonal.  A friend of ours used to bring us fresh figs from his sister’s annual harvest but we’ve not seen any lately.  I planted a fig tree in our garden years ago, but it never took hold.  (Maybe I’ll try again after I retire.)

Dried figs are an acceptable alternative available year round.  Once again, I had to make a decision on which variety.

The black “mission” figs (grown by the Spanish at their missions in the west and southwest) are popular but I prefer the larger Calimyrna variety.  I found a two and a half pound bag on Amazon for $13.50, which is $5.40 a pound.  These were organic, unsulphured and with no added sugar.  If you’re interested in these types of dried fruits, visit the Made In Nature website (but Amazon may have better pricing).

datefig

Then, there’s a beverage from my youth which is now very popular: coconut water.  That’s right…I was drinking coconut water before drinking coconut water became cool.  And it wasn’t from a can either.

When I lived in the Philippines, I drank my coconut water the “natural” way: fresh from a coconut whose top had just been whacked off and a straw put down the middle.  After drinking the coconut water, the rest of the coconut was opened up to eat.  Fresh coconut is high on my list of favorites.

Of course, way over here in the U.S., fresh coconut is not as easily available as it was in Manila.  So I’ll have to settle for canned coconut water.

The preferred way to drink coconut water!

The preferred way to drink coconut water!

I was surprised that coconut water prices vary quite a bit.  Probably because of the varieties, including with or without pulp, and “young.”  I like it with pulp (same with orange juice).

I’m confused why some coconut water is labeled as “young” because all coconut water should be from young coconuts.  Mature coconut water is not as tasty.  (An enhanced sex life is just one of many reasons why you should consider drinking coconut water.)

I went with two 33 ounce containers of Brazilian coconut water without pulp for almost $6 each, or 17 cents an ounce.  I’m going to compare that to what I can get in the grocery with pulp for about 5.5 cents an ounce.  Now that Lent is over, so is this spell of self-indulgence…at least until next year! 😉

It’s often said that “discretion is the better part of valor.”  I followed that advice by deciding not to get five pounds of Jordan almonds.  I lost a tooth last month and risking my teeth on those hard outer shells is probably only good for my dentist’s profits.

(The bridge I’ll be getting next month will be the most expensive medical procedure I’ve ever had.  Thanks to the $45 monthly dental insurance premium covering Susie and me, I’m paying “only” $750 and the insurance is paying $3,500.  Math wizards have calculated that this procedure will cover almost 78 months of premiums.)

The backup to Jordan almonds was dark chocolate covered almonds.  This was another item that showed a wide fluctuation in price.  I found them for as low as $5 a pound to as high as $12 a pound…before shipping. By ordering a case of 10 pounds, I received a quantity discount which brought the price to $8 a pound with shipping.  (I’d say ten pounds is self-indulgent!)

That's what I'm talking about!

This is one way I spell self-indulgence!

I ended up spending about $125 of the $150 I set aside.  And it was worth it! I hope I don’t gain too much weight…

I might have to do this again next year!  Happy Easter!

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7 responses to “For Lent, I Gave Up….

  1. I thought I hated dates, probably because the only time I ever had them growing up was in fruitcake, and I don’t like fruitcake. But for a few years now, my sister has been making bacon-wrapped dates. I thought that sounded extremely weird, but then I went to a Christmas party one year where they were served. I could have eaten every one on the plate. And I just learned yesterday you can do the same thing with figs. You should try it!

    • I like bacon but don’t care for it “mixed” with other food, including bacon wrapped steak or shrimp. Especially with fruit, I feel bacon undermines the “natural” flavor. Besides adding salt in some cases, I prefer fruit plain. Of course, I make an exception for chocolate, such as chocolate dipped strawberries and apricots!

      • Before trying it, I would have said the same thing. But the saltiness of the bacon somehow enhances the sweetness of the fruit. Don’t ask me how that works, I think it’s a chemistry question. At Kool Beanz, I once had a “sweet corn crème brulee” which sounded just extremely weird to me, but it was fabulous.

  2. Hah! Even your frugalness was frugal!

    I found an Asian store in Tampa that stacks out coconut water by the case and it’s cheaper that way than off the shelf. It is very nutrient refreshing while doing summer yard work in Tampa’s humidity. After last years surgery I had a craving for it for about 6 weeks.

    • Thanks for the tip on coconut water! I’ll check out the main Asian store here (used to be Mike’s but now has a woman’s name).

      And in case I happen to be in Tampa, what’s the name of that store and where is it?

  3. M D Oriental Market
    1106 E Fowler Ave
    Just a couple of blocks off 75.

    I’m no expert on shopping oriental but this place is amazing for the number of products and the low prices. The majority of shoppers are young orientals each time I am there.

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