It's a long road, but I'm taking it one step at a time...

My Mini-Goal

8/08/10 to 8/31/10-to lose 6 lbs this month

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The cost of food or the time it takes to cook is not the problem...

I was reading another blog the other day and it brought up a topic that I hear time and time again: healthy food is expensive and takes too much time to prepare. The implication is that poor people with little time on their hands are doomed to be fat and frumpy.

I have to call BS on this notion.

I think breaking bad habits is the problem. Sure, some unhealthy things are dirt cheap. Sure, organic foods and specialty foods can be expensive. However, I don't think you have to spend more money, or more time, to eat right.

For example, Crystal Lite, which is not necessarily healthy but if you want something with flavor it's actually better than soda. The cheap soda costs about $1 per 2 liter bottle. I buy the generic brand drink mix for $2 per container-- but it gives me enough for 2.5 gallons of drink. Sure it's twice the price of soda at the register, but I get 4 times as much drink out of it. So drink mix wins over soda.

Snacks: for about $3 you can get a bag of chips, or a pint of strawberries. You can get a box of cheap cookies for $1, or two boxes of generic sugar-free gelatin or sugar-free pudding. 5 minutes to prepare as long as you remember to do it ahead of time.

My family can eat 4 frozen pizzas, about $1.50 each for the cheap ones, for one night's meal. That's $6 for dinner. On the other hand, I could take that $6 and buy beans ($1), brown rice ($2), tomato sauce (50 cents) an onion ($1) and frozen veggies ($2) for about the same price and make a big meal.

But my motto is, why make 1 can of beans when you can make 8 and freeze them in individual portions? For 8 meals in the next couple of months all I have to do is thaw and nuke dinner.

Now think about buying sales/bulk for more than one night's meal... Lets say I do pizza night 1 time per week. In a month, that's 4 pizza nights, which total $24 for the month.

Let's say instead I buy chicken on sale buy-1-get-1 free (not hard to find). I get 2 lbs for $10, plus an extra 2 lbs. for free. I buy the big 5 lb bag of rice for $5. I buy the 5 pound bag of broccoli (chopped,  not flouretes)  for $6. I buy $2 worth of onions and $1 worth of garlic. I slice the onions, chop the garlic, cube the chicken into 1 inch bites, and dump in the bag of broccoli onto a giant baking tray. I sprinkle them with seasonings I always have on the shelf anyway. I cover and cook for 30/40 minutes and make rice.

I split the chicken mix up into portions. I put 3 of the portions into tupperwear or baggies and freeze them. I serve the remaining portion over rice. Now for the same $24, we have 4 chicken w/rice and broccoli dinners in the month. All I have to do is make rice, and I can do that the night before, or I can put the rice on in 2 minutes and do other chores since it doesn't need tending to.

Know what else is cheap and fast and healthy? Eggs... make some crustless quiches. Mix 6 whole eggs and 6 whole egg whites with a cup of skim milk in a bowl. Spray 2 pie dishes with nonstick cooking spray. Put chopped onions, garlic and whatever canned or frozen veggies you want into the pie dishes. I like mixed veggies, or cut-up asparagus w/garlic, or spinach w/a light sprinkle of parmasean or mozzarella cheese, or broccoli w/a light sprinkling of cheddar or I break up 2 slices of American cheese and spread it around (2 slices for an 8 serving quiche, not bad). Pour in the egg mixture over the veggies and bake until firm and set. They're good cold the next day for lunch, too.

Another way to make meals fast is to get a crock pot. Defrost & throw meat and veggies in it in the morning and when you get home you have a home-cooked meal. Doesn't need to take more than 10 or 15 minutes to prepare the food.

One final way to keep your food costs down and your meals healthy: grow herbs on your windowsill or porch. Herb plants are very cheap to buy-- probably less than the cost of a bunch of fresh herbs-- and cost very little to care for, but as long as you sit them where they get sun at least 6 hours per day and give them water every couple of days and maybe throw a spoonful of water-soluble fertilzer in it every couple of months. Bam. A constant supply of fresh herbs to liven up your food without fats & sauces & other unhealthy but tasty things spread all over it.

Basically I think anyone who is going to complain that 1) healthy meals are too expensive and 2) they take too long to make is copping out. The cost of food and the time it takes to cook is not the problem. The problem is not planning your time or your meals well... and this is a skill you can learn if you really want to.

On a final note, we've got more modern conveniences to make the chores of meal planning, budgeting and cooking really easy. I don't think it's any harder to purchase and prepare food now than it was 50 or 100 years ago... I mean, women during WWII did it when men were off to war, having to ration food and everything, and then went to work at factories all night. I think it is a matter of discipline and prioritizing.

And what does this, praytell, have to do with magic and Witchcraft? Only what I've said over and over again-- if you're not working in the mundane world for your needs, if you're not creating a "channel" for that energy you are raising and sending, then you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot. The energy scatters and has no clear path to help you reach your goal. You need to give the magic a path to take if you want it to be effective.

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I would enjoy hearing your encouragement, reasonable criticism, questions, insights, advice and experiences. Comments will be moderated, however. I realize there may be people out there who only want to insult me for my weight or attack my beliefs in Witchcraft. There are plenty of forums for doing that. This is not one of them.

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