Eating Cheap- Eating Healthy
Last night I got a call from a friend who lives some distance away. We do not see each other often but email, Facebook, and phone calls help us keep in touch. She had a bad health experience recently and was seeking advice.
Her doctor had advised here to change her eating habits and so she was looking for food ideas. When she said, “What I need is food that I can enjoy, otherwise I'll go back to my old eating habits, do you have any suggestions?”
I had been reading Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food: An eater’s manifesto” shortly before her call and his words:” Eat food, not too much and mostly plants.” Immediately came to mind.
I did not repeat that to her but said eat what you enjoy but reduce the amount of salt and fat you use for starters. If it comes in a package, leave it on the grocery store shelf and if the label has a list of ingredients three paragraphs long or one that is filled with words you can’t even pronounce do not buy it.
We talked for a bit and I said I‘d get back to her with more ideas. She has limited funds so that is another factor to consider.
Let’s go back to the Pollan quote.” Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. This does not mean do not eat any meat but use it as a side dish as a flavouring and not the main course. This will also help you save money.
Fresh vegetables, fruit, and beans for example are not excessively packed and labeled. When it comes to vegetables I make two recommendations, eat what is in season, it is usually cheaper and embrace root vegetables, beets, potatoes, carrots, turnips and parsnips to name some.
You can sue them in many dishes from home fries to stews and they can be purchased in bulk. In season I can buy a ten pound bag of carrots or beets for about $4.00. This is a lot of food for two people. If you have a cool dark spot that is where you keep them along with the potatoes and pickled beets are delicious.
Beans, peas and lentils are inexpensive whether canned or dried. I buy both because I do not always remember or have the time to soak the beans overnight and with canned once I have rinsed them I am all set.
Buy your dried beans in bulk and invest in some dry storage containers for them. They will keep for a very long time.
Also when it comes to cans buy them when they are on sale. I try and pick up a dozen cans at a time when the store puts them out.
Another essential food is canned tomatoes and tomato paste. I buy both diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes in quantity when on sale and that way I have them when I want to make a tomato sauce, chili or add tomatoes to a stew or soup.
When it comes to adding flavour onions, celery, garlic and crushed chilies are basic. Onions can be bought in bulk and crushed chilies as well. If you find celery too expensive or if like me the celery that is available in the off season is not that tasty buy some celery seed and use it to flavour soups and stews.
When it comes to meat I buy a bulk pack of stewing beef which cost ten dollars and makes us about ten meals each. I also buy when meat is on sale and freeze what I can.
Be sure to make a list before you go shopping and do a food inventory while making the list.
It is possible to keep your food budget down and eat well at the same time.
Gotta Have Them
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Although the original site was set up to help students eat more healthily we know there are loads of first-time cooks and others who are struggling to eat well on a budget so this is for all of you too. The site will be updated every few days so visi
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