Moving from the City to the Country...About changing your Eating Habits
Are you thinking about moving from an urban, or suburban area to a rural one? Your eating and cooking habits may have to change drastically! Although it takes some getting used to, in the end you are healthier, smarter, richer, and more accomplished!
My husband and I moved to a rural area without thinking much about it first. It was a shock to the system on all fronts, but especially when it came to food and food preparation. “Where can I get an iced coffee?” I remember asking everyone. They told me that the gas station had great french vanilla coffee-flavored slushies. Not exactly what I was used to. I couldn't help but smile when I saw two bewildered tourists the other day looking for espressos. They can be found, but only during certain hours in unexpected places.
Humans are undeniably adaptable creatures, though, and we learn how to thrive and survive. A surprise benefit was saving at least $300 a month on incidentals like coffee, tea, water, smoothies, and power bars. I still consume all of them, but am forced to make them at home! The following is a list of the greatest obstacles I encountered and the solutions that followed them.
Obstacle One: Lack of restaurants, fast food, or ready made take-out.
Forget delivery service, because that doesn't even exist. It varies, but right now there is one nice restaurant, one pizza place, one drive through, and a handful of various dubious establishments. There is no such thing as convenience in this town, because even at the drive through people turn off their engines and wait patiently.
Solution: Learn to cook!
For some people this is a no-brainer. For others, it could be a sudden and rude awakening. You may think that you know how to cook, but do you really? Do you cook a few nice meals a week, as a relaxation activity while drinking a glass of wine? In a rural area, you need to be prepared to make three meals a day no matter how hectic or busy life is. You also may need to pack lunches for the work week. Coffee, tea, and/or smoothies can be packed to go every morning. Finally, if you crave any kind of ethnic food, you may need to make it! I love to complain, but I feel a great sense of accomplishment at what I have learned so far. My kitchen is a functional and useful place and my cooking is healthy and surely improving.
Obstacle Two: Lack of choice and variety in the grocery stores.
Gone are the days of printing out or ripping out exotic recipes to try. Rather than the recipe determining the evening, whatever ingredients are fresh and available in the stores determine the recipe. Every time a chef-friend of mine comes over, he requests certain ingredients when I run to town. I try to satisfy his request, and spend time running from place to place. I may find some of the things that he wants, but never all of them.
Solution: Learn to shop!
This takes some practice. When traveling, buy foods in bulk and either ship or carry them home. Do it right, and the costs are still worth it, and the quality is many times better. Keep the house stocked with staples that many meals can be made with. Mail order dry goods and specialty ingredients on websites that will give you free shipping. I love when I can keep a “shopping list” online, and just go back and check off what I need. Sometimes there is recurring delivery available of items that I like to keep in the house. I also like to support my local stores, although because of high prices it is mostly for perishables such as dairy, and fruit and vegetables from the Saturday market.
Do you face similar challenges where you live?
Obstacle Three: Lack of, limited, and/or expensive fresh fruit and vegetables.
A bundle of asparagus in my town is over eight dollars. There are no fresh herbs except for basil and cilantro, and even then only sometimes. Usually, the only fresh mushrooms are the white basic kind. It is more expensive to try and eat as healthy as possible, and I think that this may be true in most places. What a shame, that in our country it is cheaper to eat in a way that will make you slow and sick.
Solution: Learn to grow!
To supplement a sorry fresh food situation, we are forced to learn to grow. And maybe even raise, as in chickens or a goat. Many home farming projects end up in disaster and disappointment, but patience will result in some crops taking off. If you have one thousand cherry tomatoes, they can be slow-roasted, made into sauce and frozen, and given away to like-minded people, who will at some point in time have a miracle crop of their own and remember your kindness. Learn to fish if you are not opposed to it, and all of a sudden you will know other people with the same hobby. If you don't have a yard, you can sprout your own sprouts in a few days!
Learning to run an efficient and bountiful kitchen takes time, patience, and practice. It is getting to know your area, its climate, and its offerings, and learning to supplement other necessities in the most economical way possible. It is a rich and rewarding learning experience. Soon, people will be asking you for advice on cooking, shopping, and growing!