Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tight-Arse Tuesdays - Healthy Nutritious Eating is NOT EXPENSIVE.

Dear Readers,

This is more of a shout out and a rant than actual advice, but I know it's been getting to both Kimberly and myself these days. I will also include a few tips for those who know all this.

Food is not expensive. Food is not hard to make. A good meal is not a dream. I have no idea where Western Society got this bizarre idea that only the rich can afford to eat well. Are farmers rich? Do they eat well? Now, for the rich: do you ever see a rich man cook his own organic food or is he rushing from meeting to meeting sipping overpriced Starbucks? Exactly my point.

From poor to rich, from time-rich to time-tight; everyone can eat healthy. Correct, some people simply don't have time for drives to the country to get the food right off the farm. However, health is not just in the country-side. Good food is not far away.

Tips to save money on food:

Don't eat out. Find a nice fancy recipe to try at home. Sure, at first the ingredients will cost more, but they'll last forever. And in the end, that meal will still be cheaper than if you ate out at a nice restaurant plus you'll have leftovers!

Organic food, by nature, is metabolized more proficiently by the body. Thus, you need less of it. Organic seems scary and expensive? You only need half if not less to get the same nutrients out of fresh organic food - however you still need calories - so you can fill up on more cheap carbohydrates like potatoes and brown rice. Delicious. Inexpensive.

Food can be grown at home and in not much space. There's a whole organization dedicated to growing food in a square foot. Heck, those Aerogardens are taking off nicely. All they are is a hydro setup, which can be inexpensive if purchased at an actual hydroponic shop instead of off a pretty jingley commercial. Insert marijuana joke here.

Bulk is always good but not always the best. Only buy bulk of what you will eat. I know that sounds obvious, but I'm a hoarder and I've stocked up on bulk cans of beets before. I hate beets. I especially hate canned beets. Now the charity hates beets. Staple bulks: beans (I personally use barlotti the most), chickpeas, brown rice, oats, sugar and flour.


Someone told me they couldn't find organic food because they lived in a city. I found that confounding! I live in the farm rural areas and I have a MUCH harder time finding healthy and organic than I ever did living in the city. The city is a cluster of all kinds of shops within walking distance. Country? Notsomuch. Granted, it's a few days older than farm-fresh food - but it's definitely there. Look around, ask around.

Another person told me they simply did not have enough time. Sure, I don't have children - but I have two jobs, go to university and spend a day a week helping charities - and I cook every meal except one a week, which my husband does as a gift to me.

Tips to save time on cooking:

The minute you bring home the groceries, chop and bag them. I find when I do this, not only do I eat the vegetables more often (because, hey, they're already cut, I might as well use them) but I have tons of time doing it all at once instead of before each meal. Once you get a good groove going, it's pretty quick.

Using the above tip I also make bags of mixed vegetables with ginger and garlic grated in and freeze them. Instant stir-fry in a pinch.

Every meal I make, I make extra and freeze it. Currently it's going to the fact I'll be away for ten days later this month and I don't trust my husband to cook for himself, but other than that it goes to my husband's lunches or spare dinners/desserts when I'm exhausted.

Crockpots: proof Gd loves us. It's an amazing delicious meal that you spent maybe ten minutes on, that cooked itself and used the CHEAPEST cuts of meat. Because that's what you do with crappy tough meat - you throw it in this thing and it comes out tasting jucier and flakier than any expensive filet mignon. And it cooks while you work!

Mini-Crockpots: I realized one day that I could put steel-cut oats and fruit into a small two-bowl crockpot before bed and I'd wake up to a high-calorie carbo-filled breakfast that would pretty much fuel me until lunch time, where my previous night's dinner had already made my meal! I'm currently playing with the idea of putting dough in there to make muffins as I sleep - so far it's better in theory.

Baking: Like crockpots, only quicker! Cut, toss, throw in, help the kids with homework, eat. Baked chicken takes five minutes to prepare. Shove a lemon up it's butt and thyme under it's skin and throw it in the oven. Want to speed up even THAT time? Boil the lemon first. Not only will it explode inside the chicken, self-basting it, but it will also start the cooking process from the inside as well - cutting your time by at least 15 minutes. I've cooked three whole chickens in a half hour this way before.

Use your weekends intelligently: You have a few minutes to watch TV and unwind? Before you do, quickly start some dough. Ten minutes, promise. Watch your show to rise and then par-bake the loaves of bread. Freeze and take out during the week when you want bread. Finish the baking process and - voila! Fresh homemade bread, during the week! Do the same with pizza dough then you always have fresh pizza bases on hand! Slap some jarred sauce on it, fresh veggies and some cheese and you have a fresh homemade pizza in minutes - up to 6 times a week! My husband tells me my pizzas are better than any shop including those pricey snobby ones.

You can eat healthy and happy at home even short on time and money. C'mon, I'm currently planning and paying for a wedding* on TOP of my two jobs and school and I still find time for all of that - and writing this blog up as the smell of fresh curry wafts into my house from that crockpot. Enough to feed 12 and it cost me ten bucks. So I know you can do it!

*I call him my husband even though he's not yet, for the confused.


  1. AMEN AND AMEN. I love my crockpot too, and I also do the pizza thing. Mozzarella cheese and homemade tomato sauce freeze beautifully, and I've thrown together a pizza for dinner in about five minutes plus 20 to cook - so under half an hour, much less time than it takes for delivery. Just roll out the crust, spread the sauce, throw the cheese on, and add whatever toppings you want (canned artichoke hearts, spinach, and garlic on mine, please). 20 minutes at 350 F and you've got pizza! So much better for you than Greasza Hut.

  2. The problem comes with the buying of all the kitchen implements that you use ... plus.. cooking for one person (yourself) is boring or so it ends up being for me.. Oh.. let's not mention my limited space for left overs in the household fridge <--- that's a big reason for my lack of cooking. There is no room in the freezer really and I'm restricted to one and a half small shelves.

    Okay, here's a challenge for you:

    Have one large saucepan, one medium saucepan, one small (missing its lid), a wok, have the basic kitchen implements of wooden spoon x 2, tongs, ladle, toaster, basic oven ... and $50 budget with a pantry that is nearly bare...

    Show me how you can live on that $50 a week cooking some of the food you have on this blog.

    Remember, the pantry is bare except for some alfoil, cling wrap, tea, instant coffee and a select few spices.

  3. Vanessa, that sounds like plenty enough. It's more than most cooks had for centuries, and old-fashioned food is still the best! I'm trying to think of something you COULDN'T make with those implements... Really, I can't. That's about all I use, plus my bread machine (but even that isn't really necessary).