Hi again Fitties!
Thank you for the comments on the post yesterday! It was sort of fun looking at the cost of making that meal. I portioned it out into containers, some went into the freezer and some went into the fridge. Some bowls are on the small side and will be served as a side to a serving of protein (The AntiRat grabbed a left over chicken breast this morning and is taking a smallish container of soup for his lunch). Some of the more gigantic bowls will be a whole meal (I got 8 containers out of that big pot, but I could have had more servings — I just ran out of containers 😉 )
I think I’m going to make this a little personal challenge for the month of February — can I cut our monthly food bill in half by pre-planning my trips, buying food that is in season or on special and making bulk meals like I did yesterday? Last night, we had chicken piccata and broccoli and a really beautiful ’09 Chardonnay from Glenora (very aromatic with crisp nectarine notes and so delicious with the meal).
The AntiRat stocked up on family sized packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts last month when they were on special for $1.99 a pound. We defrosted a package over several days in the fridge and the AntiRat made up a big batch of piccata. Now we have 8 yummy servings of chicken (er, well, less than that, we ate some last night) that we can heat up, pair with a bit of soup or some steamed green vegs and dinner is on.
Again, it’s not time consuming or expensive. The chicken breasts work out to a tiny bit more than $1 each. The soup (if we pair it with soup) is around $1. The wine… er, well, that’s our big expense. 😀 But we don’t have wine every night (er… or we try not to 😉
By the way, I mentioned yesterday our breakfasts. These are also not expensive. Typically, we have a few eggs (11 cents each). On the weekends, maybe we’ll have a few slices of bacon with it (50 cents a slice?) or a slice of whole grain bread (?? per slice? I have no idea) or we’ll toss some mushrooms, onions, spinach or broccoli in with the eggs to make an omelette. Maybe top with some cheese. Breakfast can get a little more expensive when we add bacon to the mix, but that’s generally a special guest, not a regularly appearing breakfast cast member.
Oatmeal is also a super cheap breakfast idea and you can pair it with an egg or sliced banana. Although boxed cereal is pretty cheap, it doesn’t fill me up very long and leaves me ravenous all day. Plus I can eat a ton of it. $4 for a box of cereal that has 12 servings sounds pretty good, except I can eat 3 or 4 servings at a sitting and still want more. Maybe others are different, but I gotta skip the cereal.
It’s funny to be discussing all this — you know, people used to actually take classes about this in school? I know my high school offered home economics as an elective, but it wasn’t required and I recall some of their projects involved making mini pizzas with jarred pizza sauce and english muffins. Schools used to teach, so my elders tell me, how to buy economical cuts of meat and fruit and vegetables and how to feed a family nourishing food.
Did anyone else learn this? Like, I remember them teaching me how to balance a check book (which, um, didn’t stick) and how to write a business letter (which I still have to Google, sorry to say). But menu planning, budgeting for food and how to eat well were not part of my education. Could this be why our country’s health is suffering?
Anyway, in perusing the fliers for my local stores it seems to me that healthy food is pretty comparable in price to processed food. I think that there are some factors that make healthy food a better buy, though.
For example, my local market has 18 ounce Progresso soups on sale 4 for $5 (72 ounces for $5). Now, you saw the 10 quart soup pot I used yesterday. It wasn’t full to the top. So maybe I made 7 quarts? 32 ounces in 1 quart (thank you Google) multiplied by 7…. 224 ounces of soup!!!! So you can get 72 ounces of soup for $5 or 224 ounces of soup for a tad over $10!!! See where I’m going with this? The “cheap” soup from the grocery store is .10 per ounce more expensive than my homemade soup.
It gets better! Go check out the ingredients for the cheap soup. I randomly selected the garden vegetable soup since it seemed comparable to what I made. Doesn’t look too different than my soup — they have tomatoes, red kidney beans… they’re missing the collards which have great antioxidant values but they added corn and green beans. But what’s that other stuff? CORN SYRUP!? IN SOUP!? The Heck!?
What is modified food starch anyway? And hydrolized corn protein? Disodium Guanylate? Disodium Inosinate? Carmel color? You have to dye soup??? Seriously, people, they are putting SHIT in our food and we are FEEDING IT TO OUR FAMILIES!!!! New slogan: “Don’t shit in my food.”
That’s just not right ya’ll. And I used to buy these soups back in my “oh I’ll eat everything from a package because that makes it easier to count calories!” phase. I know this: these things don’t keep you full for very long. So you gotta eat MORE. That means more MONEY (and more food that contains shit).
Finally, in looking through my fliers to compare healthy versus unhealthy food, I saw a big way to save money.
Right now, because of super bowl Sunday (go Pats, there I said it), chips are on sale 2 for $4. How many bags of chips can a family of 2 adults and some littles go through? I remember we didn’t have a lot of bags of stale potato chips laying around my house growing up. A day in front of the tube and the bags are done.
Dips for the chips also 2 for $4 (let’s say you only buy one because one container has plenty of dip for 2 bags of chips).
Little Debbie snack cakes are on sale (my dad’s favorite!), 2 boxes for $4. Brownie bits are on sale 2 for $4. How about soda? I can get 4 12 pack’s of soda for $10!! If I stocked up on soda, brownies, cookies, chips and 1 carton of dip, that would add $24 to my bill.
$24 can buy a lot of apples at .99 per pound. It can buy some pretty nice date night steaks. Or some lean ground hamburger.
It can buy some asparagus (priced prodigally at $2.49 a pound! Yikes!)
JUNK FOOD is expensive, dear readers. Healthy food is cheap. I challenge you to share this post with people if they claim, “welll… I WANT to eat healthy… but it’s so EXPENSIVE.” No it’s not. I am calling BULL SHIT on another BULL SHIT excuse.
Being sick is expensive. Joining the gym to burn off potato chips and soda is expensive. Paying for type II diabetes medications is expensive. Hating the way you look in your clothes is expensive. Buying diet book after diet book or pre-packaged diet food or joining weight loss groups — THAT is expensive. Heart disease is expensive. Asthma is expensive. Not being able to play with your kids is expensive. Every time diet-related disease takes away from your ability to live life, IT IS EXPENSIVE.
Say it with me: HEALTHY FOOD IS NOT EXPENSIVE.