Monday, April 16, 2012

Eat Well And Live Well

Eating Well Is Simple,

My stovetop, on a Sunday afternoon :)
Easy And Economical.

I hear people say all the time that they would eat better, but it's too expensive.  This always makes me chuckle because nothing could be further from the truth.  Eating healthy is actually cheaper than you might think.  Plus, if you take into consideration all of the health issues that arise from eating poorly (diabetes, heart disease, acid reflux, etc.) you'll save a mint on medical expenses as well.  In fact, I have become so passionate about how economical and simple it is to eat well that I am developing a cookbook and will be giving sneak previews on Sacred Cyber-Space  while I finish it.

I remember going to my local health food store several years ago.  I filled my cart with everything I would need to make my own food.  When the clerk rang up my order, it came to $80 (probably $100 today), but I had several bags, filled with items that I would not need to replenish for a couple of months.  The cashier was astounded.  Working in a trendy, health food store, she was used to people buying premade foods and designer supplements.  "You have so much stuff!"  The usual $80 order would have filled up one small bag.

Now, thanks to the larger interest in healthier foods, I can find a lot of those items at the grocery store for a lot less.  I split my shopping up amongst different stores: a big box store, a grocery chain, a discount grocery, a local produce market and our local farmer's market.  I buy as local and organic as I can, as much as I can, but I'm not going to shoot myself in the financial foot either. Part of Sacred Living is honoring your limits.  Do what you can, when you can.  Nothing more
(I love this family and the example they set!)

The first secret to eating well on a budget is making your own meals. If you go to the store and buy a bunch of frozen organic dinners and premade foods, yes, eating well will really tap out your budget. And let's be honest here, skipping the gossip rags and impulse items at the checkout will give you a fist full of extra cash as well.  That being said, it does require a bit of time management, but you can eat healthy, organic, local, whole meals for a fraction of the cost of purchasing premade meals.

I cook every Sunday.  I start with the same basic items every week and aside from a few popular items, every week is different.  There are items we prepare and freeze for months at a time.  There are items that have a long fridge life and are prepared twice a month.  Then there are the weekly delights (usually involving fresh fruits and veggies), which are made once a week or even daily.  The reality is, I actually spend maybe three hours a week cooking in the kitchen.  And as long as I'm not in one of "those" moods, Ken and I can eat healthy, whole meals, quickly and easily, all week.

Rice and beans, the backbone of my healthy and frugal eating lifestyle.  Every week I make a big batch of brown rice, black beans and garbanzo beans.   They are loaded with protein, vitamins and fiber. They keep for four days in the fridge and can be frozen for three months.  Of course, you can make whatever grains and beans you prefer, but the key to keeping these basics frugal and sustainable is to buy your beans dry. (Note: I have many friends in a private wellness group I belong to, who can not eat grains, so don't push the rice if you feel bloated and gassy all the time.  Now, it will take a week or so to adjust to eating grains if you aren't used to them, but if the discomfort continues after that, eliminate the rice).

What You Can Make With Rice,
Black Beans And Garbanzo Beans:

Veggie Burgers
Black Bean Dip
Fajitas/Stir Fry

It's important to keep things interesting so you don't get bored with your food and my next step is going to be adding quinoa to the mix.  An easily digested grain, it is also a complete protein source. It costs a little more than rice, but I'm thinking it would be great for making veggie burgers.  Don't you?

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