No Magic Pill

Knowledge + effort + time = success

Cheap eats

Posted by Ben on Saturday, July 19, 2008

It’s been a busy couple days in the world of food in the media, and really, who doesn’t like to eat? Food plays multiple roles in our lives, not the least of which is a source of fuel. It also obviously quells hunger pangs, but dadgummit, it just feels good. Numerous studies have been conducted (many correctly, some even relevantly) on the sense of pleasure gained from eating, which is understandable since we are still very much plugged into our pre-historic selves, meaning food equals life, and I don’t know about you, but I like living. Eating also goes hand-in-hand with gatherings, from a quiet family dinner to a raucous cookout, making food even more ingrained in our social dealings. Of course, that which invigorates life can also handicap it, which is increasingly evident in Western(ized) societies. Having been born, raised, and still living in the South, I see these effects every time I walk out my front door. I admit that I’ve become a bit of a snob when it comes to this issue, having busted my hump to NOT be part of those statistics, but I won’t get into that here.

Instead, I want to talk about food in the context of the rising prices we’re all facing in this country right now. It’s personally not a huge deal for me since it’s just me and the girlfriend comprising the grocery bill, and she eats less and just as relatively cleanly as I do (tough to go 24/7 with that when she works at an awesome BBQ joint—I will miss that when she changes jobs, but at least she’ll be happier in her work after leaving). If all continues as-is, we’ll continue to be the only human-food eaters in the house ad infinitum, so the bill will remain fairly low (three-plus dogs aren’t that expensive to feed). However, that’s not to say we haven’t had to do some tinkering with the budget here and there to offset rising food and fuel prices, so I have to imagine that those with families and/or more expensive eating habits have had to make their own adjustments. In a previous post, I linked a couple pages with suggestions on how to get into more self-sufficient dietary practices (here, here, and here), but more and better ideas are coming to light from all over the place as prices continue to rise with no end in sight.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I link a lot to Mark Sisson’s blog, Mark’s Daily Apple (also linked in the right-hand sidebar here). If you get my blog on RSS and not his, do yourself a favor and go subscribe. If nothing else, it’ll save you a lot of time reading here, plus his posts have better references and trackbacks, and they have pictures! At any rate, Mark tackled head-on the issue of eating HEALTHILY on a budget this week, first offering some general grocery shopping tweaks and later tossing out some recipes to complement the earlier post. Combine his stuff with the DIY stuff I linked above, and suddenly your grocery bill sees some significant shrinkage with only minimal extra effort—those with kids can turn gardening and composting into some kind of family-time game, I’m sure. I mean, c’mon, tell me it wouldn’t be hilarious to watch a chicken chase your kid around the yard and vice versa. See? Even more savings with the fun and cheap entertainment at home. You’re welcome.

Eating locally is fast becoming a bigger focus for retailers and consumers alike—this involves your raw food ingredients, not schlepping down to the local burger joint—more recently in light of the whole salmonella/tomato flap (it seems some peppers are still suspect). The takeaway point of that whole thing is that when you don’t buy locally, you never really know where your food is coming from, how it’s been handled, how it’s been stored, etc. Just how local you go is up to you—I personally have no problem eating pigeon, but you might.

Aside: I took a break from writing this post to go knock out some errands, which included grocery shopping. I hate grocery shopping, so I usually got to a wholesale club once a month to stock up and freeze stuff. I don’t think much needs to be said about what I saw there: buggies (yes, not “carts” :P) surrounded by and/or leading families of a half-dozen or more piled to the brim with cheese puffs, potato chips, frozen pizzas, and cases of soda. In my cart: beef roast, salmon, chicken, cottage cheese, turkey lunchmeat and wheat bread (for when I’m short on time and just need a quick snack), and a bag of frozen mixed fruit (for shakes). ‘Nuf said.

Christmas Past:
—Dr. Eades weighs in on the recent study that showed low-carb diets are the most healthful.
—In continuing commentary on the unscientific nature of many purported scientific studies, is the Internet watering down research?
—Global warming could be hazardous to our health. Gosh, no, really? Shocking.
—Eric’s usual Friday randomness.
—Another installment of age not mattering.

Christmas Present:
—Yes, Tony actually works out, too.
—Speaking of which, I haven’t thrown out a truly exercise-focused link in awhile, so Eric explains the differences between—and complementary nature of—dynamic and repetition efforts.
—Some quick words on fat loss from Bill and Leigh.
—Some anti-oxidant love from Mark (in addition to the groceries listed above, I hit a nearby Trader Joe’s for a couple bottles of Two-Buck Chuck merlot—if you have a TJ’s in your area, you have no excuse for not getting the benefits of red wine on the cheap).
—Quantity of healthcare is among tops in the world here, but what about quality or even access? Are we really getting our money’s worth?
—Just what we need: another baby boom(let). I guess that happens when budget-tightening cuts into other entertainment expenses.
—Along similar lines, are we actually breeding shyness and singlehood?
—According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each of us is worth $6.9 million. I think I’m a bargain at that price ;)
—Geek-out: lock bumping, world’s fastest electric vehicle (so far), a year of living biblically, nomophobia.

Sugar plums dancing:
—Happy birthday to Brad Pilon, who did his own “ten years ago” reflection.
—What is athletic intelligence?
—When choice is removed from the equation, we all become a lot more capable.


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