Friday, January 23, 2009

Slow Changes in Eating Habits Part III

A friend asked a question in response to the last post (Part II - Slow Changes in Eating Habits):

Q: How the changes affected your food budget? I feel like the natural/organic options are always so much more expensive. Also...did it add a lot of time to your food prep?

A: The changes happened slowly, so I'm not sure I noticed much of a difference. We've had to add to our grocery budget over time, but I've attributed it to a 4 year-old who continues to thrive in the 98% height/weight percentile. And, food across the board is more expensive. Hello, $4/gal gas this summer!

This is not to say that I try to menu plan according to sale ads and recently joined a food co-op.  (Update: I'm eating local in Little Rock.)

As for natural and organic options being more expensive - YES! they are - but not always. My sister found some organic yogurt cheaper than conventional, last Tuesday. (Tip: If you grocery shop on Sunday-Tuesday, you're more likely to find marked down/clearanced food items.) She also told me that she'd found a Community Supported Agriculture option in her town...inexpensive, locally grown produce. The lady who started it just loved gardening and had extra and started giving it away then selling it. In the beginning she even delivered! As you can imagine, her love (and business) has exploded over the years.

My philosophy on getting and staying healthy has been "pay me now, or pay me later." I would rather enjoy what I'm eating now (natural) than to eat processed food and feel terrible then have to take poison medication later.

About adding time to food prep - hmmm...that's hard for me to answer.

It's happened so slowly so it's routine for me to do the things I do. The biggest part of making healthful changes in your diet starts in the grocery store.

If I don't have chips in my pantry, I can't eat them. (My parents buy chips and I've been eating them like crazy this week!) If the only thing to drink is milk and water, then I can't fill my belly with a sugary drink. If the only snacks I have in the fridge are healthy ones, well, that's what we eat. Hummus and veggies are a common snack, as are apples and cheese. I'm *usually* in the mood for something not-good-for-me but if it's not in the house then I'm usually too lazy to go out to get it. Additionally, it is cheaper to make hummus, but it does take time to make and clean up the mess. When I'm short on time, I buy it. When I'm short on cash, I make it.

A tip for chopping veggies: get a sharp knife and you'll want to stand and chop all day. I've written about my knife infatuation before. If your knife is dull, be kind to yourself and invest in a good chef's knife. If save a quarter everyday for a year, you can splurge and get a $90 knife. It is worth every penny.

Another word for adding time to food prep: start in the morning.

If I haven't been diligent to make a menu on Sunday, then after breakfast each day, I think of a dinner menu for that day. And what baby steps I need to take to get it on the table.

If brown rice will be eaten with dinner, I know that I need to thaw broth. Then, begin boiling it an hour before dinner. It takes about 45-50 minutes to cook and it's been my experience that if I let it "rest" about 10-15 minutes after cooking then it is fluffier, or the liquid is absorbed. I botched several batches of brown rice before I figured that out.

Chicken broth takes 3 to 24 hours to get good and gelatinous. However, the crock pot does all the work. I put bones in the crock, add a few teapsoons of vinegar (to extract calcium from the bones) then fill it up with cold water. Plug that baby in the wall and hours later, a yummy broth. It's that easy, y'all. You can make it more complicated by adding veggies and spices but bare bones broth, is well, bare bones. :)

Well, I hope those answers are clear as mud: make slow changes and it starts in the grocery cart.

Here are links to Part I or Part II of this series in Slow Changes in Eating Habits.


Julie said...

okay, I know I am so far behind in reading posts, etc... but what is wrong with fluoride in toothpaste... missed what the problem is... please share again... thanks.

Also, can you be a bit more specific about your broth you make... how much vinegar, and you just put in plain bones with no meat on them... and then you cook with it. My freezer space is so little, but would love to know more about this... thanks.

Anonymous said...

PLANNING. PLANNING. PLANNING. (to answer your friends question for us) It saves you time, it saves you money, and you eat what you have bought. We no longer just go to the grocery and buy what looks good and then make concoctions from there. We eat what we have planned meals for--typically we plan for 3-5 meals (suppers) at a time (try to account for when you will be gone, have friends over, or want to go out) and I eat leftovers for lunch. I can't tell you how much money we have saved from doing it this way. And, if you know what you are going to make, then you can figure out ways to cut costs from there (do I need to make this from scratch or can I buy it inexpensively?)

Another tip I read recently is to buy produce and eat what is in season. Why pay $4 for strawberries out of season when you can buy how many apples for that price? Double up on the produce that is cheaper that week and freeze some for smoothies later.

Also, we buy organic meats, dairy, and as much canned items as possible (esp. tomatoes). We don't buy organic produce (to save money to buy organic elsewhere) and do a good vinegar/peroxide rinse for at least 30 seconds or cut the peel or try to buy locally (will this summer) or grow our own (this summer again). This will help the budget transition and you can find what you really want to go organic on or not.

I am with you. It's not worth it to not buy organic.

Julie said...

Julie re: fluoride, read this post as well as the links and comments.

read this article on broth.
. I add about 2teaspoons of apple cider vingar (or white or red wine, doesn't matter) and just plain bones and fill it up with cold water. The broth link above gives you many more details and information.

MajorScoop: Amen on PLANNING and eating in season (that's the beauty of CSAs, food co-ops, and farmer's mkts).

However, I'm trying to cut down on the number of canned items I buy. Tomatoes are an exception for now -but I'm hoping to learn to can this summer with Mom. If her garden doesn't produce tomatoes, I know the Little Rock farmer's market is abounding with tomatoes.

Chrys said...

I'm really enjoying your posts on eating habits. Thanks for taking the time to write them!


Mom and Kiddo said...

An excellent couple of posts! I also love my crock pot, especially to make mass quantities of beans, which I then freeze. Cans: too expensive and probably coated with BPA-containing resin.

I also subscribe to the "prepare dinner all day" method. Got 5 minutes? Time to chop the onion. however, not as easy with 2 kids, now.

I would have to add, however, that I disagree about drinking milk... we don't drink milk as a beverage (only for cooking or tea/coffee, though I also use soy) because animal protein actually inhibits calcium absorption.

Also, you might enjoy the web site

sunday said...

Another book for your healthy eating shelf....Superimmunity for kids by Leo Galland, MD. I have been giving the kiddos fish oil for about 9 months and we have only had the sniffles this year. Its been amazing! Oh and we started making our own yogurt and grinding/baking all our bread.

You're right about the "time" it takes to prep or do these things. It just becomes a habit and the way you do them.

I broke down and bought a loaf of bread on very busy week and the kids wanted to know why I had gotten them white bread (it was $ wheat from the store). That made me laugh and take the time to give them good things for their bodies. Unlike Mr. Intensity my kiddos don't eat much (yet) so I make every bite count.



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