Home Cooking – Part 1: Saving Money

The New Year is in full swing and leading up to the first of the year, keeping my theme of “finishing” things in mind, I am eager to embrace a new “experiment”. Different from, but in the same vein as, the raw food experiment of last Summer, I decided to spend the next two months eating foods entirely prepared by me at home. Whether consumed in my apartment or taken from my home to nourish me throughout my day, I am endeavoring to demonstrate that excuses are just that, excuses. Anyone, even the busiest and staunchest on the run eaters can navigate the challenges of cooking for oneself if they spend a little time planning and preparing in advance.

I know what you’re thinking: since I am a nutritionist and this is what I do for a living, it’s easy for me. And you’d have a point. So to blast that particular excuse out of the water, I have recruited a client of mine who has benefitted so much from the nutritional changes I have recommended to him, that he has agreed to practice the “experiment” for the next two months as well. And while this may be second nature to me, it is as foreign a concept to him as the idea of civilization on Mars. A bachelor who runs his own company and has eaten virtually every single meal of the past 30 years outside of his home, this is indeed a challenge for him, compounded by the fact that he is a life-long athlete that runs on average 20 miles a week and works out daily, so his food consumption borders on enormous (yet he is able to maintain a body fat percentage of 15%…how annoying is that??…). Having enough food on hand is an issue for him, but the cost savings was also a motivating factor as he was spending, on average, $50 a day on food (not including business lunches in fancy New York restaurants, which happened often and would spike his spending an additional $40 to $75 on those days).

One of the fastest ways to thwart your greatest intentions to eat healthfully is to regularly eat your meals outside your home. And yet, many of us, especially New Yorkers, do this all the time. Whether it is because we feel we are too busy of lazy or because we think we are making healthy choices despite the on-the-fly options we are choosing from, eating most or all of your meals from restaurants or take-out joints, equates to more sodium, sugar, fat and calories than one would ever eat at home. Food establishments are looking for customers, repeat clients that love a particular dish so much that they come back again and again. In an effort to insure your loyalty, they create dishes that have a high salient quality, meaning that it is likely layered in fat, sugar and salt in the perfect ratio and combination, to trigger the pleasure center of your brain, hooking you from the first bite, prompting your memory to recall the exact creaminess and texture and flavor of a dish, turning you into a twice a week customer. Problem is, that in consuming some of these foods, you are also taking in way more calories than one would need in a given meal. Let’s take the Chipotle Burrito…. Yummy, I am sure, but also so loaded with ingredients that one single burrito can top 1000 calories! Never mind the sodium content. At 1000 calories, you have just consumed half your caloric intake for the day in one meal.

Your wallet can also suffer greatly from eating out all the time. Eight dollars for breakfast may not sound like a lot, but when combined with $12 for lunch, a couple of coffees at $2.50 a piece and then an afternoon snack that comes in at $2, eaten on average five days a week, you’re tossing $135 a week on food. Food that is not doing much to move you towards your health goals. Even if you spend just $20 a day on take-out food, that is $100 a week, $5200 a year… money that can be put into a retirement account to help you build towards a future… a healthy future if you begin making an effort to eat more meals from home.

In an effort to demonstrate how doable it is to eat from home and help those of you who have considered taking on this challenge in the past, only to find yourselves overwhelmed and frustrated, I thought I’d take you along on my journey, posting recipes and challenges to help you embrace home cooked meals as a practice to help you achieve some of your health (and financial) goals. In recruiting my client, I hope to demonstrate that even a tiger can change his stripes.

Later this week, I will be posting our individual successes for week one as well as some easy recipes to get you started on your own home cooking experiment. Till then, let me leave you with this breakfast burrito option that is easy and an absolutely delicious way to start your day~ Enjoy!

Healthy, Cheap, Breakfast Burrito!

Ingredients

  • One organic corn tortilla
  • One egg, beaten
  • One scallion, white part only, thinly sliced
  • Two thin slices of avocado
  • One tablespoon black beans (to make this even tastier, sauté garlic, onion, salt and pepper in olive oil, toss in a can of black beans that have been rinsed well, and cook for a few minutes. Use in your breakfast burrito, then store the remainder in a container for future breakfasts’).

Directions

Warm tortilla for 30 seconds on each side in a pan. Set aside. Sauté the scallions in a tiny bit of oil, add egg and scramble. Layer the avocado in the tortilla, then the eggs and top off with the beans. Enjoy!

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