Yes, frugal. It means living and eating as economically as humanly possible. This is part 2 in my series of ‘Poverty and Obesity’. This is meant for everybody of ALL income brackets not just a select few and who knows, you might just learn something new. Not everybody that lives in poverty will be obese and I want to point this out. This accusation is not only very inaccurate, but also excludes some of the richest people in the world who aren’t exactly the poster child for ‘healthy’ thin.
Okay, so say for example, you find yourself in a dilemma and are severely limited to buying one of two things presented when using food stamps: You can buy a package of Ramen Noodles that will make five or twelve snacks, (not meals, mind you) because its inexpensive and you can stretch your food stamp allotment, or you can put that food stamp amount toward some fresh produce or fruit. I would forgo all process packaged foods and opt for the fruit and fresh produce, but that’s just my personal preference. Also, calculate in the difference and how you will pay for it with debt, cash or—?
Well, we can’t trade or haggle for our food and Thou Shall Not Steal, either. So make a wise decision. And here’s a little helpful hint that most folks might not know: look for items on sale and/ or fruit and veggies that are in season. If you have a deep freeze, by all means, if you can, stock up on these items and when you get home separate them into freezable containers. These will become the base of your ‘meals’. Do you have a green thumb? Even better! Now all you have to do is til up a patch of land where you live permitted you don’t live in a Home Owner’s Association area and/ or other tightly-controlled community. It’s a lot of back breaking work preparing a garden bed, but so well worth it once your tomatoes, green bell peppers, onions, lettuce, green beans, squash, etc. produce like crazy.
And if you know how to can (don’t worry it’s a lost pastime that hardly anybody knows how to do anymore), this will save you some serious money and help you provide for yourself and your family in the winter months. Say, you have an urge for pickles and don’t want to trek out in the dead middle of winter and buy some chemically-preserved jar of pickles. Using a water bath canner, canning jars, and cucumbers fresh from your garden should do the trick.
Work, work, and oh yeah, more work… but in the long run its more economical and maybe slightly healthier since you know what you add to the ingredients (minus if you use the pre-packaged pickling spices). It’s insanely easy to grow your own dill and have on hand the pickling spices and so much better for your body, I believe. Well, if you’re not interested in growing your own food, I suppose you can walk down to the store and buy a bag of doughnuts or potato chips. Since I am writing a blog to dispel this poverty and obesity link, I figured I throw out some suggestions that I heavily rely on to sustain myself. One thing that the government is big on promoting (and there are some health benefits too), but you’ll never see them touch these listed foods with a ten foot pole because they are so ‘disgusting’ and can’t stand the taste. They are:
1. Lentils. (You can actually grow lentils). They are part of the bean family and found in most supermarkets. Eating beans has protein in them as well and are (at were at one time) inexpensive to have as a pantry staple.
2. Rice. (Yes, I’ve heard most rice we buy nowadays contains traces of Arsenic, a type of poison and therefore we are essentially poisoning ourselves). If you cook rice for twenty minutes or about the same amount of time you would cook pasta this should help reduce Arsenic intake so experts claim.
3. Beans: navy, Northern, Kidney, Black beans. Bought dry these have a long shelf life and they freeze well too.
4. Cheese. Yes, you can freeze cheese and use it later. I like to buy it in the small shredded variety and take some out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge. I find this cuts my grocery bill in half doing it this way and it’s a product I know I will consume quite fast.
5. Flour. (And I know there are talks about gluten free, non-GMO this and that) and even bleached white (where the nutrients are taken out and minerals re-introduced), and the wheat flour (again, studies are mixed on whether or not this is actually good to be eating) and according to some exercise fanatics they claim to avoid foods made with flour entirely. Flour can also be kept in the fridge or the freezer.
6. Raw unfiltered honey. If you can afford it and find it in your area, then go for it. Just remember, honey can go bad and can get botulism, a type of deadly food poisoning. My personal recommendation: use it up pronto before the expiration date. When you see little crystals appear in the honey, it’s time to throw it out. Honey has so many health benefits, but depending on the type of vegan you are (if you are really die-hard vegan), you may avoid honey completely as well as sugar.
7. Yeast for making bread from scratch. (And no, a bread making machine doesn’t cut it). I mean actually going either online or scratch baking bread loaves from memory. It doesn’t take much effort and the key to good bread is to start with a warm kitchen and never add that yeast to scalding hot water or cold ingredients as this will kill the active yeast and your bread won’t rise.
8. Tortillas. These freeze really well and I find I don’t need to buy these as much, either. They are versatile for all kinds of meal ideas (I use them in place of spring rolls when making egg rolls) simply because they’re handy and economical. Tortillas also make excellent Mexican dishes or just plain out of package with a jar of salsa dip.
9. Chicken. Despite what’s going on in the news about another strain of bird flu (I think will see more mutated strains as time goes on just keep a heads up on it), I used to buy chicken pieces in a package, divide the pieces into individual portions and bake them when needed. There’s plenty of recipes online using chicken and what you can make out of it. Just don’t ask me to fry any chicken. I don’t eat grease-laden meals and never had success making fried chicken in the past that wasn’t burned to a crisp.
10. Fresh green beans and cabbage. Believe it or not you can freeze both. I froze cabbage and green beans two years ago. The green beans lasted longer than the cabbage. But the cabbage went good with velvet cheese sauce and baked in the oven for fifteen minutes. To make the velvet cheese sauce any brand of processed cheese will do and a dollop of sour cream. Spices optional.
11. Blueberries and strawberries freeze really good and contain antioxidants. I find that I’m still eating my blueberries and strawberries a year later. Just thaw them out in the fridge overnight, make a fruit salad and enjoy them immediately. Or add them to a bowl of oatmeal.
12. Fresh Tomatoes for stews and soups. If you freeze these and then make them they’ll be good to flavor stews and soups and that’s about it. Otherwise they turn soggy from the freezer.
13. Butter. This can be frozen for up to three years (if churned by hand) and probably the same amount of time for store bought. I use butter only when baking or a recipe calls for it. Seldom do I ever consume it on a daily or even monthly basis.
14. Onions, Japenos peppers, Hungarian hot peppers can be sliced and stored in a freezer. These go great in Mexican cooking, soups, stews, chicken, etc.
And let’s see you can also buy fresh veggies rather than canned goods. I’ve gotten wise that some of the cans are lined with plastic (BPA’s) to protect the food and ingredients used to preserve them, but plastics can also leech out chemicals that can play with estrogen levels, too. It’s highly recommended if you consume canned goods, then please wash the contents off before adding them into meal or cooking them in a sauce pan.
And those darn pre-packaged boxed dinners… if at all possible avoid them. The chemicals are outweighing the vitamin content. And if you MUST have that certain boxed dinner, do so sparingly like a treat.
I avoid sugar at all costs whenever possible. And since I’ve been sugar-free I have felt positive results in not only my moods, but appetite, and how I feel overall. Also, I lost a lot of weight since avoiding sugary drinks, sugar-laden foods, sweets, gum, candy, ice cream, etc. And I look at the sugar content in grams. If its over 5 grams of sugar I don’t buy it.
See, is it very possible to remain and/ or get healthy even on a limited income. It all boils down to making those eating choices.
Frozen dinners and the like: avoid them. I doubt the frozen veggies have any nutritional value whatsoever. Opt for fresh veggies instead whenever possible.
Frozen fries—okay, this is a weakness for me. I do love the occasional baked frozen fries, however, they love me back in the wrong way and my body doesn’t let me forget it, either. You can make your own French fries by slicing up some potatoes and frying them in shortening… or you can do what I do and forgo the grease and just bake them in the oven until golden brown. They may not be crispy, but that’s okay by my standards.
And the most inexpensive staple to have when on a limited income are… eggs. They have many healthy benefits, but sadly, there is speculation that we might enter an “egg shortage” coming soon to a grocery store chain near you. And the eggs that will be imported here in the US will be out-sourced from China and other countries. I was reading an article that stated this… so to all of you micro-mini farmers and city backyard farmers: keep raising grass fed chickens.
I had a flock of chickens one year and it was a lot of work, but having a steady supply of eggs in my backyard was nice (and they tasted better, too). You can also make scrambled eggs and prepare these in breakfast burritos and freeze them ahead of time and take one out the night before and thaw it in the fridge for breakfast the next morning. There’s a multitude of healthy food choices I could write out, but feel I’ve covered most that I consume on a daily basis. Sure, I don’t buy ice cream anymore or snack foods, sometimes though I will break down and add some nuts onto my shopping list. Nuts contain healthy fats and are a good source of protein as well. I will add more to this when I can. Thanks for liking, sharing and tweeting.