Over the last decade, I have spent the same amount of money each month on food. Ten years ago, that meant that I had a dinner party at least once-a-week, provided snacks for all the neighbor kids, had a liquor cabinet stocked with premium brands, and bought food at gourmet shops, both for guests as well as my family of four who ate nearly all meals at home since “school” took place at our dining room table. Today, it means that I feed myself and one child with the occasional Whole Foods gift card tossed my college kids’ way…and no dinner parties…and no liquor. Nobody can tell me that the price of food has not quadrupled in that time as I have spreadsheets to prove otherwise. And yet, you can still eat a clean, tasty, and nutrient-rich meal for less than what it costs to go to McDonald’s. I am going to have a conniption if I have to explain the obvious health benefits.
But with the recent conversations about healthcare coverage, people are focusing on the wrong thing. Sadly, people do not consider the backend expense of poor eating habits and lack of nutrition. I save a bundle by having a healthy family. According to Forbes, medical expenses for the average family of four exceeds what they spend on groceries. Well that is stupid!
If you want to save money on both food and health care, consider eating at home as a start. Step two is preparing fresh foods for your family. And include them in the process. One of my “rules” for my children was that they learn to make 50 meals before they left home. I implemented that “rule” when they were young enough that they thought it fun to chop, stir, slice, and pour; by the time they realized that I could not make them do anything, they already knew a tremendous amount about nutrition, food pairings, and taste, not to mention how to use food to heal themselves.
The next time you are tempted to grab something quick and easy, try making some grilled fish, rice, and salad. The dishes featured in this post each took me less than fifteen minutes to prepare and cost $10- for two people! That is $5 each. You cannot even get a fastfood meal for that much. And if you are truly that short on time, grill some meats or tofu one day and use it for salads the next three.
Enrich yourself with healthy eating; enrich your life cooking with others; and enrich your savings by abstaining from empty calories. Bon appetit!