I have railed against fast food and processed food rather frequently on this blog (and in person), and people usually claim that low-income people can’t afford healthy food.
Well, the Environmental Work Group has issued a new publication to debunk that myth. The booklet, “Good Food on a Tight Budget,” offers a wealth of information on how to eat a healthy diet on about $35 a week. You can download it at http://static.ewg.org/reports/2012/goodfood/pdf/goodfoodonatightbudget.pdf.
The guide doesn’t recommend any processed foods or fast foods and steers people away from the more processed foods, “instant” hot and sugary cereals and away from red meats. It contains recipes for chicken, fish and bean main dishes, most of which don’t take a lot of time or effort to prepare.
Did you know you can throw beans and liquid into a slow-cooker before you go to work and they’ll be done when you get home? And they’ll contain a lot less salt (sodium) than canned beans. You can use them as a main dish, in soups or in other recipes like burritos and tacos. Freeze them in small portions and they’re as convenient as canned.
You can make your own salad dressings in a matter of minutes and adjust them to your own taste. You can even make your own mustard and ketchup and you’ll be amazed at the taste.
Throwing together a soup or stew is simple — just toss vegetables, beans, lentils, meat, water or stock into a pan with whatever herbs and spices you like and simmer it in the slow cooker for a few hours. Make a big batch on the weekend and eat it during the week.
I cook from scratch because I want to know what’s in my food. It doesn’t take that much time, especially if you cook a big batch of something on the weekend and eat leftovers during the week.
Big Agribusiness would love you to believe that factory-farmed food is the same as locally grown produce and meats, but it isn’t. Watch the movie, “Food Inc.” if you want to know more about corporate-produced food.
I grew up on a farm and my mother baked fresh pies, cookies and cakes every week. She cooked local eggs and chicken and we drank local milk. We had apples, strawberries, blueberries and other fresh fruits in season. I’ll admit, I did like the fatty, salty taste of fast food when I finally tasted it as a teenager. But when my kids were young, I stopped eating it for the most part. A decade or so ago I gave it up for good. I also gave up factory-farmed meats, and now about 80 percent of what my husband and I eat comes from within a 50-mile radius of where we live.
Thing is, our grocery bill hasn’t increased much. We eat less meat — usually twice a week — and more fresh vegetables. The meat we do eat is humanely raised and slaughtered and it contains no antibiotic or growth hormone. Our pork has rolled in the mud, our beef has grazed contentedly in the meadow and our chicken has eaten what birds are supposed to eat. This low-stress life spent eating what nature intended leads to meat that is tastier and lower in cholesterol. The eggs from these chickens also are lower in cholesterol.
The more you cook fresh food from scratch, the worse the processed stuff will taste to you. Before you know it, you might even lose your taste for fast food.