Tag Archives: food costs

Substitution Contest: Win a Prize

quinoasalad1I called Cynthia from the store last year because I wanted to make a substitution for the Mediterranean Quinoa Salad. Pine nuts were over $20/lb. She said, “You can use sunflower seeds but it won’t be Mediterranean anymore.” I can live with that. Sunflower seeds were less than $2/lb. Emboldened, I subbed raisins for currants, saving more money still.

I’m learning that you can eat organic without being rich. Let’s help each other out! Let’s make a top 10 list of substitutes. The criteria: money saved and quality gained or lost in the switch. (For example, “sawdust for beef” saves $ but won’t score high) The winning entry (judged naively by me) wins a Cookus apron, signed by the Cookus cast.

Steel Cut Oats Retraction

Cynthia asked me to take over a couple blogs. She  feels like I should be more of a “partner”. After the steel cut oats video I got  flack from friends who fancy themselves oat purists. They objected not to the peanut butter, but to my vast ignorance in general.

Here’s what I learned:

To begin, saute the oats in butter till they smell like caramel. Then add 4 parts liquid to 1 part oats. The liquid is 1 part milk and 3 parts water (or half and half). Stir very little and don’t use a spoon. Use a spurtle. If you don’t have a spurtle, then use the handle end of a wooden spoon. Add salt late in the process. The sounds oatmeal makes are “splurt splurt” for regular boil, and “Blumpt” when it’s done.
I’m ignoring “Always stir clockwise or it will invoke the devil”.  People are passionate and opinionated about their oats. I’m a frozen blueberry, banana, raisin, walnut guy.

What do you add to your oats? I’m ducking now. Let the debates begin.


cheap cheep

Why is food that is healthful for us so expensive and food that keeps our bodies below par so cheap?  It seems unfair.  Once upon a time if you were overweight it was sign of affluence.  Now the opposite is often true. In the 1960’s Americans spent 18% of their budget on food and 5% on healthcare. Today we spend 9% on food and 16% on healthcare.  As Michael Pollan says in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “To go from the chicken to the  McNugget is to leave this world in a journey of forgetting that could hardly be more costly, not only in terms of the animals pain, but in our pleasure too.”

Products like pastured, local or organic free-range chicken are pricey.  Can be $7/lb.; $35 for a whole fryer. A 9-piece bucket of KFC is $9.99.  We either have to change our thinking – my family deserves the best so that’s where I’m going to spend my dollars – or change our strategy.  Or both.  To re-strategize meals and food costs I make the main part of our meals from whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits.  Things like brown rice and black-eyed peas bought in bulk cost a few dollars per pound. I keep the expensive items like humanely-raised animal products, sustainable wild fish, organic nuts and seeds and local dairy in the “condiment” or “side dish” category.  This is a pretty healthy way of eating that isn’t dirt cheap but pays off in the long run by saving on health care.

What do you do to eat well AND not have to drain your IRA at the same time?

Weigh in.