I often think how great it would be to do a cooking/educational class on creating healthy low cost meals for people who think they don’t have time to cook and feed their family on processed foods.
Now I don’t claim that I don’t eat anything that comes out of a tin or wrapped in plastic….but I do try to limit the amount of processed food I cook with to almost nothing other than a few condiments perhaps.
People often think that opening a can of prepared food is inexpensive and a quick fix for a meal. If you read the label though you will find the sodium levels are sky high and the ingredients are made up of words I wouldn’t even try to pronounce.
If you take the cost of a prepared shepherds pie for example at a cost of anywhere from say $9 – $12 and look through the ingredients you could be amazed at how little real unadulterated food is in it! Try buying a couple of lbs of lean ground beef and a few potatoes and a bag of frozen vegetables (usually these are pretty good about not including all kinds of chemical ingredients) and for about the same cost as a store bought pie you can make a healthy often much larger version which will give you additional meals that are much healthier for about the same cost.
Same holds true for buying things like canned pasta that you heat up. A can of pasta can cost about $1 – $1.50 a can? Well for $1.50 on sale you can stock up on dry whole wheat pasta (whatever style you like) which can provide several meals for your family. Make up a quick tomato sauce from by using can of diced tomatoes, some chopped garlic maybe a chopped onion and whatever herbs you have on hand. Let it simmer and viola! spaghetti sauce that is so much healthier than store bought. To make it creamy add a touch of low fat evaporated milk and you have a rose sauce.
How about pizza? Make your own for 1/2 the price. Use 1/2 a whole wheat pita shell and let the kids make their own toppings from cut up vegetables and any leftover protein in the fridge – add some sauce and cheese and you have a great way to clean out the fridge and make individual pizzas that use way less bread and sodium.
I could go on and on here but the message is the same – rather than buying a quick fix meal that is not very healthy why not make your own and get several meals out of one cooking session?
I remember growing up, both my parents worked, so on the weekend my mom would make a full meal with a protein, a vegetable and sometimes a carb along with a salad (that I was responsible for making every night). We would eat leftovers for lunches and dinner for the next few days on that same meal – prepared a bit differently each time but the bulk of the cooking was done in one session.
So much is available to make as a healthy meal done in minutes for a whole family that really isn’t expensive. Check out my pasta and shrimp with veg recipe https://foodthoughtstoshare.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=268&action=edit This is made up of whatever was on hand in the fridge. You don’t have to use shrimp – you can add tofu, or sauce and meatballs – see recipe https://foodthoughtstoshare.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=11&action=edit for meatballs that are healthy and delicious. In my side food business these are my best seller!
The bottom line is that cooking doesn’t have to be a hardship or a chore – get the kids involved and make it a family event. If you don’t have kids – prepare a larger dish on the weekend and freeze portion sizes so that when you don’t feel like cooking you can just defrost. In the long run it is cheaper, healthier and can be loads of fun.