Sarah Pope is a local chapter leader in Florida. She also blogs as The Healthy Home Economist.
Transcript: Tips for Limited Time and a Limited Budget
While family life has changed in recent years with most women now working outside the home and with an increase in single parent households, one thing has not changed – the need for someone in the family to spend at least some time in the kitchen preparing nutritious meals.
With time at a premium and food budgets stretched thin, the temptation is great to spend limited resources on convenient and fractionated foods that initially seem cheaper than the locally produced, unprocessed Real Food alternatives.
It is crucial for every parent to come to the realization that processed foods, the fast food drive through, and pizza delivery service are a terrible trap that will only lead to chronic illness and a lack of energy that will place even greater limitations on the family’s schedule and budget over the long haul. Likewise sodas, cold cereals, frozen meals and commercial sweet and snack foods are actually very expensive, not only in terms of what you get for your money, but also in the expensive health problems that they cause.
For those of you who have already experienced this light bulb moment, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your limited time or crunched budget.
First of all, it is important to realize that preparing nutritious meals is more a factor of careful planning rather than hours of preparation.
While you certainly don’t have to be an expert at meal planning, keeping plenty of nutritious foods on hand at all times in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer will ensure that a healthy meal can be pulled together in a matter of minutes when necessary.
A good first step is to resolve to make your own salad dressings. Quality salad dressings made at home with the finest and freshest ingredients cost about the same as a regular bottle of salad dressing from the store full of msg and rancid vegetable oils! [Show bottles] They also require less than a minute to make.
Be sure to view the video on Basic Dressings and Sauces for ideas on how to whip up many of your favorite dressings and condiments in a hurry.
One of the best budget saving tips I can suggest is to use eggs and homemade broth liberally in your family’s diet. Even the most expensive pastured eggs from a local farm are a very low cost protein alternative to quality grassfed meats, which are clearly one of the most expensive line items in the family budget.
Another way to save on grassfed meats is to incorporate copious amounts of broth into the diet through homemade soups and sauces. Homemade stock acts as a protein sparer so meat need only be consumed once or twice a week and good health still maintained. Be sure to view the Stocks and Soups Video for how to accomplish this important goal in your kitchen.
If you cannot afford fermented cod liver oil then be sure to make and freeze liver pate instead. Liver is loaded with the fat soluble activators A and D and is quite inexpensive to buy. Making chicken liver pate for use as a spread on sourdough toast is a delicious way to get your nutrition!
Another creative idea is to take a couple of pounds of raw grassfed liver, chop it up into capsule sized pieces, and freeze these pieces in a jar. Each day, swallow a few of these frozen raw liver pills which make for a very healthy and cheap alternative to expensive supplements that have questionable ingredients and synthetic vitamins in most cases!
Creativity with the budget can be applied to the time challenge as well. A single cooked meal can last your family several days when the leftovers are made into additional hot dishes that your family is sure to enjoy. I employ this technique often in my own home and can say from personal experience that it saves me a great deal of time in meal preparation.
For example, by roasting 2 pastured chickens for dinner, an additional 3 easy meals can be prepared later in the week with the leftover meat and bones.
With the leftover chicken bones–and feet if you have them–simply brown the chicken bones in a pan at 400F for about 30 minutes.
Place the bones, in a pot of filtered water with ¼ cup of cider vinegar, 3 chopped stalks of celery, 2 chopped onions, and 2 peeled and chopped carrots. Let sit for one hour to allow the vinegar to draw the minerals from the bones. Turn the heat on medium and bring the stock to a gentle simmer, removing any foam that comes to the top. Simmer for at least 2 hours but no longer than 24. Remove the bones and strain the stock, reserving 2-3 cups of stock in the refrigerator for the next leftover meal. Add some finely chopped leftover chicken meat, 3-4 cups of chopped fresh vegetables and 2 cups of cream or coconut milk. You may also add ½ cup of brown rice. Simmer until tender and serve.
Gourmet Chicken Salad
A second leftover dish to make is gourmet chicken salad. To make, heat 2 TBL butter in a skillet and saute ½ cup of crispy sliced almonds along with 2 TBL sucanat or maple sugar until slightly carmelized. Please refer to the Healthy Snacks Video for details on how to make crispy almonds.
Place 6 cups of baby greens in a large salad bowl and sprinkle with ¼ cup chopped tomatoes. Saute chicken in several TBL lard or ghee until the chicken is golden, Then sauté 1 cup sourdough bread cubes in several tablespoons lard or ghee until the bread cubes are crispy. Place chicken and bread cubes on top of the salad and serve with a basic, homemade dressing. As mentioned earlier, refer to the Basic Dressings and Sauces Video for a demonstration.
Chicken curry is a third leftover dish to make from the 2 roast chickens. To quickly prepare, saute 2 medium, chopped onions in 3 TBL of butter or ghee until soft. Add 2 TBL turmeric, 1 TBL ground fenugreek seeds, 1 tsp ground cumin, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, ½ tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp ground coriander, and 1 tsp ground cardamom and saute for a few minutes.
Add the 2-3 cups of chicken stock you reserved in the refrigerator from making chicken soup along with ¼ cup of lemon juice and bring to a boil. Stir in 2 crushed cloves of garlic and 1 cup of cream or whole coconut milk.
Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes stirring frequently until the sauce is reduced and thickened.
Stir in the rest of your leftover chicken which should be about 2-3 cups and season to taste with sea salt.
Beef Roast Leftover Meals
A similar number of leftover meals can be made with a basic beef roast. For example, leftover meat can be used for a cold meat plate with cheese and sauerkraut.
Roast beef hash can be made in a hurry with leftover beef, chopped potatoes, onions, and carrots sauted in lard or ghee.
Beef vegetable soup can also be made in the same manner as the chicken soup shown earlier by adding 3-4 cups of freshly chopped vegetables, a few cups of leftover chopped roast beef, and 2 cups of cream or coconut milk to 2 quarts of beef stock made with the leftover bone from the beef roast.
A demonstration of how to make beef stock is shown in the Soups and Stocks Video.
A little planning really does go a long way toward saving much time and expense when it comes to preparing nutritious meals for your family week in and week out.
If you are still finding your food budget stretched thin, try cutting out all processed foods from your pantry to leave plenty of funds for whole, nourishing foods. Processed foods are deceptively expensive and anything packaged in a box is rarely if ever a good deal for your health or your wallet!
Boxed breakfast cereals, for example, are never a wise investment and not just because they are highly processed, low in nutrients and very difficult to digest. A simple serving of the best quality organic oatmeal costs about half the amount per serving as boxed breakfast cereal and will give you much more nutrition and fill you up for much longer particularly if you soak it overnight first like Grandma used to!
Don’t forget to consider how much you will save in healthcare bills by sticking with nutritious foods you prepare yourself for your family. Eliminating the junk and fast food will likely save hundreds of dollars per year in prescriptions that your family will no longer need as they will be healthy enough to get well under their own power when illness strikes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this 12 part Introductory Series to Traditional Cooking and now feel empowered to implement these techniques in your own kitchen for the betterment of your own health and that of your family.
As so wisely observed by author Ralph Waldo Emerson, “health is indeed the first wealth.” Until next time, this is Sarah Pope, The Healthy Home Economist and Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter Leader wishing you all the best in the kitchen!