Not so slow food

Articles:  Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? 

Basic Summary: The article are lamenting the rise of fast food and the concurrent loss of “slow food,” in the America diet. “Slow food” (a term I very much dislike), is basically food prepared at home with basic ingredients. Simply put–cooking. Bittman argues against the misconception that junk food is cheaper overall, and addresses common excuses for why people eat so much fast food–such as time, access to grocery stores, etc. He makes some good points, but fails to provide tangible advice to people trying to move away from fast food, and more towards “slow food” 

My thoughts: 

Tyler and I rarely eat out anymore. We would instead channel our “eating out budget” to eating really well in. And we do…our menu includes items like Buckwheat Crepes with chevre vegetables, orange-ginger stir fry with tofu, spinach enchiladas with green sauce, potatoes romanoff, mezze plates, and more. But I digress

I’ll cut to the chase. In the article, Bittman makes several good points about why the rise in fast food consumption is silly–in large part because it’s shockingly unhealthy, and it’s not actually monetarily cheaper. My issue was that he seemed to dance around one of the biggest reason I think people eat a lot of fast food: it’s FAST. No muss, no fuss, you don’t even have to get out of your car! And the clean up is as easy as throwing everything in the garbage. 

That is very appealing when you have multiple mouths to feed, you work an 8-5 job (or more for many Americans), and you’re mentally and physically exhausted. At that point, it’s not a question of whether or not fast food is monetarily cheaper than buying ingredients at the stores, it’s a question of how much my time is worth? 

As a young adult who was thrown head first into the professional world of teaching, where 8-4:30 really means “8-whenever grading and lesson plans are done” I can sympathize with the dread of cooking and the inevitable clean up that follows. So that’s why I was frustrated that Mr. Bittman failed to provide tangible advice in his commentary about how to move away from fast food and back to real food. 

It’s all well and good to say we should do that, but the real question is how? 

So here’s my advice, it’s by no means perfect, but it works for me. 

The way I, and my lovely husband, can eat tasty food is not because I devote an exorbitant amount of time to cooking, it’s because I cook most of the food on one day. 

Seriously. I make a menu for the week, make a grocery list off that, then figure out what I can pre-prepare, and do it. So here’s a few tips: 

1. Always have a weekly menu. 

This will save you time in thinking about what you’re going to eat, and it will help you figure out what you can do ahead of time. 

2. Think of foods you can make ahead of time

Chili, Enchiladas, lasagna, quiche, stir-fry, burritos, rice and beans, soups/stews, macaroni and cheese, salad without dressing, and more. Because these items keep in the fridge, you can just make them one day, re-heat them and eat! Honestly, it’s great driving home knowing I’m going to have spinach lasagna with salad and some warm bread when I get home, and all I have to do is cut a slice of lasagna, stick it in the microwave, pull out a little salad, and toss a roll in the toaster oven. Bam, dinner. 

3. With anything you can’t make ahead of time, think of parts you can make ahead of time

For example, Friday is pizza night in our house, but you can’t make pizza ahead of time, but you can make the sauce. Or tacos, I can’t make those completely ahead of time, but I can cook the beans, cut up the tomatoes, and prepare other toppings. 

4. Make your lunch the night before with left overs, or make a food entirely dedicated to lunch. 

For example, this week, I made a crap ton of chili, and took that for lunch every day of the week, except one, where I had left overs. There was enough for both me and Tyler. Other days its enchiladas, or baked mac and cheese. Either way, making your lunch the night before makes you less tempted to go out for lunch. Make sure you pack extra food, like nuts, or dry cereal, fruit, or yogurt, just in case you’re hungry. 

That’s all I can think of for now, but it works. Try it…you’ll feel good, spend less, and eat better. Screw slow food, eat real fast food. 

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