No one in modern America deserves more sympathy than the working parent on a limited budget. Finding the time, energy and means to prepare nutritious meals for yourself and your children poses a real challenge, especially with the temptation to opt for convenience foods.
The first step to meeting the food challenge is the realization that fast foods are a terrible trap. In the long run, they lead to diminished vitality and even greater restrictions on your time, energy and budget–not to mention the tragedy of serious disease.
It's not necessary to spend long hours in the kitchen in order to eat properly, but it is necessary to spend some time in the kitchen. Simple, wholesome menus require careful planning rather than long hours of preparation.
Much can be accomplished in the way of advanced preparation by dedicating just one block of four to five hours per week to food, which might include shopping, starting a large pot of stock to last the week, putting up a jar of fermented vegetables, making a batch of cookies for school lunches and preparing a large casserole of soup or stew that can last for several meals. Simple, nutritious meals can be prepared very quickly when you lay the groundwork ahead of time. If your present schedule allows no time at all for food preparation, re-examine your priorities.
Cheap, Healthy Eats
Don't buy boxed cold breakfast cereals, even those made of whole grains. They are expensive, poor in nutrients and difficult to digest. A serving of the best quality organic oatmeal costs half the amount of the average boxed breakfast cereal and is infinitely more nutritious. For optimum nourishment, you need to think ahead and soak your oatmeal overnight.
Make your own salad dressing. You can make your own dressing using the finest ingredients [like] for about the same cost as the average bottled dressings, most of which contain rancid vegetable oils, trans fatty acids and numerous additives. With practice, it takes no more than a minute to produce a variety of delicious dressings for salad greens.
Always buy butter. Margarine and shortening may cost less but they are false economy–one that leads to numerous impoverishing diseases. If the cost of butter for baking is prohibitive, use unhydrogenated lard or oil.
Make stock at least once a week. Meat or vegetable stocks have formed the basis of nourishing peasant diets for millennia. They cost little to make (often a good fish merchant will give you fish carcasses for free). [Use]
It's better to put your money into whole foods than supplements. However, most benefit from a daily teaspoonful of cod liver oil, one of the least expensive supplements on the market. Lacto-fermented veggies contain a large array of nutrients in easily assimilated form and are simple and inexpensive to make.
The less expensive vegetables include some of the most nourishing–potatoes, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, onions, broccoli, chard, beets and kale–and they are easy to prepare. Always prepare or serve vegetables with butter for best assimilation of the minerals they contain.
Fish roe is loaded with nutrients. If you can't afford caviar (and few can), buy fish roe in the spring. Uncured roe from a variety of fish can be had from a good fish merchant at a reasonable price–possible even for free. Use it to make roe cakes or add it to fish cakes. In some areas you can buy roe in quantity and store in the freezer to use throughout the year.
Don't forget eggs as a nourishing, low-cost alternative to meat. It pays to buy the best quality [free-range].
Make soups part of your repertoire. Blended soups can be put together in very little time and are extremely nourishing. Invest in a handheld blender so you can blend your soups right in the pot, thereby saving time and dishes to wash.
Buy organic whole grains in bulk and store them in five gallon covered plastic buckets, available at paint stores.
If you can't afford a grain grinder, buy whole grain flours at your health food store and store in the freezer. Use them to make easy and low-cost pancakes, muffins, gingerbread, brownies and crackers. If you have the time, you can save money by making your own bread. Otherwise, try to buy good quality sourdough or sprouted grain breads.
Learn to cook basic brown rice. [Use] It's delicious, economical and nutritious. Leftovers make wonderful salads.
Try not to overeconomize on food. Instead cut out all the junk food prepared cookies and cakes, soft drinks, frozen foods, fast foods–and use the savings to buy good quality whole foods. Above all use good quality fats [like]–they keep you healthy during times of stress.
Waltraud's Salad Dressing
1/2 tsp (2 mL) apple cider vinegarjuice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp (30 mL) cold-pressed flax oil
1 Tbsp (15 mL) cold-pressed hazelnut oil or pumpkin seed oil
1/2 tsp (2 mL) apple cider vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) Bragg all purpose seasoning
1/2 tsp (2 mL) Herbamare
1 tsp (5 mL) nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp (1 mL) Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely grated or crushed
In a mixing bowl or blender combine all ingredients as listed. Whisk with fork or blend on low speed until dressing is light and creamy.
1/2 cup (125 mL) pure water
1 Tbsp (15 mL) diced ginger
1 cup (250 mL) raw tahini
1 Tbsp (15 mL) tamari
1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
Mix together all ingredients.