At least once a day lately I will be watching the news on television (which will no doubt mention the recession) when I will hear someone utter the words “we’re heading for another depression.” With the U.S. economy in the toilet and fuel prices making it difficult for many people to even get back and forth to work, I can’t say that I completely disagree.
Now, before the hateful emails start, allow me to explain myself. It has been my experience that the overwhelming majority of Americans are, for lack of a better or more accurate term, spoiled. We are a country of convenience, and nowhere else is this more evident than in the way we eat.
McDonalds is the nation’s largest purchaser of beef, pork and potatoes, and we wonder why Americans are overwhelmingly obese. Whatever happened to the family dinner table and home cooked meals? Our society became more technologically advanced and free time became a commodity. Prices went up and the paycheck didn’t, leading stay at home moms to take on a job in order to make ends meet.
There is good news despite all of the negativity, though. The decline of the economy does not have to leave you wondering where your next meal will come from, and with just a little research and preparation you may end up eating better than you ever have.
I’ve put together this list of four possible solutions for those who need help with their food budget and catered the list specifically to those who tell me that for whatever reason they cannot raise a garden. Please bear in mind while reading that I encourage everyone to grow something that they can eat even if it is only one or two plants.
EDITED: Angel Food Ministries closed in September 2011.
Solution #1 – Heavenly Help In 1994, Angel Food Ministries began meeting the grocery needs of 34 families in Monroe, Georgia. By 2008 the ministry had grown to serve thousands of families all over the country. Angel Food Ministries host sites collect and distribute a wide variety of restaurant quality food to anyone who wants it for only $35.00 per unit. The actual contents of the unit varies from month to month, but the average retail value of each unit is over $60 and includes meats, frozen and canned items and even eggs. Generally speaking, one unit will feed a family of four for approximately one week, and I dare you to find another way of feeding four people for an entire week for $35. To find an Angel Food Host Site near you, visit www.angelfoodministries.com.
Solution #2 – Do It Yourself
I realize that many people simply don’t have time to cook, but I would take a wild guess and say that out of every five people who make this claim, it is only true for one of them. What it comes down to is a serious breakdown in our priorities as a society.
1. Make a meal plan for the week before you go to the grocery store. Buy only those items necessary to make the meals you listed and avoid impulse buys by shopping after a meal when you aren’t likely to be hungry.
2. Spend a couple of hours once a week preparing and cooking several entrees that freeze well, then freeze them in meal size portions. This is especially effective if you double your favorite recipe because you will have an entire meal standing by in the freezer without much extra time spent preparing it.
Solution #3 – Pot Luck
Having friends over for dinner is another lost art in this hectic-paced society, but nothing fosters friendship and fun better than personal time with a few friends in a low key and comfortable environment. Why not be the first in your circle to host a monthly pot luck dinner at home?
The host provides the location, plates, utensils and cups and the attendees bring a dish that will serve themselves plus four. This can take a bit of planning to ensure that there aren’t four bowls of green beans and no main course, but once you get started you and your friends will never want to stop.
Solution #4 – Inconvenience Foods
Nearly every convenience food on the market is loaded with sodium and other preservatives that are just plain bad for you, especially if you have high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure. Let’s not forget that generally speaking, convenience foods are not convenient for your wallet. In fact when you compare the cost of most of them against the price you would pay if you made them yourself, you will realize just how inconvenient these so called ‘convenience foods’ really are.
By implementing even one of these possible solutions you stand to save a lot of money and you might just find that you’re enjoying and appreciating your food a little bit more as a result.