Author Topic: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?  (Read 13652 times)

Bakari

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Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« on: May 11, 2012, 01:42:05 PM »
A lot of people say you can save lots of money by learning to cook.  They say it is easy and fun, and it is worth the extra time because of the benefits to both wallet and health.

It is generally implied that the only two options are eating out or cooking at home, although sometimes there might be acknowledgement of commercial frozen meals, which fall somewhere between the two in terms of cost.

So you can have quick and convenient, healthy, or inexpensive, but never all three.

I propose a fourth option...

Develop simpler tastes.

A lot of mustachianism involves giving up little luxuries that many are so used to that they just take for granted, and learning to enjoy whats available instead of chasing desires.
The one thing that stands out to me that all 3 methods of getting food on the plate have in common is they are all very complex and refined and flavorful.

But you can have meals that are just as healthy, and - depending on taste - just as tasty, without anything so involved as to be called "cooking".
Cooking is just fine for someone who both enjoys cooking, and has the time to do it.

I find it is fun to occasionally make something elaborate - but up to 3 times a day, 365 days a year, it gets tedious. 
My general everyday feeling is I don't want to spend anymore time preparing food then its going to take me to eat it.  I have other more fun and/or profitable things to do with my time than getting food into me all day (like posting on the MMM board!)

Here are a few examples of stuff I eat:

Yogurt, berries, nuts, a little whey powder (for protein)
Tortilla, with beans, corn, cheese, and salsa (left over from chips that came with super burrito)
Bread, peanut butter, jelly, bread
Bread, cheese, lettuce (from garden), bread
Noodles, tvp, mixed vegetables, cheese

Raw ingredients usually come from cans or frozen.  I know this isn't as cheap as dry or fresh, but it is a whole heck of a lot closer in price than it is to eating out, but with none of the prep time. 

Eating out to me usually means a $3 super burrito (plus free chips and salsa) which is big enough to be at least 1.5 meals (plus, salsa to use in home-made burrito mentioned above)

Anyone else have any <1 minute meal ideas?

I haven't cranked the numbers of actual cost of, say, canned beans vs dried, or frozen veggies vs fresh, so anyone care to correct me that the cost difference is relatively small (relative to eating pre-prepared meals)?



Bakari

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2012, 01:51:20 PM »
I wrote this before reading the last MMM blog post on food!
I just read it.  Perhaps I should have posted it in "continue the discussion"... I think my diet fits every rule up to (and excluding) 13

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2012, 05:42:34 PM »
This makes sense. I eat a frugal and healthy diet of mostly raw fruit and veg, with some easy dairy thrown in. It's easy for me because I'm a natural snacker and not fussy. The problem comes in when there are families and partners to be taken into account. For example, mine will only eat full cooked meals, otherwise it's takeout or nothing. Not even leftovers or freezer food will do. I guess people just need to break the trichotomy in their own heads.

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2012, 08:55:09 PM »
I grew up in North Jersey, which was a complete melting pot of every ethnicity imaginable.  My mother used to make peppers and onion combo's, which she learned from the Italian ladies.  Simply take a pan and throw in about two sliced peppers and an onion and cook in olive oil on medium low.  Cover.  About twenty minutes later season with salt and pepper.  You can now eat this as a sandwich, or add scambled eggs for breakfast, or tomato sauce and sausage for dinner.
I also love matzo's, which are large (tortilla size crackers) and top with all kinds of crazy stuff and pop in the toaster oven. 
Man, I think I have to go get a matzo right now.

Bakari

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2012, 09:14:21 PM »

I also love matzo's, which are large (tortilla size crackers)

hahahaha!  Ive usually heard it described as unleavened bread :P
(I happen to be Jewish)

James

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2012, 09:29:28 PM »
This makes sense. I eat a frugal and healthy diet of mostly raw fruit and veg, with some easy dairy thrown in. It's easy for me because I'm a natural snacker and not fussy. The problem comes in when there are families and partners to be taken into account. For example, mine will only eat full cooked meals, otherwise it's takeout or nothing. Not even leftovers or freezer food will do. I guess people just need to break the trichotomy in their own heads.


Bingo, me too.  I've got three kids who need healthy meals, and a wife who isn't as open to random food as I am as long as the kids are around.  At work I'll often have a big handful of raw almonds (more like a few spread through the morning), and a big salad with just a bit of thousand island dressing.  The salad has tons of peas, green peppers, tomatos, etc.  Once in a while I'll get a hamburger with lots of lettuce and tomato on it, but skip the fries.  For dinner It gets much harder because it's not just me.  For just me I might grill a nice steak and that's it, nothing else.  Or maybe some humus on pita bread.  Or just a huge batch of steamed asparagus, beans, or whatever sounds good.  (A whole head of broccoli sounds really good right now, I love peeling the stem and eating the middle, the best part of the whole thing.)


But for some reason the family wants a "meal".  I understand that, it's hard to sit down to a huge bowl of steamed asparagus and say "eat up kids, that's dinner!"...  :)  But then I end up eating more than I really want to because it's there on the table and it's expected.  I try to remind myself to just eat what is good and not everything just because it's there, but once it's cooked I usually eat some of everything.


I'm frankly looking forward to the day the kids move out and my diet can be as weird as it naturally wants to be.  My wife has different tastes, but similar style.  We will probably stop cooking as many meals, and each fend for ourselves.  She might have hummus and pita one night, while I have steamed veggies.  The next night she might have a salad, and I'll have a nice steak (which I'm sure she will steal a nice chunk of).  I love the idea of a funky free for all diet, where everything is decently healthy, but randomly assigned.  No rules, just food.  Whatever we want as long as it's healthy.  And most of all, no making meals for kids who don't appreciate it...  :D

Dicey

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2012, 01:06:52 AM »
My secret weapon is Quinoa. At Costco, a 4lb. bag of organic Q is about 9.50 and it lasts a long time. I use a "no cook' method to prepare it. (Boil 2C H20 or stock, add 1 cup well-rinsed quinoa, bring back to boil, cover, turn off heat, let sit undisturbed on warm stovetop for 20-30 minutes.)

I cook up a plain batch once or twice a week. I add different things to it once it's cooked, depending on what I have on hand. For lunch it was leftover Q with crumbled blue cheese, sun dried tomatoes and Kalamata Olives on a bed of organic greens.  Tonight I made a new batch and added onions, garlic, Crimini mushrooms and shredded Brussels Sprouts. Quinoa is a good source of protein, versatile and pretty cheap. Those exotic add-ins? Costco, Winco bulk bins and the 99 Cents Only Stores are my primary sources.

Oh, here's another fast and easy variation: 1 can heat'n eat soup + 1cup water or stock + 1 cup Quinoa. Vary the amount of liquid based on how hearty your chosen (purchased on a screaming sale, of course) soup is. You can also save even more by using your own dry, bulk purchased soup ingredients such as beans and lentils.

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2012, 07:38:58 AM »
Bakari, good point. I don't like to work for 15 minutes, then wait 30 minutes or more just to eat something, thus the temptation to buy frozen dinners or get fast food.  For lunches, I like the no-cook route. I probably could get out of the habit of needing an actual full meal for dinners as well, since it's just an emotional need.

When I do actually cook, I like to keep it very simple. I've been looking for recipes online all week and they all seem to have way too many ingredients. I made chicken marsala the other night, but had to cross-reference 3 different recipes to figure out what was essential and what was extra. For example, I didn't really need to coat the chicken with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs. I didn't really need butter and olive oil. I'm hoping that if I keep trying, eventually I'll be able to cook by instinct rather than working so hard to tweak a recipe so I don't have to buy every ingredient.

Diane C, great point about Quinoa, I don't like rice, so I've been trying to use it as a rice substitute. Apparently, you can also treat it like oatmeal and add cinnamon, raisins, etc. I haven't tried that yet.

Gerard

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2012, 07:57:01 AM »
I actually love to cook, so I have no problem with taking longer to make something than to eat it. Nowadays I usually eat 5 to 9 small meals a day rather than 3 big ones, so to avoid cooking all day long some of those "meals" are glorified snacks. Or I eat the same thing for several meals in a day (maybe with minor variations, like changing the topping on fried rice or pasta). I'm sure it's not "efficient", but neither is spending hours on the internet, and I do that anyway.

Diane C, thanks for the no-cook quinoa instructions!

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2012, 11:11:29 AM »
I'm a grazer too but my biggest problem is making sure that some of what's available is fresh fruits and veggies, otherwise I would eat cheese and crackers for dinner most nights. For lunch, I tend to keep a half-dozen bagels at the office and some cream cheese in the fridge and supplement with an apple or orange - it's simple and usually right there at my desk, so there's no making it up, or forgetting to make it up, in the morning.

I've also been known to just cook one part of what many would consider a meal at a time; one night I kind of binge on carbs (sushi rice ftw!), the next I might sear a tuna steak and the night after I might just have a big salad. It might not be ideal, and I know I need to work on a more generally balanced diet (aiming for balance through the course of the week though, rather than every day), but it works for me.

zweipersona

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2012, 02:54:07 PM »

My general everyday feeling is I don't want to spend anymore time preparing food then its going to take me to eat it.  I have other more fun and/or profitable things to do with my time than getting food into me all day (like posting on the MMM board!)

This.  I hate that a majority of meals I eat take longer to prepare than it takes me to eat them.  I have an incredibly difficult time coming up with things that would be cheap, quick to prepare/eat, and nutritious.

I think what I'd like to do is buy meal bears, eat one of those once a day, and the rest of my calories would come from fruits, bread and other simple stuff.  Essentially stuff you've listed.

MrSaturday

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2012, 03:55:49 PM »
I like to cook a big batch of something on saturday, and a big batch of something else on sunday.  Then I have plenty of microwavable leftovers for the work week.  It's enjoyable (for now, at least) because I'm constantly trying new dishes or experimenting with the ones I know.

Tonight I'm working on buffalo chicken enchiladas.  Tomorrow I might try making my first couple of pizzas.

Bakari

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2012, 06:35:19 PM »
Or I eat the same thing for several meals in a day

I forgot that one.  Thats my alternative to freezing several portions for the next week as some people have suggested.  I often make one big pot of something for dinner, and then have it again for breakfast the next day, and then lunch, and then dinner again, until its gone.  That way I don't have to take the extra energy (or time) to separate, freeze, and then rethaw portions. 

I know I need to work on a more generally balanced diet (aiming for balance through the course of the week though, rather than every day)

I don't think there is any legitimate reason not to eat the way you do.  You don't see any other specie making sure to eat a variety of foods in one meal.  Our ancestors surely didn't either.  We can go 30 days without eating anything, so clearly the body can store essential nutrients and vitamins over a few days.
The only thing you have to be careful of are the water soluble vitamins (C and B), the body can't store those well, so go too long between fruit or veggies (or at least juice or a vitamin), and you'll get scurvy.

nolajo

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2012, 07:59:28 PM »
Or I eat the same thing for several meals in a day

I forgot that one.  Thats my alternative to freezing several portions for the next week as some people have suggested.  I often make one big pot of something for dinner, and then have it again for breakfast the next day, and then lunch, and then dinner again, until its gone.  That way I don't have to take the extra energy (or time) to separate, freeze, and then rethaw portions. 


You know, it's amazing how many people were up in arms when this was suggested over at GRS. I believe the post was titled "Eat like a peasant" or something of that ilk. As though a big pot of ratatouille (French peasant) or minestrone (Italian peasant) or rice and beans (peasants the world over) was a bad thing to eat multiple days in a row. I like food as much as the next person, and a lot of different things at that, but it's just me, recipes can only scale down so far, and there's no one to share day to day cooking and cleaning duties. Spending 30 to 60 minutes at the end of the day cooking just doesn't appeal to me most of the time.

So I graze. And take multivitamins :)

dancedancekj

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2012, 12:47:46 PM »
I love cooking, and I need things to be tasty. Sure, I will graze on "raw" (raw in the sense that they are not prepared, just the ingredients in their original state) foods, but it usually doesn't taste as good as when I take the time to prep and make a proper meal.
I think most people have it in their schedules to make food, honestly. I find plenty to do while I'm actually cooking, and taking a half an hour out of the day isn't that big of a deal. I always thought of cooking as a Mustachian quality, since it is an important part of life for me.
Food doesn't have to be a masterpiece every time (because some days it is just rice and black beans thrown together) but I get bored and dissatisfied if my food tastes bland or unfinished.

rosarugosa

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2012, 06:34:52 PM »
Great topic! Diana, thanks for the quinoa ideas, we'll have to try some of these. 
DH is the cook in our house, so when I need to feed myself, I'll graze or make a nice salad.  I actually love salad!  And the variations/add-in possibilities are almost infinite.
During the cooler weather, DH will often make a big pot of something on the weekend (e.g. beef stew), then something else the next weekend (e.g. fish chowder, spaghetti sauce/meatballs, chicken soup).  We freeze up containers of the surplus so we have a nice 'stache of quick & yummy meals when time is tighter.
And our store-bought frozen foods tend to be things like bags of shrimp, salmon or tilapia filets, actually nice stuff that can be the foundation of a good meal.  Our "fast food" in the freezer is ice cream - which is occasionally dinner in really hot weather since we don't have a/c!

Bakari

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2012, 06:46:57 PM »
I love cooking, and I need things to be tasty. Sure, I will graze on "raw" (raw in the sense that they are not prepared, just the ingredients in their original state) foods, but it usually doesn't taste as good as when I take the time to prep and make a proper meal.
I think most people have it in their schedules to make food, honestly. I find plenty to do while I'm actually cooking, and taking a half an hour out of the day isn't that big of a deal. I always thought of cooking as a Mustachian quality, since it is an important part of life for me.
Food doesn't have to be a masterpiece every time (because some days it is just rice and black beans thrown together) but I get bored and dissatisfied if my food tastes bland or unfinished.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with cooking, if you enjoy it, and "proper meals" are important to you.  I just find that for someone who doesn't enjoy cooking, telling them the only option to be frugal is learning to cook - and then doing it 2-3 times a day every day for the rest of their life, can be a turn-off.  And I'm not claiming I don't have time to cook, just that I don't want to.  I just meant to show there is in fact another option.  Food that doesn't require preparation doesn't even have to be bland.  I'm going to go have some plain yogurt with berries and almonds right now!...

dancedancekj

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2012, 06:58:11 PM »
I love cooking, and I need things to be tasty. Sure, I will graze on "raw" (raw in the sense that they are not prepared, just the ingredients in their original state) foods, but it usually doesn't taste as good as when I take the time to prep and make a proper meal.
I think most people have it in their schedules to make food, honestly. I find plenty to do while I'm actually cooking, and taking a half an hour out of the day isn't that big of a deal. I always thought of cooking as a Mustachian quality, since it is an important part of life for me.
Food doesn't have to be a masterpiece every time (because some days it is just rice and black beans thrown together) but I get bored and dissatisfied if my food tastes bland or unfinished.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with cooking, if you enjoy it, and "proper meals" are important to you.  I just find that for someone who doesn't enjoy cooking, telling them the only option to be frugal is learning to cook - and then doing it 2-3 times a day every day for the rest of their life, can be a turn-off.  And I'm not claiming I don't have time to cook, just that I don't want to.  I just meant to show there is in fact another option.  Food that doesn't require preparation doesn't even have to be bland.  I'm going to go have some plain yogurt with berries and almonds right now!...

Good point. As always, Mustachianism is always about putting what you prioritize first, and it is relative from one person to the next. You are quite correct that food without preparation doesn't have to be bland of course. Snap peas fresh from the vine, fruit, and high quality cheese are all things that require no prep but are still tasty.
Perhaps I am a bit of a glutton for punishment when it comes to cooking? Pun not intended :P

strider3700

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2012, 11:05:49 PM »
I haven't cranked the numbers of actual cost of, say, canned beans vs dried, or frozen veggies vs fresh, so anyone care to correct me that the cost difference is relatively small (relative to eating pre-prepared meals)?

price of fresh is really dependent of where you are and time of year.  I see you're in california so you probably can get really fresh stuff grown locally year round.  A good chunk of the world can't.  Up here in BC "fresh" in the middle of winter means packaged and shipped at least 3 days ago  possibly a week or two ago.  It's also 3 or 4 times the cost of the same produce in the middle of summer when it's actually grown here.   For winters I definitely lean towards frozen. It's cheaper by far and since it was picked, washed, chopped/processed and then frozen usually within a day or two the vast majority of it's nutrients are still in it and haven't broken down.   Also since I coupon it's possible to get big bags of frozen veg really cheap at times and load up the freezer.  I bought 10 - 2kg bags of "Asian stirfry mix" which is basically mini corns, peppers, onion, green beans... for about the same price that I could have bought a pack of 6 large red, orange and yellow peppers at the time.  6 months later I'm almost done the bags but there is noway to stretch 6 peppers that far.  In summers I garden and nothing competes with picked 5 minutes ago.  I doubt I save anything in the summer price wise by gardening though,  farmers markets aren't much more expensive then I can produce most things for when you take everything else related to gardening into account.   In fall I manage to stretch the season and get some stuff fresh that you can't easily get at markets so maybe I save some there.   

Dried tends to be cheaper then canned  when you buy in bulk   but it's not always a given.   

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2012, 09:08:37 AM »
I'm an advocate of eating the same thing for several meals in a row... perhaps largely due to my laziness! I mean my desire for efficiency ;). I live alone so if I cook something like the corned beef roast I just made in the crock pot (as I slept through the night) there are bound to be ample leftovers. Some people might not be very excited about corned beef for lunch and dinner for several days in a row but for me it means I have an easy go-to meal that leaves me with free time after a long day of work. If I have leftovers sitting in the fridge I am so much less likely to run to Wendy's.

jpo

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2012, 03:46:48 PM »
A cheese and lettuce sandwich? O.o

I eat the same thing for lunch every day at work, 2 peanut butter and jam sandwiches and ~4oz baked chicken and popcorn (popped in a brown paper bag) if I get hungry later. Dinners I have a full entree.

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2012, 07:33:39 PM »
  I'm at the point where I am eating 2 eggs for breakfast everyday.  Sometimes hardboiled, sometimes scrambled w/ sweet potato and onion, sometimes fried with bacon.  But a lot of times just 2 hardboiled eggs.  I have to leave the house at 6:30 am, so I have no interest in making a hard breakfast when I work, and it has to have enough protein & fat to keep me going until lunch 5&1/2 hours later at noon.
  I'm writing down everyday what I eat right now.  Hoping to make a list of 5 or 10 options and right them down, so menu planning won't be that hard.  I knew somebody (in OA) whose food plan for lunch everyday was chicken soup or bean soup.  Everyday.  I don't know if that would drive me batty, or be freeing.  In other cultures people eat the same couple of foods everyday (corn, rice, onions, potatoes.) In the US a lot of people eat the same foods (corn/wheat/soy/sugar) every meal, but with different flavorings added.
  I am discovering how predictable I am.  Bf - eggs, lunch - meat & veggie, dinner - meat & veggie, snack - fruit, sometimes nuts.
Heidi
 

zweipersona

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2012, 07:49:05 PM »
  I'm at the point where I am eating 2 eggs for breakfast everyday.  Sometimes hardboiled, ...

You know, sometimes you just FORGET the simplest things.

This post reminded me of how cheap and simple eggs are.  You could even be more efficient and hardboil a carton of a dozen eggs, and snack on them as desired. 

Eggs are definitely back on my grocery list now.

Dicey

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #23 on: June 02, 2012, 10:20:18 AM »
QUINOA Update:
So we're having a heat wave here in NorCal. I wanted to make quinoa for dinner last night, but didn't want to heat up the stove/kitchen/house. Decided to try a twist on the stovetop method. Boiled 2 cups stock in a 4 cup glass measuring cup. (3-4 minutes on high, YMMV.) Added 1 cup well-rinsed quinoa, stirred once and cooked on high for 1 more minute. Covered, let sit inside microwave to contain heat. I got distracted and did not stir or even check it until thirty minutes later (so it might not actually take this long). It was perfect! I don't think I'll ever make it any other way. Frugal becomes even more frugal!

CG

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #24 on: June 10, 2012, 11:00:37 PM »
Diane, does quinoa really need to be rinsed before cooking? I never do but it seems to taste alright and the grains keep fairly separate.

I don't eat meat and during a fasting period when I'm not eating fish, oil, eggs or dairy either, my favourite meal is quinoa with a steamed vegetable such as quartered fennel hearts or green beans with a good dollop of sweet chilli sauce. Any tips for re-heating quinoa without using oil or butter or the oven? (no microwave)

Gerard

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2012, 06:38:00 AM »
Diane, does quinoa really need to be rinsed before cooking? I never do but it seems to taste alright and the grains keep fairly separate.

A lot of quinoa sold today is pre-rinsed (e.g., the stuff at Costco). But if you ever taste some that isn't rinsed, you'll know why you should!

CG

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #26 on: June 11, 2012, 07:47:27 PM »
Thanks, Gerard. Is there any way to tell before cooking whether or not rinsing is required.
Perhaps I'll just stick with my current 'no label' organic foodstore supplier.

fruplicity

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #27 on: June 12, 2012, 03:11:23 PM »
I really appreciated this thread and the reminder to keep it simple, I have an "inner food battle" with myself every day over what to cook, eat, buy, etc. I enjoy cooking and tend to get lost in the moment while doing it, which ends up sucking up a lot of time that I later regret. I like eating a really varied diet but I also know I'd be just fine eating the same thing multiple meals in a row.

Maybe I should challenge myself to a week-on, week-off of simple food prep vs. more complex cooking. One week of the same cheap thing every day with minimal prep and cooking time, then a week of preparing different meals almost every day. Ooo this is an an exciting challenge!!!

Dicey

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #28 on: June 17, 2012, 10:16:11 AM »
Diane, does quinoa really need to be rinsed before cooking?

A lot of quinoa sold today is pre-rinsed (e.g., the stuff at Costco).

Sorry I'm slow to respond, CG, I haven't checked this thread for a week or so. I just bought a new bag of Q at Costco. First words of cooking instructions are "Rinse Quinoa." So my answer is: No, you don't "have" to, but you won't know if you should have until it's too late. Why risk wasting a valuable source of protein because you didn't bother to wash it? There is a website listed on the bag www.truroots.com. I haven't checked it, but there might be a more definitive answer there.

Any tips for re-heating quinoa without using oil or butter or the oven? (no microwave)
Hmmm. I had to think about this. Perhaps a double boiler could work, provided the holes aren't too big. Another way might be to use the same sieve you use to rinse the quinoa. Place the cooked Q into the sieve, balance it on top of a pan of boiling water (make sure it's not sitting IN the water) and cover.

Frugal recipe alert: I discovered a way to make pancakes using up sour milk (ugh) and cooked quinoa. They were so good, I made them again yesterday. Would anyone like the recipe and if so, where should I post it?



Sparky

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #29 on: June 19, 2012, 09:03:45 PM »
I love food way too much, but I keep my cooking down to simple things usually.

My method of cooking is to make 2 meals every time I cook. I cook in the evenings and then eat whatever I made for supper for breakfast. Or make a big breakfast and cook supper at the same time (soup, crockpot, roasts, whatever). 2 meals, one mess.

Couscous is quickly becoming my staple food. 500 g box= 500 mL water. Boil water, mix in Couscous and done. Goes well with anything. However I am unable to buy it in bulk at the moment and its rather expensive compared to pasta in small packages. Joys of cycle touring....




carolinakaren

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #30 on: June 25, 2012, 07:17:41 AM »
I have recently started doing this:  On Saturday or Sunday I make a pan of quinoa or brown rice.  This will be added to things throughout the week.  Each night when I'm packing my lunch for the next workday I put some of it in a bowl with any kind of bean ( I always have canned beans for convenience).  Rinse and drain the beans first to reduce the sodium content.  Then throw in any veggies that are in the fridge.  I grow herbs in my garden and find that basil, cilantro, or parsley can really increase the flavor of this dish.  Then add spices of your choice, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, etc.  I don't cook the finished product at all, except for 1-2 minutes in the microwave at work to warm it up a little.  This is one way to spend very little time on cooking or prep (I'm with Bakari on that one) and you can still have tons of flavor AND variety at every meal.  John seems to like this too and it has worked well for our dinners.  Textured vegetable protein or tofu is a good alternative to beans, or meat if you aren't vegetarian.

Tiamat

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #31 on: June 26, 2012, 05:20:11 PM »
This makes sense. I eat a frugal and healthy diet of mostly raw fruit and veg, with some easy dairy thrown in. It's easy for me because I'm a natural snacker and not fussy. The problem comes in when there are families and partners to be taken into account. For example, mine will only eat full cooked meals, otherwise it's takeout or nothing. Not even leftovers or freezer food will do. I guess people just need to break the trichotomy in their own heads.

This is ever so true. As parents not only are we in charge of what our children are putting into their bodies, we also bear the cost. Responsible food/menu planning is usually important. If meals aren't planned when feeding a family, costs can get crazy fast, because food is being consumed willy nilly with no thought to stretching and utilizing resources.

LadyM

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #32 on: August 22, 2012, 08:47:32 AM »
I love cooking, and I need things to be tasty. Sure, I will graze on "raw" (raw in the sense that they are not prepared, just the ingredients in their original state) foods, but it usually doesn't taste as good as when I take the time to prep and make a proper meal.
I think most people have it in their schedules to make food, honestly. I find plenty to do while I'm actually cooking, and taking a half an hour out of the day isn't that big of a deal. I always thought of cooking as a Mustachian quality, since it is an important part of life for me.
Food doesn't have to be a masterpiece every time (because some days it is just rice and black beans thrown together) but I get bored and dissatisfied if my food tastes bland or unfinished.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with cooking, if you enjoy it, and "proper meals" are important to you.  I just find that for someone who doesn't enjoy cooking, telling them the only option to be frugal is learning to cook - and then doing it 2-3 times a day every day for the rest of their life, can be a turn-off.  And I'm not claiming I don't have time to cook, just that I don't want to.  I just meant to show there is in fact another option.  Food that doesn't require preparation doesn't even have to be bland.  I'm going to go have some plain yogurt with berries and almonds right now!...

Excellent point, Bakari.  I will also file this away because, as someone who generally LOVES to cook, there are those few times that I just want to punt on cooking because I'm tired, uninspired, not hungry when everyone else is, etc.  It's a good idea to have a few simple things in the hip pocket for those nights, and generally we do.  I typically cook fresh and from scratch stuff for dinners throughout the week (after I get home from work with the kids), and most nights I'm happy to.  But there are a few nights we have some easy stuff to slap together or just take minimal effort like moving it from the freezer to the oven. 

A fun and quick thing we make are tortizzas (pizza on a wheat tortilla):  add pizza sauce (not too much or tortilla will be soggy and not crispy when it comes out of the oven), cheese, and all of your favorite toppings.  This is a fun one to do with the kids, and you could even have a "top your own pizza" night!  Then I throw them on cookie sheets into a 375 F oven for 10 minutes, and you've got a nice little pizza.  Cut in 1/4's for you or 1/8's for kids and it's perfectly sized and not too messy. 

igthebold

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #33 on: August 22, 2012, 09:15:35 AM »
I find that my love for "proper meals" is closely tied to my love of being with other people. I have a family of 5, so that's every day, most meals of the day.

When my family was at the beach for a few days, I reverted to something like what Bakari suggested.. In my case, lentils, peanut butter, veggies. A rather convenience, protein, and fat heavy diet. I had some people over one evening and all of a sudden I was making a complex meal.

MsGuided

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #34 on: September 13, 2012, 12:30:37 PM »
    I love cooking and generally try to have a home-made dinners for my family each week night.  Historically, I haven't been a big meal planner and have been annoyed by all the hyper-organized ladies that have told me how important meal planning is to a well-run home.  But, my older daughter is very organized and likes to know what is coming next to a surprising-to-me degree.  So, I found a white erase board with the 7 days of the week separated on it.  I hung this board on a door in our kitchen & use it for weekly meal planning.  I've found that writing down what we're going to eat for dinner (at least Mon-Thurs) gives my daughter a great deal of satisfaction & has also helped me to stick with my resolve to follow the plan.  This has saved us money & generally helped us to eat healthier dinners.

Lately I've been thinking I'd be happier if I had several frozen dinners & put those in the rotation.  I know it's as simple as doubling or tripling a recipe, I just need to shop & plan accordingly. 

kkbmustang

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Re: Eating out, frozen meals or cooking: false tricotomy?
« Reply #35 on: September 13, 2012, 10:05:27 PM »
Our menu planning is pretty simple lately. I love to cook, but since I'm recovering from back surgery, meal prep can't take longer than 10-15 minutes. Here is what we've been eating lately with no complaints from the 7 and 9 year olds:

- Taco/Burrito Night: cooked hamburger, refried beans, shredded cheese, sliced avocado and salsa. Put in corn shells or flour tortillas. Serve with a side salad.

- Fish Night: Either baked salmon (mix honey, soy sauce and lemon juice and either marinate salmon in it for a few hours or just pour on top of it, bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until salmon is pink) with roasted asparagus or another vegetable; baked tilapia but instead topped with lemon pepper or greek seasoning prior to baking; or steamed tilapia. Layer steamer with veggies (raw or frozen) on the bottom (carrots, broccoli, etc.), put fish on top, squeeze the juice of one lemon on top, add salt and pepper and steam for 20 minutes.

-Pizza: I make my own dough with the breadmaker. The breadmaker does all the work. It takes about 3 minutes of human time and yields enough dough for 2 separate pizzas. Top with spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, veggies or whatever and bake for 20 minutes.

-Quiche: Using a frozen pie shell, put either cooked sausage or bacon in the bottom of the pie shell, pour over it 6 mixed up eggs with some shredded cheese/sour cream, any leftover cooked veggies and seasoning. Bake for about 30 minutes.

-Stir fry: simply stir fry any left over veggies and/or meat, serve over rice or asian noodles.

-Put rice in the bottom of a baking dish. Cover it with chicken stock, add some olive oil and the juice of 1-2 lemons. Put chicken breasts on top, season. Put foil on top and bake on 350 around 45 minutes. Dinner's ready. You could either add some veggies to the rice or serve frozen, nuked veggies on the side.

-Put dry pasta in the bottom of a baking dish. Pour over a can/jar of spaghetti sauce and a can/jar of water. Cover with foil and bake on 350 for an hour. You can put mozzarella cheese on top for the last five minutes until it's melted.

-Stoup. Taking whatever veggies you have leftover in the frig or the freezer, add them to a crockpot along with whatever meat you have left over or frozen chicken/beef or 2 cans of beans. Throw in a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, garlic, chicken stock and a grain/pasta. Put on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. Season with whatever you want: garlic pepper, salt and pepper, etc. Can also be eaten with tortilla chips and/or topped with shredded cheese.

-Breakfast for dinner: pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast, cereal, etc.

-Depression era meal passed along from my Polish grandmother: slice/dice a couple of potatoes and saute in a little bit of olive oil. Once cooked (about 8-10 minutes depending on how thick you cut the potatoes), add sliced polish sausage, a can of kidney beans (without the liquid) and a can of sauerkraut until heated through. Also good with some crusty bread. Delicious.

We always add fresh fruit to every meal as well.