Cooking is a lost art it seems these days. People today are very busy, working longer hours or multiple jobs, running children to events. Convenience and less hassle of fast food, and packaged meals are very tempting. Many people have gotten out of the habit, or never acquired skills in the kitchen. Family life suffers, as well as our diets. Restaurant and prepared foods are less healthy full of salt, fat and sugar. I know when I eat out I make bad decisions too, since I am in celebratory frame of mind.
Everyone is trying to save money, and eating out and packaged foods cost much more than cooking. When I counsel people in or near financial crisis, eating out and groceries usually consumes a large percentage of budgets. I can tell them to just ‘quit eating out!’ but sometimes that is too simple if knowledge and skills are missing; when they try to shop and cook more efficiently and don’t know how. Basic food items like oats, rice, beans, eggs, and fresh vegetables and fruit can be purchased for pennies per serving. Throw in more expensive but modestly priced items like frozen chicken breasts, ground meats used sparingly with rice, beans, and vegetables, meals will be more nutritious and less expensive. But unless someone is proficient in the kitchen, those foods will just sit in the pantry, refrigerator and never get used.
To help overcome this, there are several really cool books and websites to help. A few come to mind- the first one is E-mealz, it is a great service that helps to plan recipes and grocery shopping together, providing economical and tasty meals. For those wanting a little more pizzaz using basic lower cost ingredients, check out http://www.webcookingclasses.com/. Chef Todd Mohr can easily teach you over the web many cooking skills, sometimes using just whatever you have on hand, and have fun while you do it. Both of these services have a fee, but may just equate to one family’s meal out at moderately priced restaurant. Not only will you have more fun with your family, you will eat more delicious food, since most restaurant food and prepared foods aren’t very tasty!