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"Bang for the buck"

Thursday, April 18, 2013

We've all heard the health arguments for avoiding processed foods. Well, last night another one occurred to me. Money! When you buy processed foods, you buy both the food AND the process. Buying the basic ingredients and preparing them yourself, even simply, is so much cheaper. And healthier AND better-tasting.

An example: yesterday was my last workday before a five-day mini vacation. When I got home I briefly considered phoning out for a pizza to "celebrate." Health and nutrition considerations aside, for the cost of that pizza I could order another cookbook for my collection. I have a ton of food in the house -- there's no need to order anything else. I made soup and cheese toasts for supper and this morning I ordered my copy of Alex Guarnaschelli's new cookbook. She's probably my favorite Chopped judge, I actually partied when she won Next Iron Chef last year. Besides (and this may sound corny), it was a tiny way I could give something back to her for all the enjoyment I have watching her, by figuratively putting a few coins in her pocket by buying the book. Besides, the pizza would be gone in a minute or two but I'll have the book forever.

I'm not going to tell you it's easy. Occasionally I get a wild craving for pizza or a burger, and I'm working to find healthy and inexpensive ways to enjoy those foods (and I'm sorry, but Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones pizza just doesn't make it). I'm tossing my phone-out menus. I'm thinking up much better things to spend that same money on while enjoying healthier, tastier, economical food.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great points. Hubby and I love making a New York style pizza from scratch every week. It's the best pizza we ever had and enjoy it so much more than the processed stuff.

    1764 days ago
    I agree, you do spend more on processed foods. Big bucks for little or no nutrition,
    I like your idea of taking the money saved and buying something more lasting and enjoyable.
    I enjoyed visiting your page, I too, like many of the food network programs.
    Enjoy that cookbook! emoticon
    1764 days ago
    Your observation is so true! You pay for the packaging, processing and the food. My problem is I simply don't like to cook!
    1766 days ago
    Very true! You can prepare a tastier, healthier, better meal with much higher quality ingredients for about a third of the price of a similar but inferior meal from a restaurant. I guess food is similar to building construction in that labor is two thirds the cost. Enjoy your mini-vacation! emoticon
    1766 days ago
  • MISSG180
    Excellent rethinking!
    1766 days ago

    I think that's such smart thinking, and I totally understand your wanting to "give something back" to one of your favorite food network judges. In fact, that's why I buy the Sparkpeople books, just to give back for this wonderful, free, forum.

    You're setting up some good goals and routines. I am cheering for you!
    1766 days ago
    Excellent:) Saying no to the short term for something that will give you more pleasure in the long run:) emoticon
    1767 days ago
    YAY! emoticon Good for you!
    What MOONCHASER wrote is good. Right now I'm seeing several different brands of 'heart healthy' pizza dough mixes and baking mixes. I've tried the Bisquick one. It does make a nice crust that I flavor with garlic powder and some crushed dried herbs.

    1767 days ago
    Excellent solution focused thinking LadyIrish. You are so right that home cooked is healthier emoticon and I know you love to cook too, so it makes it even more pleasurable. That being said, be careful not to lavel pizza as a "bad" food you will never allow yourself to eat again. If you deny yourself a food you like long enough there is a sure fire binge built into doing that. Better to have a healthy version of it now and then with portion contro. If you just Have to Have it sometime, then think about ordering a single slice or if small two, and not a whole pizza. It took awhile but I really paid attention to what the pizza tasted like and found my fingers slick with heavy grease leaking from the meat and cheese and the nutrition information gave me a real dislike of eating take out pizza, so much so that I no longer will eat it when DH insists on ordering it and feel as if I am punishing my body if that is what i have to eat. Step by step we change forever. Enjoy your well earned mini vacation and your home cooked foods. emoticon
    IKacey co-leader of the Chair Exercise Team
    1767 days ago
    What a great way of thinking. You can do this!
    1767 days ago
    What a terrific way to think about the whole idea of processed foods.
    1767 days ago
    Good choice to cook instead of ordering processed pizza. I used to make homemade pizza - made my own dough and sauce and everything. I don't any more because I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1995 and can no longer eat anything containing wheat (like pizza dough).
    1767 days ago
    You also pay for the niftiest new ultra packaging, the ultra super printing, and the commercials. The cookbooks are wonderful. But you love pizza..deprivation..not good. Let's see, can we make an eggy crust only using whites-slip some garlic in? a homemade marinara from paste-remember herbs and spices in the right place make all the difference? and perhaps part italian sausage mixed with lean ground turkey? I dunno...but years of cooking, we usually experiment...often with great results...

    I hate all the additives and preservatives (many contain sulfa which I'm highly allergic to). I joke with my kids that when we go, there'll be no reason to embalm us as we will be already preserved. I was very surprised when they agreed!

    But I do think the cook book was a better idea than the pizza. I think if you want it too badly, that's not the time to indulge as you're more prone to binge or at least stupidly over do. Great job! Keep it up!
    1767 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/18/2013 5:03:20 PM
    Great choice! Much better to look at long-term benefits, than the short term ones.
    1767 days ago
  • LIS193
    Great choice!!
    1767 days ago
  • AMBERT27
    Sounds like a great trade-off! emoticon
    1767 days ago
    I have to agree 100% . . . it is so much more economical to use the food you have to prepare a healthy, nutritious meal vs. processed foods and take out/delivery!

    As for Alex, her cook book is on my radar too. I love the way she tells stories that go along w/the recipes.

    HUGS and good choice!
    1767 days ago
    You are so right about that.
    1767 days ago
    emoticon Way to go!
    1767 days ago
    So very right you're getting more bang for the buck with that cookbook. (And there are some cases where the processed food is "cheaper", but that almost always means the quality is much lower and good ingredients have been replaced with cheap fillers.)
    1767 days ago
    Cooking from scratch can be delicious in so many ways. emoticon

    1767 days ago
    relax and enjoy your time off
    1767 days ago
    emoticon Enjoy your mini vacation.
    1767 days ago
    One of the many benefits of being a Vegan is I have to prepare most of my meals - I eat very little processed food at this point. It is much cheaper - Thanks for posting, Pat
    1767 days ago
    1767 days ago
    your ideas are great
    1767 days ago
    A couple suggestions --

    You could put the money you'd spend on take out away for that trip to Ireland that you desire.

    I have pizza regularly. I use a whole wheat tortilla as the base. putting it in an appropriate sized pie pan. I use Ragu Pizza Quick Traditional flavor sauce (usually about a half serving), then add a serving of Hormel Turkey Pepperoni (70% less fat). Add onions, mushrooms, olives, green pepper, etc. (whatever you like in the way of veggies), topping it with a serving of shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake it in a hot (450 or so) oven for about 10-12 minutes, depending on how brown you like your cheese. Using the wrap size tortilla, I find one of these makes a pretty satisfying meal. If I am extra hungry I will have a small salad also.

    I have also made my own pizza crust, it's just a mini bread recipe. I use about 2-3 tablespoons of warm water, 1/4 tsp. yeast, a shake or two of salt, and enough whole wheat flour to make a dough. I don't worry about it rising, I just mix it up and roll (or pat) it out, since I like thin crust pizza. If you like thicker crusts, you would have to let it rise a bit first.

    I hope this gives you a couple of ideas.

    Have a good mini-vacation.

    1767 days ago
    great advice! Enjoy your days off my friend!
    1767 days ago
    Good for you! I love Alex too! And you probably enjoyed yoiur neal more because there was no guilt at having eaten that pizza either!
    1767 days ago
    I could not agree more, cooking from scratch is beneficial in many ways; healthier, more taste, more satisfaction and better portion sizes,less waste, less packaging to clog up the planet, less money, less sodium, less additives.

    I gave up on ready meals long ago- the taste resembled cardboard emoticon

    The only one I have as a rare treat is Sainsbury's So Good For You Moussaka; minimum additives, maximum flavour and just enough for one.........DH has no interest in any food even vaguely foreign emoticon
    1767 days ago
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