No one in modem America deserves more sympathy than the
working parent on a limited budget. Finding the time, energy and
means to prepare nutritious meals for oneself and one's children
poses a real challenge, especially as the temptation to opt for
convenience foods is very great. The first step to meeting that
challenge is the realization that fast foods are a terrible trap
that, in the long run, leads to diminished vitality and, hence,
even greater restrictions on one's time, energy and budget - not
to mention the tragedy of serious disease.
While it is not necessary to spend long hours in the kitchen
in order to eat properly, 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 one lays the groundwork ahead of time.
If your present schedule allows no time at all for food
preparation, you would be wise to re-examine your priorities.
- Don't buy boxed cold breakfast cereals, even those made of
whole grains. They are very 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
- Make your own salad dressing. You can make your own
dressing using the finest ingredients 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 delicious dressing for your salad.
- Always buy butter. Margarine and shortening may cost less
but it is a false economy, one that leads to numerous
impoverishing diseases. If the cost of butter is prohibitive,
- Make stock at least once a week. Meat stocks have formed
the basis of nourishing peasant diets for millennia. They
cost very little to make ( often a good fish merchant will
give you fish carcasses for free), are very nourishing and
have a protein-sparing effect. That means you can get by with
very little meat in the diet when you use properly made stock
for soups and stews. Use congealed fat from stocks for
cooking and leftover meat for soups, meat salads and other
- It's better to put your money into whole foods than
vitamins. However, most benefit from a daily teaspoonful of
cod liver oil, one of the least expensive supplements on the
market and from Azomite powder, a very inexpensive mineral
supplement. Lacto-fermented beet kvass contains a large array
of nutrients in easily assimilated form and is simple and
inexpensive to make.
- Good quality dairy products are worth the price. If you
live in the country, look into an arrangement for keeping a
Jersey cow or goats.
- 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.
- If you can't afford caviar (and very 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-possibly even
for free. Use it to make roe cakes, or add to fish cakes .
You can buy roe in quantity and store in the freezer to use
throughout the year. Fish roe is just loaded with nutrients
and was always prized by healthy primitive peoples.
- Don't forget eggs as a nourishing, low-cost alternative to
meat. It pays to buy the best quality.
- 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 (which costs about
$25) so you can blend your soups right in the pot, thereby
saving time and dishes to wash.
- Don't forget to eat liver occasionally. It is not expensive
but is worth its weight in gold, nutritionally speaking.
- Leftovers can be turned into delicious treats. Leftover
pureed vegetables can be made into pancakes; leftover oatmeal
is delicious fried; tender meat reserved from making broth
can be added to soups or used for meat salads and sandwiches.
- A judicious choice of recipes will make a little go a long
way. Budget stretchers include stir-fry stews, fish cakes,
ground meat dishes, kidney-rice casserole, chicken gumbo and
lamb shanks. For special meals, consider leg of lamb, one of
the more economical meat cuts, which can provide several days
of leftovers in the form of leg-of-lamb soup.
- Buy organic whole grains (unground) in bulk and store them
in 5-gallon covered plastic buckets, available at paint
- If you can't afford a grain grinder, buy whole grain flours
at your health food store or supermarket and store in the
refrigerator or freezer. Use them to make easy and low-cost
pancakes, muffins, gingerbread, brownies, crackers, etc. 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 make basic brown rice. It is delicious, economical
and nutritious. Leftovers make wonderful salads, or freeze
extras in serving size portions.
- Children love our cookies-adults do too. Peanut cookies are
the most economical. Arrowroot powder is rather expensive.
(Oriental markets often carry it at a good price.) Bulgur
flour is more economical but takes time to prepare.
- Make kombucha! It cost less than 20 cents per quart; and
the taste is better than the most expensive soft drink, beer
- Try not to overeconomize on food. Instead cut out all the
junk food -- prepared cookies and cakes, soft drinks, frozen
foods, fast foods, etc.-and use the savings to buy good
quality whole foods. Above all use good quality fats-they
keep you healthy during times of stress.
Adapted from Nourishing
Traditions, by Sally Fallon & Mary Enig.
Additional "Slow Food for Fast Lives" tips:
- Purchase an insulated lunch box/cooler, reusable ice packs
that fit inside and a thermos for soups, etc. Make a habit of
packing healthy, nutrient dense foods for whatever meals are
needed on the go each day.
- Tasty, nourishing foods that t ravel well are: raw cheeses,
cultured meats (Natural brand salami and pepperoni), cultured
butter, sourdough breads, fruits and vegetables, crispy nuts
and other "snacks & finger foods found in Nourishing
- Carry a thermos filled with your own healthful beverages,
such as filtered water, beet kvass, kombucha, fresh
vegetables juices and homemade sodas.