New Beginnings

January 12, 2016

Did you make any New Year resolutions? Most common include weight loss, exercise, and healthier eating. Down the list you’ll see saving money, getting organized and spending more time with family. These may seem like different resolutions, but they are actually related and dependent on each other.

If you start eating healthier and exercising, you’ll probably lose weight. Planning to lose weight will no doubt involve healthy eating and exercise. Eating at home is generally healthier than eating in restaurants. Fewer restaurant meals will save money. People who cook at home are more likely to sit down with family to eat, therefore spending more time with the family.

So do you have to make ALL of those resolutions? No, that could be overwhelming and make you want to quit.

Make ONE: Resolve to take your lunch to work.

Many brown baggers take leftovers for lunch which saves money. To be able to take leftovers for lunch, there has to be some home cooking. Sound daunting? Not really, home cooking requires a little organization – another one of the resolutions.

Begin by asking people in your house what they would like to eat; carry-out does not count. From there you can develop a shopping list for groceries. If you are new to cooking, look up simple recipes. Ask friends and family for their go-to recipes and shortcuts. Start with the basics: One protein (chicken, fish, meat), one starch (potato, bread, beans or fruit) and at least one vegetable (green beans, salad, broccoli, spinach). Remember with vegetables, fresh is best, frozen is next and cans are out (too salty). Experiment with flavors. Instead of just salt and pepper, try garlic powder (not garlic salt), onion powder, ground ginger – your stores’ spice section has lots of variety. Next time you are in the home of a good cook, take a look at the items they keep on hand. Start slowly. Don’t get all fired up the first week and spend your food budget on fresh vegetables, only to see them rot in the crisper and land in the trash. Plan to buy 2 or 3 vegetables at a time and use them within the week.

Example: On Sunday I bought one meals’ worth of green beans and 3 each of 3 kinds of squash. Sunday night I cooked all the green beans (steamed with ginger in the water), 3 of the squash (boiled with ½ a sweet onion, fresh green chile and garlic). We had that with pan seared tilapia and one piece of garlic bread (15 grams of carb). On Monday I had leftover tilapia and green beans for lunch.

On Wednesday, I cooked the rest of the squash, mixed it with the leftover squash, added frozen corn and more green chile. Then I cooked some lean ground beef separately, blotted the oil with a paper towel, mixed it in with the squash and then served in bowls with cheese on top. That leftover squash became calabacitas  – that was shared with my brother and 91 year old Mother, AND I ate the leftovers for lunch on Thursday.

So plan to take your lunch to work; it can be the start of many good habits.