Tag Archives: cheap food

Small change #7: Pack a meal or snack — or both, then achieve balance

Of course you’re busy, I know that.  Do this at night: Pack like your very best self.  You know, what you would pack a kid you wanted to keep healthy.  A sandwich and fruit and a few chips (a few chips means what the recommended serving says).  A salad with beans or a little chicken or something over the top, with carrot and cucumber and a little — 1 Tbsp — container of REAL dressing (not the fat free crap).

Snacks: Carrots with a bit of hummus, or even pretzels with a bit of hummus. A small handful of peanuts and raisins.  A small bag of chips.  And apple or banana.  Or a few.  Don’t be afraid to pack a lot of fruits and vegetables — that’s not what’s bringing this country down, you know?  A little dried fruit sometimes helps a sweet tooth.  A lot will give you diarrhea and well, a lot of gas, so be careful out there.

Do as little or as much of the above as you can.  If you only have time to lay out a little trail mix in a bag and grab that, it’s fine.  But if you can grab a few Cuties (little oranges or clementines or whatever those amazing little things are) or something that will quench your hunger, that will go a long way later when  want something to eat while you’re in front of the computer.  You won’t think it will work, but when you’re hungry you’ll eat it anyway and then be surprised when it does work.

If you need something to eat while you’re busy, make it fruit or a vegetable with a little protein (a cube of cheese — not a BLOCK of cheese, but one the size of a couple of dice), or a few nuts (5 almonds, for example), which will keep you from gnawing your hand off or raiding the doughnut box before lunch.

Make sure lunch, if you pack it, is satisfying.  it’s better to have a little of something you love than a lot of something you don’t.  One slice of that leftover pizza with a bit of salad if you can’t take the idea of just salad for lunch for example.  Or bring a little salad, eat it FIRST, then go get the kid’s size burger from fast food if that’s what you live for (skip the fries, or get a size smaller than what you normally buy.  You usually get small?  Share or throw half away.  Or ignore me and just bring the salad!).  You see?

If you work a little bit of fruit and perhaps a vegetable in there, you will eat less of the stuff you love and still get to have it — just not all at once.  The best way to do that is to pack something and be ready so you don’t raid vending machines or head for sugary drinks at the coffee place nearby.

If you like all of that, pace yourself.  Pack a lunch and allow yourself the sugary drink once a week, the vending machine once a week, and the burger once a week.  Just not all at once.  It will feel painless but it makes a LARGE difference over time.

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How to cook beans

See those shriveled little guys in the cup? They’re cheap, and they turn into those plump, delicious beans still steaming in the glass container.

This is so easy you’ll be amazed you never thought of it before.  After that you’ll taste freshly made beans and only keep canned for the times you forget to soak some in advance (which, shamefully, is quite often for me).

All you need to cook beans is a pot, a mixing bowl, beans of choice, water and a dash of oil.  Some beans, like black eyed peas (beans) and adzuki beans, don’t need soaking.  Today I made garbanzos, so I’m going to use those as the example.

Start by scooping out about a cup of beans into a mixing bowl.  Check for any discolored beans and toss those.  Fill the bowl with water until it’s about 3 inches above the beans.  I cover mine with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight.  Beans should soak 6-8 hours before cooking — there are other ways to accomplish this, but the results are just not as good. One cup of dry beans yields 2.5 to 3 cups cooked and is the equivalent of roughly 8 oz at the market (I usually buy just over a pound to be sure I’ve got at least 2 cups). Continue reading