Posts Tagged ‘Microwave’

After 14 days – What is the real luxury of my eating lifestyle?

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Two weeks in and the average daily expense for eating only REAL FOOD FROM REAL PEOPLE: artisan made, sustainable and whenever possible locally farmed runs to 8.82$. As mentioned in an earlier post, I now include eating out (once), dinner party with friends, the occasional coffee on the go and some nice wine in order to be more in line with US statistics that are assuming 50% at home and 50% out of home food expenses.

For the quality of food I am eating I think this is very reasonable, because the wines I drink and cheeses I enjoy are not of the cheap kind. And I rather spend more money on delicious food that popcorn at the theater. But that is a personal choice.
The days on which I eat at home without anything super fancy – like my beloved bean & grain soups with some yummy root veggies and drizzled with great olive oil from The Scrumptious Pantry– I spend as little as 3$.
So what does this tell us (if it tells us anything after only two weeks)?

A reader had sent me a link to a recent experiment a group in Seattle is doing to raise awareness for hunger in the US. The participants are trying to live on the budget a family using food stamps would have available – six dollars a day on average. (see Although the experiment in Seattle has nothing to do with indulging in artisan, local & sustainable food, there was one important take-away in the comments by the paper’s readers: they were all stating that one can happily feed a person on around 3-5$ day if ONE COOKED. That was the recurring comment: “get in the kitchen and cook from scratch – that is healthier and is cheaper”. So how does this relate to what I am doing? Well, if you knew how often I heard “but no one eats like this” in the last two weeks. Bean soups? Roasted root vegetables? Cornmeal for breakfast? Heaven help! It does not come in a box that you tear open and pop in your microwave…

Is the real luxury I am living not the money I spend on wholesome ingredients and artful food crafted by family farms & fine artisans, but the time I spend preparing these simple but delicious ingredients? I wonder…

Day 10 – Value Eating on 01/29/10

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Another weekend, so the following three days might be a bit mixed up. Luckily, weekends are about meeting friends, cooking together, sharing meals and possibly going out for dinner. On the one hand that makes this exercise of keeping an online expense account a bit difficult (no matter how worthy the cause, it is rude to ask the host’s or hostess’s recipe and grocery receipts in order to calculate you share of expenses). But then again what happier moments can there be than those of a shared meal: Sitting around a table, talking, laughing, telling stories. Nibbling on a cheese plate, while the delicious smell of food simmering on the stove and roasting in the oven is rising from the kitchen, waltzing into the dining room and making you feel warm, cosy and happy?

It is such an important thing to do: eating together. And it is so sad to read that there are so many families out there that do not share their meals, although they have the opportunity. Gosh, I am so jealous, sitting here all alone in my little kitchen every evening, cooking for myself (still enjoying it tremendously, though). But how much more fun if there was company. And 41% of families in the US have this opportunity and throw it away (59% of families have shared dinners five times a week according to a 2006 study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse by California University). That makes me sad. Maybe they do not even know what they are missing? Is this the “Generation Microwave” that is just doing what it saw their parents doing? Where did this start? And how can we stop it?

Maybe we should commit to cooking for friends twice a month. Not always the same group of friends that are the “slow food types”, but those we usually meet in a restaurant, café or bar. Let’s create experiences of eating together and reach out to those friends we know that do not cook for themselves, cause they are alone, or too busy and stressed with work, or traveling too much. Let’s reach out with a shared meal, share the experience and hopefully that experience will be appreciated and remembered.

But I am being carried away here. So let’s get back to food costs: Friday’s eating! Somehow I have developed the two meals a day habit over the last weeks, why I do not know. But it is a late breakfast and early dinner and a snack in the afternoon for most days of the week. Same today:

Brunch: three sautéed organic carrots (60c) with a little organic kale (75c) and organic onions (25c), a slice of pumpernickel (16c) and artisan blue cheese (32c) and a cup of organic green tea (6c) = 2.14$

Dinner was a delicious meal at a friend’s house, composed of beautiful cheeses for an appetizer, stuffed cabbage and gravy over potatoes and then some artisan patisserie for dessert. All accompanied by an organic French wine. Based on the costing of the last ten days, I approximate my share of the cost of this feast with all organic ingredients to sum up to 11$, mostly because of the ridiculous amount of cheeses that I ate!

Total Food Cost for Today: 13.14$

What I do not understand at all though, is that according to the CRONoMeter I was not eating enough, I am supposedly only at 70% of the necessary calorie intake. Now, that seems just ridiculous to me. I am wondering if there might be a bug of some sort in this program…

For further reading I recommend a very information rich TIME article from 2006 “The Magic of a Family Meal” online at,9171,1200760,00.html