Friday, July 22, 2016

Is home cooking a dying art?

Shrimp tacos using avocado, shredded cabbage, black beans, and cole slaw dressing
I like to cook. I guess there are many men my age who feel the same way. I can’t say I love to cook, or I would do it more often. I usually take some recipe and modify it a bit and then in a most humble way, post it on social media along with a tasty photograph and make humble claims that it is my own concoction.

What I have found is people love to talk about food and for good reason. Food, for the most part, is entertaining and a great subject. It tastes good. It has variety. Even when it’s not up to par, it is a subject that can be discussed and even cussed. There is rarely a dull moment when food is involved. Not to attempt to quote Bubba, but food can be prepared in a great number of ways, making each dish a new adventure.

I remember years ago a returning missionary from Africa hit 3 fast food restaurants in one day and exclaimed, “It is hard to beat quality junk food!” Fast food is usually quite satisfying, albeit not the best choice for proper nutrition. In fact, for many, “eating out” has replaced eating at home, or shall I say, “preparing a meal on the stove”?

It is convenient for sure and the variety is endless. You can hardly build a salad with the great many items for the price they charge, so why not simply buy it pre-made? If you need 27 items in your salad to make it palatable, then that is a valid argument, but let’s take a look at the cost of this logic.
Pork loin and fresh veggies
Drive through any breakfast place and eat normally and it is anywhere between 5 bucks to as much as $12 for a big boy hunter’s special. If you are a tipper add a couple of bucks to each meal. Lunch is as much as double that and supper, well, you can drop a 50 dollar bill for one person in one day. Or more.

I’m no tree surgeon, but that adds up to a whole bunch of money over a months time. The upside is we got a large variety of foods over the month and probably loved the convenience of it all. When we were done, we either wadded up the bag and tossed it (hopefully in a trash can) or simply walked away and let some minimum wage worker clean up after us.

The downside was it was expensive and get this – our food was prepared by a total stranger who may or may not have personal hygiene as a priority. Yuk! We do this all the time and never consider who is actually touching our food. Now, I am not a particularly skeptical person over this and I certainly eat out, but it is a thought.

I remember hearing a single mother pose a question on the radio where she wondered how she could feed her family on minimum wage. What she cited specifically was the cost of “fancy sliced turkey” and at 7 bucks a pound, it was a travesty. The host reminded her that bologna was a better option based on her income and the lady was incensed to say the least. I happened to agree with the host as there are plenty of cheaper and healthy options.

Chicken quarters costing $2.39
As of late I’ve been trying to eat more protein and less carbs and what I’ve found very satisfying and ridiculously cheap is baking chicken at home. I can buy 3 chicken leg quarters at my local grocery for under $2.50 and toss in a can of black beans or Fordhook lima’s and I have 3 tasty and nutritious meals for a measly $1.25 per meal. Each serving is more than I can eat at one sitting. Now notice this is not organic chicken breasts and fresh asparagus which would probably run that solo meal up to around $8.
The same goes for a large pork loin which is often under 5 dollars. It is a lot of meat. Toss in 2 veggies, a couple of taters and some brown gravy and your meal per person is about 2 bucks, maybe 3.  Rotel makes a product named “Chili fixins”. Follow the directions on the can and you can whip up a very tasty pot of chili in about 20 minutes and eat on it for a few days way cheaper than eating out and even with cheese and Fritos, it is still a bargain meal.

Cooking is fun, but it doesn’t have to be a lost art or time consuming and the financial benefit makes it something we should all consider.


. . . . . said...

Some of the best chili I have ever eaten:
2# ground chuck
1 large onion
2 cans Rotel chili fixins
2-15 ounce cans tomato sauce
optional: I can black and 1 can chili beans
Shredded cheese
Sour cream

Brown the meat and onion, drain, and add the other ingredients. I promise it is the best chili you've eaten. Meal ready in under 30 minutes!

Anonymous said...

You have so many sides Bert. Really enjoyed this cooking read....Debi

Anonymous said...

BAM: I liked this article

Patrick Newman said...

I totally love to cook at home! In fact, I do most of the cooking. We love trying new recipes, and perfecting others as we go.

I wrote a blog about comfort food that covers some of this:

Great blog as always, Bert!

Anonymous said...

DDC: Very good column in The Baytown Sun Friday, Bert. I was out of town until late yesterday evening, so I didn't get to read it until this morning. Very, very good! Your recipes always look 'slappin' good'!

Anonymous said...

MM: Good job!

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