February’s “Eat Only at Home” experiment concluded two days ago and it was a success. My goal was to cook more at home, eat more nutritiously, and save money. Check, check, and check!
I spent about two hours a day in the kitchen – up from about an hour a day in previous months. That was for all three meals, and includes cleaning time (after all three meals). I know that some days I spent a bit more time than that in the kitchen, but two hours was standard. I learned how to make biscuits. The vegan biscuit recipe came from the Zen Monastery Cookbook, and as it turns out, I’m pretty good at making biscuits! You know how people wax poetic about working with dough, and cultivating patience? Well, now I understand a bit of what they mean. I wasn’t even dealing with yeast, and yet the dough changed and the biscuits were different, depending on which flours I used, the temperature of the flours, and other factors. It was fun, relaxing. All of my biscuits were edible, but the last two batches were pretty darn perfect. I wish I’d taken photos of my first and last batches – there was a vast improvement in appearance.
As for eating more nutritiously, we did that … initially. In the first two weeks, when I had a semblance of a meal plan, and shopped for groceries in a conscientious manner. The last two weeks were not so great – I did not meal plan or shop with a list, so I ended up impulse buying or forgetting ingredients. Cookies and spaghetti were on the menu a fair bit. This failure to plan also affected the third goal: to save money.
Halfway through the month, we were on target to cut our food spending by 75% (compared to previous months). But those last two weeks of disorganized shopping trips cut into our potential savings. Pro-tip: Dessert items and granola are expensive. By the end of the month, our total monthly food spending was down by 60%. While that number is significant and good, Hubster and I both prefer that 75% figure: we are going to shoot for 75% in March!
That may be a bit of a challenge because this month we are doing the Eat to Live six week intensive, low sodium, sugar free, vegan deal. Fruit costs more than spaghetti, and we’re each supposed to eat four pieces of fruit per day. Eek. Well, I am resolved to do my best.
Today was our first day of Eat to Live. Earlier this week I spent a few hours a day cleaning and decluttering the kitchen. I moved foods that are not in line with the regimen into the pantry, got rid of old stuff I was never gonna use (three boxes of bread crumbs? cream of everything?) and re-organized the cabinets and the countertops to accommodate the type of cooking I’ll be doing. It felt good.
My only complaint: My feet hurt. I spent at least four hours in the kitchen today, and wish we had cork flooring! I know what I’m experiencing is the learning curve, so it’s not discouraging. But I may mark the end of these six weeks with a professional foot massage.
The highlight of my day was talking to the produce guy at the local grocery store. I asked him about the difference between turnips and rutabagas, and he was a wealth of information. He gave me a sample of watermelon radish, which I’d never heard of before. The areas of the store I needed to visit were only four (produce, spices, bulk foods, non-dairy milk). With my field of vision narrowed, things I’d never noticed began to pop out at me, and I felt curious: What did adzuki beans taste like? Why are carrots so cheap? And so on. The main reason I went along with Hubster’s desire to do Eat to Live is because I want to become more familiar with the most basic and simple food ingredients – stuff that grows out of the ground or on trees. Today, Day 1, I definitely got to do that.
Some of the food I prepared today: green cabbage w/ spices; vegetable soup w/ couscous and beans; baked pears with balsamic vinegar and walnuts; a tofu/carrot/green onion spread. I’m looking forward to cooking tomorrow, but I might invest in cushioned slippers.