Food Independence – The Way to Stay Full without Going Broke

I remember my first few times cooking. The meat was never seasoned, and the pasta/rice was usually overcooked. They were tragic – even with honey barbecue sauce. More importantly, though, I remember the joy of being responsible for my own (mal) nutrition and my first taste of independence.

Some people feel independent moving out. Others get that feeling from holding down that first job. But I think too few people appreciate food independence – eating without having to “dine in” or “carry out” or call for delivery.

Try this: take a headcount in any major fast food restaurant, and then go to the closest supermarket and count the people in the meat, dairy and produce aisles. My guess: At least two people are in line for fast food for each person shopping for ingredients (Include the drive-through and I’d bet it’s closer to 3:1).

Ask a couple customers and get one of two answers: it’s either more convenient or apparently “cheaper.” Convenient, yes, but cheap? Not so much. The prices you pay long-term – poor health, a degenerative dietary system and empty-wallet syndrome – are astronomical.

If a college student ordered three meals off a dollar menu every day for a week, then he/she would have spent $63 for 21 meals, assuming it takes $3 to make a full meal (I don’t think so). That’s $252 each month. Now, let’s be honest: nobody in their right mind, or with any other option, would eat only off a dollar menu. In reality, most meals range from $5 – $8. Do the math when you’re ready. It adds up.

Overconsumption costs you independence and it costs the planet resources. As a Green For All ambassador, I often talk to students about changing their habits to save themselves and the planet. Eating out less is one way. Many corporations might cringe at the idea of “buy less, spend less,” but the reality is food is getting scarce. Imagine Kenyan and Somali famines on a global scale. Now, bring it back home and consider whether you want to eat out tonight.

Cooking in my teens was tantamount to shifting into a new phase of my life – almost like moving out. Only recently did I get really good. Yes, along the way, I scorched pots and pans and burned a few potholders. But I’d rather have to replace utensils than try to get back my health or try to replace the planet.