Tag Archives: Food

Cooking with Mother Hubbard – Breakfast and the Leftovers

21 Sep

This is Part 3 of a series on frugal/budget cooking. Here are parts 1 and 2!

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone
When she got there, the cupboard was bare
And so the poor little dog got none!

Except now Mother Hubbard has a menu plan and a stocked cupboard, so give the dog a treat and make dinner! This week we’ll look at leftovers and healthy breakfasts/snacks.

Dear Anna, you say, I’m just one person! What will I do with a meal set up to feed FOUR!?

Ok, that’s easy. This advice goes for both single person kitchens and people cooking for two.

When you make a meal, make the WHOLE MEAL.

When you’re done, pack up the leftovers.

If you take leftovers for lunch, put them in individual serving containers in the fridge. Try to stack all of them together, so you don’t have a stack of four white ceramic containers of “mystery lunch”. While Mystery Lunch can be fun in the right mindset, if one member of your household has a food allergy (gluten) and the other doesn’t (SSH) it can make for an awkward lunch moment.

(Don’t ask, just learn, remember? Also, I highly suggest, if you have a food-allergy-segregated-household, invest in containers with two different colored lids. Then your whatever-free eater can always see what’s safe.)

If you don’t take leftovers for lunch (you’re not eating out every day while on a budget, right?), you should STILL invest in individual serving containers… only instead of putting them in the fridge, you will put ONE in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. Add them to your HAVE IT list on the marking white board.

This allows you to double your money – after cooking seven dinners, you’ll have at least seven dinners in the freezer, and you can go a whole week without cooking! Keep at least a few days worth of soup in the freezer as well. This is miraculous if you happen to get the flu that your coworker so generously shared with the whole office.

Also, if you’re only cooking for one person, I suggest planning for four full dinners every week, and you then eat leftovers on other nights.

This DOES involve some thinking about leftovers.

I know, some people just don’t eat them, but throwing away food is throwing away money, and you CAN eat leftovers safely.

The first step is ALWAYS put food away.

Always. Do not invite Sam and Ella or any of their relatives into your kitchen. While I’ll do a whole series on food prep another time, when it comes to food that is already prepared, this means do not let the food sit out on the counter. Let it cool while you eat, and then it MUST go into the fridge or freezer.

In fact, I usually divvy up the food when I’m first serving it. I make a plate for me, a plate for SSH, and then the rest gets put into containers for leftovers in the fridge. RIGHT THEN. This also prevents either of us going nutso on a meal and eating three people’s worth of dinner because we had a shitty day at work. If we’re still hungry, the food is there, but there’s an extra step (having to reheat it) that prevents rampant potato binging. *

Part of this step is also eating the leftovers before they turn into science experiments. I try to do a fridge sweep every week before I go shopping, since I’m in there to make sure I have mustard (or whatever) anyway. Bring things to the front that need to be eaten, and anything that looks questionable needs to get tossed.

Regardless of frugality, when in doubt, throw it out. It is more sensible to toss a $3 lunch than it is to miss two days of work because you can’t leave the bathroom due to food poisoning.

Step two is thinking about your meals from a leftovers point of view.

If chopped mushrooms get yucky after 2 days in the fridge (they do), only chop enough mushrooms for today and leave the rest whole. Same thing goes for putting dressing on salads. Only put dressing on salad you’re going to eat right now. It takes 30 seconds to chop up two mushrooms for your leftovers or toss tomorrow’s salad in vinaigrette tomorrow, but yucky slimy mushrooms are, as they say, NOT good eats.  A little planning now prevents you having to throw away a perfectly good salad tomorrow because it got soggy and gross.

If you’re packing salads to take for lunch, some wee plastic resealable containers are a good investment. Fill one with salad dressing, seal it up, and toss it (sealed) into the container with your salad. Add a fork, and poof! Instant salad pack! (And to think, you’d pay $4 for that at the store)

As for the rest of your food, breakfasts can be pretty simple.

  • Fruit: I like bananas (I need the potassium), especially with almond or peanut butter.
  • Juice: Frozen orange juice is cheaper, but usually I just stick to tea and buy the GOOD orange juice for special occasions.
  • Cereal: Cereal isn’t cheap unless you’re buying oatmeal, but many/most off brands are actually made by the same company. If you’re OK with the idea, try a few bulk brands and see!
  • Eggs: Making eggs every morning can be a pain in the butt and take a lot of time… or you can make egg muffins (8 eggs makes 12 muffins = six breakfasts, takes 30 seconds to microwave) and be a winner!

If you’re eating light at lunch, I highly recommend eating a breakfast with some protein in it. My favorite by far is the egg muffins with a banana with almond butter and a cup of tea. Good mix of vitamins, protein, carbs, and fats, and I’m not usually so ravenous before lunch that I eat something stupid.

For snacks, pretty much anything you can buy and put together yourself will be healthier than cheez-its and candy bars. Keeping some “good” snacks around is both healthy and inexpensive (though I admit, a chocolate bar is sometimes the only answer to a shitty afternoon at a cash register).

Things I like

  • Cheese – Either buy packaged string cheese (more expensive) or blocks of cheese you can cut up into chunks (less expensive) – this is best if you’re taking a lunch box, but you can also keep a labeled container in the work room fridge. Just don’t forget about it.
  • Nuts – buy in bulk. Nuts aren’t cheap, but a little goes a long way, and they’re extremely good for you (especially things like almonds, walnuts, and pecans). Keep unused nuts in the freezer so that the oils in them don’t go rancid.**
  • Fruit – anything goes here, especially if you can pack it whole. Try to stick to fruit that’s in season. Since we’re coming up on fall, that means apples, but some pears and peaches may still be good and inexpensive. Grapes and bananas are available pretty much year-round, thanks to shipping them in from far away, but berries are just icky when they travel that far.
  • Veggies with Stuff – carrots and celery are both VERY frugal, and both extremely delicious with hummus or other homemade dips. I’ll post my hummus recipe in the next post!
  • Trail Mix – Make your own – here’s my recipe! 
  • Popcorn
  • Chocolate – buy the good stuff, break it into squares. Eat just one square with another snack from the list. If nothing else, Hershey’s makes Special Dark bars in a handy snack size.

If you’ve got a desk, keeping one of the shelf-stable snack staples on hand will help avoid a trip to the vending machine, where you’ll spend $1.50 on some cheap processed carbs, artificial coloring, and sugar.

Usually with snacking, it’s all about eating what’s there to eat. Convenience is great – so take the time to plan your OWN convenience foods.

Assemble cut carrots and celery at the beginning of the week when you make hummus, and have a variety of food containers around to make grabbing them easy. Once again, keeping a budget and being healthy can go together if you’re willing to put in a little planning and forethought. Like with all other aspects of food, snacking is healthier and more frugal if you make stuff yourself than it is if you’re constantly paying for it at the vending machine.

*Do not accuse SSH of rampant potato binging. That would be me. Put me with potatoes, and I will eat until I’m sick. It’s not pretty.
**Insert nut jokes here.
***Breakfast and the Leftovers sounds like a really terrible band.

Cooking with Mother Hubbard – The Grocery Store

16 Sep

This is Part 2 of a series on frugal/budget cooking. You can read Part 1 here.

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone
When she got there, the cupboard was bare
And so the poor little dog got none!

And then Mother Hubbard went to the grocery store.

Last week, we looked at planning meals from a budget standpoint. This week, let’s take that menu and turn it into some actual produce.

Step 1 is to look at your list of recipes (print them out, it’s easier, I promise) and go through your pantry/fridge and find out what you need. Make a list of what you will have to buy, noting especially that you need THREE onions, not just “onion”. (Don’t ask me how I know that this is important, just learn from my mistakes…) The printouts will come in handy later, as keeping a binder of recipes in your kitchen is a good practice in general. I use a big 2” binder with plastic sleeves, to avoid splattering tomato sauce all over my recipes. If I make something, and it’s awesome, it goes in the binder. If I make something and it sucks? The recipe goes in the recycling. (Sometimes the food goes in the compost too)

Once you have your list, have a snack.

You will be less tempted to buy crap if you’re not starving at the store.

And now, off to the store! (Do not forget your list)

Make the rounds of the store – most items on your list should be on the outside edges, since you’ll be doing most of the actual cooking yourself. Other than produce, dairy, and meat, you’ll probably only need to stop by the freezer aisle for vegetables and the “staples” aisle for rice, pasta, breakfast cereal, and baking stuff.

Do not be tempted by the things on the end-cap at the grocery aisles – those are usually there to BE tempting, but aren’t always a good bargain. However, if you have freezer space, buying an extra pack of meat that happens to be on sale (or close to its sell-by date and reduced) means you can get a really cheap meal out of it next week. Just don’t forget to put it in the freezer IMMEDIATELY once you get home.

If you have a little extra cash to spare on your trip, consider making a double batch of something (like lasagne or a casserole) that you can freeze (labeled, please). That way you’ll have a few aces up your sleeve in a later emergency.

The biggest waste of money you can have when it comes to food is anything that spoils before you can eat it. This can be avoided by sticking to your meal plan and by using things like lettuce and mushrooms earlier in the week.  Frozen vegetables are a great option for things like broccoli, green beans, stir fry mix, and corn. If you’re not sure your meat will still be edible, put it in the freezer and defrost it in the microwave or the day before in the fridge.

Also, choosing “shelf stable” fresh produce can reduce the chance of having to toss a science experiment at the end of the week – think apples, potatoes, bananas, oranges, red peppers, onions, garlic instead of apricots, peaches, cucumbers, and lettuce. Keeping as much as you can in the produce drawer of the fridge will help too. Just don’t put the tomatoes or onions in the fridge. Onions will spoil faster, and tomatoes will lose all their flavor if you keep them in the icebox. Also, don’t keep your apples next to the onions and potatoes. Apples, as well as other fruits like peaches, emit ethylene gas (a ripening agent) that will make your onions and potatoes go all gross on you.

And now, a word about coupons.

Coupons are pretty cool. We’ve all seen the advertisements about the women who go to the grocery store and buy six carts of stuff for $3. This is an exciting part-time or full-time job. (That’s the part they don’t tell you on the commercials) While it DOES make sense to shop sales and use coupons, if you’ve got a 40 hour a week job (or more), spending all of your free time clipping coupons is… well, it’s slightly more exciting than watching paint dry. Also, a lot of those deals are made by purchasing in mass quantities.

Instead, I recommend checking out your store’s weekly flyer (they’ll have it on display as you go in, so don’t subscribe to the newspaper for it) and also checking at the website Hip2Save. This website posts list of coupons that may or may not apply to you, but it’s worth a scan on things like personal care items, toilet paper, and some food items. Usually it’s all set up so you just print off the coupon and go!

Being truly coupon savvy is more “Budget Cooking 102”, though, and Mother Hubbard is pretty obviously in the 101 class, so for now stick to using the posted circulars at the store as well as being sensible about deals.

Remember – it’s not a deal if you didn’t intend to buy it or won’t use it. (Buying meat that’s on half price sale so you can freeze it? Good deal. Buying 10 packs of store brand honey buns that are already looking stale? Not a good deal.)

Once you’ve made the rounds of the store with your list, READ THE LIST AGAIN. Especially if you’re using public transportation or bumming a ride from a friend, having to make a 7pm trip to the grocery because you forgot eggs (and really, you can’t substitute for eggs in a lot of recipes) will make you feel particularly silly if you have EGGS written on your list and just didn’t double check.

Then head home, and get everything put away!

Note: If you buy extras of staples (rice, lentils, meats), I highly recommend keeping two marking white boards. Ok maybe three, but hear me out.

  1. First board goes on the freezer. On it, you write down any meats you buy that you’re saving for next week. Instant menu planning quick list! (Also, you’ll put frozen meals on there, but that’s another post). This is your HAVE IT list.
  2. Second board goes somewhere REALLY OBVIOUS. On it, you write down anything you need. Toothpaste, potty paper, dog food (*sidelong glance at Mother Hubbard*) butter, ketchup, pickles, whatever. This is your NEED IT list.
  3. Third board (if you need one) goes in the pantry, to let you know about any staples that you’ve stored somewhere else. If you don’t store staples elsewhere, you don’t need this one.

These boards become your go-to lists before you go-to the store (har har).

When you get home from the store, erase anything you purchased from the NEED IT list. Add anything you’re putting in the freezer to your HAVE IT list.

Use a post it note to write down the menu items on the fridge (so you know your options) and cross them off as you make them. The recipes go in the front pocket of your recipe binder. (Remember, if they suck, throw them away. Don’t make one recipe failure into a repeated recipe failure!)

And now, you’re all stocked for a week (or even maybe TWO!) for meals that you can make, some of which will hopefully be in your slow cooker, and all of which should be delicious!

In the next part of our adventure with Mother Hubbard, we’ll take a look at leftovers, cooking for just one (or just two), and the “healthy snacks and lunches” part of this whole deal. After that, I’ll hook you up with some of my favorite, easy and cheap recipes.

Cooking with Mother Hubbard – Planning Meals

13 Sep

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone
But when she got there, the cupboard was bare
And so the poor little dog got none

We’ve all been there. It’s the end of the month, every bill you have is due, and the pay period ends on the 3rd of NEXT month so you’re scraping and pinching to make enough money to both eat AND pay rent by the 1st while still hopefully having clean underpants.

And really? Ramen noodles are not good for you. You can turn them into decent food if you have to, but that might cover you for ONE night – or even a week if you absolutely have to.

What if your budget only allows a couple of shoestrings for food all the time?

The goal is to be able to eat cheap food without suffering from a) malnutrition b) rampant weight gain or c) utter boredom*. I mean, you COULD live off ramen noodles and “reduced for clearance” chocolate cakes at the bakery, but after a week you’d feel like ass. And while you CAN eat nothing but beans, rice, and off-brand dry cereal, after awhile that gets incredibly boring too.

Also, you might get scurvy. Yarr.

So we’re going on an adventure to take you from Mother Hubbard’s to… well, I won’t say Martha Stewart, but at least happily well fed and without having to starve your dog. This week, we’ll get started with choosing budget friendly recipes. The next installment of Mother Hubbard’s Cooking Adventure will get you through the grocery store and teach you how to avoid some really common pitfalls. Then, we’ll take a look at leftovers, cooking for just one (or just two), and the “healthy snacks and lunches” part of this whole deal. After that, I’ll hook you up with some of my favorite, easy and cheap recipes.

ONWARD!

First, some resources:

  • Hie thyself to Budget Bytes – a cooking blog entirely devoted to easy, delicious, cheap recipes. Included are step by step recipe directions AND a cost breakdown of each item.
  • Check out the Hillbilly Housewife’s Recipes too – while I don’t always agree with everything else on her site, she’s got some gems for saving money – especially if you’re willing to do some prep work first.
  • Also, I love The Stone Soup Blog – which is really a blog about cooking DELICIOUS food, but also has a $5 dinner section and a lot of good information on making deliciousness go a long way (her goal is 5 ingredients, 10 minutes to dinner).
  • Allrecipes.com is another great resource, and I like to look at their menu deals/articles on the right hand side of the page. Often it’s enough to get a few new ideas and start the menu ball rolling.

The first step toward eating cheaply – especially if you’re cooking for more than just yourself – is to really evaluate all the convenience foods you buy. I don’t mean grabbing a bag of pasta and a can of spaghetti sauce (yes, I said can, more on that later) as much as I do grabbing a frozen, salt laden entree that won’t taste very good and will leave your ankles begging for mercy from water retention tomorrow.

Under the sub heading “evaluate convenience foods” goes “evaluate restaurant foods”. You can almost always eat for less money and more nutrition if you make food yourself. Yes, some nights there is nothing else to do but call for pizza delivery, but that $15 can go a LOT farther. You’re essentially paying for time in those situations, and they WILL happen. Don’t sweat it too much, just do your best to plan for other options. I try to keep one meal in my freezer – even if it’s just making a double batch of soup and freezing it – so that if it comes down to it, there’s one dinner stocked away that I just have to heat up.

In fact, that’s kind of step 2 – once you’re looking at the cost vs. time of your convenience foods, start planning meals.

This is the part of budget cooking that I hate, and I’m not too proud to admit that I kind of suck at it.  Part of my sucking at it is my desire to constantly be making new recipes. Going to the grocery store is, in some ways, a creative experience for me. I want to walk in and go OOh! Eggplants! and buy some even if they’re stupid expensive, because all of a sudden I’ve got an idea for a stuffed eggplant recipe.

While fun, this is NOT the way to save money at the grocer’s.

Instead, pick out a few meals that you like making or that seem interesting. If you need ideas, check out the recipe blogs above, as well as thinking back to food that you might have eaten as a kid, and keep an eye on the Divas, as I’ll be posting some good recipes as well.

Both SSH and I grew up eating spaghetti with meat sauce one night a week (His was every Thursday, mine rotated around). That plus some steamed frozen (green vegetable of choice) and you’ve got a solid, inexpensive meal, especially if you cook with the spaghetti sauce that comes in cans (Hunt’s is the brand I usually find) instead of the more expensive stuff in jars. Bonus Tip: If you have extra sauce, freeze it for next time!

You’ll want to choose meals that make use of an expensive ingredient sparingly, using it for flavor (like a really snazzy cheese, or olives, or sesame seeds) while being made up mostly of staples – whole grains and vegetables. You might need to start thinking of meats as more of a side dish, since meat is VERY expensive – even consider eating vegetarian one night a week! Splitting a chicken breast into two servings, but making up for it with delicious roasted potatoes with sauteed onions and some steamed vegetables will not feel like you’re depriving yourself of a decent meal, but it dramatically reduces the cost per plate of that meal.

For a week with just SSH and I, I usually plan 5-6 dinners for 7 days, with one day for leftovers (most leftovers get eaten for lunches), plus breakfasts and some staple snacks (pretzels, fruit, cheese, hummus).

This is the point in our little adventure with Mother Hubbard where I recommend that you spend $20 on a slow cooker.

For 1-2 people, a 3 quart slow cooker will almost always be enough, for 4+ you’ll want a 6 quart one. Some recipes will do better in the smaller size (I have both, but that’s mostly because I got my 3 quart one in a deal with SSH when I signed on for this marriage thing).

Given options, you want one with a removable inner crock (so you can put stuff in it the night before, stuff it in the fridge, and then just put it in the “pot” part and turn it on in the morning), and a programmable option is really nice, especially if you want it to only cook for 6 hours and then just click back to “warm”.

Slow cookers are pretty awesome, and they are NOT just for stew/soup. While you CAN make an awesome chili in one, you can also make delicious sour cream and chive chicken (cook up some rice, and poof! dinner!), pulled pork “barbecue”, and even cook a whole chicken. Because one of the biggest factors in throwing up your hands and ordering takeout is “I’m exhausted and I don’t have time to cook”, the crock pot can be a real lifesaver.

Coming home from work to a kitchen filled with the smells of a delicious pot roast isn’t bad either.

As you’re planning your meals, pick at least one new thing that you’ve not made before.

This will do a number of things, but mostly it’s to keep you from being utterly bored. Food is awesome. It’s one of the biggest pleasures in life, especially a nose-to-the-grindstone, workin’-for-the-man kinda life that leads to shoestring grocery budgets. Eating a variety of foods is important, both for your mental health AND your physical health.

And you really CAN eat well, even on a budget.

*True facts: you get more nutritional value out of food you enjoy eating. Who knew? 

Feels Like Home

14 May

haemonic’s post yesterday about Flunk Day has me thinking about my own alma mater (the first one). Has me a little bit nostalgic.

I spent my entire life up til age twenty-two living in Upstate New York. The ‘burbs around Rochester, to be specific. And while I have grown to love northern California for it’s particular charms, there are a few things that I miss from New York.

1. Proper Seasons

Seasons. You know: winter, spring, summer, fall? Here in the central valley I joke that we have two seasons: wet and dry. Fall seems to just melt into cold rain and then suddenly spring flowers are blooming in February. My first year out here I saw a daffodil blooming on Valentine’s Day and stopped in my tracks. Daffodils are for April! And while I honestly don’t miss dealing with snow (shoveling it, wearing a parka and a scarf and gloves, brushing off the car) I do miss seeing snow. In my head snow= winter. Christmas needs snow! The handful of years I’ve stayed in California for Christmas it throws off my whole seasonal clock: “It can’t be March, we haven’t had Christmas yet.” I also miss proper fall colors. The leaves do change out here, but later, around November. And then they typically all fall off in a big whoosh in one day after a cold snap. Here the fall colors are in November, instead of September when it is proper!

The trade off is that I’m regularly out and about in the sunshine on weekends in March when my family is still socked-in with snow. So you know, not entirely a bad thing, different climate.

2. Proper Deli

Delicious noms

Now THIS is what I'm talking about


This one was baffling to me when I first moved out here. On the east coast, especially the Northeast with NYC and Philly, people are serious about their delis. Our neighborhood grocery store had a deli counter that is easily three times the size of any I’ve seen here in a grocery. (You see that photo up there? That is a proper deli counter. It extends beyond the woman in green.) The discrepancy was even more obvious to me because I spent time in college working behind one of those counters. We had eight kinds of ham, nine kinds of turkey, three varieties of roast beef. We had olive loaf and head cheese and liverwurst. Five varieties of Swiss cheese. If someone new came up and said simply “give me a half pound of ham” we’d have to ask them three or four questions and probably give samples to determine what they liked. Out here, there are typically two varieties of ham, four kinds of turkey including the “fancy” flavored ones, and two types of Swiss. Plus, everything costs more because it’s California. Disappointing!

3. Proper Bagels

Bagels are a big deal in the Northeast. Families will buy a dozen every week. Everyone I knew had bagels on the weekend, had bagels in the breadbox or the freezer. Toast pales in comparison to a bagel. A real bagel that is. Here’s the deal with proper bagels: you have to boil them first. Boil, then bake. That’s what gives them that characteristic “snap” on the outside surface. It is also what makes them harder to chew. Classic bagel flavors are all savory: garlic, onion, pumpernickel, sesame etc. I have no problem with the sweet ones like blueberry, cranberry and whatnot, provided that they are actually bagels.

Somewhere along the line, it was discovered that many Americans have no clue what a bagel is supposed to be like. And so they cut out the boiling step and just bake the darn things. I like to call these abominations “round bread”. Panera is definitely guilty of this. I think most of the pre-packaged bagels like Thomas’ are the same way. Now don’t get me wrong, the things that Panera sells as “bagels” are delicious. But they are not really bagels.

I think that Noah’s Bagels makes them properly out here but I haven’t had any in a while. Now that I’m doing the low-carb lifestyle thing it’s mostly a moot point, but it would be nice to have the real thing for a treat once in a while.

delicious noms

Mmmm, carb-y goodness

4. Thunderstorms

This may seem like an odd thing to add, but there is something magical about a thunderstorm to me. Watching the lightning streak down in perfect bolts, counting for the thunder. There have been exactly two thunderstorms in the seven years I’ve lived here. I know that it is exactly two because I immediately dropped what I was doing and went and watched both of them at the window. The first one also made me cry because it made me homesick. We had thunderstorms every summer back home. Usually on a hot August evening. It rains year round back home, you see, unlike here where May arrives and it stops raining until November. I miss thunderstorms. I remember being a kid with all of us sitting around the window, holding our breath, waiting for the next spectacular bolt to arc and split the sky. We’d shut off all the lights, the fans would be running to air out the muggy summer air (no central air in those days), all four kids quiet for once. Free entertainment. Mother Nature puts on a good show.

5. Songbirds

Now, don’t get me wrong, we have songbirds out here. They just aren’t the same ones I grew up with. The most obvious absence is the Northern Cardinal with his brilliant red feathers and distinctive chirp. We’d often see matched pairs at my parents’ feeders, the brilliant male and the dun-colored female. Even the female has red accents though, and they make a handsome pair in the trees. I also miss Blue Jays even though they are actually quite obnoxious at the feeder. I love the little crests on their heads and how they’ll crack whole peanuts with glee. Blue Jays have an obnoxious squawk instead of a chirp, but it was a sound I was familiar with.

Out here we have the Scrub Jay instead. While they are quite pretty as well, and they also squawk, the squawking is totally obnoxious to me. It is like nails on a chalkboard. Before I knew what they were called, I derisively referred to them as “Squawky Birds”. And they were everywhere, making a racket.

Other noticeable differences: fewer spring Robins. The goldfinches are a different species (Lawrence’s vs American) and there are no purple finches.

All of it combines to make being outdoors a different experience. We do have chickadees and sparrows, but the difference is more obvious now when I do return home and hear all those bird songs again.

What are your “home things” that you miss?

What about you? Have you moved away from “home”? What do you miss most? Is it a place? A food? The weather? Have you moved a lot and gathered little favorites from several places? Share your story in the comments!

Bad Food. Okay, No. REALLY Bad Food.

13 Mar

We all know crappy food is tasty. If it wasn’t, everyone would be eating lettuce twenty four hours a day with big shitty grins on their mouths because they’d be ignorant of the godliness that is the Wendy’s McDouble Fatty. Sometimes I think liking crappy food as much as I do is a reflection on me as a person, like longing for a Ding Dong makes me trashy and sub-human.

ORANGE CHEESE REPRESENT, PUNKS

Now that’s a little extreme (okay a lot extreme) but you catch the jist. Liking craptastic food definitely accounts for my expansive waistline, and buying it makes me think things like “eating Jenga pieces is healthier than this”, but it rarely stops me. I suppose in a perfect world I could walk away from ALL THE CRAPPY THINGS, but the concept of a life without my guilty pleasures makes me so sad.

Let me expound upon the why.

1. Hot Dogs

The Ugly Truth: I’m a hot dog purist. I don’t want a bunch of chili or onions or ground up kittens on my hot dog. I want it plain and simple with a little ketchup and a mustard so yellow it rivals Dolly Parton’s hair. I want it greasy, and for the bun to suck up the extra grease so that too is terrible for me. Yes, I understand that hot dogs are the melting pot of meat products. I know I’m eating ground cow bung and goat toenails. I even get that the meat percentage consistency from hot dog to hot dog changes, and that’s REALLY FUCKING CREEPY TO THINK ABOUT. Does that mean I pass up that steaming tube of awesome? Nope. In fact, give me two. I love them. I love them so much that even knowing I’m eating pig brains, I gladly nom away, my lips smeared in a gag worthy combination of pork grease and condiment.

The Healthy Alternatives: Did you know there are low fat hot dogs out there? I’ve tried them before. Most of them are made with turkey or chicken meat, and they’re a little pale in color next to their pink, meat-combo brothers and sisters. Last year, when I was on a health kick, I bought only low-fat food for a solid month and a half. As such, I brought the substitute hot dogs over to Greg’s for grilling. Slight problem: turkey dogs taste like shit. No, really, it was dry meat clay sculpted into the shape of my beloved hot dogs. It was one of the most depressing food moments of my life.

2. Easy Cheese

The Ugly Truth:

Need I Say More?

The Healthy Alternatives: There isn’t one. It’s cheese in a can. You’d get more nutrition sucking gasoline from the hose.

3. Ramen Noodles/Cup of Noodles

The Ugly Truth: I inherited this particular guilty pleasure from my mom. I remember being a kid and we’d have “Oodley Noodley soup!” I became a premier chef of the shit over the years, nixing the salty-as-hell broth and just adding a blob of butter with the noddles, mixing it up with the seasoning packet, and bam! Emeril’s worst nightmare! There’s so much sodium in one serving it’s like gargling with ocean water, but who cares? It tastes vaguely like chicken and there’s noodles EVERYWHERE.

The Healthy Alternatives: I really don’t know of any. I suppose if I wanted to go the soup angle, I’d recommend a Tom Yum Soup loaded with vegetables and rice noodles. If you like it dry, wheat pasta with a nice olive oil and garlic sauce.

4. Hostess Fruit Pies

The Ugly Truth: I think they started out with good intentions. Apples are healthy right? Apples have all sorts of . . . good shit in them. What are those things called aga . . . right. VITAMINS. HEALTHY VITAMINS ARE HEALTHY. So we start off in a good place, aaaand then they take all those vitamins and submerge them in a vat of sugary sweet high fructose corn syrup awesome. Next they wrap it in a crust, and to make matters worse, they dip that crust in the same glaze stuff you get on honey dipped donuts.

(Aside here, I used to work at a coffee shop as a teenager. One of my jobs was to “scrape” the bottom of the honey dip bin. It bleached a purple sweatshirt of mine. No shit.)

The Healthy Alternatives: An ACTUAL apple. You know, grows on a tree, red. Yellow sometimes, or green maybe.

Being A Blogger Means I Get To Link Shit Like This

5. Fast Food Restaurant Shakes

The Ugly Truth: Well, there’s not a lot I can say about them except linking the nutritional information for the shakes and going BUT WHYYYY, THEY TASTE GOOD.

960 calories
17g sat. fat
23g fat
0.5g trans fat
75mg cholesterol
153g sugar
176g carbs
17g protein
780mg sodium

Not only is there fat, there’s trans fat which is the equivalent of eating food cancer. Scientists have made a direct correlation between trans fat and coronary heart disease. There’s a reason you see companies advertising that they removed that shit from their products.

(I probably don’t have to bother mentioning that a large Burger King shake is 1000 calories and pretty much half of your daily suggested caloric intake.)

The Healthy Alternatives: Not much. Water? Uhhh . . . yeah. Water. Maybe a glass of milk, two percent milk if you’re feeling really well behaved. It’ll pale in comparison to this drink which is, in my humble estimation, a mix of delicious nuclear waste, but hey at least you tried!

*****

So tell me, what’s YOUR guilty pleasure food? Let’s hear your ugly, dirty little food secrets.