At one point in our lives, we ended up on food stamps. Even though we didn’t have money for soap, we ate like kings! We could eat steak a couple of times a week if we wanted to. From then on I wondered why people go hungry when they are on food stamps. Fast forward 25 years – We were doing farmer’s markets and had signed up to accept WIC checks as payment for our eggs and produce. It was incredible. We live in a fairly rural area, but most of the younger people we accepted WIC checks from did not know how to cook fresh vegetables. Many didn’t even recognize what we were selling. We also accepted senior WIC checks. Those folks had no questions about what we were selling or how to cook it. The difference? The older folks grew up with mom at home and learned to cook from her. The young people we saw had no idea because mom wasn’t around and they were shuffled from school to activity and babysitters. They grew up on frozen meals and ready made stuff from a box. In many schools, home-ec is no longer offered, much less required. They have no idea how to cook. It’s no wonder people go hungry on food stamps. Those types of foods are way up there on the cost index!
This is probably the biggest learning gap young adults find themselves trapped in upon graduating from school today. Maybe you’re not on food stamps, but if you are in this position, your food budget is highly inflated. Learn to cook from scratch and you will find your food bill plummeting, freeing up your money for other things! Not only that, but you will be healthier. Fresh foods are so much better for you because fresh foods naturally have more vitamins and you can control the types of ingredients used. Highly processed foods contain lots of preservatives as well as harmful substitutes for real food ingredients such as hydrogenated fats and corn syrups.
Another issue I’ve run across is basic food safety. Like the young lady at the farmer’s market next to us who was selling breads stuffed with spiced hamburger with no refrigeration. She was mystified as to why her kids often had diarrhea. She didn’t last long at the market. Not sure if those who were running it got wind of what she was doing or if the health department shut her down, but I felt so bad for her kids because she had no idea!
Don’t let this happen to your kids! Teach yourself if you have to! Take a food safety course. And involve your kids in the process of making meals. Start with a goal of making one meal from scratch each week. Look up “make ______ from scratch” and follow the directions. You might want to have some sort of a ready-made meal available in case of failure, but do it! Then when you get that down, go for more meals each week until the majority of your food is something you cook from scratch.
Don’t forget to count meal preparation time as part of your school work! You can record it as home-ec, life skills or even science!
Living well doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make lots of money. If you trade a little time in for doing it yourself, you can live well for a fraction of what most people think is the minimum.
~God Bless You All!