With the recent recession, people cut back on expenses to stretch their wallets. One way people accomplished this was by eating at home – which might include cooking at home. There was an increase in lifestyle features about how to cook this or that at home. Even today, Walmart has a television ad about saving money by eating more meals at home, and of course buying the food at their stores. Restaurants have reported that people had been skipping dessert or buying a less expensive wine than usual during the recession.
Did that make us healthier? Clearly people were trying to save money. Perhaps if we alter our message from “Eat this way to be healthy” to “Eat this way to save money,” there might be more success. This pocketbook approach is part of the sin tax strategy, that is, taxing foods that are considered unhealthy like sodas and candy. The amount of extra money that you spend by paying an extra penny for your soda, may not be a deterrent. But saving nice sums of money each time you change your habits, can make the reward large enough to work as an incentive. Even the Walmart advertisement totals the savings over a year to make the total savings seem as large as possible.
And if we cook at home and eat with family, it is likely that we will eat a healthier diet with less commercial processing, fewer preservatives, and more control over hidden salt and sugars.Thus, by saving money, we are eating a healthier diet. I hope that by improving our diets, that we improve our health. And we have the added benefit of saving money.
In a Facebook comment to my last Bread and Butter, which was a list of 10 cultural changes that have contributed to obesity, Karen Resta commented with several useful ways that we can improve our diets. She commented on the Facebook group called Oxford Symposium, a group of people interested in the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery. They also struck me as frugal. So with thanks to Karen, I offer you some of her suggestions, which are outstanding examples of frugality, common sense and healthy eating.
1. Make your kids a lunch to take to school.
2. Reduce portion sizes by one-fifth. This is a substantial savings, but does not make you feel deprived.
3. Drink water, both instead of soda and with meals.
4. Eat fruit as a snack.
5. Make vegetables the centerpiece of your meals, with meat as the complement.
6. Get enough sleep.
7. Instead of picking up fast food when family schedules do not allow for a meal around the table, make a healthy picnic to enjoy in the car en route to events.
8. Eliminate cheese on everything, like cheeseburgers or extra cheese on pizza.
9. Eat oatmeal for breakfast.
10. Sip and savor wine and beer.
Think of all of the money that you will save. Health is your unintended consequence.