Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bon appe-CHEAP

Did you know that aside from the supposed health benefits to be derived from going the vegetarian way, it will save you a lot of money as well? Contrary to popular belief, being a “vegetarian” need not be expensive.

Although true-blue and pure-blooded vegetarians might argue that what I’m cooking is not really in accordance with the established laws of vegetarianism, the fact that my family is consuming more vegetables than what “normal” or average people would is good enough for me. Why? If you follow “eating according to your astrological sign ” (Yup, there is such a thing. Gretchen Barretto swears by it) you will know that Leos and Ariens are supposed to benefit more from eating more meats than veggies. So, we are actually going against our “predisposed diets” in the name of frugality. Hahaha!

Seriously, aside from the health benefits, (I’m sure no one will argue that veggies and fruits are good for you) serving more veggies to your family would save you a lot of money in the long run. Not only are you serving healthier meals, you are saving a good few bucks as well. Who’s not gonna be a believer with that proposition?

With the advent of the swine flu, wouldn’t you want to be munching on lettuce leaves instead of the crispy pata (deep-fried pork legs) or chicharon (pork rind)? You and I know “bawal magkasakit… kasi mahal ma-ospital” (to get sick is forbidden because hospitalization is expensive). Surely you will agree that not getting sick will surely save you a lot of money. As they say, “health is wealth”. But more than the wise adage, Filipinos know that medicines and medical care in the Philippines cost an arm and a leg, as with all others.

So what am I driving at? When I finally had a child, I started to re-think our budget. Like any other parent I wanted to make sure that we have enough money saved up for our son’s future. One of the areas wherein I saw an opportunity to save on was our meals. You see my husband and I love eating at fancy restaurants, even just for the experience. Hey, you only live once.

Before our kid, this love for eating “fancy” extended to our meals at home and at the office. We would often call for food delivery, have food bought to-go or we would prepare some fancy-smancy meals at home to take to work, which is usually meat-based meals. This dried up our savings account.

I often find my wallet empty, so on our way home we would drive by an ATM to withdraw more to hopefully last until the next payday. The thing is the money I was withdrawing was never enough, so I withdrew often. I had a budget yes, but when I find ourselves not having money in our pockets, it was very easy to simply make a withdrawal.

Then it hit me… our savings has dwindled! I whipped out my calculator and computed how much we spent for a full month of eating mindlessly. Boy, was I shocked! From then on, my husband and I have cut back on eating out. I have cut back on meat-based dishes when I’m cooking. You want to know how? The secret is ground meat.

Instead of meat-laden dishes, our meals nowadays are often stir-fried or sautéed veggies with less than ¼ kilo of ground meat just to add some flavor. You might not think much of it until I tell you that what I cook is good for lunch, dinner and my husband’s baon (packed meal), so that means I have a lot of veggies for a small amount of ground meat.

Why not try it for a week and see how much you would save?

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