Considering a simpler life, Bermuda style
This is a revised version of a food series published in Moneywise 2008.
Our Easter bunny has come and gone. Treats of resplendent chocolates, marshmallow peeps, jelly beans, Cadbury creamy-rich eggs, all more costly now, but deliciously consumed with great relish and a smidgen of guilt.
Bermuda festivity tables will have displayed traditional brown sugar and pineapple baked ham, mac’n’cheese, scalloped and sweet potatoes, glazed carrots and peas, Easter egg braid bread, hot cross buns and much more — enough comfort food to celebrate in prayerful abundance with family and friends.
Celebratory, and sometimes overconsumption of dietary delights is a basic, instinctive pleasure for all of us. We cannot deny this want for very long, as it merges with the insistent need to eat for functionality and survival. However, whether we admit it or not though, we all struggle with want versus need when it comes to food choices — a very large reason dieting is so challenging.
The aftermath this week, of course, is our food living patterns have returned to day-to-day reality of budgeting, careful grocery shopping, and hopefully reasonable costs and sensible eating choices.
Food and water is needed for our entire physiological being. Filling your tummy is like filling your gas tank: Food is body fuel: gas is for transportation. Food is viewed in a different light: no longer as a reward for getting through the day, or as a boredom reliever, or as entertainment, but as fuel to keep you efficiently functioning as contributing member of society.
The challenge is to know what do we need on a daily basis to keep our fuel thermostat constant and efficient?
We know we need certain amounts of protein, fat, carbs and other nutrients every day. See the link to SelfNutrition Data below for your personal daily requirements.
Research what is the best, inexpensive source of protein? A 24oz sirloin steak has the same protein value as 24oz of hamburger — but at a considerable difference in cost.
Comparing one pound of hamburger protein to the same of potato chips — such a huge favourite — is severely cost and foodily deficient: one would have to eat 3lbs of potato chips, a total of 7,500 calories at a total cost of $33 to get the equivalent food value in protein to 1lb of hamburger at $4.30 per pound (2008 prices). Check my math, readers!
Chips are what we crave/want, but not what we need; same for empty calorie drinks, packaged, prepared food — means the higher up the food processing chain you go, the less the thing looks like food, the more additives contained, and the more costly the food value, if any, per serving.
Consider some time-tried and true methods for eating simply, basically, and more cost effectively, using popular meal extender recipes. Nor, are they complicated or time-consuming every day.
Old-time Bermudians with large families instinctively knew how to extract every bit of goodness from every morsel of food, cooking with maximum efficiency, packing recipes with protein, left overs — never tossed (rice became pudding), natural resource gatherings, and home-learnt skills. Your creative cooking can be a fun experience.
Cook at home. Seriously, consider a one-day weekend cook-a-thon; then, during the week, microwave portions, use minimal electric appliances (crock pots), dishes, and physical cleanup efforts. No family, after a long day, employed outside the home wants to spend every evening cooking and cleaning.
One very admired professional co-worker who worked long hours at the old Bank of Bermuda told me her family baked up a storm every Sunday. They filled their oven to capacity (saving on electricity), a huge pot of weekly soup on stove, homemade breads/biscuits, casseroles, nourishing inexpensive desserts, all ready for daily dinners, or frozen.
Nothing else was purchased during the week, because they were fiercely focused on one goal — home ownership. Their cook-a-thon method gave them complete budget control while they determinedly saved and saved. It took quite a few years to reach their goal, but their fiscal discipline paid off.
A list of local cuisine simple foods suggestions.
• Paw-paw Montespan — this particular recipe featured on the Bermeme website.
• Bermuda bread, as well as rice, pudding.
• Homemade pizza — vast quantities can be made, frozen ahead, no more running last-minute into local grocery store for one dinner.
• Loquat crumble, yes, fabulous, cheap-to-free and relatively easy.
• Coleslaw with the Bermuda requisite — much mayonnaise.
• Soup, soup, and soup, homemade stove or crock pot, frozen into dinner portions.
• Our internationally renowned Bermuda fish chowder, evolved to use every single morsel of the day’s catch, with Bermuda rum and sherry peppers — brilliant!
• Split pea soup loaded with leftover ham, carrots, potatoes, celery, onions — a 20oz package makes almost two gallons — easily feed ten people.
• Caldo verde — Portuguese chorizo, cabbage and beans soup
• Mac n’ cheese, everyone’s favourite
• Cheese biscuits, oozing chunks, so good that our mother’s recipe was featured for a time at the Nieman Marcus Headquarters Tea Room in Atlanta
• Hoppin’ John, homemade corn bread
• End of week cleanout refrigerator stir fry
• Canned corned beef, or Spam, potato, and onion bake, covered in rat cheese. Some of us “mature” residents will smile at seeing Spam — we were raised on it.
• Readers, write to me with your best nutrient-wholesome meal extenders. I know you have them.
Eating basic foods and simply enjoying them, also trends towards eating less and saving more.
This is a good way to not only compensate for holiday excess exuberance, but can become a cost efficient, lasting habit. Try it. As for those wonderful Easter confections, well, eat them if you must, but promise me you will start next week to think about adopting a simple, basic home-food lifestyle.
• Are you getting your FoodsWorth? February 18, 2006. http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20060218/BUSINESS/302189997
• We really are what we eat An eye-opening look at what we eat, and how much we spend, on our weekly groceries. October 27, 2007. http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20071027/BUSINESS/310279983
• How to watch both your waistline and your budget at the same time. July 12, 2008 http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20080712/BUSINESS/307129978
• SelfNutrition Data know what you eat! https://nutritiondata.self.com/tools/compare/comparison-analysis
• Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Dual citizen: Bermudian/US. Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders and their globally mobile connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Finance columnist to the Royal Gazette, Bermuda. All proceeds earned from this column go to The Reading Clinic. Contact: email@example.com