Friday, March 6, 2009
Frugal Friday: Food, Fitness and Frugality
We like to eat. We like to eat good food. Healthful food. Food with fresh organic ingredients. Eating is more than a matter of sustenance. It’s love and exploration. It’s enjoyment and nourishment.
To eat this way takes time and expense. A small container of truffle butter costs significantly more than a vat of Parkay. But a container of truffle butter costs oodles less than truffles themselves. And, for us, a 4 oz container will last three meals ... steak and arugula sandwiches, pizza with balsamic roasted tomatoes, brie and goat cheese and a final yet to be determined meal.
The steak meal was the most expensive ... ~$25.00 for ingredients. But there were leftovers for lunch so that makes two meals for our family of five. Of course you have to add in the cost of spaghettios for those too picky to eat the steak. The pizza was less expensive ... leftover dough -- free, leftover truffle butter --- free, leftover arugula -- free, cheese $9.00 from a local restaurant supply store, roma tomatoes ~$3.00. And we have tons of cheese remaining which will make its way into a future meal.
Now I know people who eat the same thing, night after night. These people also eat at 5 pm sharp each and every day. Beans, rice and vegetables. “It’s healthy,” they tell me, “It’s inexpensive.”
Their cooking may be frugal. It may be healthful. But it is downright boring and unimaginative! Certainly we have our moments when we are lacking time and creativity. Then we reach for the bag of veggies and rice, toss in a few cashews and voila - quick, easy and frugal meal. But to eat the same thing day in and day out? No thank you!
We prefer to explore. We like meals from all continents of this world. And when we can not afford to physically travel we visit cultures via their cuisine. We’re not Anthony Bourdain, mind you, we steer clear of tongues, brains and sphincters. But we do like variety. And cooking these meals at home most certainly saves money over eating out. So frugal? Yes. To an extreme? No. We live in these bodies and these bodies demand a modicum of pleasurable experience. How else is one to get through the twists and turns of life?
And speaking of bodies ... if one is going to eat and eat well one must also exercise. Because otherwise eating takes its toll (as my midsection can attest).
Exercise is one of those activities that appears expensive. After all it requires gym memberships, high tech machines, personal trainers and fancy attire, right? That's what they want you to think. They are vying for your hard earned dollar. They don't want you to consider alternatives. But, the reality of it is, exercise does not have to be expensive.
My son is the perfect example. He spends his days wrestling with friends, playing basketball, riding bikes and walking downtown. And he doesn’t have an ounce of fat on his body. Granted he’s a twelve-year-old boy. But I’d venture to guess that if we adults behaved a bit more like him we too would be physically fit and dare I say happier.
My son does not have fancy shoes. He has a garage sale bike. He has blue jeans and mom’s old sweatshirt. He uses his friend’s hoop down the street. If that hoop were not there he’d walk to the park. Exercise does not require an out-pouring of money.
But, you’re right, we’re not twelve. We’re adults with jobs and kids. We have work to do, houses to clean, meals to cook and carpools to manage. Who has time for exercise? Let me ask you this. How much television did you watch today? Were there moments when you had five or ten minutes available? How many pushups can you do in five minutes? How many sit ups? Remember jumping jacks?
Today I found an hour. An hour to walk on the treadmill and run a bit too. All the while watching the food network and dreaming up my next meal. Yes, we have a treadmill. It’s fourteen years old. It works perfectly fine. I’m willing to bet many of you have an old treadmill too. Or an exercise bike, or a step machine or other implement of fancy. A machine that was going to whisk you into the life you’d imagined, the life you’d always dreamed of.
Well today I challenge you. I challenge you to dust off the machinery and dust off your dreams. Do it for your health. The benefits are amazing; endorphins, increased energy, increased endurance, a better body. Do it for fashion. Picture all your skinny clothes lying in wait. This is my ultimate plan ... a few pounds to go and my wardrobe options will increase 10-fold without me spending a dime.
What? No equipment? Lift soup cans or gallons of milk. Get a piece of rope and jump over it. No. More. Excuses.
Reach out and grab the life that is waiting for you. Frugality and pleasure are not mutually exclusive. Neither are frugality and self-care.
You can be frugal and eat well.
You can be frugal and fit.
You can be frugal and happy.
You just have to be willing to do it.