Fact: food is expensive.
Fact: we are spending more and getting very little for the dollar.
Fact: smaller quantities and higher prices mean we have to buy larger amounts of food to feed our families and ourselves.
Those are indisputable facts, but here’s the rub. While we cry out on one hand for the cost of food when we shop for our groceries, many of us simultaneously spend the same amount of money or even more eating out. And yet, we wonder why such a large portion of our house budget goes to food.
We go to the markets, supermarkets and megastores and fill bags, baskets and carts. The bags so heavy we can’t strap them to our shoulders. Baskets so laden we have to switch hands often. Muscles in the arms flexing as the over-packed carts slowly roll forward as they are pushed towards the cash registers.
The cashiers ring us up and we baulk, raise our eyebrows and shake our heads as we reach for our pocketbooks and wallets. We are shocked at the amount of money we are paying for food.
Upon exiting the market, supermarket or megastore, we head off to one of the many eating establishments, hungry and thirsty. No worries, it is important to replenish our energy and treat ourselves.
We eventually make it home and pack away the food. So far so good.
It is important that I pause here to applaud and acknowledge all those who make it a priority to cook at home for their families and themselves. I know that you know and appreciate the value of doing so. I wish that you join me in trying to convince those who don’t to start doing something about it.
Back to the matter at hand.
As the week commences, instead of cooking and utilizing the hundreds (in some currencies, thousands) of dollars in food that was spent stocking up the fridge, cupboard and pantry, we claim tiredness and yield to the snack and lunch persons who visit the office. Or, we head out to the coffee shop or snackette for a mid-morning pick me up, and later, to one of the many eating establishments for lunch. If you want proof, step outside and check the long queues at the fast food joints and the packed eating establishments. Go to any food court and observe the snaking lines. Depending on where your office is located, you can look through window and see small crowds gathered around food vans.
Wait! There’s more!
At the end of the workday, we’re too tired to go home and cook so we stop at our favourite drive-through or other type of eating establishment. The lines of vehicles waiting to enter the drive-through add another dimension to drive-time traffic. We order and pick up our take-out and head home. Tomorrow, we do it all over again. And the next day and the next day too.
By the end of the week, all the perishables we bought have probably perished or are in a state that we no longer find appealing; into the garbage bin they go. Money wasted. And it’s money we have spent twice. First to buy the things we promised to cook at home and secondly by eating out daily, at least 3 times each day. Sure, you may say that the coffee and snack only cost X amount of dollars and the lunch was only Y dollars, but you know what? It all adds up. We can’t complain about the cost of food and yet not actively do something about controlling our personal food bills. Look, the fact is that the cost of food in the supermarkets and elsewhere is indecent to say the least. There are many complex reasons for this; anything from misguided state policies that don’t support local production to the greed of some merchants who rabidly pursue profits. So don’t feel that you are not entitled to complain about the high cost of food. You are.
It is easy to say that we don’t have the time to cook. Again, that’s true, we’re all super busy. But you know what, the high prices and the negative impact that all of that fast food can have on our health means we have to make the time to cook. So I am pleading with you to make the time to cook, after all, you spend your hard earned money to buy the food that you are not using…
One of the many reasons we work so hard is to put food on the table. Can we then, beginning in this New Year of 2014 strive to shift from seeing cooking as a chore to seeing it as an important way to take care of ourselves?
Let’s stem this flow of losing what is of value to us. Make the time cook at home. At least let your weekday eating out be the exception rather than the norm. Let’s not spend money twice for the same things.