DH = Dear Husband
I just read on Mackenzie’s blog that she’s sick of all things pumpkin. ” I am on a serious pumpkin overload. Really. I can’t take another picture of pumpkins, pumpkin drinks, especially pumpkin foods. When did everything suddenly have pumpkin in it???” Have you ever eaten too much of something? To the point where your stomach just says, “No more! Too much already!” Even good, healthy, frugal food can cause a belly to rebel if eaten too many days in a row.
I have tried on and off to eat less meat. I admire vegetarians, and while I don’t think I will ever be one, I do think it would be good for health, finances, and the planet if I ate more vegetarian meals. My problem was that all the meals I tried out seemed to be missing something: meat. My other problem was that I didn’t really like beans. It’s not that I hated them. I could do my duty, make them and eat them, but I never felt excited about beans for dinner. (Maybe I just never tried the right recipe?) And how can even a partial vegetarian manage without beans?
In the last couple of weeks, I have discovered great recipes involving not beans, but lentils. Lentils are in the same food category as beans and split peas. They’re all legumes; they’re all very inexpensive; and they’re all healthy. My eldest daughter sent me this recipe for Mushroom Lentil Barley Stew, and Amy from My Upstate Life posted this recipe for Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils. Then at work, a fellow teacher gave me the recipe for Mujadara, a Middle-Eastern dish with, you guessed it, lentils.
So easy to make! So able to fill the house with the aroma of delicious! And so good to eat! No sense that these meals were “missing meat”. I was on a lentil high! And I ate my lentil dishes every day. For almost two straight weeks. Every. Day.
Yestersday at work during lunch hour, the rebellion happened. I was hungry, but my stomach refused to take in another lentil. My lunch was prepared, but it was not going to be eaten. I got take-out. “Ruth! You bought something!” my colleague Nadia said in mock astonishment (well, maybe is wasn’t “mock”) when she saw me with my bag of restaurant food. “True,” I admitted. “I’m going to have to write a blog post about this,” I said. “Well guess what?” she responded. “You’re human, and you’re allowed to get take-out sometimes, and I’m going to write a blog post about THAT!”
Set yourself up to crave frugal
Nadia’s right. I am human. But while I thoroughly enjoyed my lamb shank, sauce, and rice yesterday at noon (clearly, I did not go for the most frugal option), I’m all about packing a lunch for work. I’ve got my focus on complete debt-freedom. I’m determined to overcome bad spending habits and get my discretionary account in healthy shape. Of all the items on our budget, food offers the most room for maneuvre. When DH and I grocery shop with intentional frugality, we spend as little as half of what we used to spend. And when we choose not to go to restaurants, we save a fortune.
But in making the leap to super-frugal meals – especially the meatless ones – I need to go in stages. Perhaps one meal per week to start with, and then a gradual build up. An abrupt menu change to lentils, lentils, and more lentils was not wise insofar as the the overall outcome was concerned.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about “starving” unhealthy appetites. I have something to learn about developing healthy appetites too, and I know from experience that it can be done. I remember years ago, when I lived with my sister for several months, we had salad at the table every supper. I was indifferent to salad, and I didn’t always eat it, but there it was. When I moved out of her place, I found myself experiencing a new food craving – for salads. And it’s been with me ever since.
Not just about food
As I look back over our 4½ years of debt-reduction, I realize I’ve developed other frugal “appetites” too. If I don’t go for a long walk for several days, I “crave” one. If I go a few weeks without a board game or a card game, same thing. When I want to get together with people, I don’t default to meeting up at restaurants, bars, or coffee shops. A few former colleagues and I are planning to meet up in a couple of weeks, and as we were making plans, I suggested coffee and dessert at my place. Everyone is on board. As new frugal “normal” builds up in different areas of life, new, healthy, and frugal appetites develop too.
Will Mackenzie ever enjoy pumpkin again? Will I find myself at some point craving lentils? I hope so! But it’s not going to happen with the ceaseless bomardment I’ve subjected my digestive system to in the last two weeks. I’ve got to keep things varied. Fortunately, people like Amy at My Upstate Life and Revanche at A Gai Shan Life post healthy, delicious, frugal, and quick-to-prepare recipes on a regular basis (Amy on Mondays and Revanche on Fridays). Some are vegetarian, and some are not.
I’m glad that although I’m wired a certain way, I also have the power to modify. I can starve unhealthy appetites and develop healthy ones. I can lose my taste for sugar just as I can gain a taste for salads and lentils. I can shed my cravings to spend, and instead, set myself up to crave frugal.
Have you ever eaten so much of a good thing that you can’t stomach it for a while? Have you had the experience of developing new, frugal, healthy appetites? Your comments are welcome.
*Image courtesy of Flickr