Dearest readers, I am very pleased to share with you part 2 of my food series because I know it'll make a difference in your life. I am a firm believer in value and in the old saying that skills pay the bills. It's simple- if you know how to do something, and you do it, you're not outsourcing it to someone else, thereby paying yourself for the services rendered. Now, I realize many of your will jump up and say that you are too busy to do it yourself, that your time is too valuable and so on.
Respectfully, I disagree. Regardless of whether you are a millennial stuck in that 35K entry level job that keeps getting more difficult with no raise in sight, or you are in your 40's and make four times that amount, both of you have reasons to keep reading this article. The first group needs to save money, and the second group needs quality control over what they put in their bodies. My approach takes care of both. Here, I will take a popular dish as an example, how much it costs to buy and what you get from a restaurant, and then I'll show you how much more you get if you make it at home and how easy it is even for beginners. Finally, I'll get into the weight of the dish, the price, protein carbs and calories, and links for the ingredients. I won't go into how to cook it because you can see that anywhere online, but suffice to say is that you can make this dish in 30 minutes or less.
My dish example of choice is butter chicken. It's a South Asian dish that's becoming increasingly popular in the Toronto Area and well beyond here in Canada. For some provinces, this is as exotic as people's eating habits will get, even though the dish is pretty mild and far from wild haha. It consists of boneless skinless chicken (preferably breast meat which is my choice as well), a tasty tomato-based sauce with many amazing spices, and of course it's served on rice. Almost everyone I know loves this dish, regardless of their background! :)
Now, if you're looking to get it for takeout, it's not really cheap. In typical Indian restaurants, it ranges from 11-15 dollars and comes with plain white basmati rice. The high prices is likely due greater amount of meat necessary since without it, the dish is too saucy and has very little value in terms of both money and nutrition. If you keep on buying this in restaurants, though, here's the issues you will be facing for sure. One is that you're paying quite a bit of a premium for a single serving of this dish, and in a month that adds up to lots of extra money (bad for millennials at 35K per year). Another issue is that you don't know how hygienic food preparation is at your favorite place, the freshness of food, the authenticity of the sauce (read: did they use all the spices or just cheap out), and finally if they used breast meat or cheaper dark meat (bad for both millennials who need to stay healthy and strong, and for people in their 40's who make 120K and should treat their bodies well too).
So, what's the solution? Take 30 minutes or less to do it yourself even with low cooking skills. How? Simple, use quality shortcuts. First, check out the following links for what I call quality shortcut ingredients (I picked Walmart groceries and personally I have no problems with them):
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
Butter Chicken Sauce
Organic Flavored Microwave Rice (this one is really good despite the rather stupid review on the product page)
So, now you may wonder what you get in a single serving. Well, it turns out you get a lot. Let's say you want a bigger portion. You'll take two breast pieces from that package, half the jar of sauce and the whole packet of that delicious organic microwave rice (I don't eat the rice and I use less sauce since I'm on low carb). If you want to stay healthy and need your protein, consider for a second how much meat you're getting here- 2 pieces out of that package are about 360 grams of low fat, pure meaty goodness! :) Let's look at the rest of the stats now so you know what you're getting on your plate:
Meal weight: approx. 800g: 360g chicken breast, roughly 200g sauce, 240g rice (notice how there's more chicken than rice in this dish!).
Protein: approx. 68g!!!
Carbs: approx. 58g
Fat: 34g (recently, FDA changed the upper limit for daily fat intake to higher as fats are no longer considered so bad due to lots of recent research that casts a more positive light on them)
Finally, PRICE: Approx. $9!!! :)
A comparable dish of this portion size and meat content would be well over $15 in a restaurant, but let's pretend it's only $15. If you make this dish in 30 minutes, you are paying yourself $6 to make it and you're getting a tasty, healthy, fresh off the stove dish. Again, like I said before, some will focus on the money making (or money saving?) aspect of it, others will focus on freshness, nutrition and quality control; some may focus on both of these benefits.
The bottom line, however, is that this approach makes everybody a winner- regardless of age or income level. If you haven't done much cooking, though, make sure you get some basic YouTube training before you start; I'm already good at it and I'm only providing you with guidelines- the details and the learning is up to you. Nevertheless, I promise you it is, for most people, easier than it looks. Even if you still decide you're rather keep dining out and getting takeout, make sure you keep this in the back of your head every time you do- restaurant food will never look the same again. ;)