The Ingredient Experiment – Save Money And Eat Better

by The Happy Rock on September 1, 2008

On the heels of Debt Defier’s commitment to attempt a cash only month I have a food related experiment that I am doing for September.   Hopefully, the Debt Defier has better luck with cash only spending than I did.

I will be attempting to buy only ingredients for the whole month of September.   I know that might sound a little vague, but here is the idea…buy only items that are naturally occurring and can be used to make meals.   The goal is to cut out things like crackers, chips, expensive veggie burgers, and ice cream to increase my intake of fresh vegetables and fruits while being able to control the exact quality and quantity of ingredients on all the food that I eat.

The main goals are :

  • To Save Money. Ingredients are cheaper.  A box of chips ahoy is $3.50 while you can make a batch of much more healthful cookies for much less, especially if the oven is already hot.  A Lean Cuisine is $4.00 but you can make a healthy pasta meal with vegetables that will feed a family and have leftovers for the same price. A Snickers from the vending machine each day costs you about $200 a year plus it will add about 20 pounds if you don’t burn the extra calories.   Eating healthier will also save money on medical bills.
  • Gain Energy. With the reduction of simple processed carbohydrates and sugars and increasing more healthful foods I will should feel better rested and have more energy.  The food we ate is closely connected to our physical nature.  I have noticed a large increase in energy and motivation as my eating habits have migrating to a much healthier diet over the years.  I can now see the effects of a loose eating weekend and how it affects my overall energy and even my sleep. Hopefully there isn’t a major detox period from all the snacks and sugar.  So far the psychological need to snack is the biggest hurdle.
  • Promote Healthy Habits. Treat my body better in order to improve overall healthfulness.  Also changes like this tend to inspire other healthy changes like more physical activity.   I hope to pick up with the 100 push up challenge were I got side tracked.  Energy, rest, and health also contribute to overall happiness.
  • Encourage More Experimentation. Experiments keep you on your toes.  They make life and change exciting without a long term commitment in case you don’t like the experiments outcome.  Experimentation also breeds more willingness to change.

With that said the experiment will have to be a little vague, because I can’t anticipate the full range of ramifications.  I will try and adhere to the guidelines and the spirit of the experiment as much as possible and make executive decisions as I go.   I know ingredients for some are prepackaged food for others.  Things like bread and pasta can be made at home, but for most they would count them as ingredients.  For me, for now, they are ingredients as they don’t constitute a ready to ate food/meal.  Maybe I will try my hand at baking my own bread, but for now I found to focus on the low hanging fruit like vending machines at work, expensive frozen foods, protein bars, etc.  Anyone feel inspired to embark on a similar journey?

For those that want a crazy challenge The Happy Rockette is attempting a 100% raw vegan diet for the month of September.  I wasn’t quite ready for the type of discipline needed for full raw foodism, but I am interested to see if The Rockette gets the reported major improvements in mental clarity, weight loss, energy boosts, libido burst, other overall health benefits.  She isn’t planning a life long switch, since from her professional opinion(Registered Dietitian) it isn’t a sustainable lifestyle, but I love her willingness to try an extreme experiment!