The End of Excess

Posted by Lauren Dashwood

The End of Excess, or; Recipes that help Achieve New Years Budgetary and Dietary Resolutions.

January is a tough month. Christmas has come and gone. The holiday break has come and gone, and we’re forced to go back to our regular school or work routine. There’s also the need to live up to our New Year’s Resolutions, which are often too ambitious and lofty.

It’s the start of a New Year, and we all get the opportunity of a fresh start to be more like the person we want to be. Many people want to stay in more, quit bad habits, read more, watch less TV, become more assertive, change their jobs etc. etc. etc… But for the most part, I think New Years Resolutions are relatively the same from person to person, and from talking with friends, we all seem to want to be healthier, thinner and thriftier.

All three of these resolutions can start and end in the kitchen. If we prepare more meals at home – stay in for supper, pack our lunches, and use our leftovers, then we spend less money eating out. But also by cooking and baking more ourselves, we can really monitor what goes into our food and control the fat and sugar levels thus achieving our goals to become thinner and healthier. I propose that there are two very simple and easy ways to reach all three of these resolutions through cooking.

Firstly, I always try to take January as the opportunity to clean out my freezer. Years ago a girlfriend and I had a mini-contest to see who could go for longer without going grocery shopping for anything substantial, and by focusing on using all of the food items we already had, forgotten and tucked away in the freezer. While this does come up with some very interesting meals, there are also lots of great ways to use up random ingredients. Something like this Bavarian, Bean and Sausage Soup, is easy and versatile. I usually have a packet of sausages and some frozen spinach lurking around in my freezer, but if you don’t, then make this a vegetarian dish. Focus on adding two or three varieties of beans, onions, garlic and herbs, along with whatever other vegetables you have on hand – bell peppers, carrots, cabbage… this will create a great, hearty dish that really doesn’t cost that much to make. I usually have a bit of ground beef holed away in the freezer. This is perfect for Italian-esque Meatloaf, or for Chili. Again, both of these recipes have wonderfully versatile ingredient lists. Toss in whatever you have around in the cupboard or fridge. The Chili is doubly perfect because it can be made in a crock-pot. I am currently a student, and I am thus in love with my crock-pot; I can toss chili ingredients in the morning, and come home to a lovely and fragrant meal.

A second great way to save money and eat healthy, low calorie meals is to buy what produce is in season. This is a pretty sparse list in January, but it can still be done. The list is: oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, tangelos, lemons, papayas, (from Southern climates), and cabbages (red, white and green) leeks, broccoli, and cauliflower (from North America). I recently rekindled a love of cabbage, and a wonderful way to enjoy it is Butter Steamed Cabbage. Butter transforms usually boring cabbage, into a delicious and tender side dish. This recipe for Cauliflower Gratin can be made more frugal by using canned tuna instead of proscuitto. Again, feel free to throw in whatever ingredients you have on hand – frozen peas, onions, canned tuna or ham… it is a great dish that can take what you throw at it.

These recipes can’t fulfill New Years Resolutions on their own, but they are a start.