Rave: The perks of eating at home

It’s 6 p.m. Work
clothes are off, couch mode is fully activated. The tell-tale rumble of an
empty belly reminds you it’s been hours since sustenance. You: 


a)    Download the Pizza
Pizza app on your iPhone. Rollin’ with garlic dipping sauce in 40 minutes or
less (and with minimal human interaction).
b)    Treat yourself to a
can of Zoodles and a margarine sandwich.
c)    Take three shots of
NyQuil and pretend it never happened.

If you answered yes
to any of the above, for shame! Food is fuel for your bodies, people, and you
wouldn’t put sugar in a gas tank would you? Granted, stepping into the kitchen
for the first time can be a little daunting, and while there are a million and one
reasons not to, learning basic cooking skills is an integral part of an adult
life. Before you go spouting off the same old excuses as to why you should stay true to
take-out and frozen food staples, like “But I’m a terrible cook”  (Have
you tried trying?); “But it’s just so hard cooking for one!”  (It’s
called a freezer, rookie); “My kitchen is infested with raccoons and I’m
afraid to go in there.”  (
You need to address that ASAP); take a look
at all the perks of learning your way around a kitchen.

Start small and dedicate a week to eating at home and in no time you’ll find yourself:
1. Happier

We all have to start somewhere.

Just like with
anything, practice makes perfect. If it’s day one in the kitchen, we wouldn’t
suggest trying to whip up some coq au vin or puff pastry but there are plenty of recipes for beginners that are so delicious and straightforward, you’ll wonder why you
ever ordered Swiss Chalet in the first place. Even if your first forays into
culinary excellence are not so much Giada at Home and more Kitchen Nightmares,
learning to cook can be a hilarious and rewarding experience.
There’s a reason why
the cliché about the way to the heart being through your stomach exists. Think
about it. Being able to make a meal for somebody is proving that you’re able to
provide one of their most basic needs. Aside from how impressed your
friends will be when you coyly wink and say “Oh this? It was nothing”, the personal
feeling of pride and accomplishment that accompanies putting together a
beautiful meal for yourself is a real attitude changer. You could have that
every day!
2. Healthier
Make the healthy choice.
When you make the
decision to put together your own meals as opposed to relying on
take-out, delivery or pre-made meals, you’re taking charge of everything that goes
into your body. It is much easier to keep track of what’s going in when you’re
sourcing ingredients yourself, as opposed to making sense of nutritional labels
or in the case of most restaurants, having no nutritional information at all.
What do you think your body wants more: fresh food from your friendly
neighbourhood grocer? Or a stranger showing up to your house with food that
has passed through the hands of two or three other strangers before getting to
you? And it’s not just your health on the line, preparing food on your own
reduces the amount of packaging involved with take out and pre-packaged foods,
and Mother Nature thanks you for that.
3. Wealthier
A day at the market is more fun than fast-food any day (and cheaper in the long run).

Short term, hitting
up the McD’s dollar menu might seem more wallet friendly than going to the
grocery store but the trick is to keep a well stocked pantry of dry goods. Once
you’ve got the basics (things like rice noodles, pasta, rice, herbs and spices – all
stuff you can get on the cheap), you can supplement with fresh produce, tofu and meat
for meals that cost under $5 .
Places like Kensington Market, Chinatown, and St. Lawrence Market are a mecca
for frugal foodies, or if you’re really ambitious, roll your sleeves up and
start urban farming for unlimited fresh fruit and veg. If a
day in the market or digging in the garden just isn’t your bag, sign up for
organics delivery (like Organics Live) for delivery that won’t leave you with a wicked food hangover (but slightly lighter in the pocketbook).



Some of our favourite blogs for getting started with cooking are:

1. Smitten Kitchen: some recipes are advanced, but there are some very good basics here with tons of helpful tips and tricks. Plus, these dishes always turn out. 


2. Skinny Taste: Appealing food, pretty photos, lots of options for entrées and desserts, and most importantly, the recipes are healthy.


3. Food Network: This site, home to the popular chefs that you see on TV, has some great recipes and a ton of hints to get started if you’re a noob. Chef Michael Smith and Rachel Ray (seriously) are good ones to look to first.

A visit from Consolidated Credit: Diamonds and debt don’t have to go hand in hand!

Just when we think we have no more holidays to buy for, up pops Valentine’s Day. The idea of using our credit cards or putting out cash for gifts and dates gives us chills. It amost makes us want to do away with Cupid altogether. Luckily, we chatted with Ann Dennis, Communications & Public Relations Manager for Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, who gave us awesome tips for keeping our budgets in check. Read on for Ann’s advice.

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Cupid’s arrow is soaring, signaling it’s time to search for the brightest and best Valentine’s Day gift – otherwise known as something very sparkly for someone you love. However, if you haven’t saved enough to pay for that little gem, it could become the cause of unwanted financial stress on your heart and your bank account. 



“Money worries add enough stress on a daily basis. Don’t add to it by buying a Valentine’s gift that leaves you debt-laden,” said Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc. “One of the keys to financial heart happiness is changing habits and attitudes towards money.”

Like Dustin, an alumnus of Consolidated Credit Counseling Service of Canada’s Debt Management Program, who has a new outlook on spending. “My wife and I are saving for a house this year. To help stay within our budget this Valentines Day, we’re staying home and enjoying a romantic movie night with pizza and wine. The time spent together will far outweigh the value of diamonds!”

Here are a few more ideas that will help take the pressure off your wallet:
Surf the internet, not the stores. There are so many free e-card websites out there with creative cards – you’re bound to find more than one to fit the occasion. In fact, send multiple messages to keep your special someone smiling all day long.
Home is where the heart is. Follow Dustin’s lead: pick up a bottle of wine, order pizza and rent a romantic movie. Or sub in boozy hot chocolate and a roaring fire – whatever it is that takes you and your partner to your happy place! 

Take a walk down memory lane. Celebrate on Sunday, February 13 instead, and spend the day visiting the places in the city where you met, had your first kiss, the coffee shop where you spent hours getting to know each other or took your first walk in the park.

Exchange homemade presents. Receiving a gift that’s homemade and comes from the heart is more meaningful than receiving something store-bought that doesn’t fit right or you don’t really like. 

For more money-saving inspriation, visit Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada’s Facebook page or follow them on Twitter: @debt_free_2day.