I'm not going to get in your face about eating meat though I could if you want. Okay, so one little rant. Try giving up meat at least one day a week. Your wallet, colon, heart, scale and of course the environment will love you. Not to mention the animals. Meatless Mondays it's the easy way. End of rant. I'll never mention it again. Move along.
I'm a huge proponent of scratch cooking. There are several reasons why I take such a militant stance on this issue.
One is economy. It is far cheaper to buy the fresh, frozen or dry good ingredients for a meal than it is to buy something prepackaged. I can take scratch ingredients and have a meal on the table in about 30 minutes. And, these are not sandwich meals a la Rachel Ray (not that there is anything wrong with Rachel Ray or sandwiches for that manner but she does do her share of sandwich meals.)
The second reason is nutrition. Being able to control the ingredients in your meals is really important. Balancing proteins, vitamins, fiber, sodium/salt allow you to ensure good health.
You may ask, "Why, is Michele harping about this right now?" I'll tell you why (like you didn't know I was setting you up for that? HA!). I've been eating a whole ton of prepackage microwavable food lately. Not having my kitchen set up or even having a kitchen made for a prepackaged eat-a-thon. It wasn't pretty and I'm not very proud of myself. What I am is swollen up like a balloon. My rings wouldn't slide nicely on and off like they was used to and the rings around my ankles from my socks were starting to collect their own jam. My toes were getting jealous.
I promptly went out to buy a scale. Got it home, set it up and stepped on up then just about hit the floor. I had gained over 5 pounds in less than 2 weeks. After my crying bout I picked myself and decided to do something about it.
First on the hit parade was to figure out what I was eating, how many calories, how much fiber, protein and salt. I was totally shocked. My calories, protein and fiber were in line with what I should be eating but my sodium was clearly in the stratosphere. Why? Prepackaged food and soup.
I bought a few kitchen utensils, a fry pan, and some basic ingredients. Things like whole wheat pasta, potatoes, tons of fresh and frozen veggies. I also cut out diet coke. Sure it says it is low in sodium but I was on a mission to cut out as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. That 35 milligrams per can had to go. Canned soup, Bye Bye. Want to know why. Take a look at the numbers of this baby.
The adult daily recommended amount of sodium is 2300 milligrams. That Healthy Choice soup is 20% of the adult portion of sodium. And this is the light stuff. You notice that they don't put a percentage on that baby.
By cutting my sodium down by half and reducing my calories by 500 per day I've lost those 5 pound in the week and a half. Since, it was all water weight I won't keep up this pace of weight loss but that's okay. I can wait for that 5 pounds that I've had lingering since Christmas to slide off.
So if you've hit a weight loss plateau you may want to look at your sodium intake. A really good resource is the DASH diet. It is advocated by my buddies at the American Heart Association, the Mayo Clinic (if you haven't check them out for diet and health info get over there soon) and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
See after that first rant I didn't say anything about the grossness that is meat or how bad it is for your intestines or animal cruelty or anything.