Chinese Food: Inexpensive, Nutritious Meals that Fit Your Budget

Richard Beardsley explains the benefits of cooking Chinese food at home to create inexpensive, healthy, nutritious meals that cost less.

| September/October 1971

I've been living—and living well — for the past ten months on Chinese food and the trip has been so successful that I'd like to spread the word to others.

There are four big reasons why I've become a Chinese food freak:

  • It's inexpensive (I live on $10 to $25 per month depending upon how extravagant I become)
  • It's nutritious and excellent for weight watchers (I trimmed off 20 lbs. in two months and I've never felt better)
  • Chinese food tastes good (a great deal of the emphasis in Chinese cooking is upon flavor, texture and eye appeal
  • It's a real trip just preparing the meals

When I say that I live well on $10 per month, I want to make it clear that that figure applies only to the ingredients and utensils used in preparing my Chinese food and does not include utilities, rent or any other non-food household items. Nevertheless, $10 per month amounts to a substantial saving when compared to the monthly $40 or $50 I was spending on food prior to getting into Chinese food.

I should also point out that my eating habits were radically altered when I got into Chinese food. I went from eating two large meals per day to eating one Chinese food meal a day. That's very radical. I found, however, that I could eat all I wanted at this meal and—after the first week or so—I did not become hungry during the rest of the day. I supplement this diet with natural multiple vitamins in hopes of catching anything that I might otherwise miss and I find my current level of food intake quite satisfactory.

If you're unable to live with one big meal a day (it does go contrary to the old claim about "three squares"), there are many delicious Chinese soup recipes and other snacks which are easy to prepare and which will not significantly increase your food bill.

I knew nothing about Chinese cooking before I made my switch and, therefore, believe that anybody can have a good time preparing and eating the same delicious and nourishing meals I now enjoy. It's easy. In my case, I first went to the library, checked out every Chinese food cookbook on the shelf and copied the recipes I thought sounded interesting. Next, I started a collection of soy sauce, rice, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, mushrooms, celery cabbage (Chinese cabbage), cornstarch and all the other unusual ingredients I did not already have. I then purchased some chicken, pork and beef . . . began experimenting . . . and soon had my Chinese food system pretty well worked out.

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