Living on less: 'How to Feed Your Family' by Cynthia Hillson reviewed
Mar 12th 2008 11:19PM
Updated Mar 13th 2008 12:08PM
In the time since the late 1980s, when Cynthia's husband lost his job and took one making less than $30,000 a year, she's birthed one more child and the cost of groceries has risen immensely. Instead of attaching a weekly cost to feeding a family (in 1991, it was $45), now Cynthia is just focused on the process, and her self-published book is called "How to Feed Your Family." She sells it for $8.00 and encourages readers to make photocopies to share with their friends and church groups. She sent me a review copy and, after reading her perky, practical advice I've decided to send her a check; her advice is way undersold. Were she vastly more polished and a bit more savvy with sustainability, she'd be travelling the country with Michael Pollan.
In this slim stack of three-hole-punched pages, Hillson sets forth strategies right out of In Defense of Food (without any of the science, most of the background, nor the elegance). Sure, she skips some of the parts I find important in my family food plan (she dismisses organic food as too expensive and gives up on gardening as not worth the effort), but many of the vital strategies are there.
Plan your meals. Shop on the outside of the store. Cook from scratch. Control impulse buying. Buy in season. Reduce your number of trips to the grocery store.
Even if you, like me, have stark differences in food values than Cynthia, you'll likely benefit from her homey advice. I think the most vital nugget of wisdom in here (there are lots, but it's my own recent revelation so I love it) is that cooking breakfast from scratch is simple and far cheaper (and healthier) than purchasing breakfast cereal. She makes dozens of pancakes at once and freezes what her children don't eat that day, for instance, at far less cost.
You may not find that every one of her rules work for you; but if you follow just one or two, you'll certain save money on groceries anyway. And I'd be willing to bet that's as much per week as the cost of her book.