Prior to starting our FI journey, I wasn’t one that would think much about my food expenses. More importantly, I never really took a hard look at what we were spending dining out. I mean, we work hard during the week so why not go out and enjoy a nice meal (or two or three) when Friday night rolls around? Work hard and play hard! Am I right? To add to that, during the weekday I would rarely bring lunch and would buy food with my co-workers. Mrs. Quest was better about bring lunch but it was mainly because her teaching schedule didn’t give enough time to go out and buy food. I saw lunch as a nice way to bond and get out the office. You bet those lunches out in the westside of Los Angeles gets pricey. $15 bucks for a mediocre sandwich–what was I thinking back then?!
I’m a changed man now for several reasons. First, pursuing this FI path required us to look at all our expense categories and optimize it. Secondly, I was getting bored figuring out what to eat for lunch everyday and paying $10-$20 for a meal I sometimes have to scarf down in less than 15 mins. Thirdly, it was pretty unhealthy to constantly eat out and I/we wanted to dial-in our fitness. Lastly, my co-workers and friend introduced me to the sous vide method–a fool proof way to have perfectly cooked protein.
Our cooking abilities are akin to those of a poor college student. We know quick, basic meals that aren’t necessarily drool worthy, but it does the job. When we started our working careers, setting time aside to cook lunches and dinners seemed like such a chore. We had to be in the kitchen for 1-1.5 hours to prep, cook and clean up but it only takes us sometimes 15 minutes to devour and eat the meal. It was so much easier to just buy take out or go out to eat.
The sous vide machine we got, Anova Culinary Bluetooth Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 800 Watts, Blackwas such a life changer. It was a fool proof and efficient way to get perfectly cooked protein every time. I love steak but you have to watch the temperature and how long you cook it. Chicken breast is super health but OMG it is always so dry and so difficult to cook perfectly. Luckily, with the sous vide technique, you can put all your marinades for your protein in a vacuum sealed bag (we just use Ziploc Freezer Bag, Gallon Size-28 ctand drop it in this pot of water that has perfectly controlled temperature.
Here’s where the magic happens. A sous vide machines essentially holds the temperature of the pot of water and cooks/maintains the protein at whatever level of “doneness” you desire. For those science lab nerds, think of a water bath. Additionally, you can’t overcook it even if you accidentally leave the protein in there for longer than needed. I can put the meat we want for dinner/lunch and let it cook while I continue to work, do chores, work out, etc. All I have to do when I’m ready to eat or when it’s done is to sear it to get some caramelization. If it’s in there a bit longer, that’s fine too, it would get more tender.
There are many different types of sous vide machines out there. Some are a temperature regulator with a pot combined and others are just the temperature regulating part. With Anova Culinary Bluetooth Sous Vide Precision Cooker, 800 Watts, Black., it comes with a free app with recipes. The best part is the instructions are so short and simple because the sous vide machine does the heavy lifting for you. It’s a straightforward machine that just regulates the temperature and you can attach it to any size pot you want. They have one that’s bluetooth and another that’s wi-fi enabled. We have the bluetooth but honestly we don’t think it matters. We rarely use the bluetooth function.
I think the wi-fi is a bit pricier but the benefit there is you can have it start cooking as you are coming back from work–pretty neat. Some people even mod those ice chest to sous vide a bunch of steak for BBQ parties. We had the Anova for over 2 years and it has been life changing! My wife and I would prep protein in batches with whatever marinade we want and freeze them. Whether it’s lunch or dinner, we just pick the prepared protein, set it to the correct temperature, do whatever we have to do, and come back to finish the meal. Usually we pair the protein with some carbs (e.g., sweet potato, quinoa) and boiled/sauteed veggies. These can be prepare relatively quickly while the meat is cooking. We don’t have to worry about watching the fire, or over cooking. This frees up so much time and stress for perfectly cooked meat.
Additionally, Costco has a bunch of different meats that we can buy in bulk and prep them for several weeks. We usually get some organic chicken breast, thighs, steak and use different marinades. On Sunday, we usually prep one type of meat for lunch and for dinners we sometimes get food from our parents or throw some other pre-marinate meat into the Anova. Chicken breast has never tasted better–definitely a game changer! Not only do the food taste better, but we have been able to save at least $100 per week by bringing lunch. My wallet and waistline are definitely grateful!
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