The Joys of Home Cooking for a Battalion

I don’t read TIME magazine, to begin with.

Even so, somehow the cover story from the October 20 TIME came across my path and we’re looking at it here because, IMHO, every Mother’s child, and the rest of the people, should be taught to cook from an early age on up until they leave home.  My parents did, and I’m grateful.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, however, I should tell you that the US Army also did its best to make me a cook.  We Army cooks always claimed that we killed more people than the infantry – and the infantry agreed – but that’s a story for another time.  Actually, we always had good food in the Army, but then we cooked it.  Even so, I still like to cook, although I do use smaller pots and things these days.  One necessary final word: God bless our Military folks and their loved ones.  A grateful nation says, “Thanks.”)

(Wait – Inspiration strikes!  As a former Army cook, I’m pleased to provide for your use during the coming Thanksgiving season a turkey soup recipe for a Battalion of 800 troops.  See the recipe section below!  OK, let’s go back in TIME.)

“Eat at home because it’s good for you, it’s good for your family and it’s far easier than you think,” says best-selling food writer Mark Bittman, the author of the article (remember the article we were talking about at the top of this Newsletter?)

Here’s my take-home quote:

“When I talk about cooking, something I’ve been doing for the better part of five decades, I’m not talking about creating elaborate dinner parties or three-day science projects. I’m taking about simple, easy, everyday meals. My mission is to encourage novices and the time- and cash-strapped to feed themselves. Which means we need modest, realistic expectations, and we need to teach people to cook food that’s good enough to share with family, friends and, if you must, your Instagram account.  Because not cooking is a big mistake—and it’s one that’s costing us money, good times, control, serenity and, yes, vastly better health.”

If I ever meet this guy I’ll thank him for encouraging good family times around the table.  For now, I’ll just thank Nicole for the amazing variety of healthy meals she has served all these years!


Why do we eat out and shun the kitchen? Simple: convenience. We don’t have the time to toil away over a hot stove. However, evidence is mounting that we are paying big for the so-called convenience of outside food.  In fact, in today’s fast-paced whirl folks consume 30% of their calories away from home.

Obesity related diseases are on the rise, as are the number of folks who are just plain unhappy with how their bodies look and feel. Cooking at home seems to be the first step in our road to healthier bodies.

Here are the top 5 reasons that you should start cooking and eating at home…

Reason #1: It’s Good For You
Hyperprocessed foods are harmful to our health, and that’s exactly where you’ve been getting the bulk of your calories. Even restaurant food that contains fresh produce, chances are high that the produce is not organic or local or non-GMO. Most of us are eating less than half of the recommended amount of fiber, fruit and vegetables, which eating at home could quickly change.

Simple meals made at home with fresh produce and organic meats or eggs are nutritionally superior to over-flavored, over-processed restaurant food. Not to mention the high calorie beverages and starters that so often accompany a restaurant meal. When you eat at home you take in more nutrient-dense calories that are higher in fiber.

Reason #2: It’s Far Easier Than You Think
Eating out so often has conditioned our concept of a meal to be one with complicated flavors and accompaniments. This misconception has made us fear the kitchen. But I urge you to reconsider.

Meals made at home need not mirror those ordered in restaurants. On the contrary, simple is better when it comes to home cooking. Plan your entire meal around a couple of pieces of fresh produce and a wholesome, lean protein. No need for complicated sauces or sides – these are where the harmful calories hide anyway.

Reason #3: It Costs Less
Fresh, simple ingredients do not cost much. Especially when compared to the cost of prepared meals. Bittman’s advice on ingredient shopping is to, “Buy what you can afford, and cook it yourself. Rice, beans, bacon, salad, bread –few things are cheaper than that.”

Shopping the perimeter of the store is always a good plan. Here you’ll find the fresh produce, meats, dairy and seafood. Venture into the aisles for oils and spices to compliment the fresh ingredients.

Reason #4: It Is Preventative Medicine
In the US the annual health care expenses related to obesity is $150 billion, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Worldwide this number is over $1 trillion annually. These numbers are staggering, and sobering when you think of all the individual lives that are being negatively impacted by obesity.

Rather than waiting for you and your family members to experience the health risks related to obesity, start your own mission to cook simple meals at home and redirect your future. Remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Reason #5: It Reduces Body Fat
Eating at home is also one of the best ways to reduce your body fat. Bittman states that meals eaten at home contain an average of 200 calories less than meals eaten out. Let me tell you, a reduction in 200+ calories per meal will quickly translate to pounds lost!

For perspective, remember that you have to burn about 3,500 calories to get rid of one pound of fat.  This is kinda on my mind because just this morning we ran 8.36 miles and the total calories burned was a romping 1,040 calories.  Great – so if you were running with us and wanted to lose a pound we would have had to run another 19.90 miles.  Nothing else going on, why not?

Or, according to Mr. Bittman’s numbers, we could just just eat about 17 meals at home instead of out in the larger world and have the same caloric deficit.   Which method sounds more fun?

Want to lose weight?  Exercise alone won’t do it!

Start today, and don’t be afraid to start small.

Pick one meal that you’ll make at home either today or tomorrow, and write down your simple menu and grocery list. You could start with the Simple Turkey Soup recipe below.

And let’s not forget the place that a challenging, consistent exercise program has in your quest for good health and a fit physique. My programs are specially designed to blast fat and to build muscle in all the right places – and fear not, we have other options than running 20 miles!

Call or email me today to get started on a fat loss program that really works.

OK, here’s the turkey soup!

You should know that a Battalion may have around a thousand soldiers in it.  For your convenience, I’ve adjusted this recipe to a Battalion of 800 troops, which should be just about right for most occasions.

Not to insult your math abilities, but if you are only having about 8 people I’ve already done the math for you in the second version below.

Regardless of which version you prefer, you can easily make this wholesome, quick meal at home tonight. It’s high in fiber, packed with protein and tastes quite comforting and delicious. Enjoy the leftovers as a quick lunch or as tomorrow’s dinner and the day after and the day after and the day after and so on…

Preparation Hint:  Many of your friends and neighbors may be also reading this recipe, you might want to get to the grocery store early this morning to avoid the rush on ground turkey.  Can’t say you weren’t warned.

Servings: 800

Here’s what you need…

  • 6 gallons olive oil
  • 200 garlic cloves, minced
  • 100 bunches of carrots, chopped
  • 200 onions, chopped (may I suggest using your swimming goggles?)
  • 100 bunches of celery
  • 100 fennel bulbs
  • 130 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 25 gallons veggie broth
  • 100 (1450 oz) cans stewed tomatoes (you can round up to 1500)
  • 400 ears of corn, kernels sliced off cobb (suggestion: use your weed eater)
  • 300 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 200 teaspoons dried basil
  • Several handfuls of salt and freshly ground pepper (careful, here!)
  1. In a 50 gallon drum heat the olive oil. Add garlic. Add chopped carrots, cover for 5 minutes. Add onions, celery and fennel. Sauté until soft.
  2. In another 50 gallon drum cook the ground turkey over medium heat until fully cooked, stirring often.  A small garden shovel will be needed. Drain off excess fat.
  3. Transfer the veggies to large soup pot or your hot tub and add the remaining ingredients, and the cooked turkey. Cover and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. Add extra water as desired, keeping in mind that we are in a drought.

For the 8-person version, here’s all you need (a smaller pot may be used)…

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch of carrots, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1.3 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 1 (14.5oz) can stewed tomatoes
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels sliced off cobb
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • Dash of salt and freshly ground pepper

The procedure is the same, of course, only perhaps you won’t need the shovel or weed eater.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 274 calories, 6g fat, 480mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate, 10g fiber, and 21g protein.

About Tom Schweickert

Tom Schweickert, EA, CPC, CPT brings a unique combination as a Life Coach, Personal Trainer and Money Coach to help folks negotiate these interesting times.
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