The Taco Philosophy

Monday, July 11th, 2011 by Rachel

A Flagstaff doctor once told me, “It’s okay to eat tacos. But don’t go out and eat tacos. Make them at home”. I know that’s a silly quote to hang onto four years later, especially since I would never list tacos in my top ten favorite foods, but it’s one that really stuck with me as I moved towards a life of happy, healthy eating. We used to go out to eat at restaurants two or three times a week, and we’ve moved to once a week or every two weeks. Not only is this good for our wallets, but also for increasing my awareness. I now care what goes into my food. I now know what every single ingredient is. With restaurants, that’s all a mystery, and it shows in terms of calorie intake, weight gain, and sometimes even the aftermath of a food-hangover.


This is an idea that I don’t just apply to eating out, but also to buying prepackaged meals, meal helpers, or meal kits. We used to eat meals like hamburger helpers at least once a week, and I was addicted to Hot Pockets, Lean Pockets, and Eggos. But I asked myself, “Why buy a taco kit when I could buy the tortillas, meat, cheese, and veggies separately, minus the preservatives and msg?” I know it’s difficult to eliminate all of these boxes from our cupboards and freezers, but, once I began making the adjustments, it came along much easier than I expected. When we want lasagna, we don’t pick up a prepackaged Stouffer’s, but make one from scratch. I’ve always been a big pizza fan, but we now make our pizza at home, mixing and matching toppings, cheeses, sauces, and crusts we choose. If I want a wrap or a sandwich or a waffle, I make one— I don’t just microwave it.


The reliance on restaurants and these prepackaged meals is one of the biggest food-related problems that I see in people our age—and usually these are the same people who complain: “I don’t have time to make meals”, “Cooking is complicated,” “why I can’t lose weight?”, etc. I value the time and effort that go into making our food. Yeah, it is tough at first, but I take every new recipe as a challenge. Because I’m the one spending the time seasoning the roast, stirring the risotto, and ultimately conquering the recipe, I have become invested in my food. I am already mentally full by the time I sit down at the table with my plate, and it enhances my enjoyment of each meal.



Today, I took a big step in moving closer towards perfecting this “taco philosophy”. Derrick is a husband of habit. He eats a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of soup every weekday for lunch. Though he has been buying a can of Campbell’s Chunky Classic Chicken Noodle Soup for the past year +, I decided a few weeks ago that we could make this meal healthier. First, I moved to a more natural cheese selection for his sandwich. Second, I decided to make his chicken noodle soup from scratch. I found a recipe in my favorite diabetic cookbook. The numbers just don’t lie: The can has 1580 mg of sodium. My recipe: 409. The can: 50 mg of cholesterol. My recipe: 32.9. The can: 14 grams of protein. My recipe: 22.8.


The chicken noodle soup took about an hour and a half to cook this morning. I imagine this time will be reduced to only an hour once I become more familiar with the recipe and fine-tune my carrot-chopping skills. With the serving size listed as a cup and a fourth, I went ahead after the soup had cooled and measured each serving into its own individual tupperware container, so Derrick will be able to easily pull it out of the fridge to heat up. It tasted great (dare I say, BETTER than the canned stuff), and now I am so proud to say I can make it. I hope to continue to make this soup once a week, and Derrick’s insides will feel better for it.


If there’s anything I’ve learned through my journey of cooking, it’s that anyone can do this. I don’t know why so many of us waste time making excuses for bad habits, when we could be using that time to make ourselves, loved ones, houseguests, etc. a fancy batch of tacos.


  1. I think I will hold Caitie hostage until she reads this! Great job in both the cooking and the writing!

  2. Thanks Ms. Debra! Share away!

  3. The Chicken Noodle Soup did taste better than the canned stuff.

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