Sabra is a 22-year-old retail worker who lives in semi-rural Washington with her boyfriend, a cat and an impressive liquor collection. A pretty girl with a penchant to polish her immaculately manicured nails in fluorescent colors, she grew up eating boxed mac and cheese and McDonald’s. “After my parents’ divorce, it was obvious whoever took me to McDonald’s was the most was the superior parent. So I got to go on a daily basis.”
Before the project: Sabra subsisted on frozen dinners and fast food. She drank Red Bull for breakfast. For lunch, she made frozen lasagna and what she referred to as “white trash garlic bread,” soft hamburger buns spread with margarine and topped with garlic salt and powdered Parmesan cheese. Frozen dinners bought in bulk jammed her freezer, while cases of boxed pasta and ramen took up the portion of her pantry not devoted to her bar.
After: In place of frozen dinners, her freezer held two turkeys, chicken bones she collected for stock and individually portioned leftovers for lunch. She banished processed foods to a high shelf where they remain mostly untouched. She cooks regularly, and then packages up the leftovers for lunch. “It’s like convenience food, except you make it!” She spends one night a week cooking with a friend. The pair tackle ambitious dishes. Her favorite recipe so far? Beef Bourgignon from scratch. She and her boyfriend have seriously contemplated opening a food truck. This time, she made a vegetable and cheese gratin from scratch.
Sabra’s takeaway: “I no longer go down the frozen food aisle looking for dinner. Why would I buy frozen mac and cheese when I can make it?” She admitted that when she does eat fast food, it bothers her stomach. “When you get used to eating good food for awhile, your body just goes ‘what is this? I don’t want this.’” As a result, she’s cut her fast food intake by about 80 percent.
Most impactful classes: Knife skills (“it changed everything”), learning to use a whole chicken, all the comparative tastings and stock.
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