Mike, my favorite bachelor, is on his own, trying to survive in a less-than-cooperative economy.
Tough as it is, independence has forced him to develop latent skills, such as cooking and budgeting. And there's a bonus.
Some lessons in economics, like "beans cost less than steak," provide major health benefits, such as lower cholesterol, easier weight control, lower cancer risks and better control of diabetes.
There's more. The health benefits eventually produce lower health care costs, another lesson in economics.
Mike recently shared some bachelor survival tips with me, including this great recipe.
Mike's bachelor bean soup
Buy any kind of dried beans; they're really cheap. If you like the idea of multi-bean soup, don't buy them already mixed together. They cost more that way. Just buy a few different kinds, and put some of each in the pot.
Cover with water and soak overnight. In the morning, pour off the water. (Dietitian's note: Soaking reduces gas production and assures that beans will cook evenly.)
Again cover the beans with water. Add one bouillon cube per cup of water for flavor. (Dietitian's note:Bouillon is a high-sodium item. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, you may want to reduce the amount or use low-sodium bouillon instead.) Add some chopped fresh garlic and a large onion, peeled and cut in half. Add a few peeled and diced potatoes. The store is practically giving them away.
Cook the beans with the garlic and onion for one hour, then add potatoes and cook for another half hour. Before the potatoes are done, toss in a package of mixed vegetables. Cook 5 to 10 more minutes, until the veggies are done.
Buy rice in the 5-pound bag. It's more economical. Store the uncooked portion in the freezer. In fact, store everything you can in the freezer. Everything lasts longer, and your freezer operates more economically when it's full.
(Dietitian's note: You have now built a Food Guide Pyramid in your soup bowl. Each half cup of rice (90 calories, no fat) equals one grain serving. Each half cup of beans (90 calories, no fat) equals one "meat" serving. Each half cup of vegetables (70 calories, no fat) equals one vegetable serving.)
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.