A Difference A Year Makes
Pork and beef, in its processed and preserved form, no longer take a chunk of the family budget. The matriarch, in her capacity to delegate duties, has tapped me to make rounds at the Puregold supermarket. The sole responsibility in food stocks replenishment belongs to me. And since it has become my vow to eliminate meat, other than chicken and fish from our menu, the acquisition of commodities reflects my nutritional agenda: cans of tuna and sardines have replaced corned beef, luncheon meat, and sausages. They have merely become token items so as not to raise a howl from those who refuse to be swayed to my diet.
But the grand scheme is deliberate, and even when I used to consume the forbidden delights, I make it a point to include 555 or Ligo sardines in our shopping list. Self-serving maybe some of the reasons, but tactical considerations apply when making my decisions.
Here are the five reasons why I overstock on fish products when I do the shopping at the supermarket:
Buffer Food. Appetites change depending on what dish is served. Sometimes, nobody eats what is on the table. Other days, when meals are cooked so well, the serving becomes inadequate to feed all.
In situations like these, the house staff are the ones to suffer. Laziness to cook another dish had forced some of our maids to skip meals. Sometimes, they would buy their own food at a nearby eatery with their own money, which is unfair. Human rights and labor practices aside, the cans of sardines guarantee that no one goes hungry in the house of Jomania.
Tunasilog. When home-cooked meals don't get along with my taste buds, or when I go hungry and the maid has yet to cook lunch, a generous serving of garlic rice, sunny side up fried egg and a bowl of Century Tuna Hot and Spicy (in some days Afritada) completes my day. The dish is not only easy to prepare, Tunasilog and its varieties don't claw on my pockets. Unlike the fast food meals, which are readily available in the neighborhood, there is comfort knowing I don't spend a penny for my indulgence.
Processed Fish is Healthier than Processed Meat. Any thinking being will have second thoughts striking out the merits of fish over beef or pork in its processed form. Sardines and tuna are low in fats and rich in potassium. They pack the essentials like Vitamin B12, which is good for the brain and Omega 3 fatty acids, which regulates the build up of cholesterol in the heart.
Of course, there is the issue of mercury content and the presence of chemical substances. We are not even sure how fish stocks are managed to sustain the ecology of our seas. But a Hokkaido brand of Mackerel over Argentina corned beef? A smart and health-conscious shopper knows what to pick.
Cheaper Acquisition. I went to a sari-sari store next to our house before writing this section. I asked how much is a can of sardines and then inquired about the price of the cheapest corned beef brand.
What I learned startled me.
An average sardines cost P17 pesos, while the corned beef is double the retail price of canned fish. And that's the least expensive of the brands. Just imagine the feel and texture of the beef. The synthetic aftertaste sure is repulsive.
It goes to show that while our purchasing power enables us to make preference, a family on a tight budget gets more value for their money when picking fish over land-based animal food products.
Emergency Rations for the Rainy Days. In the aftermath of Yolanda, I was at the repacking stations, lending my strength for the collective relief effort.
And you know what I found?
Cans of sardines make up the ready-to-eat provisions along with instant noodles and bags of rice.
There is a lesson there drawn from experience. One, that is suppose to tie a knot and weave the real purpose of this entry.
The photo above was taken the past month, the last time I was asked to make rounds across Puregold's aisles. I am certain my mom's assistant, who was with me kept wondering why I hoard cans of sardines when they seldom get consumed at home.
Behind the nonchalant passage from the canned fish section to the next corner of the supermarket, is a mind continuously distracted, and reminded of the scenes that might come.
"Better be prepared," I tell myself. "My love ones' lifeline depends on the foresight I make today."