I know what you mean about time. I do a lot of CAD as part of the field of work I'm in (engineering) so it's easy for me but there is a learning curve and if you have limited time you have to decide whether to make chips or not.
The white grease is bacon fat. I use it a fair bit in the home shop. I like it because it is non toxic, and I find it actually smokes less than Rocol RTD or other similar cutting fluids. It's not for everything, but works well. Some people don't like that it has so much salt in it, but that helps it from going rancid (which can be a problem). I make sure I clean the parts when I'm done anyway so I've never had any problems with rust.
I find it helps with surface finish. For finish turning I usually set the speed low, set the tool to 'rub' a bit and, take a really small depth of cut, and use a fine feed. Not my idea - it's from LH Sparey's book and it has worked well for me.