March 21, 2016 - 8:27am -- Anonymous

Last week we had a class on Eating Healthy on a Budget.  It was a great reminder to me as my co-worker, Michelle Walker, shared some great tips and I thought I’d pass them along to you. 

  • Remember to use myplate.gov as your guideline as you are planning your meals and snacks.
  • Planning your meals will save you time and money at the grocery store and in the kitchen.
  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season.  When they are not in season, use frozen items for the next best thing.
  • Prepare foods yourself, instead of paying someone else to do it.  Carrots and salad are good examples as you can buy more if you clean and prepare them or you can pay someone to do that for you.  It’s a choice you can make depending on your budget.
  • Try lower cost canned fruits and vegetables, those that are not name brand.  You and your family may not be able to tell the difference and you can save money.
  • Consider buying cheese in block form and grating what you need.
  • Look for bargains on day old breads.
  • Buy regular oatmeal instead of flavored ones.  You can make your flavors at home with less sugar and better flavor.  Use ½ cup oats, ½ cup milk and your favorite sweetener (fruit, honey or brown sugar) and a little cinnamon.  Microwave for 60 seconds and you have a quick breakfast.
  • Buy less expensive cuts of meat and braise them for great flavor and tender meals after cooking all day.  You may need to skim extra fat off before and after cooking.
  • Buy whole chickens and cut them up yourself.
  • Use beans to stretch your food dollars.  By adding beans to recipes you can add protein without much cost.  Be sure to rinse them until all the bubbles are gone.  Try having one night a week without meat included in your meals?
  • Look for one dish meals such as rice, vegetables and chicken or using the crock pot.
  • Plan to use your leftovers within 4 days so that you don’t forget them in the refrigerator.

When we prepare meals at home not only do we receive the benefits of healthier food, generally they contain less sugar and sodium.  We tend to eat more fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grains, not to mention that they generally cost less than eating out.  Eating together as a family offers another list of benefits for children and in general strengthens family communications.  Here’s one of the recipes we shared from the USDA Mixing Bowl, give it a try and see what you think? 

Caribbean Casserole

1 onion, peeled and diced

½ green pepper, diced

1 T. canola oil

1 can (14.5oz) stewed tomatoes

1 tsp oregano

½ t. garlic powder

1 ½ cups instant, brown rice

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 cup water as needed

Sauté onion and green pepper in canola oil in a large pan at about 300 degrees. Add tomatoes, beans, oregano, and garlic powder. Stir in rice and ½ cup water, cover; reduce heat to simmer for five to ten minutes, add additional water if needed. Serves 6-8