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Posts Tagged ‘menu planning’

There are times when I feel overwhelmed with my to-do list and the amount of time I have to do it. I have found that meal planning is extremely helpful. When I started living in the country I quickly learned that the grocery store was no longer ten minutes away and I would have to plan what I wanted to fix for meals. Delivery was no longer an option, nor was running into town last minute, to grab  buns or ketchup. I have found that if I put in the time of planning my meals I stay on budget and my evenings are less chaotic. Below are some tips that I have found helpful to stay time and money before going grocery shopping.

  1. Create a grocery game plan for your week. Plan your meals for the entire week including snacks. Planning for the whole week means one list and one shopping trip. You will spend less than if you were going to the store every day or several times a week. If planning for the whole week seems overwhelming, start with three or four days and then work up to a full week. Using MyPlate as a guide will help you achieve balance with your meals as you write a menu plan.  You can find a two week sample menu plan on the MyPlate website. On their menu, lunches are designed to be packed or use leftovers. Customize the menu to make it work for your family. Meals can be moved and switched to fit family schedules and preferences.
  2. Have your freezer and pantry stocked. Pantry staples are going to include condiments, spices, dry/canned goods and baking supplies. By doing so you can see what items you already have on hand that can be incorporated into your “game plan”. This will also help you know what ingredients you already have at home vs. what you need to buy at the store.
  3. Utilize grocery store sale ads/coupons. Pick items that are in season or have been marked down while making your “game plan”. Find grocery sale information at the store entrance, in the newspaper or website. Coupons can be found as inserts in the newspaper, downloaded from the internet or digital coupons to add to your store loyalty card. Signing-up for the store’s customer loyalty program will help you receive discounts and free rewards.
  4. Consider your schedule for the week. Plan easier meals on busier days when you know you won’t have a lot of time.
  5. Make a list and stick to it. You can use scrap paper, type it up on a computer, add to the notes on your smartphone, or use a grocery app. Don’t be tempted by convenience items that could be more processed and more expensive.
  6. Plan for leftovers in your menu. Leftovers can be eaten for lunch the next day, repurposed into something else later in the week or frozen for a quick meal at another time. Using a recipe with larger quantities can reduce the number of ingredients you need and can save time on prepping another meal. You could also double a recipe to freezer for later in the month to make dinner a breeze.

Jones, T. (2016, August 8). Grocery shopping game plans save you time and money. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/08/08/grocery-shopping-game-plans-save-you-time-and-money/

Meehan, A. (2017, June 5). Meal Prepping, How to Plan for your Week Ahead. Retrieved from http://livesmartohio.osu.edu/food/meehan-89osu-edu/meal-prepping-how-to-plan-for-your-week-ahead/

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

 

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grocery

Do you have a plan when you make a trip to the grocery store?  You can save time and money by planning ahead before you head off on your trip.

  • Plan your meals using a worksheet such as, Create a Grocery Game Plan. This will help you make decisions about what you need to buy.
  • Go through your cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer to see what items you already have that can be incorporated into your meals.
  • Consider your schedule for the week……choose meals that are easy to prepare on busier days and save recipes for days when you have more time
  • Make a list of recipes you would like to try. Need help finding new ideas?  Try What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl for healthy, low-cost recipes using items you already have on hand.

Now that you know what you will be cooking each week, use your list of weekly meals to create a list of foods and drinks you need to buy.  Be sure to include fruits, vegetables, and milk even though they may not be part of any of the recipes you have planned for the week.

Time to make your list:

  • You can use scrap paper or the back of an envelope.
  • Type your list on a computer
  • Type your list in the “notes” section of your smartphonegrocery 2
  • Download a free mobile app for grocery lists
  • Use this template to make your list

Once your meals are planned and your list made, here are a few tips to help you get the most for your dollar.

  • Read the sale flyer(s) for the stores you plan to visit to see what is on sale from your grocery list. You can find sale info at the store’s entrance, in the newspaper, and on the store’s website.
  • Use coupons for as many items on your list as you can. They can be found as inserts in newspapers each week, you can download coupons from the internet, and your grocery store most likely has digital coupons on their website that can help you save even more.
  • Look for store brands that typically cost less than name brands.
  • Ask for a rain check if the store is out of a sale item. This is usually done at the customer service desk located in the front of the store. A rain check lets you pick up the item once they are back in stock.
  • Sign-up for your store’s customer loyalty program. This free program offers discounts and rewards to members.

Sources:

Pixabay.com

United States Department of Agriculture, http://www.choosemyplate.gov/sites/default/files/budget/grocery_list_interactive.pdf

United States Department of Agriculture, http://www.choosemyplate.gov/sites/default/files/budget/grocery_gameplan_interactive.pdf

United States Department of Agriculture, http://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/

Writer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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National “Dine In Day” is today (December 3, 2015), but dining in with your family is important all the time. “Dine In Day” is sponsored by the AmeriDinner with Familycan Association of Family and Consumer Sciences to encourage families to reconnect and dine in. If you aren’t ready for “Dine In Day” yet, start planning now so you can begin dining in more often with your family. Numerous research studies report the benefits for children to eat family meals together:

  • Children who eat as a family make healthier food choices and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Teens that eat with their families are less likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and use illegal drugs.
  • Eating with families gives teen’s better self-esteem and are less likely to be depressed.
  • Young children model their parents and other adults; by eating meals together they are more likely to eat healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat proteins, fruits, and dairy foods.
  • Dining together builds communication between generations and bonds families, benefiting family members of all ages.

To get your family back in the habit of eating together and dining at home try starting small. Plan just two days a week that you are going to eat together (if you are eating out all the time now). Involve the whole family in the meal planning and preparation – ask others what they want to have or what sounds good for this week. Be sure to eat at the table together, eliminate distractions like TV or phones, and discuss positive/neutral topics.

If you don’t know where to start try these websites for inexpensive and quick family meal ideas:

What’s Cooking, USDA Mixing Bowl

Share Our Strength’s, Cooking Matters

Food Hero

Let us know what you decide to fix when you “Dine In”. In the comment section you can message us your favorite family meals or use the #hashtags #FCSday, #healthyfamselfie, or #DineInDay.

Sources:

American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences: http://www.aafcs.org/FCSday/

Washington State Dairy Council: http://ext100.wsu.edu/clark/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2014/02/eattogethereatbetter.pdf

University of Florida, Institute of Food and Science, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1061

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewers: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County and Daniel Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension .

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So what’s the secret potion behind these magical beans? Protein of course! Protein is a hot topic in today’s society and you see promotions of different protein powders and nutrition bars everywhere. Personally, I know of many people who have fallen into this trap of trying different protein powders to add to their “protein shake” in the morning to get that quick fix of protein. However, they are spending so much money on these quick-fix protein sources and need to find another way to incorporate protein into their diet. Beyond these protein powders and bars, most people go for the typical meat, fish and poultry when it comes to a reliable protein source, but don’t forget to give plant-based protein credit!

DWDHeartyBeanSoup (1)

Beans are packed with a bunch of different nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Beyond protein they are a great source of fiber, folate, magnesium and potassium. In regards to fiber, beans are packed with soluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water and slows down digestion and emptying of your stomach. This delay in emptying of your stomach makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time, which could be a great tactic for controlling your weight. About 5-10 grams of soluble fiber can decrease your LDL cholesterol by 5%, with beans containing about 0.6 to 2.4 grams of soluble fiber per half a cup.   This makes eating beans a great way to help with decreasing cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

Now let’s talk about beans and its protein content. One serving of beans is ½ cup of cooked beans, which provides roughly 7-8 grams of protein! Protein causes satiety, or fullness, so with the combination of soluble fiber and protein beans can be a great way to keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. Like stated before, this can help keep your diet and weight on track.

Most Americans consume canned beans, but dried beans are also a great way to incorporate more beans in your diet. Dried beans are underutilized in America and on any given day less than 8% of Americans report consuming beans .The problem many people face with dried beans is how to cook them. Canned beans are easy and convenient yet dried beans can come off as intimidating and time consuming. The truth is that they aren’t that hard to figure out once you know how! Soaking your beans is what takes the most time but you actually don’t have to do much to soak them…it’s just a waiting game. There are many different methods that can be used when cooking dried beans such as traditional, hot and microwave soaked methods. One method that is most convenient is the quick soak method:

  1. Rinse: to ensure proper cleanliness of your beans it is important to wash them off before consuming them.
  2. Place beans in a large pot and add 10 cups of water for every 2 cups of beans.
  3. Bring to a boil and let boil 2-3 minutes.
  4. Dried beans, discard soak water and rinse with cold water.

How easy is that?! Once you figure out which method works best for you, you can incorporate beans in your diet. Dried beans make a mass amount of product and can last you for a long time. If I over-committed on my bean abilities and made too much I freeze the remaining beans and just quickly heat them up! A 1-lb. bag of dried beans usually costs around $1.49 and can make around 13 servings of beans! What a great, and cheap, way to incorporate more protein into your diet!

Check out the US DryBean Council website for many recipes to try using beans!

Written by: Courtney N. Klebe Dietetic Intern, Bowling Green State Univeristy and Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, LD, MA, Extenstion Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County

References:

  1. Messina V. Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans. Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 100: 437S-42S.

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Are you eating wheat products?  Lately, the news has included many stories on how wheat is bad for you causing abdominal fat, triggering diseasewheat and breads, and being linked with Alzheimer’s, headaches, depression and others.

If all that is true why is wheat recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, by nutrition experts and American Heart Association?   Isn’t it a part of the Mediterranean Diet which is highly recommended by nutrition professionals.

Does wheat contribute to abdominal fat or belly fat?  High consumption of refined grains has been associated with greater belly fat in studies.  However, lower belly fat has been associated with the consumption of eating whole grains including whole wheat.  Thus, whole grains including whole wheat do not seem to be the problem.  The problem is our consumption of refined grains.  Cutting out processed foods made with refined wheat (wheat flour, white flour, enriched wheat flour, all-purpose flour) and loaded with sugar and saturated fat will help us all avoid or limit the “wheat belly.”   Limit your consumption of cookies, cakes, pastries, crackers, and white bread.

So what about the other charges on mental effects?  Research has shown that both the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet lower the risk of dementia.  Both diets include consumption of whole grains including whole wheat.  Following those diets showed better cognitive ability in adults ages 65 and up over a period of 11 years.  It is true higher glucose levels from too many carbohydrates is a risk factor for dementia, but cutting out all carbohydrates is not the answer either.  Our brain needs glucose (Carbohydrates break down to glucose in our body.) for energy as it does not store glucose.  Thus, diets low in carbohydrates can hurt our thinking and memory.

Again, it is important to eat whole grains.  Whole grains including whole wheat can provide the glucose needed for our brain.   Whole grains including whole wheat breaks down more slowly than simple carbohydrates like refined grains and sugar.

Whole grains also provide fiber.   Consuming the recommended amount of dietary fiber without whole grains would be very difficult.  Gluten-free diets usually only contain six gram of dietary fiber a day, a lot less than the 25-38 grams recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

Do cwhole-grain-stamphoose a variety of whole grains but including whole wheat, unless you need a gluten-free diet.  When shopping be sure to choose products made with “whole wheat” or “whole-grain wheat.”  You can also look for the 100% Stamp from the Whole Grains Council on foods made with all whole grains.

Note:  If your doctor recommends you follow a gluten-free diet, please continue to follow your doctor’s advice.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Ohio State University Extension, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences

Reviewed by:   Liz Smith, M.S, RDN., L.D. NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Tufts University, [2014].  The truth about the war on wheat, Tufts University Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Health & Nutrition Letter, March 2014 Special Supplement, p. 1-4.

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blogchem

When choosing foods we eat, the texture, moistness, taste, color, nutrient content, and cost are all important. It can be easy to determine if we want to buy foods based off the food label, but what about home cooked foods- especially if we are the culpable chef? Can I decrease the amount of sugar without jeopardizing the signature sweet taste? What happens if I replace the oil with yogurt? The cooking fun starts with the wiggle room every recipe allows for healthy ingredient swaps, or modified amounts of familiar add-ins.

The Ohio State University Extension office supplies a factsheet on this very topic. In it contains ingredients to use instead of the unhealthy versions, along with ways to reduce sodium, fat, and sugar, and how to increase fiber, provided by this link: http://go.osu.edu/factsheet. For example, sugar is important in recipes to increase tenderness, color and taste but it still can be reduced without a noticeable defect. Being creative with what to add to the recipe can also be fun. Adding spices, for example, can reduce the need for salt and add more flavors.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, formally known as the DASH diet, is the National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute’s plan for decreasing blood pressure by the foods we eat. They posted a recipe that combines the low-sodium foods of the DASH diet along with the beauty of swapping higher fat foods (like mayo) with yogurt. The recipe also uses spices and herbs to generate flavor loss from higher fat ingredients.

Yogurt Salad Dressing
8 oz plain yogurt, fat-free
1/4 cup mayonnaise, low-fat
2 Tbsp chives, dried
2 Tbsp dill, dried
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in bowl and refrigerate.
Makes 5 servings
Serving Size: 2 Tbsp

Written by Rachel Tobe,B.S. Dietetics Food and Nutrition, Intern with Wood County Family and Consumer Sciences

Reviewer : Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, Erie Basin EERA, zies.1@osu.edu

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With a range of medications available to help the 50 million Americans suffering from arthritis many may not know that what you eat can influence your symptoms and alsoartritis hands how the disease progresses.

Rather than supplements in the form of pills, food with certain nutrients can help.

·         Vitamin C about the amount in two oranges (152 milligrams a day) has been found to reduce the progression of osteoarthritis.  Vitamin C plays a role in the formation of cartilage, collagen and proteoglycans.  It also is an antioxidant which helps limit the free-radical oxygen compounds that can damage cartilage.

·         Vitamin D was shown to cut the progression of arthritis.  Living in the northern attitudes especially in the winter, makes it difficult to get enough Vitamin D.  This is the one vitamin that you may need to  supplement.  Vitamin D not only plays a role in bone building it seems to affect the production of collagen.

·         Beta-carotene reduced the progression of arthritis when 9,000 IU were consumed daily.  This was not seen when people consumed 5,000 IU.  Most Americans only get 3,000 to 5,000 IU a day of beta-carotene.  However, you can easily increase your amount by using orange vegetables and fruits.  One medium sweet potato contains 21,909 IU.  fruits-vegetables

·         Vitamin E – In a study with people who had knee osteoarthritis those that consumed 6-11 milligrams of Vitamin E daily (from food) saw a 60% reduction in the progression of the disease over 10 years compared to  those getting 2-5 milligrams daily.  Due to the increased risk of lung cancer, smokers should not take extra Vitamin E or beta-carotene pills.

·         Vitamin K is being studied now.  So far, the study suggests that Vitamin K may slow the progression of osteoarthritis.  Good sources of Vitamin K are spinach, broccoli, leaf lettuce, kale, asparagus and olive, soybean and canola oils.

·         Omega-3 Fatty Acids suppress inflammation in the joint.  This is what causes so much stiffness and pain.  Eating two or more servings of fish (baked or broiled) per week reduced the chance of developing arthritis.   Other sources of omega-3 are flaxseed and nuts.  Canola, soybean and olive oil have some omega-3s.   Best to avoid omega-6 fatty acids found in safflower, sunflower, cottonseed and corn oils.  These are usually also in processed foods and fried foods, so limit your consumption of them.

·         Limit consumption of sugar.   More inflammation has been linked with higher sugar consumption.

· Drink more water         Drink Water.  Water  helps all around from moisturizing, giving support to joints, carrying nutrients and removing wastes from the body.  Some medicines used for arthritis also change your thirst level.  Be sure to drink plenty of water, preferably 8 cups or more a day of liquids.

Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and protein along with oils rich in omega-3s.  Limit sweets and other fats and oils.  Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains will increase your fiber intake which the Arthritis Foundation says may keep inflammation down.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami Valley EERA

Reviewer:  Elizabeth Smith, R.D., L.D. Northeast Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

References:

Tufts University, [2013]. Eating Right for Healthy Joints, Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Special Supplement, June 2013.

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When: November 19th – January 6, 2013

What does it cost: Nothing – Free!

Who can participate: Any adult with an email account.

What is included: Twice weekly educational messages, tracking log for progress, Facebook account for group interaction, weekly drawings from participants for wellness and fitness prizes.

Why:  To improve your overall health and well-being while providing valuable research as to the effectiveness of social media as a means of disseminating educational information.

How do I sign up? – Contact your FCS Educator – Lisa Barlage (barlage.7@osu.edu), Pat Brinkman (brinkman.93@osu.edu), Dana Brown (brown.4643@osu.edu), Carol Chandler (chandler.4@osu.edu), Cheryl Barber Spires (spires.53@osu.edu), Marie Economos (economos.2@osu.edu), Jenny Even (even.2@osu.edu), Marilyn Rabe (rabe.9@osu.edu), Cindy Shuster (shuster.24@osu.edu), Beth Stefura (stefura.2@osu.edu), Michelle Treber (treber.1@osu.edu), and Susan Zies (zies.1@osu.edu) by November 16, 2012.

Sponsored by:    Ohio State University Extension and County Commissioners Cooperating

OSU Extension embraces human diversity and is committed to ensuring that all educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, age, gender identity or expression, disability, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or veteran status. Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Agriculture Administration and Director, OSU Extension. TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio Only) or 614-292-1868.

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As the temperatures have cooled down the last few weeks what foods did you feel like making? I know many of my friends and co-workers have shared that they made traditional or white bean chili, vegetable soup, or chicken noodle soup. Comfort foods like soup just sounded good to them. The good thing to hear about those comfort foods is that they can also be “superfoods”. WebMD lists 14 superfoods that we should eat to protect us from heart disease, cancer, and other health conditions. Many of these foods are high in anti-oxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Seven of the 14 superfoods are also great soup ingredients:

  • Beans – because beans will often take on the flavor of the foods you combine them with, and can be added to almost any soup. If you use canned beans, look at the sodium content on the nutrition facts label and rinse them to cut that level.
  • Tomatoes – the base for many soups, look for no-salt added on the label if you are using canned.
  • Turkey – a perfect food for this time of year, stores already have them on sale and in a couple weeks we will have left-overs to use.
  • Spinach – rinse fresh spinach, chop into smaller pieces, and add to soup shortly before serving.
  • Broccoli – if you want to make a healthier version of broccoli soup be sure to use low fat and low sodium chicken broth, and low fat milk.
  • Soy – soy milk can be used in cream based soups, small cubes of tofu added to almost any soup, and soy “meat replacement” crumbles can be used in place of ground beef or sausage.
  • Pumpkin – another seasonal favorite which can be served as a hot or cold soup.

The wonderful thing about soups is many of them can also be made quickly. Often the ingredients can be kept on hand or left-overs can be used. One of our Ohio Extension co-workers had put together a great chart with a “Basic Homemade Soup Recipe”. The neat thing about it is you select an ingredient from each column – vegetables, grains, protein, seasoning, and liquid. Here is a link to that site http://go.osu.edu/soup.

If you have left-over soup you want to get it in the refrigerator or freezer in less than 2 hours after serving. If there are large quantities, divide it into small or shallow containers for quicker cooling. Soup can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days and freezer for 2 to 3 months. Frozen soups should be stored in sealed containers and labeled with the date. Frozen soups should be thawed in the refrigerator or can be reheated from a frozen state. You may choose to add additional liquid if you reheat from frozen. Always make sure left-overs soups are brought to a boil and heated to 165 degrees for at least 15 seconds for food safety. If you use your microwave for thawing or heating soups, using a glass or ceramic container is recommended. Microwave thawed foods should be cooked right after thawing because they may start to partially cook during the thawing process.

What super soup can you make this week and how many superfood ingredients can you include?

Sources:

WebMD, Superfoods Everyone Needs, http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/superfoods-everyone-needs.

Ohio State University Extension, Wayne County, Basic Homemade Soup Recipe, D Becker,  http://go.osu.edu/soup.

USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Freezer Storage Chart,  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/fact_sheets/Focus_On_Freezing/index.asp#19.

Written by:

Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ross & Vinton Counties, Ohio State University Extension, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewers:

Jenny Even, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Hamilton County, Ohio State University Extension, even.2@osu.edu.

Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Butler County, green.1405@osu.edu.

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If you have been paying attention to the news recently you have probably heard or read that food prices for the rest of 2012 and 2013 are expected to rise 2.5 to 3.5%. This proposed increase is due to the impact of the severe drought on grain product foods and the grain fed to the animals. While that increase may not sound like much, if you look a little closer, the average costs of food over the last 10 years have increased about 38%, during the same time that many families have faced a recession. I know each of you could probably write a list of ways to save money on food, but here are a few of the best.

  • Planning meals ahead and using a list at the store are still the most important! You save money by purchasing foods on sale when you shop the ads.  Check your cupboards first; don’t buy food you don’t need.   By using these tips, you save gas and time by making one trip instead of three. That one trip also saves the cost of the impulse buys, usually snack foods you don’t need or for me a paperback book or recipe magazine. I like to keep a grocery list on the refrigerator to aid in planning my shopping needs.   One rule of thumb in our house is . . . when you use the last of an item, write it on the list.   Or you can use Let’s Move grocery list template available at http://www.letsmove.gov/sites/letsmove.gov/files/Grocery_List.pdf. Watch your trips to the big box stores – the larger package isn’t always the cheaper one – a calculator can make the math easier when figuring price per pound or ounce. Use coupons if they are for foods you regularly purchase and that will get eaten. Signing up for an email coupon club may be a good idea if your store accepts this style of coupon, not all do. When shopping and planning, keep in mind that you may be able to switch out a similar food in a recipe for less money. A recent example for me was a recipe that called for canned tomatoes and a package of dry spaghetti sauce mix – those 2 items cost over $1.30 – but I could buy a larger can of spaghetti sauce for less than a dollar.
  • Remember that healthy foods don’t necessarily cost more! When you decide to make healthier food choices you can cut out the cost of some empty calorie foods like soda, cookies or baked goods, chips, and many crackers.   Spending less on empty calories foods eases your budget, allowing you to purchase more fresh foods.
  • Use that refillable water bottle and make your own iced tea at home! A couple dollars a week for bottled water or $1 every day for iced tea (or even more for coffee or a latte) really does add up.
  • Be creative with left-overs or cooking foods that can be used in more than one way. Can left-over soup or pasta be heated and taken in an insulated container for lunch the next day? My daughter loves it when I heat up left-over chicken Alfredo for her the next day. I boil water to place in the insulated container to get it hot before putting in the heated food. It is also good to think about foods that can be used a couple different ways; can you put left-over chicken on pizza or add it to soup, use chili as a potato topper, or make individual pizzas with the last couple tortillas in the package? Almost anything can be put in a wrap or on a pizza – let your children help you experiment. Think about making extra of things like pancakes or waffles, instead of buying the pre-frozen package. Make a big batch on the weekend and freeze packages of 1 or 2 that can be heated in the toaster or toaster oven for a quick breakfast.
  • Think about your proteins, can you do a vegetarian dish or cut the amount of meat in a recipe? Adding black beans to ground beef or turkey in a recipe will allow you to use less meat, while increasing the amount of fiber. The same applies to other recipes such as soups or many of the Mexican inspired dishes – adding black beans, navy beans, or other beans, costs less than purchases at the meat counter.  Rinse beans to cut down on sodium.   Eggs can also be a good value. When was the last time you put a hard-cooked egg on your salad or had egg salad sandwiches?  Hard cook a couple of eggs at a time, you can eat them for breakfast or they pack easily for lunch.

Don’t forget to share your money-saving tips with friends and family members.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ross & Vinton Counties, Ohio Valley EERA, http://ross.osu.edu/.

Reviewed by: Cynthia Shuster and Kathryn Green, OSU Extension Educators, Family & Consumer Sciences.

Sources:

USDA Economic Research Service: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings.aspx.

USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofFoodJun2012.pdf.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System, 101+ Ways to Save Food Dollars, Barbara Struempler, http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/H/HE-0757/HE-0757.pdf.

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