shopping at the farmers market

Price of Food at Farmers Markets

Farmers markets offer a wide variety of fresh, local fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, baked goods and more. The quality of produce is generally unbeatable, as most fruits and veggies are picked at the peak of ripeness just days or even hours before you buy them. And many farmers selling at the market follow organic practices. Animal farmers tend to have smaller operations and use smaller processing facilities. All of these factors add up to higher prices, right? You might be surprised. Continue reading

shopping at farmers markets

Farmers Market Resources

National Farmers Market Week starts Sunday, August 6th. This week highlights the important role farmers markets play in the nation’s food system. Last year, $20.2 million of SNAP funds were used at farmers markets in the United States, helping families buy fresh, healthy food and support their local farmers. Right here in Virginia, we have 250 markets, more than twice the number from just 10 years ago. Ninety-seven Virginia farmers markets accept SNAP, and many offer SNAP matching as well. The best way to celebrate is to visit your local market. To make it easier for first-time shoppers and busy families, here’s a collection of great resources for shopping at a farmers market on a budget. Continue reading

cooking shortcuts

Meal Prep Shortcuts for Busy Families

Have you been seeing #MealPrep photos on social media recently? The pictures of perfectly portioned lunches for the week are inspiring, but might be a little intimidating. What busy mom has time or energy to arrange each ingredient just so for Instagram-worthy meals for an entire week? But you can take these meal prep strategies and adapt them to make cooking for your family easier during the weeknight rush. Continue reading

build your own salad

Build Your Own Salad

Are you tired of trying to make sure your family eats enough veggies? Salads can be a fun, tasty, and budget-friendly way to add more vegetables into your family’s meals. The great part about salads is that you can choose your family’s favorite foods. This may include leftovers from last night’s dinner, or items you find in your #Better Pantry. 

Step 1: Choose a Base

The first step is to choose the base of your salad. For a green salad, romaine lettuce, spring greens, or spinach make a perfect base. For a heartier salad, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, potatoes, or other grains also make a great base. Choose 2 cups for greens and 1 cup of grains per person.

Step 2: Choose a Couple Vegetables

Add about 1 cup of vegetables per person. Choose different veggies, such as tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, or cucumbers. This is where you can personalize your salad so choose veggies that your family will enjoy. Another good idea is to choose veggies that are in season. Seasonal produce can offer better taste, nutrition, and price. Make sure to check out your local farmer’s market for fresh, seasonal produce as well!

Step 3: Choose a Protein

Add a protein food to help turn your side salad into the main dish. Protein options include grilled chicken, black beans, or hard boiled eggs. Making a salad is a great way to use leftover meat from last night’s dinner, or you can just grab a can of beans or canned tuna from your #BetterPantry.

Step 4: Add Additional Toppings

This is where you can get creative and make it to your tastes. Additional toppings may include reduced-fat shredded cheese, fresh or dried fruit, or crunchy nuts or seeds. This is also where your family’s favorites can really come into play. Get your kids in the kitchen and have them help choose the toppings.

Step 5: Choose a Low-Fat Dressing

Finish your salad with low-fat dressing, but be sure to check the ingredients label for added sugar. You can also make an easy, simple dressing using ingredients from your #BetterPantry. Combining 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper taste makes a great and easy vinaigrette that can be used for many different salads. Just store in an air-tight jar in the fridge and shake it up before using. Another easy vinaigrette recipe can be found here.

Follow these simple steps to you build your own #BetterPantry salad.

build your own salad

sandwich wrap

Personalized Wraps Using Your Better Pantry

In today’s busy world, it can be hard to make quick, low-cost meals. When you use foods you already have in your pantry that save time and money. Wraps are a great meal to eat at home or on the go. Mix and match your ingredients and follow these steps to create tasty, budget-friendly meals for you and your family!

Pick your wrap. You can choose from flour, corn, or wheat tortillas or other options like pita or a large leaf of lettuce. Whole wheat grain is a better choice than white wraps and are high in fiber.

Pick a protein. Lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, and fish are a great way to get the protein you need to power through your day. Other lean protein options include tofu, beans, pork, and beef. When choosing protein options choose those with less salt.

Add cheese. Cheese has calcium that keeps bones and teeth strong. It can be shredded or sliced. Cheese adds flavor to your wrap. Whether it is cheddar, swiss, or any cheese you like, you can choose reduced-fat options to keep the wrap lower in saturated fat while having great taste!

Add the veggies. Vegetables come in all flavors and colors. Choosing a variety of colorful veggies can help you make a tasty wrap that is packed with vitamins and minerals. Peppers give your wrap extra kick and spice. While veggies such as carrots, spinach, or cucumbers give it a crunch without adding too much extra flavor. Adding tomatoes or other juicy veggies give each bite extra moisture. Add flavors and colors to your wrap to pack it with taste and nutrients.

Add the sauce. Whether it’s your favorite salad dressing, condiment, or anything in between, adding a sauce gives your wrap flavor and helps hold it all together. Some common sauces you may have in your pantry are low-fat ranch dressing, hot sauce, Sriracha sauce, or vinaigrettes.

Better Pantry build your own sandwich wrap