Tag Archives: low cost

Dietetic Intern Adrienne’s SNAP Challenge – Wrap Up

That’s All, Folks!

Well, I have finished the SNAP challenge and can truthfully say I learned a lot about grocery shopping on a tight budget. It was tough adjusting to a week without ice cream, but substituting fruit for a sweet treat was equally as satisfying. My meals and snacks were both nutritious and filling (and under budget), so I feel like this week was a success.

Here are some things I learned that helped me stay within budget:

  • Plan ahead: I would not have stayed within budget without meal planning first!
  • Use coupons and savings cards: free grocery membership programs can really help you save.
  • Take a look at the tag: price tags help you compare unit prices to find the cheapest option.
    • Unit prices tell you how much the item costs per pound or ounce. This podcast describes how to find and use them for the best deal. Added bonus: I’m in the video!
  • Try something new: lentils and beans are inexpensive and very nutritious, don’t be afraid to try them if you haven’t already.
  • Keep your eye on the prize: I tried to be very aware of how much we were eating each day so that we didn’t run out of food before the end of the week.

Shopping with couponsI have often heard that eating healthy foods is very expensive — it seems like people are always arguing whether or not this is true. From my perspective, I think that it is doable if you are willing to sacrifice some guilty pleasures (like ice cream, cookies, soda, chips, and other junk food). Comparing the unit prices of fresh, frozen, and canned produce to find the best buy will also be kind to your wallet.  I really did miss my usual sweets, but I was happy to leave them behind for other options that would keep me healthy and feeling good.

The greatest thing I learned from this experience is that grocery shopping with a restricted budget is definitely not easy. The time it takes to plan out every meal and snack, compare prices, and prepare each meal is a really big time commitment.

TIME = MONEY…the less money you have to spare, the more time it takes to plan and cook from scratch so that you stay within budget. The less time you have, the more you might have to pay for convenience and fast-foods on the go.

I will certainly take this experience with me, and I hope that my story has taught you something, too. Thanks for reading along!

Dietetic Intern Adrienne’s SNAP Challenge – Day 5

Friday’s Meals:

[BREAKFAST]: oatmeal, peanut butter, banana, skim milk
[LUNCH]: peanut butter sandwich, carrot sticks, celery sticks, apple
[SNACK]: low fat cottage cheese, pineapple rings
[DINNER]: turkey lentil chili

[ESTIMATED DAILY COST FOR MY MEALS]: $2.90

Turkey Lentil Chili warms your soul!

Turkey Lentil Chili warms your soul!

Today’s report: not enough whole grains or dairy, but above and beyond on vegetables, fruit, and protein. Well, at least I met my protein requirements today! I have my lentils to thank for that.

Speaking of lentils, what exactly are they? When I served the Turkey Lentil Chili for dinner tonight, my husband asked me that exact question. I agree that there’s some confusion about these nutrient-packed little disks. So, here’s what you need to know:

  • Lentils are a type of legume (vegetables with seed pods including beans, peas, and peanuts)
  • They’re low in fat and packed with fiber and protein
  • They are super versatile – lentils absorb whatever flavors you cook them in and can be used in soups, stews, salads, and spreads
  • Lentils can be found in the dry rice/bean section of many stores, cooking them requires boiling with water
  • Unlike beans, no pre-soaking is required, making them the fast food of legumes!

Have you ever had lentils? I have to admit, it took me some time to get used to their texture (they get a little mushy after being cooked). But now I just love them. They keep me full and make my belly happy!

Dietetic Intern Adrienne’s SNAP Challenge – Day 3

Wednesday’s Meals:

[BREAKFAST]: oatmeal, peanut butter, banana, skim milk
[LUNCH]: peanut butter sandwich, carrot sticks, celery sticks, apple
[SNACK]: low fat cottage cheese, pineapple ring
[DINNER]: chili with red beans, cheddar cheese, brown rice

[ESTIMATED DAILY COST FOR MY MEALS]: $3.44

My Platephoto(3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, I’m starting to feel like a broken record… short on dairy and protein yet again, and a little over on fruit. But despite these small deficits, I feel like I’m actually doing pretty well with keeping my meals nutritious and well-balanced. Heck, rotate the picture of my lunch sideways and it looks a lot like MyPlate – half the plate is fruits and veggies with a vegetarian protein source (peanut butter) and a whole grain.

I’m trying to brainstorm some ways to add a bit more protein each day. I could up my peanut butter (but I’m already having quite a bit) or add an egg or two, I also still have quite a bit of chicken…

Do you have any suggestions? What types of protein-rich foods do you enjoy on a regular basis?

On another note, did you notice how inexpensive today’s meals were? The estimated daily costs on Monday and Tuesday were close to $5 and today was under $3.50 – just goes to show that eating leftovers can be a real money saver! I think I might have a knack for shopping on a budget… is extreme couponing in my future??

Seasonal Produce- The Best Value for Your Money and Health

If you follow the Family Nutrition Program on Facebook or Twitter, you have no doubt heard that buying produce in season can save you money. Produce that is in season is also more flavorful and higher in nutrients.

Why is Seasonal Produce Best?

Produce is in season when it is grown and harvested at the time of year it grows best. Because it is grown at the perfect time, the plants produce the highest quality and quantity of fruit or veggies.

Taste

High quality, seasonal produce has the best flavor and most nutrients compared to fruits or veggies that are grown out of season. Out of season produce is usually grown far away, like California or even China. So that it doesn’t spoil before travelling the long distance to your local grocery store, they are usually picked before they are ripe, which means they are less flavorful. For me, there is no comparison between the juicy flavor of a tomato out of the garden and a bland  tomato from the store in the dead of winter.

Nutrition

Since produce begins to lose nutrients as soon as it is picked, the nutrients it contains are draining away each day it travels to get to you. For this reason, many people find local produce tastes better. Keep this in mind when you are trying to get kids to taste new fruits or veggies. (FYI- Plain, no salt or sugar added frozen or canned fruits and veggies keep their nutrients longer than fresh produce that is shipped long distances. More info here.)

Price

Plants produce more fruit or veggies when grown in season. Since there is a larger supply in season, the price goes down. Food eaten out of season may have been grown in a greenhouse (which costs more to heat and water) or traveled long distances (which costs more to ship), adding to the price you pay for fresh berries in March.

Where can I find seasonal produce?

You can find produce in season in your grocery store. But you can get even better taste and a wider variety of fruits and veggies at your local farmers market. Many times, the produce at the market was picked the day before after fully ripening on the vine. You can’t beat that for fresh! The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has created a very useful chart to let you know what fruit or veggies are in season in Virginia.

producechart

So the next time you sit down to plan your family’s weekly menu, take out the chart, along with the sales papers, and add more fresh, flavorful and nutritious produce to your meals. What are your favorite meals using fresh summer fruits or vegetables?

Stay tuned for our next post on a cheap, kid-friendly source of fresh, seasonal produce.