Do you struggle with meal planning? Do you prepare meals for your family or just yourself? Whether you are cooking for one or more, meal planning is a skill that takes practice be learned. Even if you know how to plan and shop in advance, it still requires something precious and costly – your time.
I woke up absolutely starving! Oatmeal, boiled eggs, and milk again. I had a sudden thought this morning in the shower. I recall doing another SNAP meal plan design for a family of 4, and noticed that the menu had WAY more variety and achieved all the recommendations. This makes me realize that it is actually much easier to eat on a SNAP budget, when you are buying for more people. That way, you can combine the money and buy more at once, so you can eat more variety over time. Do you all shop and cook for one person or for a family?
This morning I could definitely feel the hunger catching up to me! I was famished when I ate my scrambled eggs and toast with milk. This time, the meal didn’t quite satisfy me, and I was left thinking of ways I could have bought more food for my $32. One way, would be to purchase some of my food at a local farmers market, where they often match EBT funds to double your budget, so that overall you can buy twice as much food! Now I really wish I had done that this week…. I didn’t because I wanted to see if I could eat a good meal plan without having to use the bonus money from the farmers market. Now I see that it is possible, but I just don’t get as much to eat.
Yesterday, Jessica used her crockpot to make an easy, nutritious dinner. Here’s what she how she spent her SNAP budget today.
- Peanut butter (1 tbsp.)
- Chicken chili
- Veggie Omelet (4 eggs, kale, onion, diced tomato- makes two portions)
- Rice (1/2 cup)
Total cost for the day: about $5
Nutrition profile: Today I got in enough fruit, but was low on dairy and veggies. Looking back on it, I could have thrown in a cup or two of soymilk to up the calcium content of my day.
Today I had my lunch ready to go- leftover chicken chili, except this time I ate it without rice. For dinner, I felt like making an omelet. I love breakfast food. I love having breakfast food for breakfast, lunch, or dinner- whenever I can make it work. The problem with traditional breakfast food is that it typically does not have much veggies. One way to add some veggies to a breakfast dish is to make an omelet. You can add so many different types of vegetables- fresh, frozen, canned- whatever you have lying around. Actually, omelets are like the egg equivalent of a crockpot. Add leftovers and whatever is about to go bad in your fridge to make a big, filling, healthy omelet. For mine, I added onion, kale, and canned diced tomatoes. I made a big batch so I could eat it twice. I cooked the kale and onion first in some olive oil, then added the veggies and diced tomatoes to the eggs. Growing up, we made this dish in my parents’ house over rice. So, I continue that tradition and make my omelets with rice. If I have it, I often add salsa to the omelet/rice dish as well. I rounded out the meal with toast and a banana.
I would be a pretty lousy dietitian-to-be if I did not take this opportunity to gush over one of my favorite vegetables- kale. Okay, let me get a confession out of the way first…. I am not the biggest fan of greens and lettuce and stuff. I like them when they are included in a big salad or other prepared ways, but I don’t like them plain, by themselves. But, that was all before I met kale. It saddens me that I lived so many years without these green little leaves of goodness. Let me tell you a little more about kale and how I cook it. First, kale is one of the types of leafy greens, similar to Swiss chard and spinach. One cup of raw kale only has about 40 calories and it is packed with vitamins and minerals. Some of the notable vitamins and minerals in kale are Vitamin A, calcium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber. That’s a lot of nutrition packed into one serving of veggies!
So how do you cook kale? I like to cook mine in the skillet with some olive oil and water. I like to eat it plain but often throw it into pretty much all of my main dishes. Stir-fries, pasta, chicken, rice, casseroles, etc. can all be spiced up with some kale.
This is an optional lesson used in Virginia to teach our clients how to use SNAP benefits at a farmers market.
Leaders Guide: Keeping local food affordable