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2014 Jun

Eating on a Budget

Get the most for your food budget! There are many ways to save money on the foods that you eat. The three main steps are planning before you shop, purchasing the items at the best price, and preparing meals that stretch your food dollars.

• Back to basics - Convenience foods like frozen dinners, pre-cut vegetables, and instant rice, oatmeal, or grits will cost you more than if you make them from scratch. Take the time to prepare your own—and save!

• Easy on your wallet - Certain foods are typically low-cost options all year round. Try beans for a less expensive protein food. For vegetables, buy carrots, greens, or potatoes. As for fruits, apples and bananas are good choices.

• Cook once and eat all week - Prepare a large batch of favorite recipes on your day off (double or triple the recipe). Freeze in individual containers. Use them throughout the week and you won’t have to spend money on take-out meals.

• Get your creative juices flowing - Spice up your leftovers—use them in new ways. For example, try leftover chicken in a stir-fry or over a garden salad, or to make chicken chili. Remember, throwing away food is throwing away your money!

• Eating out - Restaurants can be expensive. Save money by getting the early-bird special, going out for lunch instead of dinner, or looking for 2-for-1 deals. Stick to water instead of ordering other beverages, which add to the bill.

• Plan, plan, plan! - Before you head to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. Include meals like stews, casseroles, or stir-fries, which stretch expensive items into more portions. Check to see what foods you already have and make a list for what you need to buy.

• Find the best price - Check the local newspaper, online, and at the store for sales and coupons. Ask about a loyalty card for extra savings at stores where you shop. Look for specials or sales on meat and seafood—often the most expensive items on your list.

• Compare and contrast - Locate the Unit Price on the shelf directly below the product. Use it to compare different brands and different sizes of the same brand to determine which is more economical.

• Buy in bulk - It is almost always cheaper to buy foods in bulk. Smart choices are family packs of chicken, steak, or fish and larger bags of potatoes and frozen vegetables. Before you shop, remember to check if you have enough freezer space.

• Buy in season - Buying fruits and vegetables in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness. If you are not going to use them all right away, buy some that still need time to ripen.


Red Cabbage Salad

Makes 4 1-cup servings


1/2 head of red cabbage, shredded

4 carrots, grated

4 green onions, chopped

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste


1. In a large bowl combine cabbage, carrots, green onions and cilantro.

2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, canola oil and lemon juice.

3. Toss dressing with vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Oriental Sweet and Sour Vegetables

Makes 6 servings


1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1 cup pineapple or orange juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch (for thickness)

2 teaspoons oil

3 cups assorted fresh vegetables (carrots, bell peppers, squash, onions, broccoli, etc.), chopped or 1 pound bag frozen stir-fry vegetables


1. Combine all ingredients except vegetables and oil into bowl, mix, and set aside.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in skillet and add vegetables. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

3. Add sweet and sour sauce and cook for another 2 minutes or until mixture

comes to a boil.

4. Serve immediately. This dish is great over pasta or brown rice.


Mango Salsa

Makes 4 1/2-cup servings


1 mango

1/2 small red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon salt

juice of 1 lime


1. Cut the mango in half around the large pit. Remove pit.

2. Use a knife to cut a criss-cross pattern through the fruit, but not the skin.

3. Press the skin so the cubes pop out. Cut mango cubes off the skin.

4. Chop mango cubes into smaller pieces.

5. Place in a medium bowl and stir in onion, cilantro, salt and lime juice.

6. Serve with baked taco chips or place on top of broiled fish or chicken during last 5 minutes of cooking.


Visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for more delicious recipes and nutrition information.

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