In today’s trying economic times many people are foregoing the conveniences of ready made foods, making more from scratch, and eating out less. While it’s fairly simple to make healthy choices when eating somewhere else, the thought of cooking a healthy meal on a budget seems like a major obstacle. Here are some tips.
Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables, and get them at your local farmers market. They are more fresh and generally cost less than the supermarket. What do you do with the three pounds of kale or collard greens you just bought? Clean them thoroughly; as they are usually have a lot of dirt on them. It helps to soak them in water for five or ten minutes, sometimes two or three times. Rinse them thoroughly, remove tough stems, cut them into bite size pieces and put them in a large pot with a sliced onion and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the
greens are tender. Serve with cornbread and grilled chicken breasts.
What to do for non seasonal vegetables? Check the freezer at the supermarket and compare prices. It will be less expensive per ounce to buy a bag of frozen peas than fresh ones in dead of winter. The same goes for frozen peaches and berries when they are not in season. They are frozen right after they are picked, when they are ripe and ready for eating and at their nutritional peak, so they have more vitamins and minerals than the berries shipped from South America that were picked four or five days ago. Buy smaller apples and oranges in bags, each fruit is a single portion, compared to their larger counterparts that go for about two for a dollar and have at least two servings per fruit.
Go meatless two or three times a week. Make meatless lasagna. Substitute cooked lentils for ground beef in things like chili. Use canned beans to make veggie burgers. Cook up a large quantity of beans at once and freeze in one and two cup amounts. All you have to do is pull out a bag and let it thaw, then add to salads and soups, or make bean dip for your next party.
When combined with grains, beans and legumes make a complete protein. Some meal ideas are red beans and rice served with salad and whole grain bread, lentil burgers made with lentils and oats or millet, stir fried vegetables with tofu served on whole wheat noodles, and stewed vegetables and chickpeas served over couscous.
There is always the option of serving breakfast for dinner. Make whole wheat or buckwheat pancakes or waffles and serve them with fruit salad and low-fat yogurt. Make egg white omelets with vegetables and part skim cheese, or make eggs cooked in tomato sauce. Serve tuna fish and oven baked French fries and salad.
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Eggs in Tomato Sauce
In a large frying pan sauté a medium chopped onion and three cloves of garlic in one teaspoon of olive oil, add 2 medium sized chopped tomatoes (2 cups), a six ounce can of tomato paste, and half a can of water. Add one teaspoon Italian seasoning and a pinch of salt. If you like it spicy add some diced chili peppers or red pepper flakes. The mixture should have the consistency of chunky tomato sauce. Break four eggs into the sauce, yolks optional, cover the pan and let simmer until the eggs are cooked through. Serve with whole grain toast and salad. You can use only egg whites or egg substitute in place of whole eggs.
Nutrition information: 164.25 calories, 6.55 grams fat, 1.75 grams saturated fat, 250.75mg cholesterol, 412.25 grams sodium, 12.525 grams carbohydrates, 3.3 grams fiber, 9.125 grams sugar, 9.375 grams protein.
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An Apple a Day
There is truth to the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” A medium sized apple has about 70 calories, a little over three grams of fat, and 10% of your daily Vitamin C needs. Apples are rich in B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. Antioxidants found in apples include lutein, which can prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, beta-carotene, quercitin, and pectin, which helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol. Apples are high on the list of produced sprayed with pesticides so was them well, or buy organic. Enjoy apples raw, baked, dried, freeze dried, chopped or grated into yogurt or oatmeal, and baked goods. An apple and an ounce of almonds, about 24, makes a great pick me up for that afternoon slump.