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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Be a Super Speedy Shopper

According to the website, Foodimentary™ February is "National Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket" month. Laugh now, but you will be thankful when you have a flurry of carts to choose from, especially when they are lined up in the cart corral and not rolling down the parking lot with the wind. Grocery shopping can sometimes be an unpleasant experience, often one that creates moans and procrastination. Here's a few tips to make the task go smoother and faster.

1. Organize your grocery list. We all know we need to make a grocery list, but it will save you time to also organize it by food category. Put all the fresh produce together, all the frozen food together, dairy, meats, and so on. This helps you avoid the annoying realization that you forgot something six aisles back. And while we're at it, don't walk into the grocery store without knowing what meals you plan on fixing for the week. If you want to save the fruit and veggie picks for the store to see what's on sale and what's available, that's great, but have the main entrée planned.

2. Organize your coupons prior to landing foot in the store. If you use paper coupons, take out only the ones you think you will use, and put them in your pocket or an easily accessible side pocket of your purse. If you use electronic coupons, download them ahead of time and have your phone ready to pull them up when you need to refer to them or submit them to the cashier.

3. Shop by yourself. For parents of young children, grocery shopping alone is like your spa day. It's your time to not have to think about giving in to the cries of "I want this," but rather you are mentally fit to enjoy shopping and make your own decisions.

4. Shop with your partner. Ok, so you don't have to shop by yourself. Just don't shop with anyone younger than say eight. Split the grocery shopping and list into two: One of you starts at the front of the store, the other at the back, and you meet in the middle. This works perfectly if using a grocery list app that is synched to each partner's phone. It cuts the shopping time in half! (But be prepared to be ok with your partners wavering from the list…how did these donuts get in our pantry?)

Grocery shopping doesn't have to be terrible. Make it fun and make it speedy!

Check out University of Illinois Extension's Eat. Move. Save. website to help you make informed decisions when shopping, and discover delicious recipes like the one below!

Crispy Cheesy Chicken Sticks (Printable PDF)

1 large skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 6 strips

¼ cup low-sodium cheese crackers

2 Tablespoon dry bread crumbs

¼ cup nonfat milk

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Put crackers in a resealable gallon size bag. Tightly close the bag and crush crackers. Add breadcrumbs and shake to combine. Pour milk into a medium bowl. Place chicken in milk and turn to coat chicken completely. Place a piece of chicken in bag and shake to coat with cracker crumbs. Place coated chicken onto baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Bake chicken for 15-20 minutes in oven until chicken is cooked throughout.

Yield: 3 servings (2 strips each)

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 100 calories, 3 grams fat, 90 milligrams sodium, 8 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 10 grams protein

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