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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

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

Stretch Your Food Dollars

Posted by Jenna Smith -

I went to the grocery store last night for the third time this week. I usually only go once a week, but I failed to have a plan. Shame on me. (Remember how I told you a couple of months ago to always have a plan so this wouldn't happen?). I know that I ended up spending much more money than if I had planned my meals for a week, compiled a grocery list and made just one trip to the store. I not only spent more money in gas and more money in impulse buys, but I also wasted more of my precious time!

It's no lie that food prices have risen. The USDA reports a probable 3 to 4 percent rise in food prices this year. Increased food prices coupled with our economic downturn means it's imperative that we practice smart shopping when buying groceries for the family. Here are a few things you can do:

  1. Plan for meals and snacks - Pick a day to plan the week's meals. Check your cabinets to see what you already have on-hand, and use grocery store sales ads that may be found online or in your local paper.
  2. Cut those coupons! - Find coupons in newspaper ads, magazines, in the store, on packages and online. But don't spend money just because you have a coupon. If it's not something you normally buy, chances are you will not use it.
  3. Make a list and check it twice! – Make a list of ingredients that you will need and check them off as you are shopping so that you don't forget anything. Keep a pen and paper near your cupboards to make an ongoing list of items as they run low.
  4. Compare, compare, compare – Some store brands may be less expensive than name brands. Make use of coupons, but don't let them deceive you; some brands may cost less than others with the coupon. Don't forget to compare nutrition labels, too. Choose healthy foods more often!
  5. Shop (but not till you drop!) – Never shop on an empty stomach. Stick to your list and avoid those impulse purchases.

Bummed by the high price of meat? Try more vegetarian dishes, such as this one!

Black Beans and Rice (Printable PDF)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 (15 oz) can black beans

1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 garlic cloves or ½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 ½ cups uncooked instant brown rice

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion and garlic. Cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add beans, tomatoes, and oregano. Bring to a boil.

4. Stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

(Yield: 8 servings)

Nutrient Analysis per ½ cup serving: Calories 120, Fat 2 grams, Total Carbohydrate 21 grams, Protein 4 grams, Sodium 250 milligrams

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