As consumers become more educated about the way food affects health, there
has been increasing demand for healthful foods. However, despite knowing that
making sensible food choices will save money on health care expenses in the
long run, many people are deterred from making healthy decisions by the high
cost of packaged natural or organic foods. This article will offer some suggestions
on how to incorporate natural foods into your diet without costing too much
Making the Most of Produce – Regardless of Season
Clearly, sustainably organic grown local produce is the most nutritious. During
the harvesting season, purchasing fruit and vegetables directly from farmers
is the best choice. Unfortunately, the majority of people don’t have access
to local produce for most of the year. Which options are the most healthful?
In most cases, frozen fruit and vegetables retain the most nutrients. Home
processing requires a quick blanching to denature the enzymes that cause discoloration
and loss of flavor. Commercial freezing may skip this step by flash freezing
pieces of produce. These vegetables and fruits will not retain their original
texture, due to the cell walls breaking as the freezing fluid expands. However,
if the packaged produce is kept below 0F, most of the nutritional value will
Saving Money On Frozen Produce
Purchasing large bags of commercially frozen produce will save money over buying
out of season produce that is imported from foreign countries. Dividing the
bag into serving sizes and repackaging in vacuum sealed or zippered storage
bags will help to keep the produce from absorbing odors from other items in
Flavor Your Own Yogurt
Like many other foods, the profit margin on single serving cups of flavored
yogurt is very high. Not only are small yogurt cups expensive, they are generally
loaded with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors and stabilizers
to prevent the whey from separating out of the yogurt. Replacing these with
reusable six or eight ounce containers with lids is a simple way to cut back
on your grocery bill.
There are many types of plain yogurt currently available for sale in large
containers. It may be made from whole milk, either homogenized or creamline,
reduced fat and fat free. Additional varieties include Greek strained yogurt
and a similar drained yogurt from the middle east known as labneh. Place a generous
tablespoon or two of all natural fruit spread or applesauce at the bottom of
the reusable container then fill to the top with yogurt.
After a long day at work, sometimes it’s hard to find the time or energy
for a home cooked meal. Ordering a pizza to be delivered seems like the easiest
choice. Likewise, if you’re running late in the morning, picking up a
donut and coffee on the way to work seems like a reasonable option. Neither
of these are particularly nutritious and are far more expensive than homemade
meals, but sometimes scratch cooking may just be impractical.
Once A Month Cooking, or batch cooking, has become increasingly popular over
the past few decades. With careful planning, it’s possible to spend one
day in the kitchen that provides you with meals to eat all month long. There
are many web sites, email lists and cookbooks devoted to this method of cooking.
This allows you to save time and buy in bulk which can help save money as well.
Be careful however that your bulk prices are actually coming out at a lower
price per unit. In addition, don’t forget that coupons can be used on bulk items
as well. Take advantage of any savings and always compare with what you would
have paid otherwise – it’s truly inspiring!
If you tend to buy meat in bulk quite frequently trade your old manual meat
grinder with an easy to use electric home
meat grinder like a Chefs Choice or Waring Pro and grind your own meat.
Buying slabs of organic meat and grinding it yourself lends to lower costs and
better control over the quality and cut. In addition, instead of grinding meat,
you can also slice the meat for sandwiches or snacks using one of many food
slicers for home use now on the market. Next, freeze your portions in vacuum
Who Doesn’t Love Pizza?
Pizza crusts can be parbaked, cooled and frozen with containers of shredded
cheese. When you want the pizza, place the frozen crust on a baking pan, spread
with some tomato sauce from the pantry and top with the cheese. It takes no
longer to bake than packaged frozen pizza. Making the crust yourself lets you
control the ingredients, such as adding alternative flours such as whole wheat
or chickpea flour. You can use sugar substitutes like agave or even turn a typical
crust into a spicy one by adding crushed red pepper flakes or jalapenos. The
options are limitless!
Breakfast For Dinner
The next time you make homemade pancakes or waffles, double the recipe. After
they are room temperature, stack them with wax paper between each piece. Place
in a ziplock bag with all of the air squeezed out and then freeze. These can be
quickly reheated in the toaster oven for a quick meal.
Scrambled eggs also freeze well. Add sliced cheese or cooked bacon or sausage
to make homemade healthy breakfast burritos or sandwiches on bagels or English muffins.
These can be heated in the microwave in only a couple of minutes!
Eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. With some creative planning
and smart time management, you will discover lower cost healthy choices for
all your meals.
Liz Krause enjoys writing about food tips and frugality. She owns and operates
an Italian cooking website where she writes reviews on kitchen appliances such
as the Delonghi gelato maker and shares her views on which is the best
food processor for the money. She currently spends her free time cooking
with her husband and trying new dishes which are easy and simple to prepare,
getting most of her recipes from her Italian mother-in-law.