Even those of us in comfortable, upscale communities will not be immune to these challenges, and the smartest of us will use this year of transition to tighten our belts a bit and re-institute a few cost-conscious shopping and cooking habits within our households. But don't sacrifice healthy eating for the sake of saving a little. That would be, as my wise grandfather used to say, "penny wise and pound foolish." With some creative shopping and cooking strategies, however, it's possible for your family to eat healthier while also spending less.
* Consider generic brands (e.g., Whole Foods' 360 brand; Safeway's O brand); identify your favorites and stick with them
* Buy long-shelf items in bulk and freeze/store
* Dry: beans, rice, pasta, oats, sugar, flour, spices
* Liquid: oil, syrup, soy sauce, honey, peanut butter
* Purchase spices, nuts, grains, etc., in small quantities only as you need them
* Reduce waste; buy fresh items only as you will consume them weekly
* Take note of sale products and specials; build menus around them
* Collect and use coupons to offset costlier items
* Buy and marinate cheaper cuts of meat
* Give up dairy products, packaged snacks or sugared beverages one week a month
* Cook more chicken; cook vegetarian one to two times a month
* Make more whole-meal soups and casseroles
* Recycle leftovers for take-to-work lunches, omelets, salads, sandwiches, etc.
* Use fruits and vegetables seasonally
* Make your own bread, yogurt, granola, etc.
* Develop healthy, home-made alternatives to your family's favorite fast-food meals
* Set limits for take-out or dining; set monthly cost boundaries
* Plant a small vegetable garden for your family
Below are recipes for homemade chicken nuggets and shoestring potatoes; serve with your family's favorite nugget sauces and a side salad for a delicious, low-cost, homemade meal.
No matter what you do to save a dollar or two in the checkout lanes throughout 2009, I wish you a year of eating well. Bon appetit! Guten appetit! Buon appetito! Itadakimasu! Aacha Khaleyah! Est gezunterhayt! An ngon nhé! Buen provecho!
Jacqui Love Marshall lives in San Ramon with her pug, Nina Simone, and volumes of cookbooks and recipes. Her column runs every other week. E-mail her at email@example.com.
Mickey D's à la Home Baked Chicken Nuggets (four 3-oz. servings)
1-1/2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
1 cup ready-to-eat cereal, cornflakes, crumbs
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp Italian herb seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1. Remove skin and bone; cut thighs into bite-sized pieces.
2. Place cornflakes in plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin; add remaining ingredients to bag. Close bag tightly and shake until blended.
3. Add a few chicken pieces at a time to crumb mixture; shake to coat evenly.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cooking sheet.
5. Place chicken pieces on cooking sheet so they don't touch; bake until golden brown, 12-14 minutes.
Shoestring Potatoes (four 6-oz. servings)
1-1/2 pounds potatoes
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash potatoes; cut lengthwise into thin strips.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in plastic zip-lock bag. Put potatoes in bag; seal; and shake to coat potatoes.
3. Arrange potatoes in single layer on baking sheet; bake until crisp and golden, about 30 minutes.
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