Project Final Write Up

General History of the Project:
Recapping on my project proposal,using my WordPress blog, I wanted to provide tips, resources, and recipe ideas that would expand the reader’s and my own view and knowledge of healthy cooking. I planned to do this assignment including posting 3- 4 posts a week with at least 2 posts being around the 500- 750 word range.

General Progress of Project:
For my project I researched and wrote about 4 topics all having to do with healthy cooking. These topics were: 1. Making desserts and sweet treats healthier, which I covered in week one, 2. Healthy cooking in general, which I covered in week 2, 3. Cooking healthy on a budget, which I covered in weeks three and four, and 4. How we can cook healthy in summer, and how to utilize our resources during summer to cook healthier all year, which I covered in week 5.
Starting off each week I only knew what general topic I wanted to cover for that week, and only had a general idea of what kinds of things I would be including in my 3-4 posts. As a result, every week’s layout was different.

For week one, with the topic of how to make desserts healthier, I researched tips for making desserts healthier and decided I was going to use the week to test out three baking substitutions that I thought were the most bizarre, or shocking. So for this week, I wrote about my baking trials that included: using black beans instead of oil in a brownie recipe, using avocado instead of butter in a chocolate chip cookie recipe, and using applesauce instead of sugar in a cupcake recipe.

  • Although this week’s posting went really very well, with 3 posts and my avocado post with over 500 words, I still felt like it wasn’t quite complete. At the start of this week I originally wanted to do three trial posts (which I did), and one post that included a listing of healthier baking substitutions, additions, and etc., like I did in week two with general healthy cooking. Because I ended up spending so much of my time baking, and writing up my posts about my trials, I just wasn’t able make room time wise for that last posting.

For week two, with the topic of how to make cooking in general healthier, I researched tips and techniques for making cooking in general healthier. This resulted in 3 posts about how to reduce the amount of fat and sodium in cooking, healthy cooking substitutions, and how to incorporate more produce in your cooking. Along with these 3 posts I also did 2 trials during week two testing out some of the tips and techniques I presented for a total of 5 posts this week.

  • Week 2 was by far my most productive week. Not only did I create 5 postings, 2 of those (How to Reduce the Amount of Fat and Sodium in Your Cooking, and Cooking Substitutions for Healthier Meals) posts were over 1000 words, and one was just shy of 500. Although I was happy with the overall content I created this week, I tried a working method that involved me working on all my posts at the same time throughout the week in order to better organize my content, and then posting them all at the same time at the end of the week. Although this was convenient for me for that particular week, this method would prove to have some drawbacks as I’ll explain in a minute.

For week three I had High hopes of including great content about how to prepare healthy meals on a low income budget. This week I only created 1, 700 word posting on preparing healthy meals on a budget. This post included 6 tips on cooking healthy on a budget, and so, my goal was to create 6 posts based off of those 6 tips going more indepth on each tip in my posting.

  • For this week I worked on this main post and parts of other posts throughout the week, continuing with the method from the week before, but part way through the week I had to leave town for a few days to help out with some family stuff, and so I wasn’t able to finish my sub posts for that week.

Week 4 went better moving forward with my plan from the week before I posted one 1500 word posting about 15 inexpensive healthy foods, one 800 word posting about buying in bulk, and one shorter post about couponing for a total of 3 posts.

For week 5 I wrote about cooking healthy in summer, and using summer to cook healthy year around. This week went really well with 3 total postings, 1 focused on tips and recipe ideas for cooking healthier summer favorites, 1 post about container gardening, and 1 post about freezing produce for healthier meals year all year.

  • A few obstacles that I encountered this week was that with both the gardening and the freezing posts, I thought I knew exactly how these posts were going to look when I started, but the more I got into them the more I realized that there was way more to both of these things than originally thought. This caused me to change my postings slightly, and just figure out how to either focus my posting more (like I did with gardening) or include more links(like I did with freezing) to produce quality postings.

Conclusion:

Even though I didn’t include all of the information that I always hoped to, I thought this project went pretty well. On average I posted exactly the amount of times I was hoping for, with quite a few with pretty good length. I also felt I did pretty well with the inclusion of links in my posts. Two great examples being in my posts: How to Incorporate Produce to make meals Healthier, and Guides for Freezing Produce

A few things I would do differently next time would probably work with the overall layout of my blog more, as far as having a more completed menu bar to make my blog easier to navigate, and posting more regularly throughout the week in order to hopefully gain followers.

From the actual information Itself, I learned a ton about healthier cooking, which was part of my goal for this project.
Aside from the information included in my blog, I also learned a lot about the art of blogging from doing this project. I now understand how much planning and time goes into topic based blogging for an audience.

I also learned from doing this project, and also by comparing my blog to more successful blogs how important it is to be able to connect with your audience, and find your voice when you are writing if you want to be successful and attract followers. During the last few weeks of this project I tried to put a little more personality into my postings, but I found that this was very difficult for me to do. As a result even from just this, I think I learned something valuable about myself as a person. Perhaps being a little too self-conscious to put myself out there in a blog, and maybe even in relationships. Online relationships as well as offline ones require a personal effort to connect in order to be successful.

Advertisements

Project Final Week Reflection

What I’ve been up to:

This week I’ve been discussing ways in which we can cook healthier meals during the summer months. My first post this week, Cooking Healthy in Summer: popsicles, grilling and more, focused on healthier food choices and cooking methods that are directly applicable to the summer months. My second post, Gardening: When you Have no Space for a Garden, talked about ways in which people in various living situations can produce their own fruits and vegetables. I chose to include this topic as having access to fruits and vegetable is crucial in healthy cooking, and people who have limited access typically also have no yard for a conventional garden. As gardening is something that is started in the upcoming weeks, it seemed appropriate to include. Stemming from my second post was my third post, Guides for Freezing Produce. This post provides links to good sources on freezing produce and herbs. I discuss these links and why you should check them out on this post.

 

What went well:

Overall I had an excellent week. I was able to post everything I was planning to, and greatly enjoyed my weeks topic of summer cooking.

Guides for Freezing Produce

Ever start a garden, see a great sale on in-season produce, or just not use that bundle of spinach you bought last week as quickly as you thought, and wish that you knew how to preserve extra produce to use later? Well wish no more! I have scoured the internet looking for the best written out instructions on how to properly freeze fruits, vegetables, so we will waste money, and miss out on savings no more!

Okay, before we begin you will notice that this post concentrates solely on the freezing method to preserve produce though there are other methods of preserving produce. The Freezing method, however, is the best in preserving the nutrient value of the food you are preserving, and the easiest to learn.  Alright, now that we got that straightened out, let’s get started!

 

Living Well: 11 Secrets To Properly Freezing Produce

  • This first site gives impeccable detail, along with photographs instructing on how to properly freeze fruits and vegetables. She separates the information out logically starting with prep, then moving on to freezing, labeling and storing, and even includes information on thawing. This is truly one site that gives all you need to know about the Freezing as a technique for preserving food.

Growing seasons for local, organic produce

  • This link is for a printable chart for seasonal produce in the Northwest, where I, and most people who view my blog, are from. What produce is in season and when varies by location so be sure to adhere to a guide that is for your area. As buying produce in season, helps ensure the quality of the food, and is typically cheaper,  I suggest printing out this chart or one similar, and then hang it on your fridge so you have a reference for planning out your meals throughout the year.

Freezing Herbs

  • Although this post is centered on freezing fruits and vegetables, It’s also important to know how to preserve your excess herbs throughout the summer season and into the fall and winter.

Hopefully you all found these links as helpful as I did for a guide on freezing produce! Please leave me a comment if there are other helpful sites that you use for tips on freezing. Good luck in your freezing endeavors!

Gardening: When You Have No Space for A Garden

Summer is almost here folks! Along with summer comes the perfect opportunity to try your hand at gardening. Producing your own food is beneficial for a number of reasons. Some of them include, providing your family with healthier meals for dirt cheap, enjoying better quality or fresher produce than most grocery stores are able to provide, and being more self sufficient, just to name a few. Although this sounds all well and good, for people who live in apartments or otherwise have no place for a garden the thought of being able to grow produce at home may seem impossible.  Well, where there’s a will there’s a way!

Option #1: Garden in containers

For people who have a deck, or even a small balcony, a great option is to use various types of containers to create garden space.  Container gardening is fairly simple all you need is

– A container

Any container will do as long as it’s large and sturdy enough to hold the plant, has holes in the bottom for water drainage, and aeration.

– Soil

Make sure to use at least in part a soilless kind, which you can get at any gardening center, as it allows for better aeration of your roots, allowing the plant to receive more nutrients, and grow you more produce.

– Water

Any old water will do, if it’s safe for you, it’s safe for your plants. Knowing when to water, is just a matter of checking the soil with your fingers. if it feels moist, no need to water. If it feels dry, give your plants a good watering. How often you need to water will change with the weather, so feeling the soil is important to reduce the chance of over and under watering. Make sure you give your plants enough water, so that the water reaches the roots at the bottom of the container. A good guide line is to water until water starts to seep out of the holes in the bottom of the container.

– Adequate sunlight

Pick a spot for your make shift garden that gets lots of sunlight. Most vegetables (but not all) that grow best in container (tomatoes, peppers, onions, etc) need approximately 6 hours of direct sunlight a day to thrive.

For more information on gardening basics check out

Things to keep in mind

  • The bigger the container the better, typically a size of at least 10” wide and 12” deep is best.
  • The package in which your seeds come in often give great instructions on how to plant that particular seed, and also how much sunlight that plant will need. Some plants (like cabbage, or lettuce) grow best is shaded spots that only get around 3 hours of light of so.
  • If you live someplace that gets a pretty windy weather, consider putting a few rocks in the bottom of your container to make it more sturdy, and using some kind of bungee cord to link your container to a railing so your plants stay put.

 

Cooking Healthy in Summer: Popsicles, Grilling and More!

Summer is just around the corner ladies and gents. I realize this is kind of hard to believe when it’s still snowing out (the joys of spring in Minnesota), but it’s coming! Along with the arrival of summer comes the arrival of a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables right at our fingertips.  Eating more produce accompanied with added exercise are reasons why summer is the time when most of us are able to slim down, shedding those extra pounds we gained during our winter hibernation. Although most of us are already eating healthier during summer months, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still room for improvement.  This post will provide some ideas and tips on cooking healthy in summer. Let’s get started!

 

Healthier frozen sweet treats

When it gets hot out there, one of our favorite ways to cool off is by devouring a tasty cold treat. Instead of grabbing for the ice-cream, pick a popsicle instead. Popsicles typically have half the calories per serving than ice-cream! Have fun making popsicles with the family, and avoid artificial colors and flavors, and added sugar with these healthy homemade popsicle recipes:

  •    Frozen Fruit Kabobs-  Slice up your favorite fruit, put on a stick, and Freeze for 3-4 hours. A serving of fruit, doubled as an icy refreshing treat!
  •     Chocolate Covered Kiwi Popsicles– For a sweeter treat you can take your frozen kabobs and dip them in Chocolate.
  •     Black Bean Fudgesicles– This recipe is a healthier take on the classic fudgesicle. I can’t wait to try this one out!
  •     Summer Melon Granita with Fresh Mint– Technically more like a slushy, but still cold, delicious and refreshing!

Prepare meals on the grill

Grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook meats as it requires little to no added fat source to cook, and a lot of the meat fat is allowed to drop off the meat. Grilling has the capacity to go beyond meats, however. It is also an excellent and tasty way cook fish, seafood, vegetables and even fruit!  So instead of heating up your frying try out some of these healthy recipes, and spend less time in the kitchen, and more time with your family outside in the sun.

Have fun with your salads

Mix it up! For a healthy and refreshing twist, try adding nuts and your favorite berries to your next salad.

 

 

Additional Links to checkout

100-Calorie snacks: 16 Refreshing Healthy Summer Eats

 

Tips on Smarter Shopping

Coupons Coupons Coupons!

Though in recent years coupon use has held a negative social stigma, being viewed as something you poked fun of your grandma for, it is starting to make a comeback, and for good reason. It has been seen that some people, like Susan Samtur the author of Super Shop Like the Coupon Queen, are able to save on average 50-60 percent a week at the supermarket with coupons! Samtur shared her  experiences and tips on using coupons with Amanda Greene, who, using Samtur’s tips, wrote an interesting article in Woman’s Day magazine called 10 Things you Didn’t Know About Coupons. Some interesting things Greene shares in her article Include number 3 in on her list, “Coupons benefit those who aren’t brand loyal,” which explains that looking for coupon deals at a variety of stores in your area will allow you save more money than people who are loyal to only one grocery chain. I also found number 9 on her list to be an excellent tip, “If your store is out of a sale product that they advertised, they can offer you a rain check.” I had no idea stores did this. I highly recommend reading this article, as it provides some great advice on how you can save money shopping smarter with the help of coupons.

Broke? Buy Food in Bulk

One great way to spend less money on healthy foods is to buy them in bulk. Because bulk foods are minimally packaged, buying in bulk allows you to buy the foods you love at a lower price per unit compared with their heavily packaged counterparts. Alright, let’s continue below for some tips on buying food in bulk.

What not to buy in bulk

  •   Perishable Foods- Generally speaking, perishable foods (those that require refrigeration) should not be bought bulk, unless they will certainly be used up in a timely manner. For example, it may not make sense for me (a single college student) to buy 5 dozen eggs at a time, but for family of seven this may prove to be an economically sound choice. Foods that are bought in bulk, but are not used before spoiling do not save you money.
  • Foods With High Fat Content-Although is may seem like  buying 15 pounds of nuts and a gallon of cooking oil will save you money as a bulk purchase, but most people don’t realize that foods with high fat content go rancid rather quickly. Nuts will spoil within 4-6 months, and oil within 3-5 months. Again, unless you can actually utilize that much of these products, it is best just to buy the amount you need.
  • Spices–  With the exception of  spices like black pepper and salt that you use on an everyday basis, spices are usually not worth buying in large quantities. Although spices don’t spoil, their flavor intensity does diminish with time.
  • Foods That Aren’t Healthy-  When the goal is to buy foods for cheaper to maintain a healthier lifestyle, it is not wise to invest your money in junk food. Buying things like chips, cookies and candies in bulk will likely increase the amount of these foods  you consume. My advice is to just buy a small portion of these products if a craving should arise.

Although these foods are not typically great candidates for buying in large quantities, there are still ways you can save money on them. Often times the “bulk” section of the grocery store allows you to buy as much or as little of a product as you’d like. For example, Instead of buying an entire container of a spice you only use once or twice a year, you can shop in the bulk section and buy only the amount you need, saving you money and ensuring the freshness of that spice. For more tips on shopping smarter, including how to buy perishable foods for cheaper, visit my page Tips for Smarter Shopping.

Foods to Buy in Bulk

Cereal

– Cereal for many Americans constitute the first meal of most mornings. Because it is typically quickly used, and has a long shelf life, cereal is a smart product to buy in bulk. Often times bulk stores, like Costco, offer your favorite brands in larger than normal quantities for less per unit cost. Another option is to stock up on your favorites when they go on sale at your local supermarket.

Dried beans

–  Beans are a wonderfully nutritious food loaded with fiber and having 8 grams of protein a serving. Beans are great to buy in bulk because they don’t take a lot of room to store, and they can sit unspoiled for an entire  year. Beans can be bought in bulk at most grocery stores in (depending on the variety of bean) 2, 10, and even 20 pound bags. Typically the larger quantity you buy, the cheaper they are per serving.

Pasta

– Pasta is another great food to buy in bulk with a shelf of 2 years! One option for buying pasta in bulk is to wait for it to go on-sale at your local grocery store and stock up then. Another option is to buy it at a whole foods market allowing you to buy as much as you will use , at a  lower price. One thing to remember with pasta is opt for the whole wheat option, as it contains 3 times the amount of fiber than regular pasta.

Grains

– Grains, like beans are wonderful to buy in bulk as they take little room to store, and most have a rather long shelf life of around a year. One exception to this, however is brown rice. Brown rice contains slightly more healthy fats than do other grains and so spoil quicker,  having a shelf life of only around 6 months. Brown rice is highly nutritious, however, so instead of leaving it off your list, just buy as much as you think you will use in half a year. Grains can be bought in large quantities at most supermarkets in (depending on the variety) 2, 10 and 20 pound bags with prices typically going down as the quantity purchased goes up. Another great place to buy a variety of grains are whole food markets, which often offer a greater variety of grains to choose from at lower prices per unit than smaller  prepackaged quantities.

 

 

 

15 Inexpensive Healthy Foods

Are you one of the many people in America who would love to provide themselves, or a family with healthy meals, but feel restricted by a dirt poor type of budget? Often times the most difficult tasks in preparing healthier meals are to know what kind of foods to buy, and how to cook with basic ingredients. As someone who has been there, and would like to lend a helping hand, I have used the internet and my own experiences to put together a list of healthy, inexpensive foods to put on your next shopping list. I have also provided links to recipes that use these ingredients, and even some how-to video tutorials that I think might help if you are someone who is new to cooking with basic ingredients.

Cheap and Healthy Protein Sources
1. Canned Tuna

– A serving has about 8 grams of protein at about $0.40 a serving. Canned tuna offers all of the heart healthy benefits of fresh fish at a fraction of the price. Just be sure to get the type that is stored in water rather than oil to save on the extra fat.
2. Dried or canned beans

– If you want to create healthy meals on a budget few foods are more perfect to use than beans. Beans are a powerhouse food. They are loaded with fiber and protein, and have a low glycemic index meaning they release energy slowly and steadily keeping you feeling full and satisfied without a fat or sugar crash. Beans are also very economical. The average cost dried pinto beans is 10 cents per serving!
3. Eggs

– Eggs have been on a comeback lately after receiving a bad rap about the level cholesterol they contain. The most recent studies agree that consuming 6-7 eggs a week will not impact cholesterol levels. On a positive note, eggs are inexpensive costing around 20 cents an egg, and are loaded with protein (11 percent of your daily value) and iron, and contain only 68 calories per egg. Not to mention they are easy to make in a hurry, and quite versatile.
4. Lentils

–  Lentils are a type of legume that come in a variety of types including red lentils, green lentils, and brown lentils. Like other kinds of beans,  they are a great source protein and fiber. In fact, Lentils have the highest amount of protein by weight of any other plant based food. Like larger beans, lentils can help lower cholesterol, keep you feeling full longer, and are very versatile to cook with. Costing only about 1 dollar per pound, they are certainly worth adding to your next grocery list.
5.  Cottage Cheese

–  If you are worried about getting enough protein in your diet, think about picking up a container of cottage cheese on your next grocery run. This dairy product contains approximately 14 grams of protein per every 1/2 cup at a cost of only 48 cents a serving! Not only is it high in protein and low cost, cottage cheese is also available in low fat and fat free options, and is rather versatile to cook with.

6. Chicken and slow roasting red meat cuts

– As we all know meat tends to be the priciest item in the grocery store, but something we may not know is that most kinds of meats (especially beef and pork) tend to be very high in unhealthy, cholesterol raising fats. But, because meat will always be something I love to cook, I’ve looked into some healthier cheaper options that I will now share with you. First of all, the healthiest meats tend to be poultry based as they contain the least amount of fat. To reduce the cost of poultry, or really any type of  meat, is to buy it in large quantities, and freeze it. At Wal-Mart this I noticed if bought in the largest quantity possible, the price was only 1.99 per pound. For cheaper meats that are free of chemicals and added hormones, however, consider buying them all natural, or organic at a bulk shopping center like Costco. Another way to reduce the cost of meat is to purchase tough cuts of meat like a shoulder of rump roast as these are typically cheaper per pound. After sitting in a slow cooking all day, these cuts will be just as juicy and tender as any other.

Cheap and Healthy grains/starches
7. Brown rice

– A ¼ cup serving of brown rice only costs about 10 cents. Although white rice is usually cheaper (by about 5 cents), the health benefits of brown rice definitely outweigh the cost differential. Brown rice is less processed, and therefore retains more of its nutrients after milling than white rice does.
8.  Whole wheat pasta

– Pasta is a staple in any kitchen as it is versatile and cheap costing around only 14 cents per serving. The healthier option, however, is to use the whole wheat variety instead. Here’s why:
Whole wheat pasta contains almost three times the amount of fiber than regular pasta. Fiber has been shown to lower cholesterol levels lowering your risk of heart disease, as well as help control blood sugar levels allowing you to feel full for longer and therefore aid in healthy body weight management. As you can see, it is a worthwhile switch.

9.  Whole wheat bread

– Bread like pasta is also a very versatile and inexpensive kitchen staple costing about 15 cents a slice. Also like pasta, the switch from white bread to whole wheat can offer great benefits linked the increase of the amount of fiber contained in the whole wheat variety. The important thing to remember when shopping is to look for “whole wheat”. Don’t settle for breads that advertise multi-grain, or whole grain as these often don’t offer the same benefits as whole wheat. To be sure, just check the ingredients on the package. What you are looking for is a loaf made with whole wheat flour as opposed to simply enriched flour.
10.  Potatoes

– Potatoes are an excellent source of several nutrients, including vitamins C and B6, potassium, pantothenic acid, niacin and dietary fiber. Additionally, the protein in potatoes contain lysine, an essential amino acid generally absent in grains. Being extremely versatile for cooking, and costing only about 50 cents a pound, potatoes are an excellent food to put on your next grocery list
11. Old fashioned oats

– Old fashioned oats, the kind made into oatmeal and delicious oatmeal raisin cookies,  are a nutritious low cost food (costing only 11 cents per serving)  that many health professionals suggest should be incorporated into your daily diet. Oats provide nutrients, fiber and beneficial phytochemicals to your diet. These nutritional components provide a wide range of health benefits, including lower cholesterol and a reduced risk of certain diseases. Buying these oats in the large cylindrical bin rather than the individual packets is not only more cost effective, but also allows you to dictate what you add for flavor, potentially lowering the amount of sugar and calories per serving.

Cheaper Produce
12. Frozen vegetables

– Because frozen produce is often packaged at the peak of freshness, it contains a lot of the same nutrients, and sometimes even more nutrients than fresh produce, as they aren’t always in their freshest or ripest form when they get to store shelves. That being said, Frozen produce is also often cheaper than fresh produce, and you wont have to worry about it going bad.
13. Frozen whole fruits

– Frozen fruits have the same perks as frozen veggies. One thing to look out for with frozen fruits however is they are not frozen in sugary syrup, as this adds a tremendous amount of extra calories, and therefore diminishes the healthiness of the product.

14.  Spinach- bagged or whole

– Although  all leafy greens offer an abundance of nutrition including vitamins A and K, and a healthy dose of fiber, I specifically  included spinach in this list as the price throughout the year doesn’t fluctuate much, staying at a minimal price of around 70 cents per 1 cup serving.  I also specifically chose to add spinach as it is extremely versatile, and so easy to use up, and less likely to go to waste.

15. Bananas

– Bananas are great produce to buy year round. Not only are they healthy, they never go out of season, and therefore change little in price through the year. The average cost of a single banana is about 40 cents. Bananas offer numerous health benefits. Because they are an excellent source of potassium and fiber, they can lower your risk for heart disease, sooth ulcers, relieve constipation, help your body to absorb calcium and support kidney function. Bananas are popular among athletes as they replenish potassium lost during workouts, and are a quick source of energy. Their nutritional benefits, and the fact that they come in their own natural little package (prep free) also makes them a perfect option for anyone with a busy schedule.

 

To expand the types of foods that can be afforded on a low income budget, and to reduce costs further some of the same foods I have mentioned heren(and you have a freezer and or a little extra storage space in your living space), consider buying foods in bulk. For a list of healthy foods that are wise to buy in bulk, and some tips on freezing and storing them, visit my Broke? Buy in Bulk page.

Preparing Healthy Meals on a Low Income Budget

Most people you talk to would agree that eating healthy is important and vital for proper body maintenance and function. A lot of people, who would agree, wish they could prepare healthier meals themselves, though they look at their current grocery bills and think cooking healthier is much too expensive. Although food prices have gone up tremendously in the last ten years, cooking healthy meals while on a tight budget is not out of the question if you are willing to include a few extra steps to your shopping, and food preparation routine. Read the following tips for a starting point on the road to healthier cooking.

1. Evaluate Your Spending
• Eat out less/ learn to make your restaurant favorites at home
– Even eating 2 meals at home during the week that you’d normally eat out can save you anywhere from 15-30 dollars a week!  That savings  can be used to buy healthier grocery store items like a variety of fresh veggies or lean meats that you may have had to skip otherwise
• Cut out the junk
– Try to cut out as much food that is highly processed and or contains large amounts of refined sugars as possible. These foods often include crackers, frozen dinners, soda, or other packaged foods. Although these foods are convenient to make, leaving them out of your cart will not only help your health, but also your budget; as these foods are often what racks up a grocery bill.
Shop the perimeter of the store first
– The perimeter of the grocery store is where the fresher foods are located. When it comes to cooking healthier fresh foods are almost always better than their packaged counterparts. Filling up your cart with fresh foods first will make you more apt to buy the healthier options and skip out on the junk.
2. Buy Healthier Inexpensive Foods
•  Go for the ones that are  as close to the way the earth made them as possible. This includes fresh or frozen produce, lean meats, beans and grains. These kinds of foods are typically  high in nutrients like protein and vitamins and minerals but low in sodium, and fat content. For a longer list of healthy inexpensive foods, click on the link above.

3. Shop Smarter
• Look for resources that might help you save money on food. This can include searching out coupons, locating and attending your local farmers market, or finding a discounted food store in your area. Click the link in the title for more ideas on how you can be a smarter shopper

4. Buy in Bulk
• Save money by buying items in larger volumes. Before buying make sure you always calculate the price and serving ration out to be sure you are truly getting a good deal.

5. Stretch Your Money When You Cook
• Cooking meals in bulk can help you stretch expensive foods like meats farther, saving you money.
• Make new meals from previous ones. This can help when your family starts to get bored of leftovers, and can also ensure you use up ingredients like produce when they are on the verge of spoiling; making sure you get your money’s worth from your food.

6. Make a Meal Plan
• This step in the process is absolutely crucial for eating better on a tight budget especially so when you are trying to feed a family. Planning out your meals for the next week, two weeks, or even month can ensure you buy only the things you will need each week at the grocery store, saving you money. It will also help reduce that tired, after work panic when you need to get supper going, but are not sure what to make. With your meals planned out, you will know exactly what needs to be done, and you can even make meals ahead of time. This will reduce the likelihood that you will settle for the easy highly processed less nutritious prepackaged meal, and instead allow you to provide your family with a healthy balanced meal.

I hope these tips will help in the quest for making healthier meals at low budget prices. Be sure to explore my links for more ideas, on ways in which we can make cooking healthier!

Make a Better Pasta Dish

As I have been looking at a variety of ways in which to make cooking healthier this week, I decided to do a trial using a few different suggestions I have talked about. For this trial, I subbed out ingredients, as well as added veggies in hopes of improving the health quality of one of my favorite simple dishes; pasta and red sauce with meat.

When I traditionally make pasta, I use three staple ingredients; ground beef, regular pasta noodles, and a simple red sauce. For this trial is instead used, Italian ground turkey, whole wheat pasta noodles, and a veggie puree loaded red sauce containing over half of my recommended daily amount of veggies.

pasta 1

My preparation of this dish was as you would expect. I cooked the noodles as indicated on the package to “firm”. I seasoned and browned the ground turkey just as I would with beef, using onion, garlic, pepper, a little salt, and Italian seasoning. Once browned I added in the jar of pasta sauce, and allowed to warm on low while my pasta was cooking. Once warmed I seasoned the sauce to taste with a little more Italian seasoning. Once the noodles were cooked, drained, and added back to the pot, I added the red sauce mixing it in with the cooked noodles.

pasta

This was the first time I had ever used ground poultry in my cooking and was a little worried about it possibly having a lack in flavor compared with beef. I was pleasantly surprised, however, in that the ground turkey really had a great flavor, and a very similar texture to that of ground beef. In regards to the noodles and red sauce, I really didn’t notice any difference or lack of flavor at all.

Being that the meal contained great flavor, and similar texture to that of my usual pasta, I would say that these changes were successful. I will certainly be usually these healthier alternatives more often in my cooking, and I encourage you to try them out as well!