Before you embark on your journey, choose your snack wisely.
Fruits and Vegetables – Good Nutrition and the Food Budget
Whether you are saving for a pet project, new furniture or car, vacation or college education, or just trying to survive the economic downturn, one of the places to look for extra cash is in the food budget. A penny saved on food is a penny earned toward other goals.
According to Alix Kates Shulman, author of several books, some really good ways to make ends meet and still eat well, i.e., making wise choices to be sure of getting all the nutrients you and your family need, are
If you don’t need it, don’t buy it;
Never buy a new one if your old one works; and
Never buy an expensive one when a lower-priced one will do.
Many of us have already abandoned restaurants for more time in the kitchen; and some of us may have given up driving in favor of walking to the store, but have you explored the possibilities for growing your own food, building menus around what you have on hand, being a more inventive cook, or living smaller with small plates and smaller servings at home? These are very trendy and the latter can really help maintain appropriate weight for many members of the family. Don’t forget to make the kids part of the solution, too. It is always amazing what they can devise when asked.
Ashley Grimaldo, writing for McClatchy News Service says, “To be a smart shopper, be thrifty and concerned about your diet,” and recommends that you
Look for seasonal sales. Stick with foods that grow in the season. Transportation costs incurred by importing and eating out-of-season foods are astronomical and arrive at the store right along with the food.
Plan meals and make a list. There are numerous sites on the Internet that can help. E-Mealz.com is one that does the work of making lists and finding recipes for you. Mealsforyou.com is another, and there are many more that are available to simplify this task.
Shop at the local farmers’ markets. It’s that transportation thing again, and you will be surprised at the reasonably priced and tasty foods that are available close to you.
Buy in bulk, but keep in mind that foods have use-by dates, deteriorate and spoil, so choose wisely and buy only what your family will use. And be very careful about using more just because it is there. Be conscious of the unit cost every time.
Limit time spent on coupon poaching. Time is money and your time is valuable, too. If you spend an hour and find only five dollars worth of coupons, you aren’t being paid what you deserve.
When times are tough, it’s tempting to buy high-calorie, processed foods (think chips, cookies and doughnut holes) which tend to cost less than lower-calorie, more nutritious things like vegetables, fruits and whole grains. But you can save on groceries without skimping on nutrition. Here are some hints from Linda McDonald, MS, RD, and editor of SupermarketSavvy.com.
Balance the bulk. Stocking up on whole-grain rice, pasta, and other staples from the bulk bins can save you money. Just don’t buy more than you can use.
Practice portion control. Meat is one of the costliest items on the food budget, so remember that a good-size portion for a woman is 3 ounces or a piece about the size of the palm of her hand. For men, 4 ounces will do and that also is a piece about the size of his hand. Depending on age, children’s portions should be smaller.
Bypass packaged foods. Do more prep work at home and skip the premade pizza crusts, shredded cheese, and prewashed salad greens. You may see 10 to 20% savings at the checkout counter.
Know when to go organic. For things that you peel, like bananas, oranges, etc., you can save with the regular kind. Avoid pesticides and the like in fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and apples that you don’t peel, with organics.
Choose frozen over fresh (sometimes). Out-of-season produce is more expensive and may lose much of its nutrients in shipping. So go creative with what’s in-season or buy plain frozen veggies and fruits – individually quick-frozen without calorific sauces or sugar. Serve dried fruits often and watch the savings grow while enjoying the nutrition here.
Look for store labels. Store brands now include organic, low-sodium, and other healthy options in products comparable to national brands and usually are more economically priced.
Check the unit price. If your supermarket doesn’t list these on the shelf tag, flip out your hand-held calculator and do the math right there in the aisle to compare prices across the different options.
Don’t fall for the hype. Watch for words like functional foods, super fruits, and the like. Orange juice fortified with calcium, revved-up sports drinks, teas and the like do a good job of raising the total on your bill while you would be better off feeding your family foods that provide those nutrients naturally.
Watch the scanner. Be sure that all your purchases are properly scanned, but be particularly aware of the store specials and coupon buys. It may be a good idea to unload all of those from the cart first or last and pay particular attention as they go through the scanner.
Just say, “NO!” Plan your grocery list ahead, and don’t buy anything you don’t need. Above all, resist those impulse buys.
Recently, there have been reports that Americans as a whole are purchasing 29% less fresh fruit, vegetables, and other perishable items due to financial concerns.
California Raisins, as well as other dried fruits like dried plums, dried figs, and dates, are an economical way to include good fruit nutrition in your family’s meals. There is no waste; they store without refrigeration for a longer period of time; and transporting them conserves fossil fuels, thereby saving transportation costs and the planet all at the same time. They make perfect, transportable snacks and a multitude of other good things, too.
At current prices here in Fresno, California, a medium fresh apple costs about 33 cents, a medium orange is almost 50 cents, while a small banana will run about 20 cents. A serving of California Raisins is 26 cents, of dried plums is 33 cents and dried dates are running 83 cents per serving while figs factor out to 75 or 87 cents. Dried cranberries, on the other hand, seem to be running about 70 cents per 1.5-ounce (40-gram) serving. It’s hard to beat those California Raisins and other California dried fruits, so serve them often.
Above all remember Valerie Waters’ Tip of the Month– Eat Right!where she reiterates, “Finally, you can’t forget about eating right – not only at meals, but while snacking, too. A lot of moms reach for their kid’s snacks when hunger hits, and that’s fine, just make sure those snacks are healthy for them and you, too. Dried fruit is one of your best bets, especially California Raisins. They are a naturally sweet, fat-free, portable snack, and that’s a big plus when you are looking for healthy eating on the go. And more good news…for adults, 1/4 cup of raisins counts as one of your daily fruit servings.”
Along with that good advice, take time once or twice a week to do the Time Crunch Workout that you will find on Valerie Waters’ Health and Fitness Video Tips at LoveYourRaisins.com and add more active time to reach all your good health goals.
National Fruit and Vegetable Month
Almost everyone needs to eat more fruits and vegetables. Research shows that they are critical to promoting good health and may help protect you from some chronic diseases including stroke, other cardio vascular diseases, and certain cancers. Fruits and vegetables, as well as many other foods, contain the vitamins, minerals and other naturally occuring substances that may help to protect against these diseases, but may not be found in most supplements.
Substitute fruits and vegetables for those higher calorie foods and lose or maintain a healthier weight. Easy to eat on the go, make them available anytime to provide a much needed energy boost. Very busy moms and dads with intakes of up to 3,000 calories need as many as 2-1/2 cups of fruit and 4 cups of vegetables every day while active kids ages 6 to 10 and not so active older adults should make 1-1/2 cups of fruit and 2-1/2 cups of vegetables a part of their 1,800 calories each day.
Because they are dried and the nutrients are concentrated, just 1/4 cup of California Raisins counts the same as 1 cup of most fresh fruits. Breakfast is a good place to start adding them to your daily fruit count. Just toss them on cereal, hot or cold; sprinkle on peanut butter toast; or stir into a favorite pancake batter as suggested in The Recipe of The Month, No-mess Banana Nut Pancakes.
National Dairy Month
June is time to check up on your milk and dairy product intakes, too. Just 3 servings a day of milk, cheese or yogurt provide nine essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin, and niacin equivalents, along with protein to help to better manage your weight, reduce the risk of high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain cancers, all the while building and repairing muscle and maintaining healthy skin.
From now until Labor Day, grilling is in full swing. Under the broiler indoors, outdoors over charcoal or gas, June and July hold several opportunities for special celebrations from the grill. Starting with Flag Day on June 14, continuing through Father’s Day and the First Day of Summer on June 21, and Independence Day on the Fourth of July, look to California Raisins to make sweet, savory and irresistible meals from the grill.
When it comes to grilling, or preparing meats anytime, for that matter, observing a couple of basic rules can prevent a lot of problems.
When you shop for meat, put it in your grocery cart last and, when the outside temperature is 90°F or higher or there may be delays enroute, bring a cooler and purchase ice to keep it cold until it is in your refrigerator at home.
Thaw frozen meat and poultry in the refrigerator — never on the counter — allowing up to 24 hours to thaw 5 pounds of meat.
Likewise, marinate meat and poultry in the refrigerator and always reserve some of the sauce for basting on the grill so you never use the same sauce for marinating and basting.
Wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before handling any food; immediately, clean up any juices from meat or poultry that spill with clean paper towel and again wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before handling this or any other food.
Thaw meat completely before cooking and keep ground meat patties to about 1/2-inch thick and about 4 inches in diameter (about 4 ounces each or 4 patties per pound) so that they cook thoroughly and evenly.
When transporting meat and poultry to a picnic site — keep it COLD in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs, separately from other foods or beverages, and avoid opening the cooler.
Use a thermometer (instant read works best) to be sure that the food has reached a safe minimum temperature, i.e.,
Ground beef patties – 160°F
Beefsteaks – 145°F for medium rare
– 160°F for medium
– 170°F for well done
Pieces of poultry or ground patties – 165°F
Fish or seafood – 145°F
Shellfish – 165°F
Use separate clean tongs or a spatula designated just for the meat; and discard any that is left out for more than two hours.
These are just a few of the great recipes to be found at LoveYourRaisins.com. Wherever you go, whatever you do, California Raisins add to the fun and enjoyment. From snacks to barbecues to special desserts, they are the Wise Choice for better eating, every time!
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