Oh my goodness!!! It is bad that I was excited to get gas for $3.50/gallon today. But that is really good seeing that gas at "my" Kroger was $3.75...big difference! And gas isn't the only thing that is getting more expensive these days. Just about everything is showing signs of inflation. Milk and eggs are more expensive. Oddly enough, yogurt is 3 cents cheaper...go figure! Fruits and veggies are move expensive as well. A green bell pepper...GREEN!...was near $1.50 today. Sorry, just can't do that. So, how do you maintain healthy eating habits when prices are going up?
1. Buy in season. Unless there is something that you just can't do without, buy the fresh fruits and veggies that are in season...and buy frozen those things that aren't. Despite what you may have thought, frozen veggies still have the nutrients that are so important. Just get the simply frozen kind, not something that is salted or oversauced.
2. Buy what is on special. As mentioned above, I didn't buy the bell pepper...but I have no doubt that this summer, all those beautiful orange, yellow, and red bell peppers will go on sale. THEN, I will buy them! Sometimes, I'll even find some produce on manager's special. They might but it on sale because the sell by date is near or there are some bruises on fruit. In general, this produce is still good. Even if the fruit is bruised, you can cut off the bruise. If canned beans are on sale, I grab several cans. I only buy avacados on sale. Buy store brand, in general there is no (or not much) difference (though I did decide this week that store brand "honey nut cheerios" just don't cut it!).
3. Buy what you know you'll use. In this category, I'll talk about milk. I do buy organic milk but only because it lasts SO much longer than "regular" milk. Yes, it is more expensive; but I don't use it fast enough to warrant the other milk. This actually saves me money. If there is fresh produce on sale (for example, today corn was 10/$3), only buy what you will use before it goes bad. I would not need to buy 10 ears of corn...unless I have a deep freeze and could take the kernels off and freeze them. If that's the case...go for it...buy and freeze!!
4. Buy local. Now, this is a better buy for others, I think. We have a farmer's market here and I do love using it because the quality of the produce is SO much better that that in the stores. However, the price difference is not that much. Occasionally, it is actually more pricey. But I still use the Farmer's Market (when I can get there). I'm a bit jealous of some of the produce other people get with quite a bit of savings at their markets. It seems that prices at markets in the NE are a better deal than down here...and if the MS floods like they are predicting, it could be worse with farmlands flooded.
5. Grow your own! I don't do this as I have absolutely NO yard, no porch, no nothing. But one day I would love to have a garden. My Papa have an extensive garden and those veggie dinners were my favorite! There is nothing that compares to homegrown tomatoes, green beans, and okra. Oh so good!!! This would be a good family activity, too! Teach kids about responsibility, how things grow, and about working together.
Tomato Spinach Soup
1 large (can't remember the oz, sorry but ust the large version) can stewed, diced tomatoes
1/2 cup uncooked lentils (for a thicker more lentil-y version, use 1 cup...this would be really good!)
water (to your preferred texture)
salt, pepper (season to taste)
1 box frozen spinach
In a large stock pot, put tomatoes. Add water to get tomatoes to your desired consistency. Add lentils. Bring to boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils are cooked. Taste and season as desired. Add frozen spinach. Cover and cook until spinach thaws. Stir to distribute evenly. Enjoy!