24 b) Healthy Alternatives (con’t)
Proper nutrition is very important to our health. Achieving it is often difficult and can be extremely expensive. In an earlier blog there was quite a bit of information reviewed regarding what to eat and what to avoid. The misinformation about low and no fat foods runs rampant. Carbohydrates, despite the damage that over consumption reeks, are still heavily promoted. Unhealthy fast foods continue to prosper. All natural meats and vegetables are beyond the affordability of a large segment of the population.
If you can afford it please take advantage of the availability of fresh organic meats and vegetables. For today’s family two wage earners are the norms. With both spouses occupied during the day meal preparation is a real challenge.
What healthy alternatives are afforded to lower and middle income families?
Following are some thoughts:
- Purchase a crock pot. This may be the most valuable cooking devise made
- Plan your meals weekly and shop accordingly
- Include low cost, items in your meal planning, examples
- – Potatoes 10# bag for under $3 (less when on sale)
- – Rice (about $1 a lb. in bulk or large sizes)
- – Dried beans (vary from $1 – $1.50 lb.)
- – Fresh Green vegetables (prices vary by season & type, but usually there are items in the $1 a lb. range most of the time
- – Canned green vegetables (not nearly as good as fresh, but) usually lower in cost….look for specials…often 2 cans for 1$.
- – Chicken when on sale. Best value can be leg quarters in 10 lb. bags…bought some recently for $.39 per lb.
- – Pork is much lower in cost, but harder on your digestion. Use only in small quantities
- Review weekly supermarket ads and make a list of “specials” that are on your menu or will be in the near term.
Crock pot meals can be assembled in a few minutes, placed in the crock pot in the morning (on low) and will be ready at dinner time. For 4 – 6 servings use approx. 1 lb. of boneless meat or 1.5 lbs if bones in and 1 – 1.5 lbs. of three different vegetables. Fresh carrots, celery, cabbage, potatoes etc. work fine, or if you must canned, green beans, corn, peas, pinto beans etc. or a variety of similar frozen vegies. You can also add a can or two of canned tomatoes. You can change up the ingredients to change the flavor and provide variety. If you used canned vegies include the liquid. If not you will need to include at least two cups of water. Use more liquid to make a soup and less to make it more stew like. If you want it a bit thicker add a couple of tablespoons of corn starch. Cook on low heat.
If you maintain variety in the ingredients, this can become a “staple” dinner 2-3 times a week. It is easy to prepare, provides a healthy, filling and balanced meal for under $1.50 per person!
Here is an option for one additional crock pot meal, but it will add about 10 minute preparation time. Bring two quarts of water to boil, then add 1 lb. of dried beans (I recommend pintos, navy, red or black). Bring back to a boil for 5 – 10 minutes. Pour with liquid into the crock pot and add 1 Lb. of meat (1.5 lbs. if bones in). Cook on low heat; turn on high 30 minutes before serving. This will provide a balanced, filling meal for under $.75 per person.
Left overs for either of the above can be frozen and when you collect 2-3 of these it can become yet another meal with very little prep time and at little or no cost.