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Ways to save on cash and calories

Ways to save on cash and calories
Ways to save on cash and calories
Suetta Tingler

Calories — those tiny creatures that live in our closets and sew our clothes a little tighter each night — have a sly way of creeping onto grocery lists to eventually make their way on dinner plates. With the calorie laden holidays in the rear-view mirror, it’s a good time to revisit a few healthy eating tips all while tightening the family wallet.

Households have come to know that food prices continue to rise.

Consider the following suggestions as a means to making wise eating choices while getting the most bang for your buck.

•Check your pantry before going to the grocery. Implement the first in, first out rule. High acidic foods like tomatoes and tomato products and pickles are best if used within two years. Low-acidic foods that include canned vegetables and soups store well for three years, while canned fruit juice needs to be used within one year for best flavor and nutrition.

•Plan menus ahead. Make a list of needed ingredients and stick to it when grocery shopping.

•Use coupons and reward cards. Shop discount days. Buy meat direct from the local farmer.

•Purchase store brands which research suggests can be 15% to 20% lower than brand names.

•Buy food on sale and in bulk. Freeze when on sale. Frozen vegetables can be more cost effective than buying fresh.

•Compare unit prices not just the price on the container.

•Shop the perimeter of the grocery store first. That’s where the fresh produce, meats, dairy and eggs are usually found.

•Save money by buying produce in season. In general, some of the cheapest fruits and vegetables year-round are bananas, apples, oranges, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and sweet potatoes.

•Ground varieties of meat (beef, turkey, pork) are usually cheaper forms of protein. Ground meat offers lots of recipe versatility.

•Consider eating eggs over meat once or more a week.

•Larger cuts of meat tend to be cheaper but likely will require time to marinate, braise or slow cook to make tender. Dust off the Crock-Pot and use.

•Cost-effective pantry staples with long shelf life include dried and canned goods. Beans are a great source of plant protein and fiber. Grains like brown rice and oatmeal score high in cost value and nutrition. Don’t forget nut butters and whole grain pastas. Canned pumpkin can supply 200% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A. Pumpkin is not just for baking. Try stirring a few spoons of canned pumpkin into your bowl of oatmeal, prepared pancake mix, au gratin potatoes or brownies before baking for a hit of vitamin A.

•Buy whole chickens. Use bones to make broth for a second meal of soup.

•Meatless Mondays. Use tofu, beans or other legumes as sources of protein.

•Make Thursday the day to introduce a new recipe into the family meal plan. Peruse cookbooks to find healthy, economical recipes that offer different tastes. Ask members of the family to assist in selecting and preparing.

•Prevent dinner-time boredom by experimenting with a new spice or herb.

•Save on seafood. Salmon is less expensive during summer when more abundant. Fresh albacore tuna is cheaper during July to October. Halibut is in season March through November. Meanwhile, cut costs by shopping canned fish like tuna, salmon and mackerel. Canned tuna (3 ounces) can supply a whopping 20 grams of protein while providing the body with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Buy shrimp with tails on, which is less expensive. Save tails to make stock.

•If you can peel it, buy conventional rather than organic since you’re tossing the peel, which is the part exposed to most chemicals.

•Skip the prechopped vegetables; don’t pay for the convenience.

•Choose the plain mustard condiment over others since it contains no added sugar and the mustard seed plant has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

•Strive for five servings of vegetables and fruits daily.

•If you have no time to cook veggies, make a tray of fresh vegetables. Red pepper slices make great scoopers for Greek yogurt and hummus.

•Upgrade tomorrow’s breakfast. In a Mason jar, mix 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 tablespoon honey and 3/4 cup coconut milk. Cover, shake and chill overnight. In the morning, add lemon zest, nuts or berries.

•Prevent food waste. Check out the “sell by” and “best used by” dates to make timely purchases.

•Check out your check out. Make sure you get the advertised price when checking out on sale items.

Published in 2018 was the best-selling book “Genius Foods” that encourages eating for the brain to keep it sharp and resilient as we age. Foods that help answer this call include olive oil, avocados, blueberries, dark chocolate, eggs, grass-fed beef, dark leafy greens, broccoli, wild salmon and almonds. Consider these foods when preparing meals.

By applying smart strategies, even in tough times, households can find affordable, healthy groceries while sticking to a budget but it does require work and vigilance in doing so.

The recipes that follow are winter tasty, easy to stir up and budget friendly.


4 slices bacon

2 tablespoons chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped green pepper

1 cup water

2 cups corn (cut from cob, frozen or canned whole kernel corn, drained)

3 fresh tomatoes, peeled and cut up or 1 small can of tomatoes

2 large potatoes, cut in small pieces

3-1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup evaporated milk

Fry the bacon, remove and crumble; set aside. In the bacon grease, cook onion, celery and green pepper on low heat for about 2 minutes. Add water, corn, tomatoes and potatoes. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add the milk. DO NOT BOIL after adding the milk or it will curdle. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes about 2 quarts.


(“Mississippi Market Bulletin” cookbook)

4 cups crumbled cornbread

1/4 cup chopped green pepper

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

2 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken

1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1-1/2 cups chicken broth

Combine cornbread, green pepper, onion and celery; mix well. Place half of mixture in a 2-quart baking dish. Spread chicken over cornbread layer. Combine soup and chicken broth; pour over chicken. Place remaining cornbread mixture over chicken; press mixture down. Set aside 20 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


4 green or red bell peppers

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 (16-ounce) can refried beans

3/4 cup salsa

1/2 cup rice, raw, uncooked

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup cheddar cheese

Cut peppers in half lengthwise and put into a pot of boiling water. Boil for 3 minutes; drain. Brown ground beef and onions in a little olive oil. Stir in remaining ingredients EXCEPT for cheese. Place peppers in a 13×9-inch baking pan and fill each with the cooked meat mixture. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and bake uncovered until cheese melts, 5 to 10 minutes.


(“Dining Under the Carolina Moon”)

2 (3.4-ounce) packages vanilla instant pudding mix

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream

3-1/2 cups milk

Vanilla wafers

3 large ripe bananas

1 (8-ounce) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed

Combine pudding mix, sour cream and milk in a large bowl; beat at low speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes or until thickened. Line bottom and sides of a 3-quart bowl with vanilla wafers. Slice 1 banana and layer slices over vanilla wafers. Spoon about one-third of pudding mixture over bananas. Repeat layers two more times, using vanilla wafers, remaining bananas and rest of pudding. Cover and chill. Spread whipped topping over pudding just before serving. Serves 10.


(“Favorite Recipes from Quilters”)

12 chicken thighs

1 (16-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1/2 cup French dressing

1 package dry onion soup mix

Arrange chicken pieces in greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Mix together cranberry sauce, French dressing and soup mix. Pour over chicken and marinate in refrigerator for 1-1/2 hours. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1-1/2 hours.


1 egg

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 to 3 apples, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Beat egg; add sugars, vanilla, salt, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder and mix well. Stir in apples and pecans. Spread batter into greased 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.