Healthy Home Cooking on a Budget
Home cooking is a great ﬁrst step in keeping your household food budget on target. More and more families are trying to eat at home instead of eating out. Step it up by making sure what you cook at home is good for your wallet and your body! With some simple planning from shopping to cooking, enjoying nutritious meals at home is as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Make a Grocery List - Using a grocery list will keep you from impulsively buying expensive items that you do not absolutely need.
- Check your stock of staple ingredients. Add anything to your list that needs replenishing. Examples include brown rice, whole-grain pastas, breads and cereals, healthy cooking oils such as olive oils. Staple ingredients may not make your list every week, but be sure to update your pantry or try something new
- Include your family’s favorite fruits and vegetables. If you stick to produce that is in season, you can keep costs down. Keep dried fruits, nuts and seeds on hand for quick and easy snacks.
- Don’t forget protein such as lean meats, chicken, fish, and low-fat dairy. Beans and legumes also offer excellent protein for value, plus the added benefit of fiber.
- Spend your money where it counts and check your list twice. Skip the soda and junk foods that do not offer the nutrients your family needs for good health. Prioritize items on your list that offer nutritional value.
2. Cook Once, Eat Twice (or more!) - Prepare ingredients for your weekly meals on Sunday and then refrigerate immediately to use as ingredients for the rest of the week. For example, wash, cut and store your vegetables for cooking later in the week or for a quick snack. Grilling extra chicken for dinner on Sunday can be your fast and easy solution for Monday and Tuesday.*
3. Prepare One-Dish Meals – one-dish meals that incorporate all the food groups are a quick and inexpensive way to get all the nutrients your family needs. Bonus: less clean-up!
- Stir-Fry: cook lean proteins like chicken or beef with veggies and noodles or rice in a wok or sauté pan
- Stews: combine veggies, meat and potatoes in a pot (or slow cooker!) with broth or tomato base and simmer on low until cooked
- Casseroles: layer any combo of grains, veggies, lean proteins and/or cheese in an oven-safe dish then bake
Try to include as many food groups as possible in your one-dish meal!