Saturday, June 18, 2011

Giveaway at Smockity Frocks

Being a large family ourselves...I love giveaways! Especially if they help keep my budget in check!

Check out the giveaway at Smockity Frocks....a pantry can of each: strawberries, apple chips and taco flavored TVP. Now let me tell you, I haven't tried Shelf Reliances TVP but I have tried their strawberries and apple chips...they are great! They are great healthy snacks and are good to put in instant oatmeal to make your own "packs" for easy serving.

Go check it out!

7 Ways to Get more Fruits and Veggies without Breaking the Budget

As we talked about yesterday, on June 2nd the USDA released their new MyPlate guidelines. The new guidelines show a diet filled with more fruits and vegetables with less grains. Have you looked at the price of fresh produce in the grocery stores? Not a pretty site! And many people, including our family, have always viewed the "grains" as fillers....I know rice, pasta and breads are cheap ways to fill up a hungry teenage boy and at that age, they are able to burn all those extra carbohydrates and calories. Of course, it probably sets a bad habit for them to fight in later life? can we increase the fruits and veggies without breaking the grocery budget? Well, I have some ideas.

  1. Many of us use the meat as the "centerpiece" on our plates. We'll throw a big hunk of meat on there and then the rest of the plate was given to fillers and a little veggies. Fruits were usually reserved as dessert or a snack. Change your thinking...if the veggies and fruit take a larger role on our plate, then we'll be spending less money on meat or "proteins" as the MyPlate guideline shows. 
  2. Buy fresh produce in season. This is a no-brainer. If the produce is not in season, it is picked early, shipped from long distances and has a higher cost especially as the cost of fuel rises. Learning to buy produce in season for your area may mean that you try new types of produce...that's not a bad thing. Have fun with it.  You might find a new favorite! 
  3. Shop at discount stores like Aldi's. The Aldi's store near us gets their produce shipment in on Tuesdays. That means I am there usually on Wednesday buying our produce for the week. The produce varies but I have always found it cheaper. For example, our local Walmart and other grocers charge about $2.88 per head of califlower but at Aldi's, it's $1.49. Bell peppers at other grocers cost about $0.89 Aldi's, I've purchased them in a three pack for $0.99 on sale with a regular price of $1.49. That's quite a savings. Of course, I stock up on them when they are on sale...bring them home and slice or dice them to put in the freezer. 
  4. Check the "discounted" bin at your local grocer. If you are uncertain where it's located in your store, ask the produce manager.  Just because it's marked down doesn't mean it's bad...choose the best packages from those available. When you get it home, if you don't plan to use it immediately, chop it up and put it in the freezer.
  5. Find your local restaurant supplier. In or near every town there is a company that supplies produce to local restaurants. Find that company...they are usually listed in the phone book but you can also call your favorite restaurant and simply ask where they get their produce. Then contact that company and find out if they offer sales to the public. Many of them do. If you must buy a case of something to get the special pricing...find friends to go in with you to buy a case and then divide it up.
  6. Don't forget frozen and/or canned fruits and veggies. Although fresh is best, sometimes we must use alternatives. Frozen foods would be the second best to fresh as it's "flash frozen" and retains a lot of the vitamins and minerals. Canned is also fine, however, with fruits, try to choose those canned in fruit juice or light syrup instead of heavy syrup. 
  7. Lastly, it might be in your best interest to have a small garden. If you are new to gardening or it sounds daunting, I recommend the "Square Foot Gardening" method. It's great because it produces a lot of stuff in a small area. It's great for rural areas, city lots and even those who live in apartments or townhouses.
I hopes these ideas have helped. What do you do to keep the costs of fruits and veggies down? Share them with us by leaving a comment.

Have a great day!

Mavis D.

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 Reasons I Like the New MyPlate Guidelines

On June 2nd, the USDA announced their new nutritional guidelines replacing the outdated (and I believe, flawed) "food pyramid." Of course, there is already quite a bit of talk about big changes like this and people are chiming in with their opinions. I figured....I feed a large household ranging in ages from older adults (hubby and myself) to our 17 month old baby girl...I should be interested in what they recommend. This is what the new guideline picture looks like.

Pretty huh? short, I think it's a better plan than the old pyramid and here are the five reasons I like the new MyPlate guidelines:

  1. I think it's a more balanced look at what we should be eating. More fruits and veggies than the higher carbohydrates found in the former "grains" section of the old pyramid. 
  2. I think the picture itself will help see what our plates should look like. Perhaps that's because I'm a very visual person. :)
  3. It's a lot easier to remember! This will help a great deal in not only planning meals but making sure they are portioned correctly. 
  4. Fats and sweets are not represented ON the place setting. This automatically tells us that we should not consider them our main sources of food or calories and to use them sparingly. We all know we use those items in our cooking and serving. 
  5. Because of the ease of design and use...I think more people will be able to follow it. That's always a good thing. 
Go check it out at MyPlate sure to check all the links for the sections, it's really gone into quite some detail about what should be included in that area. I do know one thing...we'll be switching out some of our old standbys with healthier options like replacing white rice with brown rice. Basically, getting more whole grains in our meals than fillers. 

So...what do you think about the new guidelines? Do you think you can follow them and still keep your grocery budget in check? I'll have more about that tomorrow!