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Tuesday, September 11 2007

Many people are stressed to put meals on the table despite having lost their jobs or lasting other financial emergencies. It can happen quickly; leaving those affected feeling somewhat anxious and uncertain what to do to stretch the food financial plan. Here are tips on what to eat when funds so tight that going to the grocery store is a excruciating experience because the money just is not there.

Get resourceful with grains: Buy a big canister of oats, because they are adaptable and can be used in many different ways (oatmeal, cookies, bread, and more). Rice is also a good choice, because there are many ways to use it and a big bag of it is fairly inexpensive. Barley, lentils and beans can be used in homemade soups. Flour is a good choice for baking your own bread. Buying the largest sized containers of these items is usually the best financial decision. Check prices at the store of each product to see what size is most cost successful for you.

Potatoes are a good thing: A bag of Idaho potatoes is useful anytime, since you can make a meal out of a baked potato, mashed potatoes or homemade hashed browns. Potato flakes are good for instant mashed potatoes, but they also are good in bread recipes, for giving a little extra flavor to the loaf. Potatoes are multipurpose and filling, which is why they are great for stretching the funds just a little.

Be particular about what you get in the frozen or refrigerated aisles: Prepared refrigerated and frozen items tend to be high-priced and eat up the food budget money very quickly. They taste great and are fun to have, but not when money is at a minimum. When things are really tight, miss out on the luxurious prepared meals and make your own entrees, desserts and breads. I make bread every week because it has a better flavor than many store bought breads. The frozen aisle is good for bulk items, like frozen vegetables, berries or waffles. Look for specials and read price labels to make sure you are getting good deals. I make homemade blueberry muffins off-season by using frozen blueberries, they are cheap and taste great. Waffles are easy to make, but they can be economical at the store if you run into a sale. Shop with awareness to get the best values.

Make recipes that use few ingredients: Soup is an easy meal to make, just keep chicken or beef stock or bouillon cubes on hand. Just add your choice of ingredients. I like to use reasonably priced whole chickens for making soup, buying a few boneless breasts costs more money unless you come across a rare big sale. Onion soup is great, so is split pea soup because it is nutritious and not expensive to make. If the recipe makes a large volume of soup, just freeze containers of it for later and microwave them when you want. Homemade yeast bread is cheap to make and is very satisfying. I make baking powder biscuits, too, which go great with honey or jam.

Buy the prevalent size cereal box you can find. Read the labels on the cereal boxes or bags, and see which brands give you the largest amount of product for your money. If you like puffed wheat sweetened, buy a bag of the more inexpensive non-sweetened puffed wheat and mix it with a bag of sweetened puffed wheat. It cuts down on sugar usage, and is cheaper than buying one small box of sweetened puffed wheat cereal. The cereal in bags seems to be less expensive, most of the time, in my store.

It pays to be thrifty when at the grocery store during hard financial times. Keep nutrition in mind, and vary your diet with fresh fruit and vegetables. Cut out the non-necessities and junk food, and be sensible with what you buy. Look for items that can be used for baking, cooking and making as many filling, satisfying meals as possible. The tough time will pass, and when it does, then you can go back to eating steak, imported cheeses, prepared meals and desserts. Withstand the financial storm as painlessly as possible by being creative with meals and realizing that the sun will come out later. When it does, and life returns to normal, you’ll know that you got through it and that if the situation were to happen again, you will get through it like before, eating well despite a lack of money.

Carolyn McFann is a scientific and nature illustrator, who owns Two Purring Cats Design Studio, which can be seen at: . Educated at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, Carolyn is a seasoned, well-traveled artist, writer and photographer. Clients include nature parks, museums, scientists, corporations and private owners. She has been the subject of TV interviews, articles for newspapers and other popular media venues.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 10:13 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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