- Keep your fridge clean! I know it’s not fun, but it is a necessary evil if you want food to last longer. Leftover residue or mold spores can increase the spoilage of all your food that is in the fridge.
- Don’t store fruits and vegetables near a gas stove. Natural gas has been shown to increase ripening just like Ethylene gas.
- Don’t store fruits and vegetables in an area that tends to have smoke and/or heat (this includes the stove/toaster oven and cigarette smoke). The exhaust and heat from these and certain combustion engines can increase the amount of Ethylene gas that gets produced and speeds up the ripening process.
- Get an Ethylene gas absorber for your fridge, or there are also special bags that you can buy for storing produce.
- Place fresh herbs and leafy greens in a jar or vase of water, just like you would a bouquet of flowers. They’ll last longer and you’ll have a beautifully green arrangement!
- Here’s a fun trick for onions: If you want them to last up to 8 months, all you need do is grab that old pair of panty-hose you’ve been allowing to hide in the back of your top dresser drawer, place the onions in the panty-hose, and then tie a knot in between each one to keep them separate. Then hang this from the ceiling.
- Dried green onions/chives can be chopped up and stored in a plastic water bottle and kept in the freezer. When you’re ready to use some, just pull this out and sprinkle for a little somethin’ somethin’ to add to your dish.
- Store potatoes with apples to keep them from sprouting, and don’t let them anywhere near your panty-hose onions. Onions will make them go bad faster, but apples are a potatoes’ best friend!
- When it comes to chopped up salad greens, your worst enemy is moisture. If you can keep the moisture at a minimum, then you’ll keep your greens longer. Keep them in a bowl with a paper towel, and cover with plastic wrap. The paper towel will absorb the excess moisture.
- Don’t add tomatoes to your stored salad greens. The tomatoes contain the moisture that will wilt and rot your greens quickly.
- Trapped moisture will also make mushrooms go bad. Store them in a brown paper bag in the fridge or a cool, dry place. Don’t use plastic or glass, as this will trap in moisture.
- Don’t overstock the fridge. This leads to poor air circulation, and we want to keep our fruits and veggies at optimal temperature!
- Clean your berries, fruits, and greens in a mixture of 10 parts water and 1 part white vinegar. Not only will this remove excess dirt and even pesticides, but it will also help them last longer by preventing mold.
- To keep cut apples, avocados, or guacamole from turning brown, spritz with a little lemon juice and then cover with plastic.
- Remove rotten apples immediately, because one rotten apple WILL spoil the entire bunch.
- Keep bananas away from your other produce, as they produce some of the highest amounts of Ethylene gas.
- Place plastic wrap around the crown of your banana bunch to keep them lasting longer. Side note: If you want them to ripen super-fast, place them in a closed plastic bag. Since they emit so much Ethylene gas, they’ll ripen quickly when the gas is trapped by the bag.
- Tomatoes should stay at room temperature and away from sunlight. If you have your own tomato plant, you should pick tomatoes as soon as you notice that they are ripe. The sun does an excellent job at ripening and spoiling them (especially once they are off the stem). Be sure not to store your tomatoes in plastic, as this will trap moisture and increase the likelihood of spoilage.
- If you’d like to make your herbs last even longer, consider drying them. Bunch herbs loosely together with some string, and then hang in your kitchen.
- Here’s another fun way to store herbs: Cut them up, place in an ice tray, add olive oil, and then freeze. Then you have oil and herbs for your dishes at a moment’s notice!
- If you’re into using roots like ginger or turmeric in either your cooking or juicing, you can store these in the freezer and they’ll still grate quite easily (peel and all!).
- Use glassware for fridge storage of fruits and veggies. Many plastics may contain harmful chemicals that can increase spoilage. This is just another reason to have more fun Mason jars! You can even freeze mason jars!
- Store your nuts in Mason jar and keep them in the freezer. The key with nuts is avoiding moisture and air.
- Don’t keep your produce in the door of the fridge where temperatures are going to fluctuate. Keep them in the middle or your bottom drawers to keep temps more consistent.
- 1 pound cauliflower florets
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a food processor, process cauliflower until finely chopped.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, cook cauliflower for five minutes or until tender. Place cauliflower in a towel, and squeeze out excess water so it is completely dry.
- In a bowl, mix egg and cauliflower until well-combined.
- On a parchment-lined baking sheet, spread cauliflower dough out until it resembles a pizza round. Bake for 40 minutes.
- Top however you want and bake in a 450°F oven for 7 minutes or until cheese and toppings have baked.
½ of pizza crust counts as: 1 vegetable, ½ protein
A Step-By-Step Guide to Grocery Store Savings
Step 1: Take inventory
Take a look at what you already have, especially if it needs to be used or there is a risk of it spoiling. Make a list of these items in categories (i.e. proteins, produce, dried goods, seasonings, etc.)
Step 2: Find the sales
One of the most important step is to get an ad from your grocery store – or perhaps from two or three local grocery stores. There are a lot of ways to get these – in a local newspaper, in the mail, or online, for starters. I usually download the flyer from the website of the grocery stores I visit most often.
Once you have the ads, go through them and mark any sales on ingredients that they have that you know you and your family would enjoy (make sure to include the price, as you may find it cheaper at another store).
Step 3: Do Some Recipe Research
Browse through your recipes and search out the ones that will utilize these items. If you need more recipe ideas, go online, there is an endless amount of healthy, easy recipes that you could try!* These ideas provide the backbone for several meals throughout the week, so I start planning ahead!
Step 4: Create a Week-Long Meal Plan
Start out with a blank meal planner, or just a sheet of paper. Start with dinners based on the recipes you have chosen. For most, breakfasts are usually quite simple and lunches usually consist of leftovers, so these require less planning.
Try to make most weeknight meals pretty easy. I find that saving the more difficult meals for the weekend usually works out best. Also, take into consideration each day individually and the time you will have to prepare food. For instance, if you get off of work at 3 but on Thursdays your children have sports practice and you won’t be home until 6, you may consider doing something extremely easy like a crockpot meal on Thursdays.
Step 5: Make a Shopping List from the Meal Plan
Once the meal plan is in place, go through and list all of the ingredients for all of the recipes making tally marks next to the things you will need more than one of. Then, cross off the things you already have. This will save you money by not buying something you already have.
This is a good time to check the staples – flour, milk, yeast, juice boxes, and so on – and add replenishments to the list. Keeping a go-to list of things you always use is very helpful as you can go down the list and easily make note of what needs replenishing.
Step 6: Go Grocery Shopping – And Stick to Your List
Once you have the list in place, it’s simple. Take it to the grocery store and stick to it. Don’t toss stuff that’s not on your list into the cart. Since you’ve already planned your meals, you know that you don’t need it.
Using this path will also make grocery shopping itself substantially quicker. Most of your purchases will be around the edges of the store, in the produce and meat sections. You won’t have to go up and down every aisle to find the items you need.
In the end, though, when you go home, unpack your groceries, and put that meal plan up on the fridge, you’ll find that overall it hasn’t taken you any more time than a grocery trip without planning would have taken, plus you now have a clear plan for meals for the week and you’ve saved significant money at the grocery store.
Good luck!*Once you decide to try a new recipe, decide if it’s one you would do again, mark on it if there are changes you would make. If you would do it again, add it to your “tried and true recipes” if you didn’t care for it, make sure you throw it away so that you don’t accidently make it again.
- 2 plan servings of any type fish
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 t fresh basil, chopped
- 1 t fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 t ground black pepper
- 1 T Lemon juice
- 2 T Light olive oil
Mix garlic, herbs, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil together and pour over fish. Marinate for 1 hour covered in refrigerator. Remove fish from marinade and wrap in foil. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. (Bake time may vary depending on thickness of fish fillet used)
Makes 2 servings, each serving counts as: 1 protein, 1 condiment
1/2 T Extra virgin coconut oil
1 C Steel cut oats
2 C water
1 1/2 C fat free milk
2 ripe medium bananas mashed
In a large pan melt oil. Add oats and toast until they give off a nutty smell. Set aside.
In a large sauce pan bring water and milk to a boil (med-high heat, stirring occasionally so you don’t scorch the milk). Add oats and mashed bananas, bring back to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Simmer uncovered 25-30 minutes, until oats are cooked and smooth.
Makes 5 3/4 cup servings, each serving counts as: 1 once daily starch, 1/2 fruit and 1/2 dairy
- 3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts sliced into 1 inch pieces.
- 1/2 cup-3/4 cup 99% fat-free chicken broth
- 1/2 cup-3/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce (such as “Franks”) to taste
- Celery sticks and Light Bleu Cheese dressing for dipping
- Spray frying pan with cooking spray and brown chicken until it’s cooked through.
- Mix together broth and hot sauce, add to chicken.
- Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened and is coating the chicken.
- Serve with dressing and celery sticks on the side.
Makes 8 servings
- Each serving counts as: 1 protein, 2 condiments
- 3 bunches fresh spinach, approx. 5oz
- 2 C cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 1/2 lb fresh salmon, rinsed & at room temperature.
- 2 lemons, slice one width wise into rounds, cut 2nd one in half
- 1T fresh dill
- 1/4 t sea salt
- 1/4 t pepper
- Place spinach in the bottom of 11” skillet & place 1 cup tomatoes on top of spinach.
- Place salmon on top of tomatoes & squeeze lemon juice over salmon. Sprinkle dill, salt, and pepper over food in pan.
- Top salmon w/lemon rounds & place second cup of tomatoes over salmon.
- Cover & place on burner on medium heat. Cook for approx. 15 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and cook an additional 7 minutes per 1-inch of thickness of the salmon or until center reaches desired level of doneness.
- Serves 5
1 serving counts as: 1 protein, 1/2 vegetable
Healthy whole foods, you might know that you’re supposed to eat them. But do you really know what they are?
We live in a society that eats so much processed and manufactured food, that there can be some genuine confusion about what qualifies as a “whole food. Even for the health conscious, the phrase gets tangled up with other terms. Whole foods might be “organic, locally grown, or pesticide-free”. But they aren’t necessarily. The definition of healthy whole foods is much simpler.
A whole food is food in its natural state, intact with all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are in the food. Basically, it’s the healthy whole food, rather than the bits that remain after refinement and processing. It’s the difference between an apple and apple juice, or a baked potato and mashed potatoes.
While whole foods might be associated with the upscale grocery store of the same name, they are available to all of us anywhere in the country. Most dietitians feel that eating healthy whole foods has all sorts of benefits. Their nutrients may help to keep your immune system strong and protect you from disease.
If you’re trying to eat a healthier diet, relying on more whole foods is a great place to start.
Healthy whole foods
Many studies have found that a diet high in healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are associated with a reduced risk of diseases such as:
- cardiovascular disease
- many types of cancer
- type 2 diabetes
Usually, the term whole foods is confined to vegetables, fruits, and grains. But any dietitian will agree that eating a skinless chicken breast is preferable to eating processed chicken nuggets.
One problem with processed food is that, during manufacture, many healthy nutrients are removed. For instance, when whole grains are refined, the bran and the coat of the grain are often removed,” says Kaiser. Some nutrients are lost, most significantly fiber. Then, during the enrichment process, nutrients may be artificially added back in. But even after enrichment, the final product is likely to be less nutritious than the whole grains you started with.
What about foods that have labels?
When you are shopping for healthy groceries, you will want to review two sources of information on a food’s package: the Nutrition Facts panel that lists the amount of various nutrients in the food, as well as the ingredients list. Because the ingredients list is just that – a list of ingredients – it takes close reading to figure out what it is really telling you. Here are some tips that can help you figure out if the ingredients list is indicating that a food is good for your heart health.
- The ingredients in a food product are listed by weight in decreasing order. This complete list of information is vital to anyone with food allergies. It is also very useful in determining nutrition information about a food product.
- If there are more preservatives than identifiable ingredients, a food may be highly processed and, therefore, likely not as healthy as a less processed food.
- If a product contains partially hydrogenated oil, this indicates it contains some trans-fat despite a label that may say “0 grams” of trans-fat. (Labeling regulations allow food companies to report “0 grams of trans fat” on a “Nutrition Facts” label when a food product contains 0.5 grams of trans-fat or less per serving.)
- If sugar or high-fructose corn syrup is listed before other more healthful ingredients, such as fruit, this may be a food that is high in calories from sugar and low in other nutrients. Other names for sugar include the following: corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey and maple syrup.
- 12 oz chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
- ¼ t sea salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can low sodium diced tomatoes, drained
- 4 C baby spinach
- 2 C sliced mushrooms
- 2oz low fat parmesan cheese, grated
- Cooking spray
Makes 2 servings. Each serving counts as: 1 protein, 1 dairy, 2 Vegetable
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and place it over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the chicken and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it’s no longer pink and the juices run clear.
- Remove the chicken to a plate, covering to keep it warm.
- Add the garlic to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half.
- Put the chicken back in the pan and stir. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Sprinkle with the cheese just before serving.
• 1 c green beans
• ½ T olive oil
• 1 T balsamic vinegar
• 1 clove garlic, chopped
• 1 c cherry or grape tomatoes
• Pinch of sea salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Steam beans until al dente and place
in a bowl
• Mix oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper
• Add tomatoes to bowl with beans and
pour vinaigrette over. Refrigerate for at
least 30 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!
Counts as: 1 vegetable and ½ fat