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Healthful Meals Possible on a Budget

The NDSU Extension Service has created publications to help families stretch their food dollars and eat healthful meals.

Families already faced with soaring fuel prices are seeing the cost of food rise at the fastest rate since 1990.

Milk prices, for instance, are up 26 percent from just a year ago, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The cost of eggs jumped 40 percent.

Those increases are forcing families to looks for ways to cut costs without sacrificing nutrition in their diet.

The North Dakota State University Extension Service has developed a series of five publications titled “Now Serving: Tasty, Healthful Meals on a Budget.”

“Even when money is tight, people can eat healthfully,” says NDSU Extension food and nutrition specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, who developed the publications. “Planning menus and making use of grocery store ads, for example, helps families maximize their food dollars and their nutrition.

“In fact, in the long term, eating a variety of nutritious foods can help prevent diseases, reduce medical costs and improve quality of life,” she adds.

Each publication provides tips, an explanation of recommended portion sizes for the five major food groups and a weekly meal planner with suggested menus, as well as recipes. The five publications are:

  • Week 1: Meal Planning Tips, Menus and Recipes – This publication stresses the importance of meal planning to avoid the stress of not knowing what to cook at the last minute, help ensure that the family eats a variety of foods to get all of the necessary nutrients every day, buy foods that are in season or on sale, make better use of leftovers and eliminate the need to run to the store for just an item or two.
  • Week 2: Grocery Shopping Tips, Menus and Recipes – This publication shows how making grocery lists can save time and gas and help families keep track of their food expenses. The publication also provides tips on using coupons wisely, adding variety to meals, getting food home from the grocery store safely and understanding the “sell-by” and other dates on food products.
  • Week 3: Cost-saving Tips, Menus and Recipes – This publication provides information on smart grocery shopping strategies, adding more fruits and vegetables to the family’s meals and how to store food to avoid wasting it.
  • Week 4: Planned-over Food Tips, Menus and Recipes – This publication describes how to turn leftovers into “planned-overs,” or meals planned around the extra amounts of food made in a previous meal. The publication also describes how to store planned-overs safely and the benefits of family members eating meals together.
  • Week 5: Time-saving Tips, Menus and Recipes – This publication explains how preparing meals ahead of time can save time and money. It also provides tips on saving money when eating out, selecting the healthier options on the menu and keeping perishable food, such as sandwiches, milk and meat, safe when busy families bring food with them.

All five publications are online at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/foods.html.

For more information about nutrition and food safety, visit the NDSU Extension Service Web site at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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