Eating less sodium

Bowls of chili powder, curry powder, and dried herbs.For many people, eating too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which can cause stroke and heart disease. Foods that are high in sodium include cheese, deli meats, hot dogs, canned soup, prepared foods, and condiments like ketchup. Check the label on packaged foods and choose ones that are “low sodium” or “no salt added” to reduce your sodium. Try eating more fresh foods, too, like fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. Cooking food at home is another great way to lower sodium because it allows you to control how much salt is in your food. Instead of salt, try herbs, spices, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, or no-salt seasoning mixes. Cutting back on salt little-by-little will allow your body to adjust to the natural flavors of foods, so you won’t need to use so much salt. Eat healthy and enjoy your food with less salt! 

Making sandwiches

Apple slices and grilled chicken over lettuce in an open flour tortilla.Sandwiches make a quick, easy, and convenient meal. Here are some tips for inexpensive and healthy sandwich choices. Instead of deli meats, which are high in sodium and can be expensive, use fresh meat that you’ve cooked yourself. For example, try using leftover roast pork, sliced meatloaf, or grilled chicken on a sandwich. Salads like egg, tuna, or chicken are low-cost and easy to make, especially for a group. You can vary these salads by using different seasonings such as curry powder or chili powder. Adding fruits and vegetables is another way to vary your sandwiches, and make them even healthier. Try putting chopped red and green bell pepper in egg salad or apple slices on a roast pork sandwich. Follow these tips and enjoy healthier sandwiches today!

Organizing your refrigerator and pantry to save money

Woman looking into an organized kitchen cabinet.Throwing away food is like throwing away money. Keeping an organized refrigerator and pantry will help you know what foods you have so that you can eat them before they spoil. Knowing what you have on hand will save you money because you won’t accidentally buy food that you don’t need. An organized kitchen saves you time and makes cooking easier because you will be able to quickly find what you need. To organize your refrigerator or pantry, start by taking everything out (use a cooler for perishable items like milk). Check the expiration dates, throw out what has expired, and plan meals around food that needs to be used up soon. Arrange similar foods together so you know where to find them. Save money and time with an organized refrigerator and pantry!

Grilling

Bell peppers, onions, and summer squash on the grill.Grilling is great because: you don’t have to heat up the kitchen, cleanup is easy, and it adds a distinct flavor to your food. It’s also a healthy way to cook meat because some of the fat drips away. If the meat gets a little charred or burnt, just cut that section off before eating.  And grilling is not just for meat; vegetables and fruits are great on the grill. Good grilling vegetables include potato, summer squash, eggplant, asparagus, mushrooms, and tomatoes. For fruit, try nectarines, peaches, pears, and pineapple. Cut fruits and vegetables into thick, flat, even slices or cut smaller fruits and vegetables in half. Brush with a little oil to prevent sticking, and be sure to use separate utensils if you’re also grilling meat at the same time. Save time and eat healthy by grilling!

Packing your own lunch

A water bottle, apple, banana, and sandwich in a lunchbox.When you buy lunch, you pay not only for the food but also for the convenience and the effort to make the food. You can save money and eat healthier by packing your own lunch. First, figure out what options you have for carrying, storing, and reheating your lunch. Do you have a lunchbox? Is there a fridge and a microwave or toaster oven where you work? The answers to these questions will help you decide what kind of food you can pack. Try being creative with what you bring. For example, if you have a microwave or toaster oven then you can make a baked potato. If you want hot food but don’t have a microwave or toaster oven, you could bring it already heated in a thermos.  Or you might buy part of your lunch and bring the rest. Save money, eat better, and add variety to your lunch by packing your own!

Being creative in the kitchen

A man reading a cookbook and stirring a pot on the stove.When you buy prepared or packaged foods, you are paying for the preparation as well as the ingredients in the food. You are also paying for any additives or special packaging to help the food stay fresh on the shelf. Cooking at home is a great way save money because you don’t pay for these extra costs. To get started, look online for recipes or at your library for cookbooks. Yard sales are also a good place to find cookbooks as well as cookware. Friends are often a great resource for recipes, too. If you taste something that you like at a friend’s place, ask about the recipe. What seasonings did they use? Was it easy to make? Where did they find the recipe? Copy the recipe so you can go home and try it out. You may discover a hidden chef inside yourself!

Saving with soup

Chicken soup being ladled from a potSoup is an easy, low-cost, and nutritious way to warm up during the winter months. Save time by cooking a big batch and freezing some for a quick meal later on. To make soup, start by sautéing flavorful vegetables, like onion, garlic, celery, and carrots, in a pot, then add your seasonings. Start with black pepper, a dried bay leaf, and any herbs or spices you like. Stir in water or stock, then add your main ingredients in the order of cooking time, starting with the longest. For example, start with dried beans and end with spinach. Add leftovers last since they are already cooked. You can use any combination of vegetables, beans, grains, pasta, and meat. Try cooking soup for a low-cost meal that’s sure to warm you up this winter!