Peachy Perusing Plans
Next week, Manna’s Nutrition Education Department is hitting the road! I will be teaching a healthy shopping and cooking class for our local Head Start parents. Since I want to spend most of our class in the kitchen, how do you sum up budget shopping in just a few minutes?
With Smokey Robinson’s advice in mind (“My momma told me, you’d better shop around”), I’d like to introduce my class participants, and you, to the three P’s:
Plan, Purchase, Prepare.
Get it, three peas?
Even if you’re not struggling with a grocery budget, no one is looking to waste food. The Three P’s help prevent food waste and prepare meals within time constraints.
PLANNING, for me, is getting exciting about dinner this week. It takes a few minutes to flip through that cookbook, magazine, or newspaper clipping for a few recipes that make your mouth water. I find plenty of non-food magazines these days still have recipes in the back (from Good Housekeeping to men’s magazines). Sometimes I even check-out cookbooks from the library for inspiration. I ask myself: Do I have any of these ingredients already? Do I understand the steps and have the necessary tools? Is this a recipe I have time for this week? Planning meals you look forward to make it much easier to find the motivation to cook later in the week.
Planning can also mean clipping coupons, scoping out grocery sales, and choosing a menu with common ingredients so you can stretch most expensive ingredients like meat and cheese throughout your meals. Write out a clear list and take it to the store.
PURCHASING in a smart way means buying items in bulk when you have the space and time to use them: apples, onions, potatoes, nuts and other fruits are less expensive bought in a bag than individually. A block of cheese you’ll shred at home vs. the pre-shredded package also means savings. The same goes for a head of lettuce you can tear up in your own kitchen. Check out less-expensive store brand items, use your grocery store savings card, and whatever you do: stick to the list! I like to cross off the items as I go for a more efficient trip. Organizing your list by department (deli, freezer, bread) makes for a faster trip, too.
PREPARING is the key to a low-stress week. Yes, the stores are more crowded on weekends, but sometimes that’s the best time to prepare for your meals in the upcoming week. Chopping peppers and onions, shredding cheese or dividing up bulk items (like snack foods or a tub of yogurt) saves time later! It takes the same effort (and often no more cooking time!) to double or triple a recipe—so make extra food to freeze or enjoy for leftovers. Put fragile produce in the fridge so it will stay fresh until you need it. If you don’t think you can eat all of your fruit in a week, chop it up and freeze for smoothies. You can also freeze vegetables, herbs, meats and cheese.
If you’re ever in need of some recipe inspiration, you can always find fresh and fast-cooking recipes on the wall of Manna’s lobby. Happy cooking!