How to Eat Right When Money’s Tight

By: Peggy Moore

foodsAccording to an article written at http://www.nal.usda.gov/snap/EatRightWhenMoneysTight.pdf, it is possible to eat right when money’s tight. Good nutrition is important in even the worst economic times. Below you’ll find their tips and tricks to eating nutritiously.

Many families are concerned about the rising cost of food. Read on for tips on how to stretch your food dollars through budgeting, food selection, and low-cost recipes. If you are struggling to put food on the table, USDA’s nutrition assistance programs may help.

Resources: Available For Food
– Know how much money you have to spend on food.
– Make a shopping list based on the money you have to spend.
– Buy only the amounts of fresh foods you can use before it spoils.
– Consider frozen or shelf stable items that last longer.

Planning: Making Meals with Foods On Hand
Before going to the grocery store, check what foods you already have. Once you know what foods you have, ask these questions: What meals and recipes can I make using the foods I have?
Can I mix foods together to make a tasty and nutritious meal? Which foods do my family need for good health? Then: Plan what recipes you will make using your list of foods. Use other foods on your list such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to complete the menu. Once you plan your menus, make a new list for missing foods you need to buy.

Shopping: Before, During, and After
Before Shopping
– Make a shopping list. This helps you stick to your budget.
– Plan your meals. Planning helps put leftovers to good use.
– Look for coupons, sales, and store specials.
– For added savings sign up for the store discount card.
During Shopping
– Don’t shop when you are hungry. It’s easier to stick to your shopping list.
– Try store brands. They usually cost less.
– Compare products for the best deal.
– Check sell by dates. Buy the freshest food possible. It lasts longer.
After Shopping
– Store food right away to preserve freshness.
– Freeze food to prevent spoiling.
– Divide foods into small portions for children and elderly to prevent waste.
– Use foods with the earliest expiration dates first.

Tips: Best Buys for Cost and Nutrition
Breads and Grains
• Look for bargains on day old bread. It costs less but is still nutritious.
• Buy regular rice, oatmeal, and grits instead of instant to save on money, sugar, and calories.
Vegetables and Salad
• Buy large bags of frozen vegetables. Seal tightly in the freezer between uses.
• Avoid pre-bagged salad mixes. They are usually more expensive and spoilfaster.
Fruits
• Buy fresh fruits in season when they generally cost less.
• Frozen and canned fruits are a smart choice all year round.
Low-Fat Milk Products
• Buy fresh, low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese in the largest size that can be used before spoiling.
• Larger containers cost less than smaller sizes.
• Ultra-pasteurized milk has a longer expiration date and won’t spoil as fast.
Meat and Beans
• Dried beans and peas are a good source of protein and fiber. They last a long time without spoiling.
• Chuck or bottom round roast has less fat and is cheaper than sirloin.
• Look for specials at the meat counter. Buy meat on sale for big savings.
• Buy meat in large bulk packages to save money.
• Freeze portions you might not use right away to prevent spoiling.

Gardening Without a Garden

balcony-garden-designBy: Erica Wery

Many apartment renters do not realize the vast, untapped potential they possess for gardening. Long gone is the outdated notion that you need a plot of land in order to properly garden. No matter what your dimensions of available space, possibility and creativity can still abound.

I have always enjoyed gardening ever since I was a small child. Every spring, my mother would take me to the store and allow me to select flowers and seeds to plant on my own. I would then tend to them for the coming months, and be greeted by the inevitable frost that would claim my beloved plants until the warmth and promise of the following spring.

My love for gardening has grown with me (no pun intended). Now that I live on my own and have access to my own deck, I have found myself utilizing every available inch and progressively building my own urban oasis.

Even when I still lived at home with my parents, I began experimenting with potted plants. I was amazed at the variety of things that would grow successfully from a pot or planter. The knowledge and experience that I acquired along the way has leant itself to my overall yearly success.

I’ve put together the following list of tips that will help lead you to gardening success:

  1. Start your seeds inside at least a month or six weeks before you would place them outside (without risk of frost). Seed starting trays can be purchased at most gardening centers. Make sure you have a sunny location inside that you can place them in.
  2. Select a purpose for your garden. Is it decorative, or do you want to grow edible plants and vegetables?
  3. Select specific plants to attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.
  4. Hanging baskets, vines, and fast-growing climbers are good for small spaces because they will utilize unused vertical space.
  5. Layer plants that bloom at different times on top of one another in containers.
  6. Select your plants according to the amount of shade and sunshine in your space.
  7. Study how sunlight moves across the space over the course of a day and cluster your containers in areas where they will thrive.
  8. Clustering pots make it easier to water plants efficiently. Most containers will dry out and need water every day; during a heat wave, water twice a day (morning and late evening, never during the hottest part of the day).
  9. Where is your water going to come from? If no outside water faucet is available, then investing in several inexpensive watering pails will do the trick.
  10. Identify and address possible pests before they get out of control.

Also, please check out: http://www.balconycontainergardening.com/ which offers a vast assortment of topics, advice, and tricks to make the balcony or patio your very own wonderland.