We are excited to announce a new feature on Spend Smart. Eat Smart. called Pantry Picks. Pantry Picks
provide tips on nutrition, storage, and preparation for foods that you might commonly find in your
pantry or cupboard. Each week this month, we are going to look at a different Pantry Pick. We hope you
learn some new ways to use these staple foods.
Today, I am going to introduce you to our first Pantry Pick – whole wheat bread. You can almost always
find a loaf of whole wheat bread in my pantry. Find out why I like whole wheat bread on my post from
last week. We usually use whole wheat bread for sandwiches and toast. If you or your family prefer
another type of bread for sandwiches and toast, fear not!. Here are some other great uses for whole
Our June recipe of the month is homemade croutons. If you enjoy store-bought croutons on your salad, on your soup, or for a quick snack, you are going to love these. When I make these, my children, my husband, and even my mom devour them – there are never any leftovers.
The thing I like about homemade croutons is that they are made with whole wheat bread. Using whole wheat bread is important to me because it has more nutrients than wheat bread or white bread. In particular, it has more fiber, which is something we all need to get more of. Fiber helps protect against chronic diseases and it helps keep our digestive system healthy.
If you are like my children, you will just eat these croutons on their own. But, if you are like me, you will want some recipes to use along with your croutons. My favorite recipe to top with these croutons is Autumn Soup. I also like croutons on a salad, such as Whole Meal Salad. Regardless of how you serve your croutons, I hope you try this recipe soon.
Our May recipe of the month is Crispy Baked Chicken and it is a popular one. Boneless, skinless chicken is coated in crushed cornflakes and baked. Serve this tasty chicken with a fruit and a vegetable and you have a complete meal. Many people I have talked to about this recipe like to season the crushed cornflakes beyond the garlic powder. Some suggestions I have received include basil, Italian seasoning, chili powder, lemon pepper, and oregano. If you have a favorite herb or spice give it a try!
Recently, we have been talking a lot about unit pricing on the blog. This recipe is a great chance to use your unit pricing skills when buying the chicken. The recipe calls for 1 ½ pounds of boneless, skinless chicken. This can take several forms, so lets look at the unit price below to see what is the best buy.
$3.49 per pound
$2.49 per pound
$4.39 per pound
In this case, the chicken thighs were the best buy. Remember, prices will change from week to week, so make sure to double check the unit price before you buy.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I rarely ate fish growing up. However, fish is a favorite of my children. We usually eat it for dinner once a week.
You may be wondering if I am worried about my children being exposed to mercury in the fish I feed them. The answer is no because I choose fish that the EPA and FDA have designated safe to eat including cod, pollock, salmon, and tilapia. This chart has great advice on the appropriate types and amounts of fish for children and pregnant women. It is safe for children ages 2 years and older to eat one or two servings of fish per week. Eating fish may even have lifelong health benefits. These include brain function and prevention of chronic disease.
Adding fish, or any food, to the menu at home can be tricky. Family members of all ages may not be comfortable with new foods. Here are some of the things I try:
Stick with it for the long haul. The more they see the food, the more likely they are to try it (and like it). It may take weeks, months, or years, but they will eventually try it.
Serve it with other things they like. Favorite side dishes can make a new food more appealing. * Serve it as part of a mixed dish. Our Fish and Noodle Skillet is a great way to include fish with other tasty foods your family members may like.
Try adding fish to your weekly menu. Let us know how it goes!
I am going to focus today on canned and frozen fruits and vegetables. I buy these at every trip to the grocery store because:
They are quick and easy to prepare. I can open a can, drain, heat (for vegetables), and serve. Or, I can thaw and serve frozen fruits and vegetables.
My family loves them. I am lucky because my family will eat up canned and frozen fruits and vegetables every time I serve them.
They are nutritious. They have vitamins, minerals, and fiber. I try to buy canned fruits packed in juice and unsweetened frozen fruit to reduce added sugars. I also rinse canned vegetables and buy frozen vegetables without sauces to reduce added sodium.
So, how do I use unit pricing to get the best buy on these fruits and vegetables? I divide the price by the ounce weight of the package. Here are some recent prices I found at a local grocery store.
$0.07 per ounce
$0.15 per ounce
$0.07 per ounce
$0.15 per ounce
$0.06 per ounce
$0.07 per ounce
$0.05 per ounce
$0.06 per ounce
All of these items are inexpensive per ounce, but canned costs a little less than frozen. Prices will vary from week to week and sometimes I need canned or frozen for a particular recipe, so my grocery cart looks different each week. We have had fun with unit pricing and we hope you have too. Let us know about your adventures with unit pricing!
Fish is not a food that I ate very much growing up, so I did not really know how to cook it when I was on my own. For several years, I did not even try to cook it. I kept hearing about the health benefits of eating fish, so I decided to give it a try.
After a few failed attempts, I found a way to bake fish that my (then new) husband and I both liked. I baked fish that same way for about 10 years until Christine introduced me to our April recipe of the month – Broiled Salmon. Now I broil salmon, and other types of fish, regularly. Here is why:
We love the flavor that the lemon adds to the fish.
It is easy to make with just a few ingredients.
It is quick to make. With this recipe, I can pull together a full meal in 15-20 minutes!
My family gets the health benefits from the fish.
If you are considering adding fish to your menu, I hope you give this recipe a try.
Our March recipe of the month is an old favorite here in Iowa. Four Layer Supper is a casserole that has been a staple recipe here for many years. The name says it all, this recipe is a casserole made up of four layers – potatoes, green beans, ground beef and onions, and cheese.
Over the years, we have learned from this recipe and made some updates. These updates make the recipe easier, more nutritious, and less expensive.
To save time, prick the potatoes with a fork and microwave them for 5 minutes before cutting them up. This will reduce the baking time by 15-20 minutes.
To add nutrition to this recipe, substitute sweet potatoes for all or some of the white potatoes. Sweet potatoes boost the fiber and vitamin A in this recipe.
To save money on this recipe, check your grocery ads and substitute a less expensive meat for the ground beef. This could even be leftover cooked meat from a previous meal.
Last week our blog was all about buying yogurt. This week we have a tasty recipe using yogurt as the main ingredient – Vegetable Dip. This recipe is very helpful at my house because my youngest son will not eat vegetables unless he has something to dip them in. I like this recipe better than ranch dressing or store bought dip because the yogurt adds some nutrition to those vegetables that he would not get otherwise.
This recipe is so easy – all you have to do is combine plain yogurt with some seasonings. Make sure that you let this dip rest in the refrigerator overnight. This rest time gives the flavors from the seasonings time to mingle together. The hardest part of this recipe is slicing the vegetables to dip in it!
For me, one of the most confusing parts of the grocery store is the yogurt area. There are so many options! There are different types and flavors, different nutrition, and different prices. To play it safe, I usually stick with what my family likes – citrus flavored yogurts for me, peach yogurt for my husband, drinkable yogurt for my oldest son, Greek yogurt for my daughter, and small containers of yogurt for my youngest son.
But, I have wondered, what if I am sacrificing nutrition or paying too much by playing it safe? Down below, I have created a table to help make decisions when buying yogurt. I used the information for yogurt that is available at a local grocery store where I shop.
Container Size (oz)
Vitamin D (%DV)
Fruit flavored (original)
Fruit flavored (light)
Greek fruit flavored (light)
*Percent Daily Value or %DV is the amount of that nutrient for a 2000 calorie diet.