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.
It is the time of year for sharing food, especially cookies. Our December recipe of the month, Oatmeal Cookies, is perfect for sharing. Take these delicious cookies to a party, family gathering, or cookie exchange.
You can also make these cookies into a gift. Start with a quart sized glass jar. Pour in any optional ingredients you would like to include from the recipe such as dried cranberries, raisins, white chocolate chips, or coconut. Then pour in the oatmeal. Top that with the brown sugar. Pour in the rest of the dry ingredients – the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Close the lid tightly on the jar so there are no accidental spills. Write out the instructions to the recipe on a card to give with the jar. Make sure to include amounts for the wet ingredients that are not included in the jar. You could even give out an individual serving size cup of applesauce with each jar – these are the perfect amount for this recipe. Finally, share your jar as a gift! It is so fun to give and receive homemade gifts like this.
Last week, I shared our homemade taco seasoning mix. This week, I would like to share our homemade dried onion soup mix. This dried onion soup mix is useful in seasoning soups, dips, and meats. To make this mix, stir together dried minced onion, sodium free beef bouillon granules, onion powder, and sugar and store in an airtight container for up to six months.
This mix makes the equivalent of three packages of store bought dried onion soup mix. This homemade mix is more expensive than the store bought version. Homemade costs $3.72 for the equivalent of three packages and the store bought is $0.72 for two packages. However, the extra cost is more than balanced out by the savings in sodium. The homemade version has 15 mg of sodium in 1/3 cup (about the same as one store bought package) while the store bought version has 4,560 mg of sodium in one package, which is 570 mg of sodium per serving.
The savings in sodium in this mix is important because reducing sodium consumption has health impacts. Find more information about the connection between sodium and high blood pressure here and sodium for children here.
Taco seasoning mix is a staple in many people’s cupboards. It adds great flavor to taco meat, beans, soups, and dips. You can buy pre-packaged taco seasoning mix at the store or you can use our homemade version. To make homemade taco seasoning mix, you simply need to combine minced onion, chili powder, cornstarch, crushed dried red pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, and ground cumin in a container with a tight fitting lid. This seasoning mix lasts a year in your cupboard.
This seasoning mix makes the equivalent of six packages of store bought taco seasoning mix. The homemade seasoning mix costs about the same as store bought. Homemade is $2.46 for six packages and the store brand at my local grocery store is $0.44 for one package, which comes out to $2.64 for six packages.
The big difference between the two mixes is the sodium content. One package of store bought taco seasoning mix contains 2,580 mg of sodium, which is 430 mg per serving. Two tablespoons of our homemade taco seasoning mix (the equivalent of one store bought package) contains 80 mg of sodium, which is about 13 mg per serving.
Our November recipe of the month is Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup. It is perfect for a busy day. All the ingredients go into the slow cooker in the morning, cook on low for 8-10 hours, and you have a delicious soup ready to eat in the evening.
There are some wonderful things I love about this recipe.
It is easy to put together. There is no cutting up or chopping needed to get this recipe into the slow cooker. The chicken just needs to be shredded right before serving this soup.
It uses dried beans.Dried beans are tasty, inexpensive, and nutritious. They take a little longer to cook, so they are perfect for the slow cooker. Fair warning, the dark color of the black beans changes the outer color of the chicken.
It freezes well. This recipe is great to measure out into single serving containers and freeze for lunches. Or, you can eat half of the soup one night and freeze the other half of the soup for another night.
It is great for a party. This soup tastes delicious with different toppings – avocado, crushed tortilla chips, sliced jalapenos, plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheese. You can serve the soup out of the slow cooker and let your guests add any toppings they would like.