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Save Money on Holiday Groceries

The holidays bring lots of festive fun and time with family and friends, but they can also mean extra expenses. I love it when I get the chance to prepare special meals and plan parties, but it can get very expensive. Grocery stores often offer sales and specials around the holidays that can help if you know how to use them.

Here are some tips to help you spend smart while you shop for holiday cooking.

  1. Check your cupboards and refrigerator before you shop. Holiday cooking sometimes involves ingredients we do not use very often. Knowing what you have will help you avoid buying a duplicate while you shop.
  2. A sale price only saves you money if you know you will use the item you purchase. Avoid buying food products just because they are on sale if they are not part of your meal plan. That could lead to wasted food and money.
  3. Remember that sales are used as advertising for a product. The sign may be large and inviting, but the price may not be as good as it seems. Check the unit price to make sure it is really saving you money. You can learn more about unit pricing on our website and our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app has a unit price calculator built into it. You can download the app free from your app store.
  4. Occasionally stores will have deep discounts on holiday items like turkeys or hams immediately before and after a holiday. I review the grocery store ads to make my meal plan for a couple of weeks after the holiday. This allows me to work these discounted items into my plan and know they will not go to waste.

I hope these tips help you save a bit of money and stress this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Team!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Company is Coming!

“Company is coming, what are we going to eat?”  There are many online recipe sources, but I always come back to Spend Smart. Eat Smart.  Here is a menu with a few of my favorite recipes for entertaining.

Breakfast or Brunch

I substitute sweet potato for all or part of the white potato and make them with whole wheat flour tortillas. I make a double or triple batch, wrap them individually in foil or parchment paper, and stack in the slow cooker to keep warm.

The strawberries, kiwi and banana look festive for the holidays. They are best when partially thawed which takes at least 30 minutes.  

I add ½-cup mini chocolate chips as an optional ingredient.  

 

Appetizers

For holiday entertaining I make the Fruit Salsa with frozen strawberries, Granny Smith apple, and substitute 1 cup drained, crushed canned pineapple for the peach. It is beautiful in a clear glass bowl surrounded by the cinnamon chips.

Heat the bean dip in the microwave or put it in a small snack size slow cooker. Serve with raw vegetables or homemade Baked Tortilla Chips.

 

Dinner and Sides

A family favorite! I roast the vegetables on a separate baking sheet and increase the quantity and variety.

This is a simple and delicious side dish that goes with just about anything.

I use apples, fresh or frozen strawberries, bananas, drained canned pineapple chunks, and whatever other fresh, frozen or drained canned fruit I have on hand.  I suggest using a red gelatin in the sauce and serving it in a clear glass bowl. It will look beautiful on the holiday table.  

 

Dessert

This pie is easier to make and has less fat, sugar and calories than regular pumpkin pie but tastes great.

 

I hope you will try some of the recipes that I use when ‘company is coming’ and explore the Spend Smart. Eat Smart site for your own favorites.  

Written by Renee Sweers, Human Sciences Specialist-Nutrition and Wellness

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Turkey Vegetable Quiche

At our Thanksgiving meal there is always too much food and an abundance of leftovers.  There is just something about the holiday that compels us to cook and cook and cook.  Which brings us to our November recipe of the month – Turkey Vegetable Quiche.  This recipe is the perfect way to use up some of your leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Start with a pie crust – you can buy one during the pre-Thanksgiving sales or you can make an extra when you make your holiday pies.  Prepare the crust then fill it with sautéed vegetables, leftover turkey, and eggs that are beaten with milk and seasonings.  Top everything with a sprinkle of cheese and bake for about 35 minutes.  Make sure to let this quiche rest outside of the oven for about 5 minutes to make it easier to slice and serve.

This quiche tastes great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Sweet Potatoes vs. White Potatoes

Which is better, sweet potatoes or white potatoes?potatoes

The honest answer is they are both delicious and nutritious. There is certainly room for all types of potatoes in a healthy diet. Potatoes of all kinds can be prepared simply and in a wide variety of ways. They both provide nutrients that are important for good health and they taste great when mixed together in recipes. Here is a snapshot of what white and sweet potatoes have to offer.

White Potatoes* Sweet Potatoes*
Calories 130 180
Fiber (if skin is eaten) 3 grams 7 grams
Protein 3 grams 4 grams
Carbohydrate 30 grams 41.4 grams
Fat Less than 1 gram Less than 1 gram
Sugar 2 grams 12 grams
Vitamins 29% of your daily vitamin C needs 65% of your daily vitamin C needs
More than 100% of your daily vitamin A needs
Minerals 21% of your daily Potassium needs
13% of your daily Manganese needs
27% of your daily Potassium needs
50% of your daily Manganese needs

*Information based on a one-cup serving including potato skin

Potatoes are delicious, nutritious and low cost. The healthiest potato recipes don’t add a lot of fat and calories. Here are a few from our website that I particularly enjoy.

Add some potatoes to your grocery list today!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Preparing a Zucchini

This time of year gardeners tend to have an abundance of zucchini. The challenge is to use it before it goes bad. In our newest video, we show how to prepare a zucchini. The different ways of cutting a zucchini are useful for different recipes. Watch the video today and find out how to slice rounds, cut matchsticks, cube, dice, and grate zucchini.

If you have the time and a zucchini, grate one up this weekend so you have it ready to make our September recipe of the month next week.

Enjoy!

 

 

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Summer Bounty Salad

We have a new video for you! It is Summer Bounty Salad – a recipe that is easy, delicious, and perfect for this time of year. I do not want to spoil the video for you, so I am not going to tell you how to make this recipe. However, I suggest you go find your favorite summer vegetables and your favorite salad dressing because you are going to want them for this recipe.

Enjoy!

 

 

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Chicken BLT Salads

Chicken BLT Salads Meal My parents are professional tomato growers. They started out small when I was young with about six plants. Now they have dozens of plants of many different varieties. Regardless of how many tomato plants they have, one thing remains the same – bacon, lettuce, and tomato (BLT) sandwiches. We feast on them along with any other fresh produce we can find (usually corn on the cob, green beans, and cucumbers).

Our recipe of the month for August is a spin on the traditional BLT sandwich – Chicken BLT Salads. Top fresh greens with cooked chicken and bacon and diced tomatoes. Then drizzle with your favorite salad dressing. I would even go a step further and add any other fresh produce you have. I think this salad would be great with carrots, corn cut from the cob, cucumbers, green beans, and onions. Give these salads a try while all this amazing produce is in season.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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The Real Cost of Condiments

By Kelly Verburgt, Nutrition Program Student Assistantyellow mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, mayo

From burgers at barbecues to hot dogs at baseball games, condiments are a summer necessity. With so many to choose from and different sized bottles, which will give you the most bang for your buck? Check out some of the most popular options below and see which condiments you should choose this summer.

Ketchup

Ketchup is a classic that is useful for more than just hot dogs and burgers. From meatloaf to “yum yum” sauce at hibachi restaurants, ketchup can be quite versatile and used in many recipes. At only $0.09 per ounce and $2.99 for a big 32-ounce bottle, ketchup is certainly low cost.

Mustard

Whether you love it or hate it, we have all tried this tangy yellow sauce. At only $1.99 for a 14-ounce bottle, and $0.14 per ounce, this is a cheap addition to any barbecue. Like ketchup, mustard can be spiced up and turned into all sorts of things like dressings or sauces. Try using it in the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Deviled Eggs recipe!

Hot sauce

For those of you who like to add a kick to your food, hot sauce is probably your go-to. Per ounce, hot sauce is the most expensive condiment at $0.22 per ounce, and $1.29 for a 6-ounce bottle. If you only use it now and then, hot sauce can be a great condiment to have on hand. However, if you put it on everything, it can get expensive. Try cooking with red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, they add spice for less money!

BBQ sauce

This condiment is sweet and delicious and can be the perfect dip for just about any type of meat. Ringing in at $2.69 for an 18-ounce bottle, this sauce is only $0.15 per ounce. It can be high in calories, so use it in moderation. It is delicious on our Shredded Pork Sandwich or Chicken Tenders.

Ranch

Ranch salad dressing is a favorite among children, what they dip in it seems limitless! At $2.99 for a 16-ounce bottle, ranch comes in at $0.19 per ounce. It is one of the more expensive condiments, but if it gets you and your family to eat vegetables, it is totally worth it. Try setting out a vegetable platter with ranch at your next barbecue and watch it disappear. Ranch salad dressing can be quite high in fat and calories so model appropriate portion sizes (1-2 tablespoons). Remember, there are reduced fat versions available.

Condiment Total Cost Ounces Cost/Ounce
Ketchup $2.99 32 $0.09
Mustard $1.99 14 $0.14
Hot Sauce $1.29 6 $0.22
BBQ $2.69 18 $0.15
Ranch $2.99 16 $0.19

Now that you are an expert on condiments, you can make an informed decision at the grocery store on what fits your family best. Wishing you tasty and fun barbeques this summer!

 

 

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Condiments—are they good for you?

ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce

By Sarah Allen, Nutrition Program Student Assistant

One of the joys of summer is grilling. One thing that we may not think about is the nutrition of the condiments that we use for grilled foods. I looked at five condiments from my local grocery store and compared them. Take a look at what I found:

Tomato Ketchup Yellow Mustard Ranch Dressing Hot Sauce Barbecue Sauce
Serving 1 Tbsp. 1 tsp. 2 Tbsp. 1 tsp. 2 Tbsp.
Calories 20 0 140 0 35
Total Fat, g 0g 0g 14g 0g 0g
Sodium, mg 160mg 60mg 260mg 200mg 210mg
Carbohydrates (sugar), g 5g (4g) 0g (0g) 2g (1g) 0g (0g) 8g (7g)
Protein, g 0g 0g 0g 0g 0g
Vitamin A % DV** 2% 0% 0% 2% 4%
Vitamin C % DV** 2% 0% 2% 4% 0%
Calcium % DV** 0% 0% 0% N/A* 0%
Iron % DV** 0% 0% 0% N/A* 0%

*N/A: not mentioned on the nutrition label
**DV: Daily Value – calculated based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your needs may vary.

Most of these condiments are tasty, but it is important to keep in mind that they are:

  • High in sodium—this can cause high blood pressure
  • Have little to no protein
  • Have little to no vitamins and minerals
  • Have empty calories—this means calories that do not provide much nutrition

The serving size in the chart is what is listed on the label. If more than that is used, that would mean the sodium would be even higher. In general, we should eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. If you or your kids are like me when I was a kid, you may dunk everything in ketchup, ranch dressing, or barbecue sauce.

Consider using a small amount of these condiments and adding vegetables to your favorite foods to add more flavor (and color)! For example, add leafy lettuce, tomato and onion to your hamburger or chicken sandwich. Be sure to look for next week’s blog post about the cost of these condiments and some healthier ways to use them!

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Watermelon, Yum!

A few weekends ago when my kids stayed with their grandma, they went grocery shopping for food to eat while at her house. When she asked them if Slice of watermelonthey liked watermelon, they enthusiastically told her yes but that they don’t get it very often because their dad doesn’t like it. Poor dad got the blame. They do get it fairly regularly when it is in season, but I have to admit, sometimes when I don’t buy it is because I’m not in the mood to cut it up. However, since we created our How to Prepare Melon video that we shared in the blog last week, I’m ready to cut-up the watermelon for the kids to enjoy!

I’m also starting to get better at choosing a good melon. I’ve chosen a couple of tasty ones recently and I use the suggestions in our Produce Basics tips on melons.

I’m also working watermelon into some recipes. When I bought a watermelon a couple of weeks ago, I made our Fruit Slush recipe. It was very refreshing served with crushed ice and my seven-year-old son even liked it. You should give it a try!

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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