When time is short for cooking, having a stocked pantry and freezer can be a game-changer. By keeping healthy staple ingredients on hand, you can shorten a meal’s cook time and save money. Try these tips to save time and money the next time you need a meal in a hurry.
Use Quick and Easy Recipes: Planning and purchasing ingredients for easy recipes that only need a few ingredients can simplify cooking. Many healthy, quick recipes can be found at Spend Smart. Eat Smart., go.iastate.edu/1E3RBW, and MyPlate, www.myplate.gov.
Purchase Pantry Staples: Nonperishable food items are budget friendly, and their long shelf life reduces food waste. Many delicious meals only need a few canned goods, a protein, and a whole grain pasta or rice. Some canned foods are very high in sodium, so choose low-sodium or no-salt-added options when available.
Soups in a Snap: Many quick meals can center around a nutritious bowl of soup. Make it a meal when served with a salad, whole-grain bread, and a glass of low-fat milk.
Use Frozen Vegetables: Frozen vegetables are a great way to add flavor, nutrients, and color to your meals. Frozen vegetables have nearly the same nutritional benefits as fresh, and many entrees and side dishes can be planned around a frozen vegetable.
2 apples (peeled, cored, and sliced; about 2 cups)
4 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
4 ounces low fat cream cheese, cubed
Wash squash and pat dry with paper towel. Prick skin 6–8 times with a knife or fork. Place on a microwave safe plate and microwave for 5 minutes.
Cool squash enough to touch it, then cut off top and bottom of squash. Cut off peel and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Cut squash into cubes.
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes.
Add squash, apples, and broth. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and cook for 25 minutes until squash and apples are tender.
Blend soup until smooth using a blender or food processor.
Return soup to saucepan and add cream cheese. Cook and stir with a whisk until cheese is smooth.
Nutrition information per serving: 210 calories, 7g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 440mg sodium, 35g total carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 12g sugar, 6g protein. This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s SpendSmart. EatSmart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu
1 can (14.5 ounces) no-sodium-added diced tomatoes or 2 chopped tomatoes
1 bunch kale (about 7 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.
Add onion, carrot, garlic. Cook 5 minutes.
Add water to pot. Heat to boiling.
Rinse lentils in colander with water. Add to pot, simmer 20 minutes. Do not drain.
Add chicken broth, dried basil or Italian seasoning, and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 5–10 minutes.
Rinse kale leaves; cut out the main stems and discard. Cut leaves into 1” pieces.
Stir kale, salt, and ground black pepper into lentil mixture. Return to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, simmer for 3 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving: 200 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium, 29g total carbohydrate, 12g fiber, 4g sugar, 11g protein. This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu
4 medium potatoes(scrubbed, peeled, and cubed) (about 4cups)
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup nonfat milk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Optional: sliced green onions, crumbled bacon, diced ham, croutons, soup crackers
Combine potatoes, onion, garlic powder, ground black pepper, and broth in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium high heat until boiling.
Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally (12–15 minutes).
Use a potato masher or fork to slightly mash the potatoes. This will also thicken the soup. There should still be pieces of potato in the soup.
Stir in the peas, milk, and shredded cheddar cheese. Cook and stir until the cheese is melted (3–4 minutes).
Add garnishes and serve right away.
Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories, 8g total fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20mg cholesterol, 240mg sodium, 53g total carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 9g sugar, 16g protein
This information is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.
In the fall, we crave warm, hearty foods like cheesy casseroles and hearty soups. Often, though, these “comfort foods” are high in fat, sodium, and calories.
The next time you make your favorite “comfort foods,” try these tips to make them healthier and even more enjoyable:
Add extra vegetables of all types—dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables—without added sauces, fats, or salt. Double the vegetables in a soup or casserole recipe to add extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Switch up your grains, making at least half of your grains whole grain. Like rice? Try replacing white rice with brown rice in your recipe. This month’s recipe uses brown rice.
Choose reduced-fat dairy foods, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, in casseroles and cream soups. Reduced-fat cheeses, for example, have less fat but just as much favor and melt just like full-fat cheese.
Use lean protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products. Cooking on a budget? Canned meats are just as nutritious, cheaper, and easier to use in casseroles.
To keep leftover soup safe, cool it quickly before putting it in the refrigerator. Place the soup pot in an “ice bath”—a sink filled with ice. Or stir ice cubes into the broth.
Never put a pot of soup directly into the refrigerator. Instead, pour the cooled soup into shallow containers, no more than two inches deep. Shallow containers ensure that foods will chill to 41˚F or below in less than four hours. This will prevent bacterial growth. Store soup in the refrigerator for no more than 3–4 days before eating it or throwing it out. Be sure to reheat cold soup to 165˚F or higher.
To learn how to freeze your homemade soup to make it go farther, visit AnswerLine blog, blogs.extension.iastate.edu/answerline/2016/10/24/ successfully-freezing-homemade-soup/.
People who eat more soup usually have a healthier diet. An Iowa State University study found that soup-eaters consume less fat and more fber and vitamins than nonsoup-eaters. This is probably because most soups contain a variety of vegetables.
Soup is flling. Because most soups are high in water and fber, they help you feel fuller longer. For this reason, soup helps people maintain a healthy weight. To avoid excess calories, enjoy broth- or tomato-based soups, not soups with cream, cheese, or butter.
Soup is easy. It can be as simple as opening a can and turning on the microwave. Even canned soup can be a healthy meal, if it’s low sodium. You can pep up the favor of low-sodium canned soup with onion or garlic powder, oregano, basil, turmeric, or a dash of hot sauce. You can also add your favorite frozen vegetables.
For more reflections on soup and the joys of healthy foods, visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart., blogs.extension.iastate.edu/spendsmart/tag/soup/.