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Stretch your Budget by Buying Whole

Buying whole foods might sound expensive, but it can actually be much cheaper! Usually, whole foods are defined as foods that have not been processed and do not have extra ingredients added to them. This includes fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, meat, fish, and eggs. It can also be cheaper to buy foods that are literally whole–like large, unpeeled carrots instead of baby carrots.

To see whether the “whole” option is actually cheaper, check the unit price at the grocery store. The unit price can be found right next to the full price of the item. It will tell you how much the item costs per pound, ounce, or piece. Watch this video to see where to find the unit price. 

Take a look at the prices of these products: 

  • 1 lb bag of baby carrots = $0.89
  • 1 lb bag of whole carrots = $0.69

  • 8 oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese = $2.18
  • 8 oz block of cheddar cheese = $1.74

  • 16 oz of canned pinto beans (about 1.5 cups) = $0.54   

Canned = .18¢ per serving

  • 16 oz of dried pinto beans (about 6 cups cooked) = $1.38 

Dried = .11¢ per serving 

Some of the prices may not seem that different, but a few cents here and there can add up over time! Take a look at your grocery list and mark foods you think you could buy less processed or whole versions of. Next time you go shopping, compare the unit price of the option you normally buy to the alternate whole option. See how much money you could save by buying whole.


Quick Cook Egg


  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Cooking spray
  • Dash of pepper (optional)


  1. Spray a microwave safe mug with cooking spray
  2. Crack an egg into the mug (wash hands after)
  3. Add the milk and pepper if desired
  4. Whisk together with a fork
  5. Cover with a damp paper towel
  6. Microwave for 30-45 seconds or until the egg reaches 160˚

Ranch Popcorn


  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • Spices
  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • Brown lunch bag
  • Spices
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Place all ingredients into a brown lunch bag
  2. Fold the bag tightly several time
  3. Shake
  4. Microwave for about 2 minutes or until you hear the kernels stop popping

Springtime Asparagus Pasta

Bright, fresh flavors in a simple preparation make this very-of-the-season dish that is both satisfying and convenient. Orzo, the short, thick rice-like pasta, translates to “barley” in Italian works overtime to absorb the flavors of the lemon, asparagus, and chickpeas. 

Makes 4 servings 


  • 1 cup orzo, uncooked
  • 1lb fresh asparagus, cut into thirds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz can of low-sodium chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained 
  • 1 quart of water 
  • 1 teaspoon salt (plus more for boiling) 
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced  


  1. In a large stock pot, bring 1 quart of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook for ten minutes.
  2. While the orzo is cooking – in a large sauté pan, add the olive oil and garlic. Sauté on medium heat for three minutes.
  3. Add the asparagus and cook until tender for another three to four minutes.  
  4. Add the chickpeas and cook for another minute. 
  5. Once cooked, drain the orzo pasta and add it back to the pot. 
  6. Add the sauteed asparagus and chickpeas to the pot with the orzo. Stir to combine. 
  7. Season with salt, pepper, parsley, lemon juice and zest.  Serve immediately.

Recipe by: Chef Brigid Washington

Stretching for a Safer Workout

Stretching before and after your workout is important in helping to prevent injuries and keep you flexible, but the type of stretching you do before and after working out should be different!

two characters stretching

Before your workout, you want to do dynamic stretches. These are stretches that involve movement and help warm up your muscles for more intense activity. Try arm and hip circles, rolling your shoulders, marching with high knees, and leg swings. Try to do about 10 repetitions of each stretch. 

Perform these stretches before being active to warm up the same muscles you plan to use in your main workout–for example, runners should focus on getting their legs moving with a brisk walk, while swimmers might focus more on their arms with arm circles and shoulder rolls.

After your workout, you want to do static stretches. This type of stretch involves holding the same position for 15-30 seconds. These stretches are probably the type of stretching you are more familiar with. It can include things like reaching for your toes, holding your arm across your chest, or bending your leg and holding in a quadricep stretch. Remember, these should only be done after you exercise while your muscles are warm to prevent injury!

Holding a stretch after working out helps your muscles recover faster, which could help  prevent soreness and stiffness. These types of stretches are also helpful in improving flexibility and making sure your joints continue to move well as you age. After you exercise, make sure you are holding stretches for the same body parts you were just working out. 

Remember: It’s okay if stretching pulls a little, but it should never be painful! If you are in pain, it means you are stretching too far. With both types of stretches, always be in control of your movements. Don’t flop around or throw your body into the stretch as this could result in injury. 

Sources: YMCA

© 2021 North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

North Carolina State University
Agricultural and Human Sciences Department

Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES)