Check your list twice!

As we approach the holiday season, you might be concerned about how to feed holiday guests and add festive foods to your budget without going overboard.  Before you make your grocery list, check twice to make sure you can pay the bill.

Fortunately, many grocers offer festive foods at lower prices during this time of year.   If you are purchasing shelf-stable ingredients, you can buy them ahead of time, so your budget will not take a big hit all at once.  You can also set aside money each week to cover items that you will purchase closer to the holidays.

Saving money each week is not as difficult as you might think, look how easy it is to find money in a week:

  • Eating lunch out every working day costs $25 a week;
  • Two treats at the vending machine each work day, $10;
  • One trip through the fast food lane can cost a family more than $25.

Other ways to save for your celebration are to look for deals on holiday decorating items at thrift stores. Cloth napkins and tablecloths can be used more than once and might cost less than a throwaway. Look for recipes that are delicious, nutritious, and made with budget-minded ingredients.  USDA offers thousands of recipes on their What’s Cooking website https://whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/. Your EFNEP Cooking magazine and this website have lots of recipes, too!

Plan ahead to make your holidays fun, festive and budget-friendly.

Jayne

Jayne is the Technology & Social Media Associate for EFNEP and SNAP-Ed

 

Build a Better Taco

My first taco that I ever tried was back in Austin, TX. It was instant love, and since then it has been on my go-to list of meals for the week.
Nothing beats tacos for a quick, tasty meal with serious flavor and tons of options. From hot to cool, dense to light, crunchy to creamy, the fillings and toppings give everyone something to love!
Today, I am sharing with you, my favorite twist to a regular taco recipe. I call it FESTIVE FISH TACOS. I use tilapia to make them, but you can choose Mahi Mahi or Cod. This recipe is a three-step recipe because I like homemade salsa and a slaw mix. So here it goes:

TACOS

Ingredients
– Non-stick cooking spray
– 4 tilapia fillets
– Black pepper and paprika to taste
– 8- (6-inch) soft corn tortilla
– Slaw mix
– Salsa –      

Directions-
1- Preheat the broiler in the oven. Adjust top rack to rest approximately 6 inches from broiler.
2- Line pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
3- Place filets on prepared pan and sprinkle with black pepper and paprika to taste
4- Broil filets for 6 minutes.
5- Meanwhile, wrap tortillas in damp paper towels and heat in microwave for 30 seconds.
6- Divide each filet in half. Place half of cooked filet in each tortilla.
7- Top with slaw mix and salsa.

SALSA

Ingredients
– 1 mango                                                       – 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
– 1/ cup green pepper, finely chopped             – 11/2 teaspoons chili powder
– 1/4 cup cucumber, finely chopped                – 1 tablespoon lime juice
– 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
DIRECTIONS –
– Mix all ingredients together and set aside.

SLAW MIX

Ingredients
– 2 cups cabbage, finely chopped          1 teaspoon chili powder
– 1/4 cup fat-free Ranch Dressing

DIRECTIONS –
– Mix all ingredients together and set aside.

ENJOY!!

Neha

Neha is a Special Programs Assistant for NC EFNEP

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Kcal:260, Total Fat: 4.5g, Saturated Fat:1g, Protein:24g

SOURCE: This recipe is taken from EFNEP, Cooking with EFNEP cookbook
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/05/5-easy-steps-to-healthy-tacos-youll-                 love-infographic/

 

Freezer Magic: 8 Tips for Freezing Fruits and Vegetables

We are in the peak of summer time produce. Often I buy a little extra since it is such a good price but can’t use it all fresh in one week. In search of ways to preserve what I bought and ensure that I can use for more meals, I came across this publication, Freezer Magic: 8 Tips for Freezing Fruits and Vegetables

Here are a few things I want to highlight for you:

  • Freeze ripe, high-quality fruits and vegetables. Freezing won’t magically fix any rot, lack of ripeness, or mold — it will just preserve those pesky problems.
  • Think about how you want your fruits and vegetables to appear when you reach for them in the freezer.
  • Consider the serving size. Freeze in “ready-to-eat” sizes that you and your family regularly consume.
  • Many vegetables need to be “blanched” or partially cooked before they are frozen. For a full list, see the publication.

Freezing fruits and vegetables can be a good way to save you money. Be sure to follow the instructions and use the produce, instead of letting them go to waste. Otherwise, you don’t end up saving money!

Enjoy!!
Emily

Emily is an Extension Associate for NC EFNEP.

Source: http://foodandhealth.com/freezer-magic-8-freezing-tips/

Healthy eating on a budget!

Eating healthy on a budget can be really hard, especially if you’re paying for rent, gas, and other necessities. However, it can be done. The first step to successfully budgeting a healthy meal is to just create a game plan for your groceries. Research and look up tips for healthy, low-cost meals and master the skill of finding the best deals on items.

Shopping smart is the key to eating healthy on a budget. Realizing that the “unit price” is the better option for you can be beneficial in the long run. Reading each food label can also help make decisions easier when being mindful of healthiness. Each aisle of the grocery store has deals and discounts. Finding those will also benefit anyone on a budget. Preparing healthy meals can be easier by using kitchen timesavers. This makes it easier because you can make meals faster and more efficiently. Looking up new recipes to try can also help make things less complicated. Plus, this can bring a family together by introducing new things to meals.
There are plenty of budget-friendly recipes to choose, from a slow-cooked beef stew to summer chicken spring rolls; there are a variety of healthy recipes that factor in a budget. There are other options such as a grilled salmon, avocado salad and pesto chicken kabobs.

There are even tofu stir-fry options for those who are vegetarians. Making menus for every 2-weeks is also a budget-conscious habit that can save money and benefit health-wise. Keeping grocery and pantry staples lists are also great ideas in following a budget. Referring to the ChooseMyPlate model can also be informative on which food groups are needed in each meal. Utilizing your resources such as SNAP-ED and FNS can also help save money and accomplish healthy meal preparation.

Enjoy!

Taylor

Taylor is a student intern working with EFNEP at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Pitt County Center.

RESOURCE:

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget
http://www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/recipes/budget-friendly.html 

 

Reduce Your Holiday Stress

Is just thinking about the holidays stressing you out? As moms, we know we have the house to clean and decorate, gifts to buy and wrap, meals to plan and prepare, and money to squeeze from somewhere to support it all.

christmas-1786558_1280

This year, to eliminate the stress and truly enjoy the holidays, follow these easy tips. Make it a family affair and you just might find the true meaning of the season! The key to it all is planning ahead.

1. Begin by creating a simple budget. Using cash only is the best way to stay within your means. Start setting aside cash well in advance. Stash a little at a time until a self-determined date. Vow to work with whatever amount is collected. When it comes time to buy food and gifts, divide what you’ve saved appropriately. Remember, food doesn’t have to be expensive to be healthy and flavorful; and gifts don’t have to be big-ticket items to be treasured. Stop the temptation to supplement your spending with credit cards by remembering the bills that will come in January. And, don’t dip into your emergency fund! You’ll pay to replace that later as well. When you use cash, your spending is over with the holidays. That’s the greatest stress relief of all!

2. To help ration your cash, make a list of all the people to whom you want to give a gift. Then, divide the list into three groups – Paid, Made and None. Knowing how much cash you’ve collected will tell you how extensive your Paid list can be and how much you can spend on each gift. Taking a good look at the time you have available will help you determine how long your Made list can be. To get inexpensive, homemade gift ideas, check the Internet. It’s loaded with creative suggestions! Lastly, those people on your None list might simply get a card into which a heartfelt note is written. What could be a more personal gift and, at the same time, better convey the true meaning of the season?

3. Start thinking about food preparation well in advance of the holidays. Ask your family to help you plan the holiday meals and decide on the baked goods they want to enjoy. If you know in advance, many of the items needed to create their favorite foods can be purchased on sale and stored safely until used. Knowing in advance also gives you an opportunity to prepare dishes and goodies that can be frozen and pulled out as needed during the season. Planning your menus ahead of the holiday crunch will not only stretch your cash budget, but your time as well. It will free you to truly enjoy the season.

When you plan ahead and work from a budget, you have the time to focus on holiday fun and truly appreciate the season. The decisions are made. All you have to do is execute them… and that’s as easy as enjoying a piece of Red Velvet cake! Happy holidays!

-Virginia

Source: http://extension.umd.edu/news/stop-seasonal-stress-holiday-spending-budget

Reduce Holiday Stress

Do you feel stressed thinking about the holidays? Sometimes it’s hard not to feel stressed especially when there’s the house to decorate, gifts to buy and wrap, meals to plan and prepare, and on and on and on! Is it possible to reduce holiday stress? The answer is yes!

This year, to eliminate the stress and truly enjoy the holidays, follow the tips below. (Make it a family affair and you just might find the true meaning of the season!)

The key is planning ahead.

1gift wrap

1. Begin by creating a simple budget. Using cash only is the best way to stay within your means. Start setting aside cash well in advance. Stash a little at a time until a self-determined date. Vow to work with whatever amount is collected. When it comes time to buy food and gifts, divide what you’ve saved appropriately. Remember, food doesn’t have to be expensive to be healthy and flavorful; and gifts don’t have to be big-ticket items to be treasured. Stop the temptation to supplement your spending with credit cards by remembering the bills that will come in January. And, don’t dip into your emergency fund! You’ll pay to replace that later as well. When you use cash, your spending is over with the holidays. That’s the greatest stress relief of all!

2. To help ration your cash, make a list of all the people to whom you want to give a gift. Then, divide the list into three groups – Paid, Made and None. Knowing how much cash you’ve collected will tell you how extensive your Paid list can be and how much you can spend on each gift. Taking a good look at the time you have available will help you determine how long your Made list can be. To get inexpensive, homemade gift ideas, check the Internet. It’s loaded with creative suggestions! Lastly, those people on your None list might simply get a card into which a heartfelt note is written. What could be a more personal gift and, at the same time, better convey the true meaning of the season?

3. Start thinking about food preparation well in advance of the holidays. Ask your family to help you plan the holiday meals and decide on the baked goods they want to enjoy. If you know in advance, many of the items needed to create their favorite foods can be purchased on sale and stored safely until used. Knowing in advance also gives you an opportunity to prepare dishes and goodies that can be frozen and pulled out as needed during the season. Planning your menus ahead of the holiday crunch will not only stretch your cash budget, but your time as well. It will free you to truly enjoy the season.

When you plan ahead and work from a budget, you have the time to focus on holiday fun and truly enjoy the season. The decisions are made. All you have to do is execute them… and that’s as as easy as downing a piece of Red Velvet cake! Happy holidays!

-Virginia