Up with beans, down with Fritos.
That’s the gist of a new series of suggestions from University of Idaho nutrition experts illustrating ways to not only reduce the grocery bill, but to get the most nutrition for the dollar.
“Unfortunately, fast-food often becomes popular during rough economic times because a dollar menu makes it look like your dollar goes a long way,” SeAnne Safaii-Fabiano, who directs the UI’s dietetics program in North Idaho, said in a news release. “People begin to look for the cheapest calories they can find, and fast-food becomes more appealing than cooking with fresh ingredients. But eating healthy is actually a better investment, and it also saves money by preventing health problems down the road.”
Here are some tips from the food faculty:
•Eat more beans. Beans and legumes are low in fat, calories and salt, and full of complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber. And they’re cheap – a one-cup serving costs about 40 cents. Pair them with grains, like rice or tortillas, for “even greater nutritional punch.”
•Stick to the edges of the store. The healthy stuff’s mostly around the store’s perimeter.
•Keep it colorful. As a general rule, more color on the plate – from veggies and beans – means more nutrition. Control costs by taking advantage of coupons and specials, and mixing up fresh, frozen and canned veggies.
•Don’t spend on empty calories. Safaii-Fabiano said that subtracting one 12-ounce soda per day could eliminate enough calories for you to lose 13 pounds.
•Use leftovers. Have a plan for using up what’s left – whether it’s in the next day’s lunch or in altered form as another dinner.
The weekly C-note
Speaking of food costs, they’re expected to rise again in 2009.
Forecasts call for a 3.5 percent increase in prices. On top of 2008’s increases, that adds up to a 10 percent hike in two years. “That hasn’t happened since the late 1980s,” Brian Todd, president of the Food Institute, told McClatchy Newspapers.
According to the institute, a New Jersey group that tracks food pricing, the average American family visits the grocery store twice a week and spends an average of $97.80 a week there.
Sen. Patty Murray has launched a Web site with a wide range of economic information – from looking for a job to help with housing.
The One-Stop Economic Resource Center will include information and services related to job hunting, applying for jobless benefits or food stamps, finding mortgage assistance programs and more. It also will include the latest information on economic recovery efforts coming out of Washington, D.C., Murray’s office said in a news release.
The site’s address is www.murray. senate.gov/economyhelp/index.cfm.