In search of good health on a budget? Shopping matters

Chef Jake Williams is a mythbuster of sorts.  He spends much of his time as the Cooking Matters Coordinator for Gleaners Community Food Bank working with people in small groups to understand how they can cook healthy, and filling meals on a budget.

One of his favorite myths to bust is that healthy eating is expensive.  To prove his point, after a few sessions of teaching people some of the basics in healthy food preparation, he takes them to grocery stores to start shopping.  On Saturday, August 18, 2012, he took a few bloggers along with him to show us how to shop on a budget with good health in mind.

Chef Williams covered a lot of ground in two hours discussing when to buy fresh, frozen and canned fruits or vegetables; how to select good produce; how to read food labels and what to look for when you are trying to buy whole grain foods.  Everything he taught related back to healthy recipes that meet the My Plate food guidelines.

Among his suggestions:

  • Eat before you go shopping
  • Make a list and stick to it
  • Learn to read the pricing labels on store shelves
  • When buying chicken, go for the full chicken and learn to carve it so you get the varieties you need (this is taught as part of the full Cooking Matters project)
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables are great alternatives when they are not available in season, both nutritionally and for your budget
  • If you are looking to purchase whole grains, make sure the first ingredient is a whole grain

At the end of his mythbusting tour through the store, we were all challenged to buy the ingredients for one meal for $10.  Before his tour, the idea of this challenge was unthinkable.  Afterward  I was able to buy enough food for one meal for just under $10, and it was pretty tasty meal at that.

What meal would you serve that costs under $10 to prepare?

Photo credit: Spojeni

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