Maximize Your Food Dollar While Reducing Time Spent in the Kitchen

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With the current situation requiring households to limit trips to the market to as few as possible, many are purchasing more with each trip.  This can result in over-purchasing items that have a short shelf life.  To help decrease waste and increase storage life for many items, there are alternatives to simply putting in the refrigerator, or into the vegetable drawer.  Maximizing your purchase dollar, while also reducing waste and increasing meal possibilities requires a little planning and prep work upfront.

Plan

Each week think about the meals/snacks that will fill the menu for the week and the ingredients that will be required.  At first, this may seem daunting, but with practice, it becomes second nature.  If a full week is too big a bite, try to plan 3 or 4 days at first.  Write your ideas down.  Over time you will start to see commonalities week to week which greatly simplifies this process.

Shop

Organize the grocery list.  Create a document on your phone or on the computer that will simplify the process.  Create a default with the standard weekly purchases or look for an app that takes care of this for you. Anylist and Mealtime are two to take a look at and many grocers have their own that can ease the burden of shopping.

Focus on Ingredients

When prepping meals your focus should be on creating ingredients first, and meal creation second.  In other words, sauté a bunch of veggies, make a batch of rice or quinoa and cook up some legumes. Having these ready to go in your fridge makes it super simple to throw together different variations of meals that you first planned so that you are not eating the same meal multiple times over the week.  

Snacks Are Important

Do not forget to include healthy snacks in your planning and prepping!  Clean fresh fruit and place front and center, cut up some veggies, make some hummus, gauc or another dip.  Make it easy to eat deliciously fresh to help prevent the desire to open up a bag of processed convenient food-like items.   
 

Robert Warns, MS, RD
Guest columnist Robert Warns, MS, RD
Clinical Dietitian AdventHealth Wellness Center Celebration Lifestyle Clinic and 
Executive Health Program

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