A while back, Jennifer Justus emailed a few food bloggers here in Nashville about Food Bloggers Against Hunger. Word spread and brainstorming started. Now, not only do we have a number of Nashville-based food bloggers participating, but Jennifer was also able to set up a local screening of A Place at the Table later this month.
So, what’s this all about? We’re trying to make more people aware of the food crisis here in the United States. The nation’s food stamp program is at severe risk for cuts and even those families who do receive assistance often have little access to fresh, real food and only about $4 a day to purchase groceries. According to No Kid Hungry/Share Our Strength, 1 in 5 children struggle with hunger. Sixteen million children aren’t getting the food they need. In the greatest country in the world…
My family is fortunate. We have enough money not only to eat, but eat well, occasionally dine out and even have a little garden (that mostly feeds the squirrels who steal from it, unfortunately). But I do have to keep to a budget and I have a number of meals that are “budget-friendly.” I usually only post individual recipes, but I’ll share ideas here for complete, healthy (or healthier) meals based on previous posts.
Blackeyed Pea Burgers
These veggie burgers are great sources of protein, plus they are filling and good. And they only cost about $.65 each, including a whole wheat bun! Add some leafy green lettuce or leaf spinach and a tomato with a side of sweet potato fries and/or roasted broccoli and you have a really nutritious and inexpensive meal.
This lasagna is packed with protein and vitamins, and has rather inexpensive ingredients. If served with a small salad, you can easily feed six to eight people for about $16. The splurge is the already-shredded carrots, but it’s one worth making (plus, you only use half the bag). Shredding or matchsticking carrots is just not fun, easy or quick.
Toasted CousCous Salad
This is a great way to pack in a lot of different vitamins and minerals and protein sources in a single dish (chickpeas are a great source of lean protein) or use it to accompany a main dish of baked tofu (tofu is generally less expensive than meat).
To me, enchiladas are the lasagna of Mexican cuisine. You can cram just about anything into a corn tortilla and cover it in sauce and you’ve got a good, satisfying meal. My post has a list of ideas for fillings. Burritoes and tacos can also be stuffed with a lot of these same fillings.
Vegetables and cornbread
Just a couple of generations ago, this was a fairly standard and common meal (particularly in the south). People just didn’t eat meat at every meal like they tend to do now. Just serve beans, cornbread and whatever seasonal vegetables and fruits that are available and you’ve got a meal. Just like the vegetable plate at Cracker Barrel. Though I suggest getting some color on your plate instead of just shades of yellow (macaroni and cheese is not a vegetable).
Those are just a few of my ideas for budget-friendly meals. I’d estimate that the majority of the meals I cook are budget-friendly, though. So here are a few tips I use for shopping:
- Keep up with the sales. Many grocery stores offer amazing deals during promotions such as 10 for $10 and Buy One Get One Free. I stock up on staples that I store in the pantry or freezer (cheese freezes well!).
- Shop the international markets. I can often get great canned items like pigeon peas and chickpeas, couscous, rice, tortillas, and even produce at much better prices at the international markets. I got a huge bag of baby bok choy (that’s delicious roasted!) for less than $3. Took two weeks to eat all of it!
- The Crock Pot is your friend. Buy dried beans and peas for cheap and cook them in your slow cooker instead of buying canned beans. Also helps with sodium since canned vegetables tend to have far too much sodium.
- Buy seasonally. Here’s a link to determine what’s in season where you are now. Check out you local farmers market, which is likely to have have seasonal fruits and vegetables for much cheaper than the grocery stores. If you don’t have easy access to fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables are nearly as healthy, generally less expensive and much better for you overall than canned vegetables.
Finally, we need your help. Please take half a minute fill out this form to send a letter to Congress asking them to support anti-hunger legislation. Not only will I be doing that myself, but I plan to do all that I can to prevent the state of Tennessee from continuing with plans to reduce welfare benefits to families with children who are not performing well in school. Which, of course, would only make them perform worse in school, not to mention punish children who might be doing well.
Also, see for yourself. As I noted above, Jennifer arranged for a screening of A Place at the Table here in Nashville. On Monday, April 29, you’ll be able to view the film at Nashville’s Downtown Presbyterian Church. The event starts at 6 p.m., the movie starts at 6:30 p.m. followed (tentatively) by a panel discussion. There will also be several local chefs attending to prepare a healthy dinner with inexpensive but healthy ingredients. Pricing is TBD, but I will definitely have more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, you can view a trailer of the film here.
Also, be sure to check out the blogs of other participating food bloggers on The Giving Table’s website.