Healthy Cooking on a Budget
Fighting Food Insecurity
It's hard to imagine that there's something called "food insecurity" in a country, where two out of every three people are overweight or obese. Yet that's one of the perverse things about America. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are two levels of food insecurity.
Low food security includes: reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet.
Very low food security includes: Reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.
The people who experience food insecurity tend to be retired on a fixed income, disabled, unemployed or part of the working poor. To help out, the federal government created a program that was commonly referred to as food stamps. Today it's known as the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or (SNAP).
In 2012 over 54 million people made so little money, that they were eligible for SNAP benefits. There's just one problem. For those that qualify, in 2014 the average daily SNAP benefit was just $4 per day. Now I want you to think about that for a minute. Picture yourself walking into a supermarket and figuring out what you can buy for $4, which will feed you for three meals.
Never mind trying to put something together that's nutritionally sound, good tasting or convenient. We tell everyone they should eat healthy, but the easiest choices available are just the opposite.
Fast food restaurants have "Dollar Menu's" that are extremely cheap, but they primarily feature calorie-dense, high fat and high sodium options. Upscale markets and restaurants feature the fresh fruit and veggies we want people to eat, but they're too expensive for the working poor.
Here's what you can do.
To save money: You've got to spend some time in the kitchen and start doing more cooking for yourself. For the cost of a single serving of eggs, toast and a piece of fruit at a chain restaurant, you can buy a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread and a couple pieces of whole fruit at the grocery store. You can cook three meals in your home for the price of a single breakfast at a typical Denny's or IHOP.
To save time: You need to choose meals that can be made in bulk. Things you can cook and freeze or store in the refrigerator for later. Add up the time it takes to drive to a restaurant, place your order, wait for the food, pay and then drive home. Most meals can be cooked in your home quicker than all that.
What to cook: Once you choose to start doing some cooking, it can be difficult to decide exactly what you can or should make. Here are THREE completely free sources of recipes and information.
The first is a cookbook written by Leanne Brown. As a student in New York University's Food Studies program, she wondered what someone who was only receiving SNAP benefits, about $4 a day, could eat. So she put together a cookbook called, "Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day."
To make the book available to the widest variety of people, she posted the book as a PDF file online... for FREE. You can visit her website and download it to your computer without paying a penny. www.leannebrown.com
For those who can afford it, you can donate $5. That money is then used to print out paper versions of the book and distribute them free to the needy. Over 900,000 people have downloaded the free PDF. A Kickstarter campaign has made it possible to ship 12,000 free copies of the book to non-profits and another 40,000 at massive discounts.
The second source of recipes is the RECIPES section of this website. Click Here for over 600 recipes, carefully indexed and fully searchable. Plus they're 100% free. As a bonus, if you track your food using a program called MyFitnessPal, every recipe has already been entered. Simply search using WeBeFit or WeBeFit.com and the recipe name to find them.
The third free guide is from the Environmental Working Group. It's called "Good Food on a Tight Budget" shopping guide. We've put the PDF file on our website for you to download directly by clicking here.
The original location of the file is here: http://bit.ly/1OMRF8n
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.