How cooking from scratch will save you money

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By Saimi Bergmann
GateHouse News Service

To cut your grocery bill, buy fresh and cook from scratch, advises Kathy Meneses.

“Let’s get back to our country roots, get the kids trying fruits and vegetables. And get them to try the high-quality, fresh version. Fresh peas are like candy!” said Meneses, nutrition educator for the Ohio State University Extension for Stark County.

“Do you know what’s the number one vegetable eaten by kids? French fries,” she said. “French frying kills off most of the vitamins and nutrients of the potato. And leave the skin on to get the iron — it’s close to the surface of the potato.”

Meneses travels around the county teaching classes about stretching food dollars. She advises taking advantage of low summer prices on vegetables to make soups, salads, stir fries and vegetable quesadillas.

“People say ‘I only eat soup in the winter.’ What a shame,” Meneses said. “All these ingredients are available and it’s so easy — just put them all in the pot and walk away. “

She usually asks workshop attendees to write down what they ate the day before.

“What we find out is that they tend to eat the same things over and over again,” she said. “My number one advice is to eat a variety of foods, and a variety within the variety. For instance, eat vegetables, but vary your veggies. People don’t do this anymore.”

When locally grown tomatoes and zucchini are bountiful and cheap, try Meneses’ Summertime Medley. (See recipe )

“It freezes well. Then on a winter day, it’s like opening up a bowl of summer,” she said.

As different fruits come into season and the price drops, Meneses suggests blending them into a “fruit-water,” which is like a single-ingredient smoothie.

“It’s a good use for melons or fruits that don’t have quite enough flavor, that didn’t ripen enough.”

At a recent workshop, she put chunks of watermelon in a blender, then pureed it into a refreshing beverage. She said you can add a little water or sugar if preferred. Leftovers can be frozen.

“It makes great popsicles,” Meneses said. “It’s a kid-friendly way to get fruit into their diet.”

FRESH VS. PACKAGED

We bought a 5-pound bag of potatoes for $2.59. We calculated the cost of a 6-ounce potato, then compared the cost to a same-size serving of frozen Ore-Ida french fries. ($2.89 for a 32-ounce bag).

If you substitute ready-made fries for a fresh potato for a four-person family, the price difference is $1.40 per meal. If you make that choice twice a week, you’re paying $145.60 more per year than if you had started from scratch.

Potato (6 oz.) — 19 cents

Frozen french fries (6 oz.) — 54 cents

Difference per serving — 35 cents

SUMMERTIME MEDLEY

1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 large zucchini, diced (seeds removed) or 2 small zucchini, diced
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off cob
4 medium to large tomatoes, diced

Sauté onion in oil and butter for 4-5 minutes. Add zucchini, corn and tomatoes. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Serve hot or chilled. Store in refrigerator. Freezes well.

For spicier version, add small hot pepper, finely diced.

– From Kathy Meneses

The Repository

source: http://www.middletowntranscript.com/lifestyle/food/x41632501/How-cooking-from-scratch-will-save-you-money

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