By LISA LOSASSO BELL
When times are tight, people often go for cheaper food. How do you reduce costs and still maintain an eye on your health?
And how do we keep things simple?
We are bombarded with tempting prepackaged foods that are marked, “just add chicken,” or “just add beef,” and we don’t realize that it’s just as quick and quite comparable in cost to make those same dishes from scratch with fresh ingredients. Ultimately, what we are spending on fresh food, we may save on doctor visits.
We don’t even want to wash and break up our own lettuce anymore, we want it prewashed, broken up and sealed in a bag, even if we have to pay more. A whole head of lettuce will feed more people and last longer than a bag of prepackaged salad.
Since we are into the summer months, there is a much larger selection of fresh vegetables and fruits. Even if we don’t grow our own, there are plenty of farmer’s markets in the area such as Huffman’s Fruit Farm, Angellili’s, Gasper’s and the Howland Farmer’s Market.
According to John Huffman, owner of Huffman’s Fruit Farm, a lot of people don’t realize when certain things are available. He explained that if you wait until fruits and vegetables are at their peak season, you will get the best prices.
“Early sweet corn is much more expensive due to the preparation process,” said Huffman. “It takes a great deal of work and care.”
He explained that some people want the first of everything. “Many people just can’t wait,” he said, explaining that if you find early sweet corn, it will cost over $4 per dozen.
July’s bounty includes beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, cherries, green onions, greens, herbs, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes, summer raspberries, tomatoes, turnips and zucchini.
Purchasing meats from the meat department is also a more healthful, more cost-efficient option rather than buying ready-made meatballs, hamburger patties, and packaged meals with the meat already in it.
For families to save money, don’t buy precubed, presliced or prefrozen meat. Buy large, family sized trays of meat, break them up into three or four servings per freezer bag, put them in the freezer, and only cook the amount you need.
If you’re really ambitious and have a deep freezer, visit local farms that sell beef, pork and lamb by the whole or half. With the Bison farm on Route 45 in Ellsworth Township, there are even more choices.
Eat more simple, straightforward meals. Have one or two meatless meals per week and plan your meals a week ahead of time.
Make a grocery list and stick to it. Impulse shopping will drain your pocket rather quickly.
If you purchase vegetables at discount stores, buy only what you’re going to use quickly because they don’t tend to last as long. Also be careful of the cuts of meat you purchase. Try to stay away from pre-packaged lunch meats. Local grocery store delis often have sales on lunch meats. You can get more healthful products and more for your money.
Area produce peak season
UJuly: beans, beats, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, celery, cherries, cucumbers, green onions, greens, herbs, lettuce, onions, peas, green peppers, radishes, summer raspberries, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon, zucchini
UAugust: apples, beans, beets, blueberries, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, grapes, green onions, greens, herbs, lettuce, onions, peas, peaches, pears, peppers, potatoes, radishes, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon, zucchini
USeptember: apples, beets, blueberries, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, eggplant, onions, , peas, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, fall red raspberries, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon, zucchini
UOctober: apples, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, herbs, lettuce, peas, pears, pumpkins, radishes, fall red raspberries, turnips, zucchini
Source: Ohio Proud Web site
Quick Cole Slaw
1 medium size head cabbage, grated
1‚Ñ2 cup Pet milk
1‚Ñ4 cup sugar
1‚Ñ4 teaspoon pepper
1‚Ñ2 teaspoon salt
1‚Ñ4 cup vinegar
1‚Ñ4 teaspoon prepared mustard
Mix together all ingredients except cabbage thoroughly. Pour over cabbage. Refrigerate until serving time.
Recipe contributed by Christie Hicken, to “Recipes to Remember: Personal Favorites Sponsored by Local 717 Women’s Committee,” published in 2001.
Oriental Chicken Salad
3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1‚Ñ2 package chow mein noodles
3 to 6 green onions
1 large head of lettuce
1‚Ñ2 cup sesame seeds
1‚Ñ2 cup sliced almonds
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1‚Ñ2 cup olive oil
Cook and dice chicken. Let chicken marinate in dressing. Wash and tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces, add green onions. Saut the sesame seeds and almonds in butter until browned. Add to salad mixture along with chicken. Toss and serve immediately. Recipe contributed by Sherene Ward to “A Cookbook of Treasures: Bazetta Christian Church Celebrating Our 150th Anniversary,” published in 1996.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
12 large cabbage leaves
11‚Ñ4 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons salt
1‚Ñ2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup cooked rice
1 small onion, chopped
1‚Ñ2 teaspoon poultry seasoning or thyme
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1‚Ñ4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
Cover cabbage leaves with boiling water and let stand for five-minutes or until limp: drain. Combine ground beef, salt, pepper, rice, onion, egg and poultry seasoning or thyme. Place equal portions of meat mixture in center of each leaf. Fold sides of each leaf over meat; roll up and fasten with toothpicks or string. Brown in hot cooking oil in very large skillet. Pour in the tomato sauce. Simmer, covered, 1 hour, basting occasionally. Makes 6 servings.
Recipe contributed by R. Lucarielli, to “Cook With Us: Hubbard Conservation Club, Inc.,” published in 1984.
Ziti with Broccoli
11‚Ñ2 pound fresh broccoli
8 fresh parsley sprigs (leaves only)
2 large garlic cloves, mashed
3‚Ñ4 pound ziti
1‚Ñ4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1‚Ñ4 cup grated parmesan
1‚Ñ2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Cut stems off broccoli and wash thoroughly. Chop parsley and garlic together. Steam broccoli in water in covered saucepan about 25 minutes. Cook ziti in another pot with salted water, about 20 minutes. Combine olive oil, butter, parsley, and garlic. Saut for about 2 minutes. Drain broccoli and ziti when cooked. Place both in warm pot in which ziti was cooked and pour sauce mixture over both. Sprinkle on cheese and black pepper, stir and serve immediately.
Recipe contributed by Mary Massucci to “Relay for Life, a Team Event to Fight Cancer: Trumbull County Children Services,” published in 2001.
Zucchini Sausage Bake
1 pound Italian sausage
5 tablespoons flour
6 cups sliced zucchini, with skin
1‚Ñ2 cup onion, chopped
2 tablespoons margarine
1 (16-ounce) carton cottage cheese
1‚Ñ4 cup grated parmesan-Romano cheese
2 eggs, well beaten
1‚Ñ2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 cup shredded cheddar or mozzarella or provolone cheese
Brown sausage, drain and toss with 1 tablespoon flour and put into bottom of 9x13-inch baking dish. In same skillet, cook zucchini and onion in margarine until tender, not brown. Remove from heat, toss with remaining flour. Spoon half of zucchini mixture over sausage. In bowl, mix cottage cheese, grated cheese, eggs, and garlic salt. Spoon evenly over zucchini layer. Top with remaining zucchini mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Top with shredded cheese and bake 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Recipe contributed by Ann Shira, to “The Dining Car: Shenango Street Station.”