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  Cook smart

Know the three P's: Plan, purchase and prepare

Practice these P’s to make tasty, good-for-you meals that are pocketbook friendly.

Plan:

  • Plan meals and snacks for the week around a set budget.
  • Find quick and easy recipes in the MyKitchen section of yumpower.com.
  • Include meals that will "stretch" expensive food items (stews, casseroles, stir-fried dishes).
  • Make a grocery list.
  • Check for sales and coupons in the local paper or online and consider discount stores.

Purchase:

  • Buy groceries when you’re not hungry and not too rushed on time.
  • Stick to your list and avoid aisles that don’t contain items on your list.
  • Buy store brands if cheaper.
  • Find and compare unit prices listed on shelves to get the best price.
  • Purchase some items in bulk or as family packs which usually cost less.
  • Choose fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables and canned vegetables with less salt.
  • Pre-cut fruits and vegetables, individual cups of yogurt and instant rice and hot cereal are convenient but usually cost more than those that require a bit more prep time.
  • Good low-cost items available all year include: Protein — beans (garbanzo, black, cannellini); vegetables — carrots, greens, potatoes; and fruit — apples, bananas

Prepare

Some meal items can be prepared in advance; pre-cook on days when you have time.

  • Double or triple up on recipes and freeze meal-sized containers of soups and casseroles or divide into individual portions.
  • Try a few meatless meals by substituting with beans and peas or try "no-cook" meals like salads.
  • Incorporate leftovers into another meal.
  • Be creative with fruits and vegetables and use them in different ways during the week.