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Eating Well on Limited Dollars

By Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County

The Truth Contributor

Many Americans are feeling the negative effects of the government shutdown. In general, there are many unknowns which can be stressful for everyone. For some, the shutdown may be staining their household finances and food budget. For many people, feeling stress might encourage them to reach for comfort foods that are high in sugar and fat and low in fiber and vitamins. Unfortunately, a diet with high sugar and high-fat food doesn’t help stop the stressful situation.

With hopes that the US government will be open again by the time this article is published, the tips offered here are for stretching the food budget throughout the year – no matter what your current financial situation.

For those who are on furlough, if you have school-aged children who are not currently receiving free or reduced school breakfasts and lunches you may be eligible to apply for these school meals due to current income situation. Please apply at your school.

For those who qualify for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) previously known as “food stamps”, the February 2019 SNAP benefits have been issued onto the electronic benefits card in January. It is important to ration and conserve as much food money as possible throughout the month of February.  Look at how many SNAP dollars you have on your card and decide how much to spend at each grocery trip to last until March. If you are not a SNAP recipient but believe you qualify, you can contact the Lucas County Department of Job & Family Services at 419-213-8800 or online at https://co.lucas.oh.us/858/Job-and-Family-Services . They will take applications but it is important to know that benefits have already be issued for February.

For those who are fortunate to have enough money for food and are looking for a way to help others, now is a good time to add extra food items to your grocery list and/or money to donate to a local food pantry or soup kitchen. It is not uncommon to find outreach services at places of worship and community centers and many are preparing for an increase in need in our community. If you are not yet connected with an outreach site, it might be helpful to find one near you and contact them to find out their greatest needs. For those who are looking for resources as well as those looking for where to donate, United Way’s 211 is a good place to start. You can dial 2-1-1 on the phone or go online at http://referweb.net/211toledo/

Sometimes paying for convenience of prepared foods is worth the extra cost but now is a good time to consider how much extra money you’re willing to spend. Planning and preparing meals takes time but it often pays off at the cash register. Start at home. What food is already available? Are there any foods in your cupboard or freezer that you forgot about? If you use the donations from an emergency food pantry, what foods can you get there? Can you use that food as a starting point for planning a meal? What other foods would you need to go with it to make an inexpensive recipe? Although recipes like casseroles or beans and rice might be snubbed as basic, they can be altered to your own tastes and are the type of recipe that can feed a family and limit the cost of expensive ingredients.

When writing the grocery list and shopping at the store consider some of these good buys:

·         Oatmeal is an easy breakfast food and it can also be a healthy, inexpensive ingredient for other foods like pancakes and muffins. From a health standpoint, oats are whole grains with the benefits of fiber.

·         Although fresh fruits and vegetables are associated with healthy eating, canned and frozen produce can be just as healthy. Compare the cost of different types of fruits or vegetables. Canned fruit, packed in juice is healthy and might cost significantly less than the fresh option. There are local vegetables (also available at the Saturday morning Toledo Farmers Market) that store well throughout the cold months and you might find a good deal. Some examples of these vegetables are onions, carrots, potatoes, and sometimes greens.

·         Meat is often a more expensive option compared to other protein foods like eggs or beans or peanut butter. Consider making more recipes using these basic ingredients to save money at the store.

If you would like more detailed information about eating healthy on a limited budget, OSU Extension offers SNAP-Ed (Education) classes in Lucas County. In February there is a series of three classes titled, “Shop Smart, Eat Healthy.” This is free and open to anyone who qualifies for SNAP benefits, although there is a limit of 16 participants due to space.  The series of three classes will be from 5:00 – 6:00pm on February 5, 12 and 19 at the Promedica Ebeid Institute, 1806 Madison Avenue, Toledo, Ohio, second floor above Market on the Green grocery store. Please RSVP for the series by email to marketonthegreen@promedica.org.  Information for this article from Illinois Extension and local Lucas County resources.



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/08/19 00:12:21 -0500.

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