Sunday, February 1, 2015

Little changes over time...Vegetables

Last night I had a conversation with Hubby about how I have been making little changes over time, that are really having an effect on our health. Lets talk about our evolution of vegetables.

I used to buy canned vegetables. I would buy one can for each day to have with dinner. Peas, green beans, corn. I would buy fresh veggies, but more often than not they would go bad before I ever ate them. This was during our time of eating out most nights. The cans of veggies were about $.75 to $1.25 a piece. One can would feed Hubby and I.

Once we had our first daughter I realized that I needed two cans of veggies. This was getting expensive! I know, not really, but when you are on such a tight budget, two cans of veggies were really putting a dent in our funds. So out I went in search of a way to get more veggies, for less cost.
I found myself in the freezer aisle. I found bags of frozen veggies that would give us the equivalent of 2 cans, for $1.00. Yippee! Back on budget.

Although it wasn't just the budget that was my concern. I started to do some research on canned vs frozen. As I learned more about health, I found out that canned food is NOT good for you. It wasn't just added sodium, but the cans themselves. (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/05/concern-over-canned-foods/index.htm) I wanted to get us away from eating as many canned foods as possible. Moving into the frozen food aisle was a way for us to have food on hand, that wasn't going to go bad if we didn't get to eating it that week.

The frozen vegetables tasted better and were better for us. With even more research, I decided that I wanted to move from conventional frozen vegetables to organic. The problem was, that if I wanted to expand into more "specialty" vegetable varieties, they cost a lot more. Instead of $1.00 for a bag of peas, you would pay $2-3 for a bag of "Mediterranean Mix", that has squash and broccoli. I knew there had to be a better way to get organic vegetables into our diet. Lord knows that fresh organic would break our budget.

A friend of mine told me about these great options at Costco. You could get a huge bag of vegetables for about $6.50. Most were organic and big and beautiful. Here are some of the ones I get and my reviews:

Broccoli:

The organic broccoli comes in a big bag, with 4 individual one pound bags. The perfect size for a family. At a regular grocery store, you end up getting these tiny pieces of broccoli that are more stem than anything. These are nice sized florets. Steam them and they rival fresh any day. It is also the perfect addition to broccoli and cheese noodles or soup. My girls and I devour these!

Green Beans:

These organic green beans are long string beans and once cooked taste just like they were fresh. I get one bag for under $7 and it lasts the whole month. I will sometimes add some of them to the Mediterranean mix to give more variety. My favorite is to boil them for a few minutes, then drain the water, add a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon and they are fantastic!

Mediterranean Mix:

This mix contains yellow carrots, orange baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. I love this mix on its own or mixed with the green beans. I will steam these, then mix with some olive oil and garlic. My husband who hates broccoli will even eat the broccoli when I cook it like that. This one is not organic, but I like the mix.

Traditional Mixed Veggies that Kids Love:


Kids love the traditional mixed veggies, don't they? I wanted to go organic to make sure I was giving them a healthier option. These are once again under $7 for a huge 5 pound bag. So it is comparable in price to the non organic smaller bags of the Walmart brand, but better for you! I use this mixture in my Hamburger Minestrone Soup recipe and it is fantastic!

Stir-fry Veggies:

This fantastic bag is wonderful to have on hand for Stir-fry or on their own. I love the variety and one bag can make several dinners. I love that it has the water chestnuts in it along with the baby corn. Who doesn't love baby corn? Again, this is not organic, but it is a great option.

These 5 bags, for around $30 will feed us healthy meals for the entire month. I do buy a few fresh veggies and of course fresh fruit. But to have these bags on hand in the freezer, makes getting healthy meals on the table both budget and time friendly. By switching to these bags of vegetables, my family is eating a lot more veggies. In fact, my husband has lost 13 pounds in a few weeks.

I hope that this post helps those on a tight budget realize that you can have healthy veggies at every meal. I will be doing a post about saving money on meat too. You can eat well on a budget. It is something I am learning every day.