It’s Now Easy Being “Green”

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 21:  Food 4 Less groce...

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Did you just run to the store and forget the bag to bring the groceries home? Now you have more plastic bags to add to your collection. Did that metal can get placed in the right bin? You do have separate bins for different disposables, right?

It doesn’t really take that much extra time or energy to consider our planet. The major cause of not following through is that we are not used to making this a priority. Like anything, we need to program our habits to include the important tasks.

This week-end, or whenever we go shopping, let’s remember our own grocery shopping bag or bags. Get your kids to remind you to bring those bags. This is doing our little bit to help the earth – and setting a good example for our children.

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“Going Green” in the Kitchen, Continued

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 21:  Food 4 Less groce...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Some of you may be saying, “I’m just a kid. What can I do?” Big or small, doing everything to save the earth and the air we breathe is everybody’s business and responsibility.

When you come home from the grocery store, do you end up with lots of plastic bags and extra packaging? Where will those plastic bags end up? You’re right. They are going back to the garbage heap where they will take hundreds of years, if not more, to break down. Or, they may fly around outside, being scattered by the wind. Birds can try to peck at them or might even get caught in them. Plus they make our world look dumpy and trashy.

So, what can you do about it?

You can take the plastic bags that have accumalated and take them to a neighboring recyling center. Hopefully, they will be made into some useful products. Then, next time shopping time comes, to remember to take the grocery tote bag (or bags) with you. Think how many plastic bags this will eliminate!

Individual snack packs are certainly handy. But it doesn’t take much time to make your own snack packs. Pour a quantity of food, whether it is crackers, chips, cookies, or whatever, into reusuable containers for the lunchbox or car.

In addition, buying food in quantity saves money. However, buying in larger quantity is only good if you know you’ll use it.

Throw out the plastic water bottles. If you want to take water with you, use a thermos bottle or other non-plastic container.

If you wash dishes by hand, run hot water into a clean sink to rinse them. This way you won’t be running the water all the time. If you use the dish washer to wash dishes, wait to run it until it is full of dirty dishes. This saves on water and electricity.

When you think about it, it really isn’t so hard to make small steps that impact the world. Every little bit you do toward this cause helps to keep our environment cleaner and healthier.

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Food Label and Shopping Answers

Foods from plant sourcesImage via Wikipedia

Glad to have you visiting today!

In the last post we looked at some words pertaining to food labels and other terms related to food. Did you divide the words and phrases into “good” and “poor”?

Here is the way I think of those words and phrases:

“Good” words to look for when choosing food:
whole food
whole wheat pasta
whole grain
whole grain oatmeal
plain organic yogurt
brown rice

“Bad words” or foods or processes to avoid when choosing food:
hydrogenated fats
white rice
artificial flavoring
corn syrup
refined flours
high fructose
artificial dyes
refined – white bread

When I go to the food market I want to have my list ready. First, though, when I make out the list, I try to write it according to the layout of the store – that is, I visit first the canned areas, the meat section, then the fresh fruits and veggies, and finally the frozen food section. Actually, I try to stay out of the middle of the store. Much of the fresh foods and those that are more nutritious are generally on the outside perimeter.

I don’t go to the store hungry either, because you know what that does! Everything looks good and I buy more than I need. The sooner I leave the store the better, too, because that means I won’t spend as much. I won’t be enticed with all the temptations surrounding me. In and out, is how I like to shop.

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Comparing Food Costs

What is the difference between the national brand, the store brand, and a generic brand of food? You may have heard your mother talk about these when she goes to the store. She might say, “get the store brand”.

What is the difference? I heard all of you say loud and clear – it’s the MONEY! We’ve all heard our parents and others talk about the high cost of everything, including food. Here is an an interesting activity comparing prices on different brands of food.

Let’s say you are going to the grocery store to buy food items on your shopping list. You want to compare prices on a can of whole kernel corn, for example. The easiest way is to find a like size can in each of the three categories – the national brand, such as Del Monte and then the store brand, such as Hy-Vee, and then a generic brand. How did they compare? It may surprise you to see the difference.

If you can carry this one step further and are able to buy each of the cans of corn, here is another experiment. When you bring the groceries home and are ready to do a little testing, open each of the cans of corn. (Hopefully you were able to find small cans of corn). Analyze them on the following points:

1. How does the color compare? Which one looks more appetizing?

2. What is the texture like? Are the contents of the can firm, or mushy?

3. Taste a sample of each and determine which tastes the best to you.

What would be the conclusions to your experiment? Based on these tests, and the cost comparison, which would be the best buy? Share this information with your family. And me, too, if you would like.

Now, what will you do with the opened cans of corn?

Here are some suggestions:

Heat corn and eat
Add to corn bread
Make corn chowder
Make Corn fritters

Stay tuned – as the Chef may find one of his favorite Corn Chowder recipes to share with you.

Tips for Saving Time and Money at the Grocery Store

1. Make a weekly list of menus before you go to the store. It’s a good idea to plan meals around advertised specials. This advanced planning serves as a guide to your grocery shopping and will save you money and time.

2. Have a list and organize it according to categories in the store, such as frozen food, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc.

3. Use coupons to save money on items you need and use. Just because you have a coupon doesn’t mean you should buy the item. Compare costs and only use the coupon if it will serve your purpose.

4. Shop when stores are less crowded. Depending on your schedule, shopping is easier when the stores are least crowded which is often early in the morning, mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

5. Don’t go to the store hungrey. When possible, you should shop after you have eaten. Otherwise, everything will look good and you will probably over buy – and maybe over-eat!

6. Compare prices on different brands.

7. Buy foods that are in season. These are generally less expensive than buying them out of season.

8. Most prepared foods cost more than those made “from scratch”. You have to weigh the comparisons. For example,  you could buy whole cheese rather than shredded cheese because it will probably be cheaper if you shred the cheese yourself. Again, you will have to compare the costs.

9. Using dry milk in cooking can stretch the food dollar.

10. The type of store at which you shop makes a difference in the cost of food. You may find a particular store that meets your needs or you may shop around for the best buys. Some consumers have many choices of stores, such as self-serve supermarkets versus specialty supermarkets. There are discount supermarkets, farmers’ markets, delicatessens, twenty-four hour convenience stores, roadside stands, and others.

These are just a few ways to save time and money. Can you add more? The Chef would love to hear what you are doing to save time and money at the grocery store.