When it comes dinner time, the goal is to prepare a healthy meal for our families without hurting the budget. While it may be important to cook with affordable ingredients, it is crucial that the food that we feed to our family be nourishing and provide the necessary building blocks for healthy brain and body development. The following is a list of ideas for bulking up your meals with nutritious and value-adding ingredients.
Throw in some veggies. When it comes to home cooking, I frequently rely on frozen vegetables to save time over preparing raw veggies. While frozen vegetables in microwaveable bags are convenient, the price per pound is usually much higher. Larger bags of frozen veggies are cheaper and there are loads of recipes you can add them to in order to bulk up a meal. • Use mixed veggies like peas, carrots, green beans and corn to up the veggie count in pot pie, or to make your fried rice more nutritious. • Corn or cauliflower can bulk up a chili. • Frozen chopped broccoli can fill up baked eggs or quiche. Try this brunch or dinner Casserole. • A bag of frozen peas whirled up a with a dollop of pesto gives you a quick soup in this Pea and Pesto Soup. • Bulk up a meatloaf with a box of frozen shredded spinach, or some chopped peppers in this Turkey Meatloaf. • Fresh shredded carrots can make your sandwiches and wraps more filling
Use the slow cooker to produce meat that falls apart. Then you can stretch it out over a number of meals. You can use a whole chicken or put family packs of chicken in the slow cooker, cover with water and season with salt and pepper. If your chicken is frozen set it up the night before and leave it on low, the next night you will have chicken that falls apart. • Add some of your favorite pasta sauce and put it onto pizza crust with some shredded cheese. • Mix up some chicken salad for sandwiches. • Add it to a stir fry or make some homemade baked egg rolls (use chicken in place of shrimp in the following recipe). • Strain the broth once you scoop out the chicken and use it to make a soup
Try a new grain or legume. Some of the healthiest foods do not come in fancy packages. • Dry lentils only require cooking in water. A cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber. If you have an adventurous palate try a cold lentil salad for lunch. • If you prefer more traditional food, try lentils in soup. • For a hearty grain that is often forgotten, make some barley. You won’t be sorry you tried it in this baked barley recipe.