Food For Thought
At this time of year, holiday celebrations can make your food budget go right out the window. Under normal circumstances, food can be the third largest expense in your budget after shelter and car/transportation costs. Luckily it is an expense that can be somewhat controlled. The key is to make a 7-day meal plan at the beginning of the week and only go shopping once per week. Include any holiday dinner during that week in the main shopping trip and on the same list. Don’t take the kids and don’t go when you’re hungry! If you check the online promotions and create your menu ahead of time, you can make healthy,low-cost meals for $1-$3.00 per person. Double-up on the recipe and you can eat part for one dinner and either freeze the rest or use it as another lunch or dinner. Make a big batch of pasta or stew for a special dinner that won't break the bank. As an alternative, make your holiday dinner a pot-luck buffet where your guests can contribute a dish.
If your budget is super tight and you've been eating Ramen Noodles 5 times a week, there is a great nonprofit food distribution organization called Angel Food Ministries. They operate throughout most of the U.S. and don’t require any application or income level to participate. Go online to angelfoodministries.com to locate a distribution center near you (usually local churches are the distribution centers) and to see the month’s menu choices. You must order in advance and then be able to pick up the food when it is at the distribution point. At a cost of approximately $35 you will get good quality food made up of fresh and frozen meats, vegetables, starch and fruit, enough to feed one person for a month or a family of four for a week.
Lastly, there is a great way to help end world hunger and increase your knowledge at the same time, with just a few clicks of your mouse. Go to FreeRice.org. The site gives you multiple choice questions on a variety of topics and for every right answer you will be donating 10 grains of rice through the UN World Food Program. You will give and learn for free!