Many of my meals can be considered assemblies more so than recipes – rather than cooking from directions, I’m throwing together a meal from what I already have on hand in my pantry and fridge – but it has to be healthy, interesting and tasty. And, I refuse to make special trips to the grocery store – I don’t want to waste time or use up gas!
My solution? I always have a variety of canned vegetables in my pantry to use as “mix-ins” for casseroles, pasta dishes or rice dishes. And, I buy the “no salt added” vegetables whenever I can. Many stores, such as Food Lion and Walmart, now have “no salt added” store-brands for most, but not all, of their canned vegetables. In comparing several brands, I’ve noticed that certain vegetables – beets, carrots and spinach – are difficult to find without salt added, but you can reduce the sodium by rinsing before using.
While food prices on most items are going up, many grocers are maintaining the same prices on their store-brand vegetables (and fruits). Canned foods can also be a good choice due to their fairly long shelf life. There’s no need to worry about the food spoiling if it isn’t used right away. And, I’ve even seen price decreases on some of these items! So what would it cost* to add store-brand, canned vegetables to your pantry?
• Beets – $0.99
• Carrots – $0.99
• Corn (no salt added) – $0.67
• Green bean (no salt added) – $0.67
• Spinach – $0.99
• Sweet peas (no salt added) – $0.67
For $4.98 you would have a selection of six different vegetables to add to your meals! The minimum monthly SNAP benefit, for one or two person households, is $16. So, if you had just the minimum benefits you could restock your pantry with these items about three times during the month – at no cost to you! What are your favorite “assemblies” or “throw together meals” that you add vegetables to?
See the US Department of Agriculture’s website for more ideas.
*Prices – Food Lion’s “My Essentials” canned vegetables (13.5 – 15.25 ounces), March 2012