Stretch your Grocery Budget with Free Produce Distributions!

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This list is only central, south bay, and east county locations. North County locations can be found on the Neighborhood Distribution Program website.

It’s a pretty common complaint that kids eat A LOT during the summer. There are lots of causes: Increased activity, change in schedules, and let’s face it- kids just eat a lot. This can increase a families grocery budget at a time when they are already spending extra money on activities for their kiddos.

I have a possible solution! Check out the San Diego and North County Food Bank Neighborhood Distribution Program! From their website, “The Neighborhood Distribution Program distributes food to thousands of individuals and families once a month at more than 20 different sites throughout San Diego County.

Distributions take place in our nonprofit partners’ parking lots. The majority of the food distributed consists of fresh fruits and vegetables which is part of the Food Bank’s Nutrition Initiative to provide healthy, nutrient-rich food to our clients.

Neighborhood Distribution Program sites welcome anyone in need of food assistance. I.D. and documentation ARE NOT required, and there are no income or asset restrictions for this program.”

You may be wondering, “But what do you get?” Well, one of the distribution points, Faith Chapel in Spring Valley posts photos on their  Meet the Need Ministry Instagram page!

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White onions, red potatoes, watermelons, honeydew melons, oranges and Washington apples were available today. And it’s not just a few of each. Each person who came through got a bag of white onion, a bag of red potatoes, 1 large watermelon, as many honeydew melons as they wanted, a bag of oranges, and a dozen apples.

This produce is often “ugly” or considered an “allowable second” (a production term used in several industries for an item that is functional but may not be perfect looking), but it’s always tasty and nutritious.

If you’ve got hungry faces that need food this summer, I recommend stopping by your local distribution at least once this summer. If you aren’t in the San Diego County area, check with your local food bank for Neighborhood Distribution Program.

Don’t forget that there are tons of free summer lunch locations all over the state of CA (for more info on San Diego locations, check out this post). Text FOOD  (Or COMIDA for a list in Spanish) to 877-877, or call 211 and you can find a list of free summer lunch locations near you.

And if you need further help, here is a post with food resources in San Diego County. If you are outside San Diego County, Feeding America has a really great Food Bank Locator.

 

Talk Back: What is your kids favorite summer snack?

1/21/19 Weekly Meal Plan

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Mr.husband is doing a cleanse with a few friends this week and next, so the menu this week is extra healthy. The kids and I will will be eating some similar foods, it’s hard to convince the kids to eat kale and steamed salmon night after night.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

You may notice a lot of plant based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Protein shakes for grown ups, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. We have plenty of protein shake fixins’- I buy the over ripe bananas, peel and slice them pop them into ziploc bags, and freeze them for smoothies and protein shakes. I also keep sandwich ziploc bags of  other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or a protein shake for me and the Mister, and The Big Kid has a specially packed lunch of whatever he’s into at the time (which changes frequently). Bitty Bird eats whatever I’ll feed her.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

This week is going to be a little different tan usual. With Mr. on the cleanse, we’ll be eating a lot of whole foods/vegetables raw, and an old family friend steel cut oats will be coming to breakfast.

  • Monday: Pot roast, steamed broccoli, applesauce
  • Tuesday: pan seared herbed chicken (or salmon), quinoa/wild rice blend, roasted carrots
  • Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner- pancakes (Kodiak flap jacks), fruit salad.
  • Thursday:Stir fry veggies and cauliflower “rice”
  • Friday:  Homemade pizza night (Mr. will be having salmon and veggies)
  • Saturday: Salad bar night: mixed greens, kale, and whatever types of veggie bits I pull out, various nuts, and dressings. The kids love cheese on their salads too.
  • Sunday: Leftoverpalooza

 

Talk Back: What will you be cooking this week?

Frugal (and healthy recipe): Zucchini chips!

file000926780482.jpgWe’ve been blessed (?) with an abundance of yellow zucchini as of late. Friends with gardens and  a CSA box have brought us literally 10 lbs of yellow zucchini…. That’s a lot. So after making lasagna, stir fry, and zoodles, We were still left with 6 of those little yellow bastards, staring me in the face.

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 6.34.48 PM.pngI googled “What to do with Yellow Zucchini” and the answers were shockingly, NSFW. However, deep in the recesses of Google were many recipes for baked chips.  Figuring it had to be better than my kale chips debacle (5 lbs of burnt, greasy kale bits, no thanks), I set off to work.

The first batch was too greasy, so the batch that’s in the oven now has far less oil (only 2 tablespoons). Hubs said they were tasty (albeit greasy), and even Itty Bitty gobbled a bunch down today (after I blotted them with a paper towel).

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Now, to wait…..

Feel free to sub in any herb or spice blend you like, I grabbed the first one off the spice rack.

Baked Yellow Zucchini Chips

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs yellow (or green) zucchini
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T (or more), your favorite salt free herb or spice blend
  • salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Thinly slice coins of zucchini- you can use a mandoline like this one, or a knife- whatever you’ve got.
  2. Blot them dry between two paper towels. I let mine sit between two paper towels for about 30 minutes.
  3. Toss with oil, and spread 1 layer on a cookie sheet topped with a sil pad (or you can use parchment paper- whatever you’ve got).
  4. Sprinkle oiled slices with herbs or spices.
  5. Bake at 225 degrees for a minimum of 2 hours. Check after 2 hours. Depending on how thick your chips are cut, it may take up to 2 1/2 hours.
  6. After they are room temp, then sprinkle with salt to taste. Store in a sealed container on the counter. They stay good for 3-4 days, but they won’t last that long.

Cooking Tutorial: Spaghetti Squash!

We eat a lot of veggies. That was one of the huge lifestyle changes we made a few years ago that has helped us maintain healthier weights.

One healthy swap we made was to spaghetti squash instead of pasta.  A lot of healthy/food swap websites like Hungry Girl tout Spaghetti Squash as a good substitute for carb-y noodles.

Here is a quick tutorial on making spaghetti squash.

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  1. Select a squash that is firm and unblemished. Not sure what they look like? Here is the wikipedia article all about the vegetable with a few pictures.
  2. Chop the end with the stem off. You’ll need a good sharp knife. I love our Henckels Meat Cleaver.
  3. Chop the squash in half. I do it length-wise, so it takes less time to cook in the oven.
  4. Take a spoon and scoop out the stringy guts and seeds.  Discard them.
  5. In a large glass baking dish, place the squash halves cut side down.  Pour a 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the baking dish.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until the squash are fork tender (about the same feeling as a baked potato).
  7. Remove baking dish from oven and set the squash halves on a cutting board.  Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, or until you can comfortable handle the vegetable.
  8. With a fork, “rake” the interior of the veggie.  The “meat” of the interior should flake off in long strings that resemble broken spaghetti.
  9. Once complete, discard the exterior of the squash.
  10. Toss the “spaghetti” with the sauce of your choice.

1 medium sized spaghetti squash serves 2-3 people, with a serving size of about 1 1/2 cups. It’s yummy with sauce (Spaghetti/red sauce, pesto, or even a cheesy sauce), or just a little butter and herbs. It’s a great way to get extra veggies into your diet, or if you’re Gluten Intolerant, it’s cheaper (and tastier) than GF pasta.

Later today, I’ll be posting a recipe that uses spaghetti squash as a main ingredient! With winter veggies starting to make an appearance in grocery stores and farmers markets, you’ll start seeing more and more squash!