Nutritional Value for your Dollar

Many of my Grandmother’s articles were seasonal so I will begin with her April column from 1979 from the Co-op news. Though the prices have changed the advice on what foods to buy and prepare for dinner still stands. My grandmother was a very frugal person and liked to get the most nutritional value she could get for her dollar. The recipes at the end feature recipes that can be made in the microwave. She refers to the March column of that year, which I do not have a copy of.

April 1979

A reader asked me where I got the figure I used last month to say that $2.00 a day is enough to provide a wholesome diet at current prices. Well, that is the food allowance at the transitional living house I manage in Newton, and we have to buy everything that is eaten. Dr. Jean Mayer, professor of nutrition, at Harvard University believes that “The healthier you eat the less it costs you.”

The key is to buy products which haven’t been completely revamped in appearance between the farmer and the consumer. That is where the price builds up and up.

Study the ads in the newspaper and plan menus around the specials, pork chops, salmon, chuck roast, hamburger or whatever. Recently, grapefruit, flour, potatoes, pork and canned vegetables have been good buys.

Instead of potato chips buy fresh potatoes. Chips are approximately $1.60 a pound, and potatoes sell for 9 to 15 cents a pound. Popcorn makes an excellent snack food, and is an economical buy at our Co-op.

Buy fresh milk or orange juice in preference to soft drinks and powdered artificially colored aids. Even most canned fruit juice is 80% water and 20% juice. At the present time frozen juice concentrate is the cheapest source of an honest-to-goodness fruit drink for your family.

Substitute cheese or bread sticks (homemade if possible) for deep fat fried snacks, rich salty crackers, cookies, cake and candy.

Ice cream, oranges, apples or a seasonal fruit make good desserts instead of rich, elaborate concoctions or sweetened canned fruit.

Avoid most convenience foods. Their desirability has been vastly overrated. They are less nutritious and more expensive. Most of them don’t save much time or work either. When you buy convenience food you are paying the manufacturer to provide you with a built-in cook or maid. Ask yourself “Can I really afford servants?” If that is what American women want that is their privilege, but they should not then put all the blame for the high cost of food on the middleman and farmer when they are asking for services that escalate the cost. Everyone who refines and handles food has a right to a living wage.

Bypass all commercial helpers and extenders. Make your own soups. Canned soups from the store are mostly thickened starchy water with a couple thimblefuls of food thrown in and are a mighty poor buy for anyone’s dollar. Shop the produce counter and know what vegetables are in the soup you feed your family.

I like Julia Child’s advice for reducing food bills. “Learn to cook. You’ll be amazed what marvelous dishes the simplest things you can make if you know what you are doing.”

The demonstration at Sedgwick was a success and I’ve had requests for some recipes to use in it.

Microwave Oven Orange Chicken
2 ½ to 3 pound chicken, cut up ¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped green pepper 1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup catsup 2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon pepper
Place chicken pieces, skin side down and thick edges toward outside in 2 quart glass baking dish. Combine rest of ingredients, pour over chicken. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 8 minutes per pound of poultry. Use high setting. Let set 5 minutes before serving.
South of the Border Special
1 pound lean hamburger 1 medium onion, diced
2 cups undrained canned tomatoes ½ cu sliced ripe olives
1 teaspoon chili powder 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules 1 teaspoon salt
4 ozs. Slightly crush corn or taco chips
Crumble ground beef in 2 quart casserole. Stir in onion. Tomatoes, olives, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt and beef bouillon granules.
Cook, covered, 10 minutes in microwave oven at high setting, stirring occasionally after 5 minutes. Stir half of chips into casserole and sprinkle remainder on top.Variation: Add a 16 ounce can of chili beans.
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