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Chef Kita – Stretching Food Budgets

Gas prices skyrocketing. Increasing food prices. Rising heating costs. In the current environment, everyone is impacted. And from our 36-year history at the Food Bank of South Jersey, we know as food costs increase, so does food insecurity amongst our neighbors.

March is National Nutrition Month. A campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help families learn more about the food choices we make every day and to increase our focus on developing healthy eating and wellness routines.

As household budgets tighten in the current economy, healthy eating can sometimes become even more difficult. According to Chef Marquita Speed, a trained nutrition educator with the Food Bank of South Jersey, there are many things people can do to both stretch food budgets and maintain an essential focus on healthy eating.

“We are all pressed for time but spending a few minutes to plan meals ahead of time, prepare shopping lists, and research sales can go a long way to help family food budgets,” said Chef Kita.

Chef Kita offers a number of tips to help residents throughout South Jersey stretch food dollars every day, that will also help cut down on food waste:

  • Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season.
  • Freeze what you don’t use.
  • Buy dried beans that don’t need soaking (lentils, split peas, blackeye peas).
  • Consider substituting meat products such as chickpeas for chicken or lentils for ground beef to maintain healthy protein levels.

“Don’t be afraid to buy canned products and make sure you rinse your canned products to reduce sodium,” Chef Kita said. “You can create new meals with leftovers and always stretch meals by adding beans and vegetables to each plate. Adding fruit to water is also a healthier alternative to juice,”

In addition to her role as a nutrition educator at the Food Bank of South Jersey, Chef Kita also hosts FBSJ’s cooking show called Hunger Bites, that is focused on creating healthy meals with pantry staples. Here you can find healthy and nutritious recipes from the Food Bank of South Jersey.

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