Category: organic


Eating away from home is supposed to be a treat and not a staple, right? Each time I hear that families turn to fast food as a supposed cheaper alternative to a home cooked meal I shake my head in disbelief. Yesterday while browsing on one of those social sites I saw a comparison made involving a fast food meal, homemade chicken and potato meal, and a beans and rice meal.

A chicken and potato meal was on the menu for supper last night so I decided to do a cost analysis of the foods I had on hand. This meal took me 30 minutes to prepare, and that included thawing the chicken in the microwave. The only advance prep I did was to pound the boneless, skinless chicken breasts before freezing. I prepared the meal for a family of three but did the cost analysis for a family of four. I could have added carrots as an additional vegetable for minimal additional cost.

I prepared my “French” chicken, microbaked potatoes with chives, and a romaine salad with an oil and vinegar dressing. I even had a fancy garnish of chive flowers for the salad. We drink water or iced tea with our suppertime meal. Even if serving children a glass of milk with this meal, it still would be really frugal. If we were meant to drink soda or pop, it would fall from the sky. I can feel the daggers, soft drink lovers. My husband is a Mt. Dew fan.

Put a little olive oil in your pan and start to cook your thawed chicken.

Season your chicken with a little onion powder and tarragon. Remember to season both sides. No one likes one-sided tasting food. 😉

When your chicken is almost done you can make a sauce right in the same pan.

Put the Dijon mustard, to taste, in the pan. Add a little cream or milk to thin it out and stir. Finish cooking the chicken in the sauce. Young children may prefer honey mustard.

While your chicken is cooking, scrub and prick your potatoes and microwave them for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size. Wash your greens and dress with a little olive oil and vinegar.

Dinner is served. My piece of chicken looks a little skimpy, but you have to remember that a serving size of meat is the size of a deck of cards. I’m trying to cut back on calories so I gave my husband the larger piece and half of my potato. He had leftovers to take to work as we only have a family of three. I filled up on a second helping of salad.

$2.50     2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to even thickness $1.99/lb

$1.26     3 medium organic, yukon gold potatoes

$.67       1 romaine heart

$.25       olive oil

$.08       vinegar

$.05        onion powder

$.10        dried tarragon

$.07        Dijon mustard

$.04        organic 1% milk

$.08        4 tsp butter

$.00        chives from herb garden

$5.10      Total

We spend $15 to $25 on a fast food meal for a family of four, depending on if we happen to have high value coupons. Fast food is an option, not a necessary choice to save money or time.

Last week I got caught up in the warm spell around these parts and decided I needed to plant something. My mini herb garden is off to a good start but just in time for a hard freeze to hit us tonight here in Pennsylvania. I think I’ll pull the little guys out of the window right after the sun stops shining on them this evening, and then I’ll go outside and see what’s budding that I can possibly cover and save from the freezing weather. I guess it’s just mother nature’s way of telling us to grow some patience.

Here’s where we are at with the mini herb garden.

One out of the three pots has sprouted. It is exciting to see the little seeds that you planted turning into  living, growing plants. Tend your plants well and barring anything beyond your control you shouldn’t need to buy herbs again. It is very satisfying to go out into your yard and pick your own organic produce.

The actual growing season begins on May 31 here in my neck of the woods. That’s the date you should be able to set out tender plants without fear of frost. It’s a ways away, but in the meantime you can still plan your garden, buy your seeds and get them started indoors. If you’re getting antsy too and want to start, you can find some of that information here. I can’t wait to be able to dive back into my gardening series.

Lunchtime can be full of obstacles to healthful eating. Any meal can be really, but lunchtime often finds us away from home at work or school, or we might be running errands, at children’s activities, or on day trips on the weekends. So what do we do? What are some options?

We are in the process of switching over to all organic meats. Have you seen the price of organic lunchmeat at the deli section of your local supermarket? Ouch! Thankfully there are many alternatives that probably turn out to be a whole lot healthier too.

Make your own lunchmeat. Roast the organic meat you enjoy, have some for dinner and use the leftovers for sandwich filling. How does a southwestern chicken wrap sound. Take a tortilla and spread it with your favorite dressing. Ranch would work well for this. Add shredded chicken, lettuce, tomato, red onion and sliced avocado. Wrap, slice and enjoy.

Make it yummy with nut butters. There are many more choices than just plain old peanut butter. I must say though that peanut butter is a favorite of mine. You could buy organic or make your own. There is also almond butter, or hazelnut and cocoa spread, the later probably being a little high in sugar. Although a sandwich is just fine spread with a nut butter and some organic jam, you can also go another route. What about nontraditional ants on a long with some crisp organic celery spread with almond butter and topped with organic raisins? When it comes to dried fruits I always look for organic because when you dry a fruit it becomes concentrated. How appealing does concentrated pesticide sound? Yuk. Grapes and celery happen to be on the dirty dozen list anyway. If you are unfamiliar with that list you may want to take a look at it here.

Roasted vegetables. Don’t forget about good old veg. Make some ratatouille and serve it in a dish or on a baguette. Take tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions, and garlic. Slice or cube them, coat with olive oil and roast in the oven until tender. Season with herbs and sprinkle with parmesan or mozzarella cheese. How about a grilled portabella mushroom cap used as a burger. You get that grilled, meaty flavor without the meat and without the price tag. Don’t forget all of your favorite toppings.

Other spreads. If you haven’t ever tasted hummus, why not give it a try? You can make homemade too. It comes in organic and in a variety of flavors. I would have to say red pepper is my favorite, or maybe pine nut. It’s a tough decision. Use it in a pita and pile on other veggies. Serve it in a container and use crackers and veg for dipping. Sunbutter is another treat and it is often used when there are those with nut allergies in the house. It makes a yummy sandwich and is great to try for something different.

Lunchtime isn’t just for eating anymore. Why not sneak in a little exercise on your lunch break? If you are at work take a walk outside, if possible, or take a stroll inside the building. Take the stairs. If you have to run an errand and you have the time, walk. At least get up, stretch, move around, and leave your work area. Find a coworker to walk with and use the time to chat about pleasant things. What a stress reliever. Make sure to talk to your doctor before starting any kind of new exercise.

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