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Making More with Less

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lite_lunch.jpgThere is speculation that the economic crunch may be encouraging people to eat healthier. Imagine this:

• Some of our customers are discovering that they can afford fruits and vegetables and organically grown foods if they give up (or eat less of) some of those choices that fall into discretionary foods on the USDA’s My Pyramid healthy food guide.

• The message is out there that scratch or speed-scratch cooking can help save money when compared to eating out and paying for convenience.

• The idea of reasonable portions, especially of more expensive center-plate options, is getting more attention.

Okay, so these are assumptions based on a few studies, some informed speculation and a touch of wishful thinking (that last one comes with being a supermarket-based dietitian). Nonetheless, it can be a rallying cry to take to the supermarket aisles and fan the fires of healthy eating! Here are some starters:

• Build interest in seasonal specials with recipes, food demos and knowledgeable staff. It’s as easy as showing customers how many ways they can prepare a carrot besides dipping it in Ranch Dressing.

• Think out of the box, to vegetarian meals, ways to keep higher-cost items on the menu without breaking the budget, and ideas for two or more meals out of a steak, chicken or other proteins. “Planned-overs” are more exciting than leftovers!

• Keep recipes simple and use limited ingredients. Although it may be a great recipe that fits both health and cost standards, remember the need for choices, especially when the price is right.

• Feature the herbs, spices, seasonings and gadgets that make enhance the foods and the preparation ideas being featured. Remember that there’s more scratch cooking going on, and often we are dealing with time-stressed customers who never go beyond the aisles they first spot!

Eating healthier is another of those lifestyle mantras that has been evident in the “wellness movement” and it’s up to us to show consumers that it is possible in a tight economy. Today’s supermarket can be the arena and provide the cheerleaders to make it happen.

(Photo credit: John Schilling)

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