Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Healthier Food on a Dime

Since jumping into the Coupon World I have started to purchase so many foods I have never even thought of eating in the past.  Many of these foods are not very healthy, but a good couponer just cannot turn down a great deal, especially when an item is just pennies or even free!!

I have discovered that some of these prepared meals can be quite handy and made healthier while saving lots of precious time during those nights you need it the most.  Here are my tips to creating those packaged dinners into healthier meals.

Box Dinners
Macaroni Grill meals; instead of chicken I use broccoli and a little fresh garlic,  also throw in a handful of whole wheat noodles when you cook the pasta
Macaroni and Cheese; use just a dab of margarine or butter, substitute soy milk, add steamed broccoli and a can of drained italian diced tomatoes
Hamburger Helper; try beans instead of meat, also add fresh or canned tomatoes and frozen spinach, fresh or dry oregano and italian herbs, it will make it more 'lasagna like' anyway
Waichi Ferry Chinese; we used tofu instead of chicken and it was fantastic, also added fresh garlic and broccoli, plus threw in some brown rice with the white it came with and cooked together

Pantry Items
Instant Potatoes; I make mine with a lowfat unsweetened soymilk, also look for other ways to use them, potato soups can be very healthy
Knorr Sides and other noodle/rice side dishes;  make them using very little oil or butter and add lots of vegetables.  Look on the back of the package at the ingredients for ideas on what to add.  If it contains carrots and basil, add more carrots and basil!

Dairy Items
Yogurts; contain a lot of sugar so mix with a bunch of fresh fruit to create a fruit salad.
Cheeses; save these for dishes that really need them= pizza

Frozen Dinners
Dipping foods (chicken nuggets, pizza rolls, hot pockets); serve with fresh cut up veggies to dip as well
Lean Cuisine type meals; if you are eating these you must be in a hurry so also throw some frozen veggies in the microwave and mix them in!
Large Prepared Frozen Meals (like Bertolli) add other frozen vegetables and cook together, also spice it up a little with some seasonings

Box Desserts
Brownie Mix; substitute applesauce instead of oil, add some chopped nuts and dust with powdered sugar instead of frosting
Box cakes; substitute half of the oil for applesauce, add a few tablespoons of whole wheat flour or ground flaxseed, add fruit if it would be appropriate (raisins in a spice or carrot cake, strawberries in a berry or lemon cake) dust with powdered sugar instead of frosting.
Muffin Mix; add a few spoonfuls of oatmeal to the mix, add frozen berries, cut half the oil with applesauce
Cookies; add a few Tbs of oatmeal or ground flax, add raisins and nuts

Also beware of harmful chemicals in these foods.  MSG, chemicals, and added coloring are not good for our growing childrens bodies.  I do not feed these foods to my daughter and encourage you to find other options for you little ones as well.

Do you have any great healthy alterations you make to food?

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