Ingredients to Boost your Budget - Capital Area Food Bank
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Ingredients to Boost your Budget

By Jodi Balis March 13, 2013

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Here at the Capital Area Food Bank, we are committed to being a reliable source of healthy, affordable food by providing basic kitchen staples that can stock a cabinet, stretch a food budget and become a nourishing meal.
Common food bank ingredients are at the core of our Certified Recipes. Each of the recipes shows how kitchen staples can easily become budget-friendly, delicious dishes.
Let’s walk through our Corn and Black Bean Pizza Recipe (PDF) where we will discover, from ingredient to meal, the core principles of Healthy Eating on a Budget.
Be Meal Minded
A meal is made up of at least 3 food groups:

  • Grains
  • Fruits/vegetables
  • Dairy/meat/beans

Switch it Out
To keep variety in check, focus on meals that incorporate fruits and/or veggies. A meal concept like a pizza can be broken down into component parts (crust, sauce, toppings), and each part can be substituted for other ingredients based on taste preference and what’s on hand. This also opens the door to food creativity:

  • If a homemade pizza crust seems daunting, a whole wheat tortilla or English muffin can be substituted.
  • If meat is on the mind, chopped chicken or lean ground beef can be added.
  • If mozzarella cheese is not in the fridge, shredded cheddar will do just fine.

Use Versatile Staples
Canned tomatoes, black beans and canned corn are toppings for this pizza. These ingredients can also be used in dishes like soup, meatloaf and quesadillas. If you can think of three ways to use an ingredient off the top of your head, then it’s a good one to have on hand.
Stretch Ingredients
Eating meat every night could strain a food budget, but stretching more expensive proteins across many meals make food dollars go further. Adding two cooked chopped chicken breasts to this pizza, then saving the remaining package for later, is what stretching ingredients is all about.
Protein Rich
When we think of cheese we often think “strong bones.” But cheese is a great source of protein, too, and can be less expensive than meat. Paired with the black beans, it gives this pizza a protein punch.
Flavor it Up
A little bit of a flavor-packed ingredient goes a long way. On this pizza, ½ cup of barbeque sauce is used for both sauce and to add flavor. This leaves more in the bottle for later which can be added to salad dressing, chili or dip.