Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
By Wendy Thomas
It's a new year, bright and shiny and chock full of the best of intentions. With the economy still floundering it's time to take a good hard look at how we spend money on our families.
I know that one of the biggest crazes right now is people who use coupons to save tons of money in the grocery store. You've probably seen the shows where (usually) women spend hours clipping coupons, which end up saving them hundreds of dollars. As proof they show you their storage rooms filled, shelf-after-shelf, with canned goods, cleaners and snacks. “Paid pennies on the dollar for these,” they will gladly tell you of their endless supply of non-perishables.
I'm all for saving money, but if you look in their grocery carts and in their storage rooms, you'll see nothing but processed foods designed not to nourish but instead to last a long time on shelves. I have yet to see a couponer bring home a head of broccoli, an artichoke or even a bag of oranges. Saving money is fantastic but not when the final result could hurt your family.
We all know that processed food is not the healthiest choice of something to eat, and even if you got it at a bargain price, what is the actual cost? High salt, high fat, high calories, preservatives and added chemicals – not exactly what I want my kids to eat. With an ever increasing rate of childhood obesity in our country, junk food needs to be avoided.
And yet most of the food purchased with coupons is just that, highly processed junk that the manufacturers want you to get hooked on either by its taste or convenience (add water, shake and pour out your pancakes.) Those manufacturers know we are busy; they know when we come home sometimes the last thing we want to do is cook a meal when instead we could pop ravioli out from a can and have a little precious time for ourselves.
If you really want to save money and keep your family healthy, which helps to keep those medical bills down, fill your cart with fruits and vegetables. Buy real food, not stuff found in a can. Try cooking a few meals from scratch each week. For less than $10, I can make a chicken/vegetable curry with rice dinner to feed six people. It's not that difficult, it just takes a little bit of planning.
This year, when you're in the grocery store, forget buying the canned soups on sale that with your coupons makes them almost free. Instead save money by keeping your family healthy with real foods and a little bit of home cooking.
Chicken Curry with rice for 6 (or for a smaller family with plenty of leftovers)
In a rice steamer, prepare two cups of rice (not instant).
In a large sauce pan, saute three chicken breasts that have been cut into small pieces in olive oil. When the chicken is mostly cooked, add about 3 tablespoons of curry paste in the middle of the pan and let it get hot; stir the chicken in to the curry paste.
Add two cans of coconut milk and either fresh or frozen vegetables, enough to equal about two frozen bags worth. Simmer and let the sauce reduce a bit. Serve over the rice.
Wendy Thomas lives in Merrimack with her husband and six children, and has been published in various regional magazines and newspapers. Check out her blog, Simple Thrift-Creative Living on Less, at http://simplethrift.wordpress.com.
Last updated by Parenting NH Administrator Jun 7, 2012.