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Save money, calories or both with these simple Holiday Hacks provided by Gleaners Community Food Bank staff. The recipes, courtesy of Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters™ program, make creating delicious dishes easy and extra nutritious!
Cage-free? Free-range? Hormone-free? What does it all mean? Not much as it turns out. Most egg labels about the treatment of chickens have almost no legal basis, but they can often add more than a few pennies to their price.
- Tip: Buy the cheapest eggs you can find to cut the cost on holiday baking. (P.S. Brown and white eggs are equally nutritious; the color difference is based on a chicken’s breed.)
Baking pies, muffins or rolls?
- Tip: Spice up your holiday recipes with a cupboard full of your favorite seasonings without paying a small fortune - buy spices at the dollar store, they are super cheap.
- Tip: Check out the bulk bins, buying dry goods in bulk saves tons of money and holiday cooking is a pretty safe bet for using up plenty of ingredients. Store your finds in airtight containers so they last all season long.
- Hack: Swap 2% evaporated milk in recipes that call for heavy cream, you’ll save one-third of the calories but still enjoy the creamy taste and texture in cream soups and pumpkin pie.
Cost-effective canned pumpkin puree brings everyone’s favorite fall flavor to this lightened Pumpkin Muffin recipe, and adds much of the sweetness. Nonfat yogurt stands in for cream, and canola oil provides an unsaturated alternative to butter. Everything else comes from the average pantry, making these delicious muffins great for any budget. Adding ½ c. of walnuts offers an added boost of fiber, potassium and protein.
Many holiday recipes involve cooked fruits or vegetables; select the cheapest type at the grocery store and you’ll save money while still turning out delicious food. Frozen green beans work just as well as fresh in the ubiquitous casserole and a bulk bag of fresh apples should be carry you through all the pies you need to make. Frozen berries are usually a fraction of the cost of fresh this time of year, while canned yams or sweet potatoes may actually cost more than fresh. Make sure you compare the unit price rather than retail to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Baked apples are a great alternative or additional choice to holiday dessert tables – these baked beauties bring the comforting apple pie flavor without the crust, or nearly as much sugar. Combine fresh apples (buying in bulk is perfect for this recipe) with a few pantry staples for an elegant, fiber-packed dessert that satisfies your gluten-free and vegan relatives.
Ratatouille – not just a movie about a mouse, this classic French dish lets the best of inexpensive fall vegetables shine in a flavor-filled, nutritious side. Follow this recipe or swap-out/add-in some of your vegetables; green beans or carrots are great additions, just remember to pre-cook (sauté, steam or boil) until tender and let cool before adding to recipe. So simple to prepare, so utterly delicious, holiday guests will not believe how much they love veggies.
Looking to lighten up holiday staples like mashed potatoes and Mac & Cheese?
Steamed cauliflower blends beautifully as a substitute for part or all of the potato, and buttermilk and yogurt bring the richness of cream or whole milk with a fraction of the saturated fat. Amp up the flavor with dried herbs or powdered aromatics (garlic or onion powder) and leave out a couple of tablespoons of butter – each one contains over 100 calories.
A lighter take on the classic Macaroni and Cheese doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor. This recipe calls for whole-wheat pasta for added fiber, and squash puree sweetens a simple cheddar sauce. The whole dish can be prepared in under 30 minutes, and packs a ton of vitamin A – like two days’ worth.
Enjoying holiday meals with family and friends is what the season is all about; these tips and recipes will make sure your celebrations don’t include added costs and calories.
For more healthy cooking ideas visit Cooking Matters.
Play your part in ensuring that no child goes hungry this holiday season, all donations are matched: $1 provides 6 meals. Double your donation now!
This story is provided and presented by our sponsor Gleaners Community Food Bank.
Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.