Freeze Home-Cooked Food, Save Money!

Imagine a frozen TV dinner consisting of seasonal vegetables, a hearty soup and a homemade entrée ready in 5 minutes —that you made!

Convenient food? Check.

Fresh food? Check.

Healthy and Budget-Conscious Food? Of course.

Cooking and freezing foods in bulk allows for easy, inexpensive, and healthy eating throughout a hectic workweek. Try these following tips and meal ideas instead of wasting money on store-bought prepared foods, other convenient foods with questionable ingredients, or soon-to-spoil foods in your fridge.

#1: Base your cooking around seasonal foods.

Buy fresh vegetables and fruits during their natural harvest season for optimal taste, texture, and nutrient levels. I, myself, am learning which foods are best during which season. For seasonal food lists, try online sources or visit your local Continue reading

Skip the Gym Membership and Get Fit for Free

Who has a couple of New Years’ resolutions in mind for 2010?

I know I do.

In the spirit of healthiness, many Americans want to become more health conscious.  And health conscious resolutions usually involve a gym membership, diet, and “dream weight” on the scale.

However, as many of us start this New Year, we will have a tighter clutch on our wallets.  Save money by bypassing the gym membership and creating your own exercise at home or searching for free and low-cost fitness classes in your neighborhood. Break a sweat without breaking your bank and save money for better food shopping and your savings.

Gym Math:

Membership Fee: approx. $75

+ Monthly Fee: approx. $30

= Roughly $435 Per Year.

I am not bashing gyms.  I have a gym membership and regularly attend my gym but also replicate similar workouts in my Continue reading

Recipes for Healthy Holiday Eats and Treats

The holiday season is amongst us, which includes an ample dose of delicious celebratory foods and drinks. It can be hard to pass up egg nog, creamy dips, latkes, or any holiday food. And as a number one fan of my mother’s sugar cookies, I wouldn’t ask anyone to give up their indulgent holiday favorite.

However, several days ago, I contributed to a healthy holiday potluck gathering with fellow HealthCorps’ corps members. The spread of “healthified” and inexpensive options varied from creative appetizers to desserts and reaffirmed the notion that healthy holiday treats can extend beyond an entire table of carrots and yogurt dip. I’ve chosen several inexpensive, healthier, and delicious recipes to incorporate into your regular holiday fare this year. Follow the recipes to a “T” or create your own versions.

Spicy Sweet Potato Cakes and Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato or yam, cooked and peeled
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and very thinly grated
  • ½ Jalapeno pepper, minced Continue reading

For Corps Members: Free or Low-Cost Gift Ideas for People You Love

homemade soap, wrapped in cloth

Giving gifts when you are a corps member.

Last year I wrote about how people can show love to the corps member in their life through their holiday gift-giving. This year I wanted to offer some ideas about how corps members themselves can give gifts when their incomes are often incredibly limited.

I asked The New Service contributors and currently serving corps participants Marissa Pherson of AmeriCorps VISTA and Leslie Dolland of Health Corps to share their thoughts, too. Here are the ideas we’ve collectively come up with.

Setting the Stage for Frugal Gift Exchange

If you are gathering many other corps members, extended family, or among a group of old friends, consider throwing a White Elephant party swapping gifts doesn’t have to be expensive when you’re swapping things you already own.

If you are exchanging gifts individually with others — your partner, close friends, family members, and/or fellow corps members — consider setting some ground rules such as: Continue reading

Staying Fit on a Budget: Healthy Breakfast Know-How and Quick Ideas for Your Plate

Leslie Dolland

Leslie Dolland

[Editor’s note: Today we launch a new monthly column on The New Service blog, featuring Leslie Dolland, a HealthCorps Coordinator who teaches high schoolers in the South Bronx about staying healthy. As a current service corps participant, Leslie will be sharing tips for other corps members about how to stay healthy on a budget.]

I love the Fall and the back-to-school season!  It feels like a fresh start; a chance to de-clutter, re-organize and create some Fall New Year’s resolutions.  I’m resolving to have a healthy and delicious breakfast EVERY day.  This includes breakfast when I’m running late, not hungry, or not at home; these are times when it’s most difficult. Breakfast is definitely the meal not to be missed but can be challenging when you’re short on time.  Luckily, it doesn’t require much time or money just some careful planning!

But is it really the most important meal of the day?

YES!  And according to the USDA, 80% of Americans regularly eat breakfast. But the quality of the meal is just as Continue reading