In Sunnytrails we have a group of Seniors working on the Sow What? Journey with our Virtual Troop. They’ve decided that one of the “take action projects” that they’d like to work on is to put together some inexpensive, healthy recipes that use items that are often given out at the Project Hand Chula Vista Food Bank. We are interested in having troops try to collect and test recipes and send them to us at the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a little more information about what we’re looking for. We talked with one of the managers at Project Hand, a local food bank helping the Chula Vista community from a distribution location at St. Mark’s Church on the corner of Hilltop and I Streets. He said that they find that these are the most useful grocery items for people to donate:
Food Items PROJECT HAND Provides
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Peanut Butter
- Pasta sauce and canned tomatoes
- Macaroni and cheese
- Powdered milk
- Cold cereal
- Ramen noodles
- Cup soups
- Non-perishable boxed items(such as side dishes and desserts)
He said that it would be really helpful to have a 3 ring notebook of recipes using these items and fresh, in season fruits and vegetables or other inexpensive ingredients. They could duplicate the recipes and staple them to a bag with the ingredients to give to needy families. We thought that we might look for a local grocery store to underwrite printing 300 booklets that Project Hand could hand out, rather than printing and stapling recipes to each donation, but our first goal is to collect recipes!
We discovered that food stamps provide recipients with the equivalent of $1 per person per meal for 3 meals a day, about $21 per week. So, one of our other goals is to keep the cost of a recipe under $1 per serving. Of course that doesn’t take into account the cost of side dishes or a beverage or the food that’s donated from Project Hand, but it gave us a target to reach for. Here’s an ingredient cost calculator that you can use: http://sensetosave.com/frugal-tools/recipecostcalc/. Your girls can also check grocery store circulars for foods that are on sale.
One way to keep the recipe healthy and to keep the cost down is to use fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables. We’re hoping that we can come up with different recipes to use all year but we may group them according to season since that makes a difference in cost. Here are two sites with charts of what’s in season at different times of the year:
Websites for fresh produce
You might mention to us which season is best to prepare your dish, if you are using fresh in-season produce in your recipe.
Another consideration is that often people that are struggling with food bills don’t have kitchens stocked with fancy gadgets. He recommended that we try to come up with recipes that don’t use blenders, food processors etc. I think a crock pot would be a pretty handy “gadget” to use if you wanted to be able to use more inexpensive cuts of meat & cook beans all day using less energy but we might give directions that could be used in an oven or a crock pot for instance so it’s accessible to everyone.
Along those lines, it’s important that the recipe be easy to prepare. We want it to be simple enough that a child 10 and up could read and follow the directions, we don’t expect it to be Martha Stewart fancy, just good wholesome food that is easy and quick to prepare.
Finally, we want to make sure that the recipes taste really good! I know the biggest waste of food at my house is when I try a new recipe and my family doesn’t like it. We want to make sure that each recipe is tested and family approved!
We are hoping that your troop might be interested in taking on this challenge. They’ll learn a lot about budgeting, food costs, meal preparation and cooking! They might ask neighbors for favorite recipes or go through mom’s recipes for ideas. Maybe each girl in the troop can pick one of the ingredients supplied by Project Hand and find a recipe that uses that ingredient. Maybe your troop will go on a field trip to a grocery store to check out inexpensive cuts of meat or to talk to the manager of a food stand at the Farmer’s Market or have a pot luck to test all the recipes together. It could be a lot of fun! When you are ready to submit the recipes please email them to: email@example.com or mail them to our virtual leader: Debbie Lechner, 1133 Del Rio Court, Chula Vista, CA 91910. Thank you for your help!