My Story: Healthy vs. Handy

contributed by JoAnn in NM

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At age 38, my life changed when my first baby arrived. After the first few sleep-deprived weeks, I woke up enough to realize that we were eating horrible meals. We were eating whatever was handy, not what was healthy.

So, we began to brainstorm how we could make healthy meals more convenient. My husband came up with the first good idea. He suggested that we cook several meals at once, and then eat leftovers. So, on weekends, one of us would cook and package leftovers, while the other took care of the baby.

My doctor suggested that we process veggies right after going to the grocery store. Now, we chop onions, cabbage, celery, and bell peppers, make salads, and put them in plastic containers. We are much more likely to add veggies to our diet if we don't have to chop them at every meal.

Deli meats are convenient and a lot healthier than potato chips. But deli meats are expensive. We started making more than enough cooked chicken, ham, and roast beef and prepping leftovers for sandwich fillings. For example, last night, I made chicken breasts. Today, there's leftover chicken salad. If making tuna salad for lunch on Saturday, I make extra and refrigerate. Again, this is healthier and cheaper than snack food. Periodically, I can buy chicken breasts for under $2 per pound. The last time my husband bought snack crackers, they were $2 for a half-pound!

Finally, let's talk about the magic cauldron, the slow cooker. If dinner is ready when you walk in the door, you won't be tempted to go out to eat or to pick up fast food. In the past week, I've made lasagna, chicken, and beans with ham in my slow cooker.

Combine a slow cooker with a rice cooker and a veggie steamer and you have the potential to load up your meal and leave the kitchen while dinner cooks. Or throw in a baked potato and some roasting veggies in the oven. After 10 minutes of prep, you can play with the baby while dinner takes care of itself.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to

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