NUTRITION SEPTEMBER 14, 2021
We believe in connecting people through food they love, but we know that making time for connection can be hard—even for families with plenty of food and resources available. For people experiencing food insecurity, it can be even harder to prepare and enjoy a meal together.
The USDA Food and Nutrition Service published new research outlining barriers to healthy eating among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. According to the report, 88% of SNAP participants report experiencing barriers to eating healthy throughout the month. In celebration of National Family Meals Month, our nutrition team shares their tips to make nutritious family meals easier for all families to enjoy together.
Having the time to prepare meals
30% of SNAP participants report lack of time to prepare meals from scratch as a barrier to healthy eating.
Many SNAP participants purchase raw ingredients and cook from scratch to stretch a limited budget. Scratch cooking often takes more time than quick scratch cooking methods. Thanks to the recent updates to the Thrifty Food Plan and increases to benefits, SNAP participants will soon have more flexibility when purchasing food and ingredients, that may help decrease time spent on meal prep.
Simple changes in ingredient choices and meal prep methods can help people get meals on the table faster.
- Use frozen and canned vegetables in place of fresh to reduce prep time.
- Batch cook meat, poultry, fish, and grains to use throughout the week.
- Make slow cooker or sheet pan dishes to minimize clean up time.
- Double up your recipes (cook once, eat twice). Soups, chilis, and casseroles make excellent leftovers. Try this recipe for Hidden Veggie Beef Chili.
- Keep it simple—sometimes soup and a sandwich can make your meal great.
- Have a few go-to recipes like One Pot Chicken Curry and Savory Slow Cooked Chicken Cacciatore.
- Use cooking soups or sauces, like Prego Italian sauces and Campbell’s cooking sauces to help you put a satisfying meal on the table in less time.
Affordability of healthy foods
61% of SNAP participants find it difficult to afford foods that are part of a healthy diet.
People’s understanding of “healthy” can make them pass over good options in the center aisles of the store. For example, canned and frozen fruits and veggies can be just as nutritious as fresh options, yet, research found some people think frozen and canned veggies, which are typically cheaper than fresh, are not as healthy as their fresh counterparts. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are typically picked at the peak of freshness and frozen or canned within hours, making them a nutritious and budget-friendly option. Thoughtful planning and a few shifts in food choices can keep you on budget.
- Plan your meals and make a shopping list to avoid food waste.
- Use planning, shopping, and budgeting resources.
- Replace some animal proteins with canned or dried beans.
- Prepare meatless dishes a couple of times a week, they are often less expensive.
- Eat all forms of fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned, dried) to balance your food budget.
- Buy fresh fruit and veggies in season and select fresh produce options like bulk bags of potatoes, whole carrots, and apples as weekly staples. They have a longer shelf life, are budget-friendly and nutrient dense.
- Use unit pricing on shelf tags to compare prices of different products.
- Buy extra items as able when they’re on sale.
- Look for discount produce to freeze when you get home.
- Shop bonus deals and/or clip coupons for your local grocery store.
We believe in making nutritious, great tasting food accessible for all, and with thoughtful planning and simple cooking shortcuts, families can make it easier to enjoy meals together.