Like many of you, I have pledged to go to the gym and get back in the habit of healthy eating again after many holiday splurges.
However, unlike most of you, I will not fully start my New Year’s resolution right away.
We are in the process of buying a new house and will be moving in a few weeks, so I have decided not to start my new diet and fitness plan until we get moved into our new home.
Until then, I will get plenty of exercise packing and moving.
Once we are settled in, I will start attending the local Y and will be walking our two dogs in the nearby doggy walk areas.
There are many diet plans to choose from, but I have decided to join Weight Watchers. I have two reasons: One is because you have to get on the scale every week in front of the receptionist, so in my mind that discourages cheating.
The other reason I chose Weight Watchers is that you can use your own foods once you figure out the points for each item. That means you don’t have to make separate meals for your family.
I am so thankful that I know how to coupon because it allows me to gather the staples I need to make meals and still spurge on plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables while I maintain a tight budget.
When I first began this column, I tackled several coupon myths. One myth I busted was that coupons are only for junk foods. That’s simply not true.
Though it is true that there are many coupons for sugary cereals, juices, boxed meals, granola bars and frozen dinners, I have used coupons for many different items in my pantry.
I have scored items including white and brown rice, whole-wheat pastas, canned vegetables, bags of frozen vegetables, bagged salads and even fresh meat, produce and dairy products for at least 60 percent off or even completely free.
Eating meals at home is by far the best way to watch both your wallets and your waistline.
Fast food might be cheap, but it often contains many chemicals to preserve the food. Fast food is also traditionally calorie-dense and contains nutritionally empty ingredients. It is often served in oversized portions that make it harder to tell that you are overeating.
By using matching coupons with sales, you can make many different home-cooked meals for less than $5.
In the spirit of the New Year, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite frugal recipes. This recipe can be found in the Weight Watchers Shortcut Cookbook (Oxmoor House 2003).
¾ pound extra lean ground beef or turkey
1 package mild taco seasoning
1 can pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes with peppers and onions
2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom of pot with the cooking spray. Add beef or turkey to the pot and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add taco seasoning and the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand for five minutes. Yields: 4 servings of 1½ cups each.
NUTRITION: Calories per serving: 209; carbohydrates 24.6 grams; fat 5.7 grams; fiber 3.9 grams.
WHAT IT COST: I bought the ground turkey for less than $2 a pound, the taco seasoning for 20 cents, the can of pinto beans for 60 cents and the can of tomatoes for 70 cents. The cup of corn came from a package that cost $1 after coupons. Since I only used half of the bag, that added only 50 cents to my total. That made my soup cost only $4 for four servings, so that’s just $1 per person.
Of course, we added some toppers to the soup to round out the meal; ingredients such as chopped green onions, salsa, sour cream, cheese (made with 2 percent milk), and baked tortilla chips are all nice additions to this soup.
Just make sure you count those calories.
Coupons are everywhere you look. Remember to buy produce while it’s in season and buy the meats featured in the weekly ads. Plan your meals from your store ads based on the meats and vegetables on sale.
The staples should already be in your well-stocked pantry.
If you are new to couponing and you want to put your budget on a diet this year, then be sure to join me in one of my upcoming coupon classes this month. Until next time, happy shopping!