For the more than 80,000 low-income North Dakotans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, to provide food for their families, the holiday season can be a challenging time.
A national effort called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, or SNAP-Ed, equips recipients with the knowledge and skills to stretch their limited food dollars in healthful ways. In North Dakota, the program is called the Family Nutrition Program, called FNP.
The NDSU Extension Service runs the program in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Human Services. FNP teaches participants about nutrition, food resource management and food safety at sites across the state with the highest concentrations of SNAP participants.
Here are some tips that you can use year-round to help stretch your food dollars in healthful ways:
- Plan smart, plan ahead. Plan your menu early to take advantage of sales and coupons on the items you need. Check what you have on hand and make a shopping list to save time and money at the store.
- Save on fruits and veggies. Compare prices of different forms of fruits and vegetables. Frozen and canned versions often are good buys, can save on preparation time and provide the same nutrition as fresh. Rinse canned veggies to reduce sodium, and select canned fruits in water or 100 percent fruit juice.
- Be flexible about meat choices. The meat dish can account for nearly 40 percent of the cost of a meal. Prepare a whole roasted chicken or lean pork roast for a special but less expensive meal. Factor in defrost time; frozen meats usually cost less. Buy according to your family's tastes for white or dark meat; turkey breasts or legs can be a cost-effective option.
- Substitute as needed for dollar and calorie savings. Be prepared to choose a similar but less expensive item. For example, use reconstituted dry milk or diluted evaporated milk to save money (and calories if substituting for cream) for cooking and baking. Compare unit prices on similar products.
- Make it yourself. Cooking is generally less expensive than buying a ready-to-go dish. As a bonus, you can control the amount of salt, sugar and fat.
- Invite others to bring food. Ask family members and friends to bring a dish to share when they join your celebration.
- Be creative with leftovers. Create fun and healthy lunches and dinners from the leftovers, and save money on grocery store trips the rest of the week. Use leftover meats and veggies for sandwiches and soups. See http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/foodwise/recipes-1 for a variety of recipes.
For more information about Family Nutrition Program events, contact your local Extension office. For general information on the program, contact coordinator Megan Ness at 701-231-6515 or Megan.L.Ness@ndsu.edu.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.