Better Living for Texans: Tips & Tricks to Saving Money when Buying Healthy Groceries

(As I’m sure most of you probably know, one of our Prosper Waco community goals is “McLennan County residents will live healthier lifestyles and access the best available care.” With that in mind Act Locally Waco is teaming up with Better Living for Texans to bring you a monthly blog post full of tips for healthy living. For more of the posts in this series, click here: Better Living for Texans.– ALW)

By Flor De La Garza

The belief that “eating healthy and nutritious is expensive” is a common misperception. There are several ways to save money and buy healthy foods for you and your family. Today’s focus is to provide tips and tricks to save money when buying healthy groceries by 1) identifying the in-season fruits and vegetables 2) comparing unit prices, and 3) planning meals in advance.

Know Your Seasonal Produce

You may have noticed the recent influx of watermelons, cucumbers, zucchini, corn, and many more fruits and vegetables at your local grocery store. This is because there are certain fruits and vegetables that harvest in the summer, just as there are fruits and vegetables that harvest best in other seasons (spring, fall, and winter). Knowing the “in-season” produce for each season may help you save money because the in-season food items may cost less. For example, as summer reaches its peak, you may find watermelons to be at a cheaper price than in the winter season. If your favorite produce is not in season, an alternative to eating healthy and at a cheaper price is to buy canned or frozen produce without added salt or fat. Below is a Seasonal Produce guide made with information retrieved from the U.S. department of Agriculture – SNAP Ed (https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide) that can serve as a guide as you shop for in-season produce next time you are shopping for groceries.

The grocery store is not the only place you can save money when shopping for produce. Starting your own garden or shopping at the farmers market is a great way to obtain inexpensive, freshly picked in-season produce. The Waco Downtown Farmers Market opens every Saturday from 9 AM – 1 PM and is located at 500 Washington Ave, Waco, TX. 76701 – you can save money, enjoy the outdoors, and contribute to local small businesses all in one trip! If you are interested in starting your own garden, the McLennan County Master Gardeners can provide you with advice, direction, and answer any questions you may have. They are available to answer your gardening questions Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM at (254) 757-5180. You may also connect with the McLennan County Master Gardeners at the farmers market as they set up a semi-monthly booth to provide outreach on a variety of gardening topics.

Remember: fresh, frozen, canned, and dried – it all counts!

Comparing Unit Prices

To decide on the “cheaper option” within food items, one common way to compare prices is to look is to look at the total price of two items and simply compare them to determine which price is the lowest. However, this tactic may not always work because of the packaging, weight distribution, or size difference of both items. A more beneficial alternative is to compare unit prices. The unit price is the cost of an item based on a specific unit, such as a pound, ounce, or quantity per container.

Knowing the unit price can allow you to compare the cost of a food item based on brand and size. For example, (see below for picture) when buying XYZ Yogurt, it may appear that the total price of the 6-ounce (oz) yogurt is the cheaper option when compared to the 32 oz yogurt. However, when comparing the unit prices, the 32 oz yogurt is .07 cents cheaper per ounce.

Planning Meals in Advance

Scenario: You go to the grocery store. You buy some spinach, zucchini, cucumber, and corn because you know these items are “healthy” and “in-season”. You get home. Now what? You look up healthy recipes and realize you need a few more items to complete the recipe. You make a trip back to the store and buy more items than you needed. Now you are back home, and you are over your groceries budget.

The scenario above is very common. You can prevent going over your budget by planning your meals and writing a grocery list before going to the grocery store. You can plan healthy meals that use “in-season” produce and follow the MyPlate food groups (vegetables, fruits, protein, grains, and dairy). Once you arrive to the grocery, you know exactly what you need to make healthy meals for yourself and your family without being distracted by food items you may not need. In return, you will save money and prepare healthy meals!

If you have not tried these tips and tricks before, I encourage you to practice them while shopping for groceries this month! Enjoy saving money and healthy foods!

Recipes

This month we have three refreshing recipes that call for in-season produce! All three recipes are bright and refreshing for kids, teens, and adults! Feel free to pair any of the recipes to your Fourth of July celebration. The recipes come from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Dinner Tonight Program (https://dinnertonight.tamu.edu) and the USDA – “What’s Cooking?” website.

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

For Salad

  • 3 large Cucumbers skin removed, chopped
  • 3 cups strawberries quartered
  • 1/2 cup red onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fat Free feta cheese crumbled

For Dressing

  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions:

  1. Wash your hands and clean your preparation area. Rinse vegetables, fruits and herbs under cool running water before chopping.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, strawberries, red onion, and basil.
  3. In a small bowl or jar combine lime juice, olive oil, and honey. Whisk or shake until combined.
  4. Pour the dressing over the cucumber mixture and toss to combine. Top with feta cheese.

Watermelon Cucumber Balsamic Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups watermelon cubed
  • 2 cups cucumber cubed
  • 1/2 cup red onion sliced
  • 1/4 cup basil chopped
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 ounces Fat Free feta cheese crumbled

Instructions:

  1. Mix together watermelon, cucumber, red onion and basil.
  2. Mix together olive oil and balsamic vinegar then pour over the watermelon mixture.
  3. Top with feta cheese and enjoy!

Frozen Fruit Pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup yogurt, low-fat fruit (8 ounces)
  • 6 fluid ounces orange juice, frozen concentrate (thawed)

Instructions:

  1. Mix the ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Divide into 4 paper cups.
  2. Freeze until slushy – about 60 minutes. Insert a wooden stick half way through the center of each fruit pop.
  3. Freeze until hard or at least 4 hours. Peel away the paper cup before you eat the fruit pop.

Note: You can mix ingredients and freeze in ice cube tray instead of cups, making great “ice cubes” in fruit juice. Try other fruits or juice concentrates for variety.


Flor De La Garza is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at Baylor University. She is completing her summer practicum with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in McLennan County and is working with the Better Living for Texans program. Flor is originally from Denton, TX. and has lived in Waco for about four years now. She especially enjoys learning how Waco’s organizations are working together in collaborations to reach the overall goal to improve the health and quality of life of McLennan County residents! In addition, she loves Cameron Park hiking trails, the local restaurants and food trucks! 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

MAYBORN TO HOST ‘PARTY LIKE IT’S 1969’ HONORING 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF MOON LANDING

Houston…we have a party!” In honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 moon landing, Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum will host a 1969-theme party from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on July 20.

The event will include 1960s-themed hors d’oeuvres and mocktails. Guests are encouraged to dress in 1960’s-era costumes and will be treated to a performance by Austin’s premier Motown tribute band, Groove Knight. Party tickets are $35 each for adults, $25 for museum members and Baylor students and can be purchased at the front desk or online at www.MaybornMuseum.com

During the event, both the SpaceX and Be the Astronaut exhibits will be open at the

museum with available photo ops for guests.  Designed in consultation with an advisory panel of NASA experts, Be the Astronaut exhibit gives visitors a sense of real astronaut pretraining with the use of touch screen stations, artifacts and interactive simulator pods built to look like space capsules.

SpaceX: This is Rocket Science exhibit features a rocket model and thruster engine, projection video, vibrant scale representation of our solar system along with historic facts of rocket development and testing facility located in McGregor, Texas. 

“We are inviting all of our interested adult patrons to slip into their Nehru jacket or maxi skirt, tuck the kids into bed, and join us for an evening to commemorate mankind’s greatest leap of the 20th century,” said Charles Walter, director of the Mayborn Museum.

The historic event occurred on July 20, 1969 when Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin famously made “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” by landing on the moon.

“July 20th represents one of man’s crowing achievements when Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon,” Walter said. “We hope this party will be a fun and playful way to celebrate one of the most historic moments our country witnessed during the 20th century.”


About the Mayborn Museum – The Mayborn Museum Complex at Baylor University provides a wide spectrum of

learning opportunities to engage visitors of all ages.  The exhibits and education programs encourage families to learn together and design their own museum experience. This complex features a natural science and cultural history museum focusing on Central Texas with walk-in dioramas including one of the Waco Mammoth Site. The Mayborn Museum Complex also encompasses a multi-floor science discovery center encouraging hands-on learning for all ages and the Gov. Bill & Vara Daniel Historic Village. The nine wood frame buildings that comprise the village provide a glimpse into the past, bringing to life a community in the 1890s.

The museum’s hours are:     Monday-Saturday 10 am- 5 pm

                                                Thursday 10 am-8 pm

                                                Sunday 1 pm-5 pm  

The Mayborn Museum is open all year long except for the following: New Year’s Day, Good Friday through Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and all Baylor University home football game dates. The museum is located at 1300 S. University Parks Drive, Waco, Texas 76706.  For more information, call 254-710-1110 or visit www.MaybornMuseum.com.

A.J. Moore High School kicks off its 16th Biennial Reunion with a luncheon for alumni veterans.

Press release

“Reunited and it feels so good!! This is the theme of this year’s 16th Biennial A. J. Moore High School Reunion (July 5, 6, & 7, 2019). A lot of planning has gone into making this year’s Reunion extra-special. We will celebrate the Golden Anniversaries of the Classes of 1968 and 1969 with a flair. In addition, all alumni veterans are invited to attend a lunch sponsored by several alumni and Jeff Hunter Toyota. There is no charge for alumni veterans who are registered for the Reunion. Already, more than 45 alumni veterans have registered for the luncheon.

Prior to the Alumni Veterans Luncheon there will be a business meeting where several elected civic leaders will greet alumni. Scholarships will be awarded to AJMHs legacy high school graduates.

In addition to coming together for the usual celebrating, cordiality, congratulating, and social meeting, alumni will have an opportunity to record their memories and reflections as part of an oral history project in collaboration with Baylor Oral History Department. This will be very important as it will add to contributions from others who lived and shared the AJMHS story. The school has been closed since 1971 and there are fewer voices left to share the legacy with each passing day. AJMHS alumni want the traditions, achievements, goals, and our voices to live on in recorded recollections.

On Friday, “Denim and Diamond” night, alumni will celebrate with a parade of classes from all years past, casino games, brunch, and awards to elected alumni civic leaders. On Saturday, “All White Unity Night,” alumni will celebrate with a banquet featuring Dr. Hazel Rowe, Interim Superintendent of Waco ISD. Music and dancing follows each night’s events.

Sunday morning begins with worship service and there will be a barbeque picnic that afternoon.  

All events will take place in the Brazos Room at Waco Convention. For additional information visit our website.

 A. J. Moore High School Alumni Association thanks everyone who is supporting this year’s Reunion. We want to send a special note of gratitude to Amy Hunter (Jeff-Hunter Toyota), Peter Kultgen (Bird-Kultgen Ford), Magnolia Market at The Silos, Ty White (Golden Corral), Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group, Awards Specialties, M & M Mars, Melvin Lipsitz (M. Lipsitz & Co.), Hilton Hotels and Resorts – Waco, and the City of Waco.

Caritas of Waco Receives Continuation Funding for “Veterans’ Case Management” Program

Press release

Caritas of Waco has received a $200,000 grant to continue a case management program specifically for low-income veterans, offering guidance for veterans living at or near the poverty level through a process to help them overcome financial, emotional, educational, employment and other barriers to success.  The program’s goal is to assist these veterans in moving out of poverty by becoming more self-sufficient and less reliant on emergency assistance programs. 

“Caritas is very excited about continuing this program and the benefits it will bring to veterans in our area,” said Tammy Stevens, Client Services Director at Caritas.  “We have had numerous success stories with our case management veterans and we look forward to serving many more,” she added.

The Caritas Veterans’ Case Management Program will serve a veteran of any era and service branch who has had an honorable discharge, who resides in the six-county service area (McLennan, Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, and Limestone) and who has an annual income no greater than 200% of the federal poverty level. Caritas case management staff will offer a variety of direct and supportive services that veterans need to reach individual goals.

Veterans may contact Caritas directly in person, by phone or through referral from another service provider for information about the program.  Individuals will speak with the veterans’ case manager to arrange an assessment of eligibility for participation in the program.  Thereafter, the veteran will work with the case manager to carry out a needs assessment and begin work on a “plan of action” to address areas of need in the veteran’s life.

Caritas of Waco is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that serves McLennan County and the surrounding area by providing individuals and families with urgent support and long-term solutions to poverty.

For interviews or more information, contact Tammy Stevens by telephone at 254-753-4593 (extension 227), by e-mail (tstevens@caritas-waco.org), or in person at 300 South 15th Street.

This program is supported by a grant from the Texas Veterans Commission Fund for Veterans’ Assistance. The Fund for Veterans’ Assistance provides grants to organizations serving veterans and their families.