Angie has a special treat for you today. Cookbook author, Elise Griffith, has written today's post. One of the many things that binds us as friends is her desire to feed healthy meals to those in need. I know you will enjoy this post and I hope you'll comment to thank Elise for her efforts.
More families today are cooking and eating at home than were a decade ago. Part of the reason is to save money--the food budget is often an expense we can adjust more easily than fixed bills. Another motive is to know what it is we’re eating. At the grocery store, we can pick organically grown produce, meats from animals that haven’t been fed hormones or antibiotics, and read labels. As food prices for certain items rise, we can adjust what it is we buy. We can stock our pantries with basics and take advantage of sales. Angie recently gave an excellent, comprehensive list of pantry staples to keep on hand so your family can always have a nutritious meal available.
While you’re shopping for those staples, would you be willing to pick up one extra item to donate to your local food bank? As blessed as many of us are to be able to shop for food, a growing number of folks (mainly children and seniors) aren’t always sure where their next meal will come from. Very often when I’m in one of the three grocery stores in my town, I’ll see a man or woman in their 70s or older picking up a package of meat or some other item and pondering whether to add it to the very few items in their cart. Eggs in my coastal area are currently $5.00 or more per dozen; what was once a cheap source of protein is now as expensive as a pound of beef or lamb.
One of our neighbors is 94 years old and still volunteers every week at our local food bank. As a “thank you”, volunteers receive one bag of food. It used to be an independently run program where volunteers picked up donations from the grocery stores, sorted and distributed the food to the needy here. A few years ago, though, our county had to partner with Feed America… all donations going to a warehouse to be sorted and bagged, then sent to individual community food banks. The result has been brown paper “Harvest Bags” filled with smelly, spoiled meats and rotten produce. Can you imagine receiving such a bag? What if that was a critical source for food in your household? Would you want any child or elderly person eating gray-green, foamy meat or soft, moldy vegetables?
Angie loves Dollar Tree, and I do, too! Canned meats, chili, stew and beans are available there and provide a source of protein; canned vegetables or fruits are better than spoiled “fresh” produce. No matter how tight your budget, a dollar (or less) can help one person in need have a safe meal. Often ordinary citizens are able to make a huge difference with very little time or money spent.
Here’s a recipe using Dollar Tree food items that would feed a family:
Pepperoni & Mushroom Baked Spaghetti
· ½ (16 ounce) package spaghetti noodles, cooked, drained and cooled
· 1 egg, well beaten
· 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
· 2 medium, Roma tomatoes, diced
· 2 cups sliced mushrooms
· 1 (26.5 ounce) can spaghetti sauce
· 1 (1.75 ounce) box sliced pepperoni
· 1 cup part skim, shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 x 11 inch baking dish with cooking oil spray. In a large bowl, combine pasta, egg, parmesan cheese, diced tomatoes and 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, tossing with two spoons until evenly mixed; transfer to baking dish and spread evenly. Spoon and spread spaghetti sauce over pasta mixture, arrange pepperoni and remaining mushroom slices over sauce and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, cool slightly, cut and serve.
Angie's two cents.
I was thinking about the idea of providing unspoiled foods to the country's population that can't afford to put balanced meals on the table for themselves or their families. I feel like my personal efforts are a dim representative of the need in this world. WHAT IF: Each of us writes a commitment in the comment section - a simple 'I do' - to provide one item for a local food pantry each week? A can of on sale tuna, fruit, veggie, spice, anything that will provide nutrition to another. I would be a happy girl if this idea grew across the globe. If we encourage our friends and family to commit to purchasing one item a week, this could be a movement that demonstrates that there are plenty of good and caring people in this world
. I would be so happy if we gathered together to make an effort to prove that good can overcome all the evil that appears in the headlines. Are you with me?