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There is a very important thing I try to avoid when it comes to food: wasting it which also means throwing money out the window. As a result, I learned how to adjust the way I shop for groceries. Now, I keep in mind that I must buy healthy foods that can either be mixed as is or cooked together. As soon as I get home, I prepare meals to last a couple of days and use the fresh foods in different combinations that we consume as soon as possible so they won’t get spoiled.
Yesterday, I found a bag of baby spinach that I opened three days ago. Even though there was still time left until its expiration day some of the leaves started to go bad. If something like this happened in the past I would immediately throw away the entire bag. This time, I removed the bad leaves and still had enough good ones to make a salad. I just didn’t know what to use for this salad. I looked in the refrigerator and found some cooked chicken leftovers from the night before and a box of Brie cheese. I saw an avocado in my onions and garlic bowl I keep on the counter that started to become soft and wasn’t a long away from being discarded. I remembered I just bought a mixture of nuts some of which were very new to me like “edamames” (I just learned they are immature, green soybeans still in the pod) that came in individual packages and thought I could use in my salad. I always have extra virgin oil available that I use in all my cooking and lemons whose juice I use every day in soups, drinks, or marinades.
There are two basic things I keep in mind that I found helpful in putting together a meal: trying to combine foods that belong to as many categories of the food pyramid as possible, you know, the one we all learned in middle school, and that women need 2,000 calories (men need 2,500 calories) intake daily. If you divide these numbers between three meals and snacks will have around 600 calories for each main meal for women and 750 calories for men.
To prepare healthy lunch and dinner meals, I started paying attention to nutrition labels and the amount of fat especially saturated fat that foods contain. This is very important to know because excessive consumption of saturated fat is not good. It can increase the “bad cholesterol” that leads to atherosclerosis and heart diseases. About 19 grams of saturated fat are recommended daily. So, this is the salad combination I came up with.
- baby spinach: 1 serving (4 cups), 20 calories, no saturated fat
- chopped roasted chicken breast: about 1/2, 71 calories, saturated fat 0.9 grams
- avocado: 1/2 medium avocado, 120 calories, saturated fat about 1.5 grams
- Brie cheese: 1/2 serving (0.5 oz.), 50 calories, saturated fat 2.5 grams
- nuts: Basse Enlightment Energy Mix (edamames, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and almonds), 1 serving or 1/4 cup, 130 calories, saturated fat 1 gram
- olive oil: 2 tbsp. 240 calories, saturated fat 4 grams
- lemon: 1/2 lemon, 8.5 calories, no saturated fat
- a little bit of water to create dressing
Total calories: 639.50
Saturated fat: 9.9 grams
I added a bottle of water to my meal. Of course, the quantities and ingredients can be adjusted in any way you like. As far as I am concern, I learned a lesson on how to get into the habit of frequently checking and keeping the freshness of the foods I buy, use them as soon as possible, even if this means more trips to the supermarket, and avoid throwing them away which also means a wise use of money.
photos #1,2,4,6,7 and 8 from group photo: http://www.pixabay.com