Eating Healthy During Times of Food Insecurity

Often during uncertain we don’t have a lot of choices over what food we would like to consume. Either from financial necessity, scarcity, or lack of choice we may have to simply make do with what is available. One of the most difficult challenges may be continuing to eat healthy during these times.

A couple of general guidelines can help you get started.

Avoid sugars and simple carbohydrates whenever possible. Sugar might fill you up and keep you satisfied for a short period of time, but in the long term it will keep you wanting more food rather than less. Simple carbohydrates like white flour breads and white pasta work in exactly the same way. The less sugar and simple carbohydrates you eat, the less you will crave.

Fiber is the best way to keep your body feeling full and less hungry. Oats, beans, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, apples… all these are examples of foods that are loaded with fiber.

Shop the sale rack. Most grocery stores have day old produce they are trying to move. Most is perfectly lovely, just needs to move off the shelf. Produce is also amazingly versatile in recipes. Just because I made a white bean with carrots today doesn’t mean that I couldn’t substitute parsnips if they were on the sale rack.

Cook from raw ingredients whenever possible. Canned items cost A LOT more than their fresh or unprocessed counterparts.

Don’t waste the vegetable scraps and peelings. Turn them into vegetable stock.

Drink water, as much and as often as you think about it.

If you wish to see this segment on Delmarva Life view here



2 lbs dry black beans

8-10 tomatillos

3 – 5 jalapenos

8 cloves garlic

½ Spanish onion

1 bunch cilantro

Vegetable stock

OPTIONAL: cumin, oregano, white pepper, salt


QUICK SOAK BEAN METHOD: Put rinsed black beans in large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 TB baking soda. Bring to a rolling boil, cover and turn off gas heat. Let sit till cool. Drain, cover again with vegetable stock or water.

Dry beans can be ready in approximately 30-40 minutes with this method. It also reduces gas in beans using baking powder.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and clean tomatillo, stem jalapeno, cut onion in slices and peel garlic cloves. Put all in a covered dish or wrapped in tin foil until softened. Approx 30-40 minutes

Puree beans, vegetables and cilantro. Add salt and pepper if necessary.

Cost approx. $5.51 for 8 servings



1 40 oz can of cooked black beans

1 bottle green or red salsa

Vegetable stock to cover

1 bunch cilantro

Drain and rinse black beans, put in a pot with vegetable stock to cover. Add entire jar of salsa, Simmer on medium for about 20 minutes. Serve as is topped with cilantro or puree in blender with entire bunch of cilantro.

*cost approx. $6.78 will make 4 servings



1 lb red lentils

4- 5 sweet potatoes

1 Spanish onion

2 TB vegetable oil

2 cans coconut milk

1-2 TB curry powder

Salt and pepper to taste

*OPTIONAL 1 cup apple juice


Rinse sweet potatoes, wrap individually in tin foil and bake at 350 for 70 – 90 minutes or until a knife slides through easily.

Rinse red lentils in cool water allowing starch to rinse off. Cover with 2 inches of cold water, 1 TB baking soda and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and leave to cool. Drain, rinse and cover again with water. Chop Spanish onion in 1 inch chunks. Cook over medium high heat in vegetable oil until browning, add curry powder and continue to stir for a few more minutes, remove from heat. Peel sweet potatoes, add to lentils with onion mixture and coconut milk. Bring to a high simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add 1-2 cups apple juice as needed, if it get too thick.  Puree and check seasonings. NOTE: I saved the sweet potato skins and crisped them in oven then topped soup with them

Cost approximately $9.06 for 6 servings



1 lb cannellini beans

1 Spanish onion

8 garlic cloves

1 -2 lbs collards

1-2 lb tomatoes or 1 can fire roasted tomatoes or 1 can regular diced tomatoes

1-2 lb carrots or baby carrots or any firm root vegetable

Vegetable oil and vegetable stock

OPTIONAL: oregano, crushed red pepper, harissa paste


REGULAR SOAK BEAN METHOD: Use quick soak method for beans or soak overnight. Rinse, cover with water, 1 TB baking soda and bring to a boil. Strain and rinse again and cover with water and bring to a simmer. Peel carrots or root vegetable, slice tomatoes, toss with olive oil and roast at 350 degrees until tender through.

I add oregano, white pepper and crushed red pepper. Use whatever is available. When tender remove from oven and add to bean mixture.

Over medium heat sautee onion until slightly brown, add garlic until crispy, add leafy green, until wilted. Add to bean mixture and let simmer till flavors are melded.

Cost approx. $7.79 for eight servings



1 can cannellini beans, rinsed

1 can chopped or whole or fire roasted tomatoes

1 bunch leafy greens, shredded

5 garlic cloves, sliced

1 onion, diced

Vegetable oil


Over medium heat sautee onion until slightly brown, add garlic until crispy, add leafy green, until wilted. Add beans, tomatoes and veg stock to cover

Cost approx. $4.59 for 2 servings


Note: I shopped at El Gigante in Milford, DE. 

This is a Latin grocery store with an amazing selection and prices. Their sale produce section is the best ever! I was able to get Spanish onions three for a dollar and a huge bag of carrots and tomatoes for a dollar each. Look in your local area for options like El Gigante. Since I bought the ingredients based on what was on sale or in the dollar section, your prices will vary if you try to follow these recipes exactly. I also used the spices I had on hand, made my own vegetable stock. If you buy all new ingredients this will add to price. All the recipes above are guides only, different ways to make and cook beans. Of course and ethnic twist or spices or vegetables can be added and changed based on what you find and what is on sale.

If you are in need of food assistance, please go to the following web sites for help with immediate food needs as well as applying for SNAP. Everything can be done directly on the website.

If you have questions in Delaware, call 211 for help.

Maryland Food Bank  »

Food Bank of Delaware »

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