Monthly Archives: September 2011

Twenty Healthiest Foods for Under $1


1. Oats
High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have also been shown to lower cholesterol. And they sure are cheap—a dollar will buy you more than a week’s worth of hearty breakfasts.

Serving suggestions: Sprinkle with nuts and fruit in the morning, make oatmeal cookies for dessert.

2. Eggs
You can get about a half dozen of eggs for a dollar, making them one of the cheapest and most versatile sources of protein. They are also a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may ward off age-related eye problems.

Serving suggestions: Huevos rancheros for breakfast, egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and frittatas for dinner.

3. Kale
This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium. Like most greens, it is usually a dollar a bunch.

Serving suggestions: Chop up some kale and add to your favorite stir-fry; try German-Style Kale or traditional Irish Colcannon.

4. Potatoes
Because we often see potatoes at their unhealthiest—as fries or chips—we don’t think of them as nutritious, but they definitely are. Eaten with the skin on, potatoes contain almost half a day’s worth of Vitamin C, and are a good source of potassium. If you opt for sweet potatoes or yams, you’ll also get a good wallop of beta carotene. Plus, they’re dirt cheap and have almost endless culinary possibilities.

Serving suggestions: In the a.m., try Easy Breakfast Potatoes; for lunch, make potato salad; for dinner, have them with sour cream and chives.

5. Apples
I’m fond of apples because they’re inexpensive, easy to find, come in portion-controlled packaging, and taste good. They are a good source of pectin—a fiber that may help reduce cholesterol—and they have the antioxidant Vitamin C, which keeps your blood vessels healthy.

Serving suggestions: Plain; as applesauce; or in baked goods like Pumpkin-Apple Breakfast Bread.

6. Nuts
Though nuts have a high fat content, they’re packed with the good-for-you fats—unsaturated and monounsaturated. They’re also good sources of essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, and protein. And because they’re so nutrient-dense, you only need to eat a little to get the nutritional benefits. Although some nuts, like pecans and macadamias, can be costly, peanuts, walnuts, and almonds, especially when bought in the shell, are low in cost.

Serving suggestions: Raw; roasted and salted; sprinkled in salads.

7. Bananas
At a local Trader Joe’s, I found bananas for about 19¢ apiece; a dollar gets you a banana a day for the workweek. High in potassium and fiber (9 grams for one), bananas are a no-brainer when it comes to eating your five a day quotient of fruits and veggies.

Serving suggestions: In smoothies, by themselves, in cereal and yogurt.

8. Garbanzo Beans
With beans, you’re getting your money’s worth and then some. Not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but ’bonzos are also high in fiber, iron, folate, and manganese, and may help reduce cholesterol levels. And if you don’t like one type, try another—black, lima, lentils … the varieties are endless. Though they require soaking and cooking, the most inexpensive way to purchase these beans is in dried form; a precooked can will still only run you around a buck.

Serving suggestions: In salads, curries, and Orange Hummus.

9. Broccoli
Broccoli contains tons of nice nutrients—calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and fiber. As if that isn’t enough, broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Plus, it’s low in calories and cost.

Serving suggestions: Throw it in salads, stir fries, or served as an accompaniment to meat in this Steamed Ginger Chicken with Asian Greens recipe.

10. Watermelon
Though you may not be able to buy an entire watermelon for a dollar, your per serving cost isn’t more than a few dimes. This summertime fruit is over 90 percent water, making it an easy way to hydrate, and gives a healthy does of Vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, an antioxidant that may ward off cancer.

Serving suggestions: Freeze chunks for popsicles; eat straight from the rind; squeeze to make watermelon margaritas (may negate the hydrating effect!).

11. Wild Rice
It won’t cost you much more than white rice, but wild rice is much better for you. Low in fat and high in protein and fiber, this gluten-free rice is a great source of complex carbohydrates. It packs a powerful potassium punch and is loaded with B vitamins. Plus, it has a nutty, robust flavor.

Serving suggestions: Mix with nuts and veggies for a cold rice salad; blend with brown rice for a side dish.

12. Beets
Beets are my kind of vegetable—their natural sugars make them sweet to the palate while their rich flavor and color make them nutritious for the body. They’re powerhouses of folate, iron, and antioxidants.

Serving suggestions: Shred into salads, slice with goat cheese. If you buy your beets with the greens on, you can braise them in olive oil like you would other greens.

13. Butternut Squash
This beautiful gourd swings both ways: sometimes savory, sometimes sweet. However you prepare the butternut, it will not only add color and texture, but also five grams of fiber per half cup and chunks and chunks of Vitamin A and C. When in season, butternut squash and related gourds are usually less than a dollar a pound.

Serving suggestions: Try Pear and Squash Bruschetta; cook and dot with butter and salt.

14. Whole Grain Pasta
In the days of Atkins, pasta was wrongly convicted, for there is nothing harmful about a complex carbohydrate source that is high in protein and B vitamins. Plus, it’s one of the cheapest staples you can buy.

Serving suggestions: Mix clams and white wine with linguine; top orzo with tomatoes and garlic; eat cold Farfalle Salad on a picnic.

15. Sardines
As a kid, I used to hate it when my dad would order sardines on our communal pizzas, but since then I’ve acquired a taste for them. Because not everyone has, you can still get a can of sardines for relatively cheap. And the little fish come with big benefits: calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins. And, because they’re low on the food chain, they don’t accumulate mercury.

Serving suggestions: Mash them with parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil for a spread; eat them plain on crackers; enjoy as a pizza topping (adults only).

16. Spinach
Spinach is perhaps one of the best green leafies out there—it has lots of Vitamin C, iron, and trace minerals. Plus, you can usually find it year round for less than a dollar.

Serving suggestions: Sautéed with eggs, as a salad, or a Spinach Frittata.

17. Tofu
Not just for vegetarians anymore, tofu is an inexpensive protein source that can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. It’s high in B vitamins and iron, but low in fat and sodium, making it a healthful addition to many dishes.

Serving suggestions: Use silken varieties in Tofu Cheesecake; add to smoothies for a protein boost; cube and marinate for barbecue kebobs.

18. Lowfat Milk
Yes, the price of a gallon of milk is rising, but per serving, it’s still under a dollar; single serving milk products, like yogurt, are usually less than a dollar, too. Plus, you’ll get a lot of benefit for a small investment. Milk is rich in protein, vitamins A and D, potassium, and niacin, and is one of the easiest ways to get bone-strengthening calcium.

Serving suggestions: In smoothies, hot chocolate, or coffee; milk products like low fat cottage cheese and yogurt.

19. Pumpkin Seeds
When it’s time to carve your pumpkin this October, don’t shovel those seeds into the trash—they’re a goldmine of magnesium, protein, and trace minerals. Plus, they come free with the purchase of a pumpkin.

Serving suggestions: Salt, roast, and eat plain; toss in salads.

20. Coffee
The old cup-o-joe has been thrown on the stands for many a corporeal crime—heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis—but exonerated on all counts. In fact, coffee, which is derived from a bean, contains beneficial antioxidants that protect against free radicals and may actually help thwart heart disease and cancer. While it’s not going to fill you up like the other items on this list, it might make you a lot perkier. When made at home, coffee runs less than 50¢ cents a cup.


10 Fascinating Facts About Cats


  1. A Year is Not Just a Year. The first year of a cat’s life equals (in terms of development) the first 15 years of a human life. After its second year, a cat is 25 in human years. After that, each year of a cat’s life is equal to about 7 human years.
  2. Far and away the favorite breed of cat registered with the Cat Fanciers’ Association is the Persian.
  3. The hearing of the average cat is at least five times keener than that of a human adult. Cats can rotate their ears 180 degrees.
  4. The largest breed of cat is the Ragdoll; the males weigh in at around 20 pounds.
  5. Domestic cats spend about 70 percent of the day sleeping and 15 percent of the day grooming.
  6. A cat cannot see directly under its nose, which is why it may have a hard time finding tiny treats on the floor.
  7. The color of a Himalayan’s points is heat-related—cooler spots appear darker.
  8. Most cats have no eyelashes.
  9. Cats have five toes on each front paw, but only four on the back ones. It’s not all that uncommon, though, for cats to have extra toes. The cat with the most toes known had 32, eight on each paw!
  10. Superstition dictates that if you dream about a white cat, good luck will follow.
  11. The Five Most Popular Breeds of Purebred Cats for 1997 (according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association): 1. Persian 2. Maine Coon 3. Siamese 4. Abyssinian 5. Exotic shorthair

10 Things the HR Department Won’t Tell You


1. Background checks have gone beyond Google.
Before calling in applicants for a job interview, HR will snoop around online to make sure there are no virtual red flags. “Social media ‘stalking’ has become the norm—especially at larger companies,” says Mary Hladio, who worked in human resources for more than 15 years and is currently CEO of leadership group Ember Carriers. “Beyond typing names into a search engine, companies will also employ sophisticated online monitoring platforms that dig even deeper. If there’s something on the Internet you wouldn’t want your boss to see, it’s probably in your best interest to take it down.”

2. Arriving super-early for an interview is almost as bad as arriving late.
Of course, if someone shows up late for an interview, he or she isn’t going to get a callback, says Amy Habedank, human resources manager of Pinnacle Services. But she’s also hesitant to hire someone who shows up an hour early. “It feels like they have no regard for my time,” she says. If you’re headed to a job interview, don’t show up more than 10 minutes before; if you get there with time to spare, catch up on email or listen to relaxing music before heading in.

3. Your physical appearance matters.
“Research suggests that the decision to hire or to deselect a candidate is made within the first 90 seconds of the interview,” says human resources consultant Steve Cohen, author of Mess Management: Lessons from a Corporate Hit Man. That means you must arrive at a job interview in a clean, well-put-together outfit with neat fingernails, smoothed-down hair and fresh breath. Also, think twice about any eccentricities. “Some people might be able to look past pink hair and black nail polish, but it will affect their decision,” says Hladio.

4. Personal hygiene counts, too.
Smelling like cigarette smoke can work against you, as can having body odor. Because both conditions are within an individual’s control, an employee or job candidate who smells bad is viewed as lacking professionalism, Cohen says. Plus, an employee who smells bad is a public relations liability. Most companies won’t tolerate poor personal hygiene in an employee or potential employee.

5. You won’t get hired to work from home if you aren’t a “home professional.”
If you’re applying for a work-from-home position, you need to present yourself as a “home professional” from the get-go. This means that when HR first calls to express interest, there better not be crying babies or barking dogs in the background. “When an applicant has no control over the noise level in her home, it’s a signal that she’s not ready for virtual work,” says Shilonda Downing, who’s in charge of hiring for Virtual Work Team. You’ll also need a quiet home office space if you’re petitioning your current boss for work-from-home hours.

6. Being overweight can work against you.
Even though overweight individuals can be fast on their feet and slim people can be lazy, an interviewer might assume an obese job candidate won’t be able to keep up at a “high-performance” company. Cohen gives the example of a manufacturing company that prided itself on efficiency and speed. Every prospective employee was taken on a walking tour of the large plant before being hired. If the prospect couldn’t keep up with the owner’s fast pace on the facility tour, he or she wouldn’t be hired. If you’re worried your size may be working against you, Cohen suggests emphasizing how adept and resourceful you are.

7. Ageism (illegally) exists.
“People who have seen their 50th birthday are losing jobs to younger people, even though ageism is illegal,” says Dennis Kravetz, head of human resources consulting firm Kravetz Associates. Older employees hoping for a promotion need to be extra-vigilant about staying on top of trends and technology. In a job interview, emphasize what you’ve learned from years of experience and explain how you’ve grown along with your industry.

8. Your relationship is being monitored if you’re dating a coworker.
“Sometimes people meet their future spouse at the office,” says Cohen. “But mostly, dating coworkers is risky.” Even if dating among colleagues is allowed, a relationship that ends badly is going to affect other people in the office. It gets extra-tricky if a romantic relationship between a supervisor and his or her subordinate sours. “Human resources is watching behavior that could turn litigious,” warns former human resources executive J.T. O’Donnell, founder of

9. Your Internet usage is probably being documented.
Don’t assume there’s any level of confidentiality when it comes to company technology, whether it’s email, voicemail or indiscriminate use of the Internet, Cohen says. “In a situation where an employee’s integrity or credibility is in question, there will always be an audit of her computer usage.” That means your boss probably isn’t randomly checking to see how often you log on to Facebook. But if he’s looking for a reason to fire you, your computer records could provide easy ammunition.

10. Your good and bad behavior matter—but the bad matters more.
“Promotions have favoritism built in,” says Hladio. Good behavior and positive experiences have a “shelf life” of three to six months. You need to continually impress your employer in order to stand out as an exceptional employee. Bad behavior and negative experiences, on the other hand, can linger in an employer’s mind for years.

Original article appeared on

Best Foods to Buy in Bulk


Go big or go home. It’s true for job interviews, sports games and reality TV competitions — and often, trips to the grocery store.

Checking the unit price on the shelf tag, which expresses the cost divided by quantity, is a key way to find the best deal. Usually, the bigger the package, the lower that price and the less you’re paying per ounce, sheet or other measurement. That’s often why warehouse clubs are so popular, but there’s no need to pay up for a membership to cut your grocery bill.

Consider going big on these seven foods:


Dried pasta can keep for two to three years, provided it’s kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. “As long as the pasta is stored in a cool and dark place it should be fine for many months,” says Lina Zussino, co-founder of Grocery Alerts Canada. A 12-ounce of Bionaturae whole-wheat fusilli sells for $4.69 at ShopRite; sells a pack of six one-pound bags for $18.17. (Total savings: $19.35.) One caveat: whole-wheat pasta often has a shorter expiration date, she warns.


Rice is a survivalist’s staple: some agriculture departments put its shelf life at as much as 30 years. At the very least, it’s good for two years. So don’t shy away from getting a big bag. At Frugal Foodie’s local Associated Market, 20 pounds of store-brand brand long-grain rice will set you back $10.49, or $0.52 per pound. A two-pound bag, meanwhile, is $0.75 cents per pound. (Total savings: $4.60.) Opt for brown rice to go cheap and healthy.


Pick-your-own farms and farmers markets both offer price drops for buying in bulk. Take advantage when fruits and vegetables are in peak season (and so, at their cheapest) and freeze them in quart and gallon-sized sealable bags, says Jean Fritz of organic herb purveyor Kitty Vista. Fresh, in-season blueberries can be as cheap as $1.50. Out of season, your choices are $5 fresh or $3 frozen bags. (Total savings: $1.50 per pint.) Among those that freeze well: snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, green beans, peaches, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

 Pet food

Owners of large-breed dogs go for the biggest bags they can, but those who have smaller dogs and cats could benefit from considering a bigger-than-usual bag of dry food. A four-pound bag of Science Diet adult cat food is $3.12 per pound; an 8-pound bag drops the per-pound price down to $2.50. (Total savings: $7.52.) Store the rest of the opened bag in an airtight container. Canned cat and dog food often has a discount of 5 percent to 10 percent, too, if you buy it by the case instead of individual cans.


Kept in the fridge, shelled nuts will stay fresh for up to a year. In the freezer, they’ll last twice that. “We store our almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts in our freezer to preserve the flavor and oils,” explains Zussino. A pound of roasted almonds sells for $12 at Kmart, while five goes for $36.49 at (Total savings: $23.51.) But don’t go big if you don’t have freezer or fridge space: unrefrigerated, shelled nuts don’t typically last longer than three months once you open their container.

Soft grains

Another survivalist favorite, soft grains like rolled oats, barley and quinoa can have a shelf life of eight to 30 years, if stored in airtight containers. But there’s no need to go to such extremes — all are often found in the bulk food bins at grocery stores. San Diego resident Amy Ogden routinely heads to Whole Foods (yes, Whole Foods) to find bargains. “Things that can be pricy in small packages — steel cut oatmeal, nuts, seeds, quinoa, and so on — can be a fraction of the price in bulk,” she says. “The other benefit is that you can buy exactly the amount you need which is less wasteful.” Barley, for example, runs $1.69 per pound at the bulk bins, versus as much as $6 per pound for prepackaged brands at stores like Safeway or Kroger.


Some cream-based liquors have a short shelf life, but most spirits last an indefinite time if stored upright in a cool, dark location. (Try our recipes to clear out lingering bottle remnants.) That means there’s no harm in buying the biggest size, even if you’re not planning a party any time soon. A 750 ml bottle of Bacardi Big Apple runs $13.99 at BevMo, while a 1.75-liter bottle is $23.99. That’s more than twice the amount for just $10 more. (Total savings: $8.65.)