Shopping Healthy on CalFresh

Shopping for healthy food on a CalFresh budget can be very challenging. The benefit amount ranges from $16-200 a month for one individual. Participants need to be extra careful and have precise calculating skills when they get ready for a trip to the grocery store.

Here are some tips to follow that can help you maximize your budget and make it work. Before you go to the store, make sure you know what you have at home (canned food, veggies, grains, etc.) and see what kind of recipes you can make with these items.

Make a menu for three main dishes, some fruit for smoothies, and two salads. After making a note of these items, make a list of what you need to buy at the grocery store to make your menu.

Always start your shopping at the veggie and fruit section. Seasonal locally grown produce is usually cheaper in price. In the meat section, organic is too expensive. Ground meat is less or a whole chicken will be better choice. Frozen food can be a great option since you can use just the amount need for your dish. Shopping for healthy food is challenging. We all think we cannot eat healthy because it is very expensive, It might just be a matter of smarter shopping.

REMEMBER: Avoid going on an empty stomach to do your shopping so you are not tempted to buy unhealthy items such as chips, crackers, sodas, etc.


Pasta with Veggies & Chicken


•                  2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

•                  1/4 cup chopped onion

•                  1/4 cup chopped Italian sausage (hot or sweet)

•                  1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

•                  1/4 cup thinly sliced mushrooms

•                  1/4 cup chopped broccoli

•                  3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

•                  1/3 cup cubed grilled chicken

•                  1/4 cup chicken stock

•                  1 cup whole wheat penne cooked al dente and strained

•                  1/2 cup liquid (chicken stock, milk, or cream)

•                  1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving if desired

•                  2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

•                  3 tablespoons chopped fresh spinach

•                  1/4 cup chopped Roma tomatoes


Preheat a sauté pan over high heat and add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the onions and cook until slightly softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the sausage and red bell peppers, making sure to move the pan around and to continue stirring for even cooking. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and broccoli and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. (The garlic should take on a golden color, but be sure to not let it burn.) Stir in the chopped chicken and cook 1 to 2 minutes.

Deglaze the pan by adding the chicken stock. Stir around to coat all the ingredients. Add the pasta to the pan, stir to coat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cream sprinkle in the cheese and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley and spinach. Remove the pasta from the heat.

Pour the pasta onto a plate, top with the tomatoes and more cheese, if desired.




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