Making meal prep easier and more cost-friendly – virtually

Many of us are spending more time in the kitchen these days, but there are a lot of great, easy, and cost-friendly meals that can make meal prep easier and affordable.

Good eating and under budget-- all going out to a Facebook Live audience. Dickson County UT Extension Director Janet Cluck and Carroll County’s Lacy Yeley are talking food and money through a social media program dubbed “Penny Pinchin’ in the Kitchen.”

With so many of us at home during the pandemic, the penny pinchers are reaching a receptive audience.

According to Cluck, “Our focus, so far, has been Facebook, and we have almost 1,000 individuals who like our page and we’ve had a reach of over 40,000 since early October, and we’re now getting ready to venture into some longer videos.”

Just search Facebook if you would like to sharpen your cooking skills. The Penny Pinchin’ page has several options.

A team of UT Extension agents in family and consumer sciences, record demonstrations-- preparing everything from turkey leftovers to sweet potatoes to casseroles to fondue. The recipes are fairly quick and will not break your food budget.

“We really wanted to focus on how people could save money at the grocery store, whether that be meal planning, making grocery lists, maybe focus on looking at unit pricing and then how they could create recipes on a small budget,” Yeley states.

A recent survey found that 55 percent of respondents are cooking more at home these days, appropriate for these times. “Penny Pinchin’” was started to help people during the pandemic, cooking tips, and encouragement-- culinary, financial, and emotional support.

A program with this kind of impact does not happen without a platform and in charge of that-- Humphreys County agent Denise Schaeffer. She is the social media guru, shooting and editing videos.

“I think we can reach a different audience this way too,” Schaeffer states. “We can reach so many people this way even in our community. So, I think it’s a really awesome idea. I really enjoyed it because this is kind of like my niche’. I really enjoy nutrition.”

The “Penny Pinchin” agents also plan a YouTube page and a podcast. When COVID is vanquished, this is still good information to know-- a great meal that feeds your family and feels like a nice accomplishment.