When our four kids were young, our income qualified me and the children for WIC (Woman, Infants and Children) food coupons.WIC, a USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) program, gives low-income families coupons for free food. Unlike food stamps, WIC can only be used for specific foods and baby formula. Breastfeeding moms like me couldn’t use formula coupons and so WIC added vegetables, rice and tuna to supplement nursing moms’ diets. WIC added Project Fresh coupons (used at farmers markets) and later produce vouchers. Here are recipes using basic WIC foods: eggs, juice, milk, peanut butter, cheese, approved cereal, tuna, carrots, bread, fruit and vegetables. Use these cheap recipes stretch your grocery budget and food stamps. For transitional housing dwellers, I’ve kept preparation and ingredients simple. Omit anything you don’t have.
* Protein bars: Crush cereal in a large bowl and mix with peanut butter to form balls. Cheerios, Life, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, granola varieties work best, but any WIC approved cereal will do. If balls are sticky, roll in cereal crumbs, powdered milk or creamer to coat. These make great breakfast foods, snacks, or school lunch nibblers.
* Toasted cheese and veggies sandwiches: Butter outsides of bread and place cheese on the inside. Add fresh-sliced WIC vegetables–tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions–and grill in frying pan.
* Egg Mock-Muffins: No English muffins for breakfast sandwiches? Use WIC bread. Fry or scramble eggs in cooking spray if you have it. Add sliced cheese, chopped vegetables, salt and pepper. No bacon, ham or sausage? Add a slice of lunchmeat if desired. We like them plain.
* Egg Foo Yung: Scramble eggs and milk. Chop and add any combination of onions, peppers, carrots, bok choy, leeks, garlic, shallots, mushrooms, pea pods, celery, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, sprouts or other oriental vegetables. Fry till eggs are set. Serve over cooked rice or chow mein noodles. Make gravy by cooking soy sauce, corn starch and water (don’t add corn starch to hot liquid or it will clump). Use mushoom or celery soup if desired. Add canned tuna or chicken if desired.
* Peanut butter and jelly French toast: This nourishing treat comes compliments of my friend Amy Browne. We were chatting about quick, on-hand staples recipes and she shared this yummy any-meal favorite. Make PBJ sandwiches. Beat eggs and milk (add vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice if available). Dip sandwiches and fry as you would French toast. Try cinnamon or raisin bread. No jelly? Use fresh-sliced bananas, apples, peaches, berries, strawberries or other fruit. Serve topped with syrup, sliced fruit, granola and yogurt.
* Power parfait smoothies: Blend milk, yogurt, juice concentrate and peanut butter. In tall glasses, layer yogurt, sliced fruit and crushed cereal.
* Tuna loaf (or burgers): Make like meatloaf, substituting tuna. Chop onions and celery. Add one can of tuna and one egg for every three servings. To blend add one of the following: liquid from tuna, cooking oil, mayonnaise or salad dressing (Italian, ranch or thousand island)–enough to hold ingredients together. Blend with crushed, unsweetened cereal (corn, rice, oats), oatmeal or dried bread crumbs. Add mustard, salt, pepper and dill weed to taste. Form into loaf and bake at 350 till done. Or form into patties and fry in cooking oil.
These are great use-up recipes.