The first Lunch Agenda interview I did, before the Full Service Radio studio was even built, was with JuJu Harris, a creative mind and wise culinary educator that has become one of my close friends in DC. I had a chance to bring JuJu into the studio for an official Lunch Agenda episode this week, and (because there’s never enough time in a 30-minute episode of my show), I want to share some of the tips JuJu has offered through her classes and books to audiences looking to serve their families homemade meals on a tight budget.
JuJu’s tips for eating well on a budget:
1. If you live in DC, buy meat, fish, produce, herbs and spices at the retail/wholesale stores around Union Market—you can even create a buying club with your friends so you can buy onions in big bags that wholesalers sell.
2. Try JuJu’s famous Garlicky Kale Salad recipe—just make it at least 30 minutes before you’re going to eat it so the tasty dressing can work its magic on tough kale leaves.
3. Look at the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen to determine which produce has the most and least pesticide residue; this can help decide which produce to buy organic or grow.
4. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry—pack a snack so you don’t buy things you don’t need. While there, look for fruits past their prime, which may be sold at a steep discount (bruised tomatoes are great dried in the oven, or for sauce).
5. JuJu has relied on the USDA’s What’s Cooking website for recipe inspiration. You enter the ingredients you have, and it spits out recipes.
6. Hunt—or find a friend who does! As JuJu says, “If you’re not into killing it yourself, make friends with someone who’s not American. I have friends who are Jamaican, and they love to have a goat roast—a kill and grill. You gotta be creative.”
Order a copy of her new cookbook to try her easiest, most affordable healthy meals at home.