Lexington Coop » Budget Friendly Shopping

Budget Friendly Shopping

Part of our co-op’s mission is to create more knowledgeable people and more access to local foods in the communities we serve.  We aim to provide a diverse selection of high-quality, fairly priced products that support the farmers and producers in our local, sustainable food system. 

In such uncertain times, we’re all trying to save money and eat well.  Our co-op strives to create opportunities for healthful, wholesome eating at any income level.  Dig into this blog for money-saving advice, meal-planning ideas, and recipes.

Ways to $ave

Regrow Veggies with Water and Sunlight

  1. Romaine Lettuce Place lettuce stem down in a mug or bowl that will allow sunlight to reach the lettuce and provide enough support for the lettuce to lean without falling over.  Fill with water until the bottom half of the lettuce is submerged and place the container in a sunny window. You should see growth by the next day, and you may even have enough to cook with in one week. Try this with bok choy, too!
  2. Scallions Use up the green part of the scallion, leaving about an inch of the white bottom intact. Place the scallion stubs in a clear container to allow sunlight to hit the roots.  A narrow drinking glass or shot glass works well so they can lean without falling over. Fill the glass with a bit of water, and place the container in a sunny spot. You should see some exciting growth after a couple of days.  Leeks will regrow just as easily as scallions when treated the same way.
  3. Fennel Place the bulb in a mug or bowl that can hold enough water to cover the bottom half of the bulb while still allowing light to hit it. Fill with an inch or so of water. After one week in a sunny spot, green shoots will sprout from the top.  Add a few snips of fennel fronds to salads, dressings, and stocks.
  4. Carrot Greens Reserve the tops of carrots and regrow greens from them!  Chop off the tops of the carrots, leaving about a half-inch to an inch of the top. Place in a shallow container, add water, and put in a sunny spot. After a week, you should see some strong carrot greens.  All members of the turnip family (beets, turnips, parsnips) can regrow their greens this way, not just carrots.  Use carrot greens to bulk up your pesto or other herby sauces.
  5. Celery Cut about 2 inches above the root base of the celery, and place the root in a shallow bowl filled with water and put it in sunlight. After about a week, you should see little leaves beginning to sprout from the middle.


Tips & Tricks for Meal Planning Meal planning can save you time, money, and cut down on food waste. Use these tips to use what you already have, shop smarter, and plan for leftovers. Avoid a big strain on your wallet – the garbage!


  1. Check your inventory  Dive into your pantry or freezer and make a list to help you remember the foods you already have on hand.
  2. Recipe Planning  Look for recipes that include ingredients that you already have on hand.  Pick four recipes that can be used as main dishes.
  3. Menu Planning  When you plan your menus for the week, consider the following: Do you have a protein? Do you have a grain?  Is it a whole grain? Do you have a fruit or vegetable side dish? Can leftovers from one meal be used in another meal?
  4. Make a list  Making a list is a great way to ensure you get what you need for your meals.
  5. Shop Smarter
    • Did you know you can order products in large quantities?  Case discounts on special orders save Owners 20%. Visit Customer Service Desk at either store to order. [Temporarily suspended due to COVID-19]
    • Compare price per ounce for variable sizes printed on the price tag.
    • Don’t forget about Bulk!  Buying as little or as much as you need is an optimal way to customize shopping for your household.  It’s a low-commitment way to try new grains and spices AND reduce packaging. Look for a Bulk Basics sticker on the bulk bins to learn which items save Owners 15%. Use the scale to estimate the cost before you buy, or get exactly what your recipe calls for.  [Self-serve bulk is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19]
    • Did you know your co-op participates in the Double Up Food Bucks program? Customers who use their SNAP benefits to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables have their dollars matched up to $10 per day, saving them 50% on their produce purchase. (SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.)
    • Seasonal shopping supports our local farmers and is a sure way to eat the most fresh and flavorful produce possible!
      Meal planning guide adapted from our friends at Wedge and Linden Hills Co-op

Budget Friendly Recipes

Cheesy Green Beans

serves 4 |  Recipe by The Kitchen Twins, authors of The Teen Kitchen cookbook.  Visit their blog and follow on Instagram for more recipes!

1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces of fresh green beans
1 teaspoon salt
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup roasted chopped almonds, walnuts, or pecans
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

To make:
Preheat oven to 350F. Roughly chop the nuts and toast on a baking sheet for 5 to 8 minutes or aromatic and just turning golden brown. Heat oil in a medium sized frying pan until hot. Add the green beans and stir occasionally with tongs. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the green beans start to soften. Some will brown up a bit. Add the garlic and nuts and cook for an additional minute or so. Remove from, top with parmesan cheese and enjoy! If you don’t like or can’t eat nuts, just skip them. It will still be delicious!

This recipe contributed by community partners Lyla and Emily Allen, aka The Kitchen Twins, who've been in the kitchen since they could walk. Find their cookbook, The Teen Kitchen, at both co-op stores. Their goal is to get families in the kitchen, bonding over good and healthy food.


Four Flavorful Dressings from Lexi’s Kitchen

Use what you have to throw together a rice, grain, or noodle bowl, then toss with some of our most popular dressing recipes to keep flavor boredom at bay.

Simple Sesame
2 1/2 T tamari
2 T sesame oil
1/2 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Whisk ingredients together until sugar is dissolved. Dress soba noodles and freshly chopped cabbage, red pepper, carrots, and broccoli for a spin on Lexi's Sesame Cashew Noodle Bowl! Top with toasted cashews and edamame.

Thai Peanut
1 1/2 T sriracha
2 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp brown rice syrup
1 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup tamari
2 T smooth peanut butter
Whisk ingredients together. Drizzle over a grain bowl with sweet potato, chicken, or tempeh. Top with shredded carrot, cucumber, and cilantro.

Raw Deal
2 T garlic, minced
2 T lemon juice
2 sprigs fresh oregano, minced
4 sprigs fresh mint, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
2 tsp salt
3 T neutral oil
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. This dressing is super fresh and aromatic. Toss with greens, farro, and chickpeas. Top with pepitas or walnuts.

Cilantro Ginger Pesto
1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves only
1 T fresh ginger, minced
3 T canola or vegetable oil
1 T sesame oil
1 T sugar
1 T fresh lime juice
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add more oil to thin to desired consistency. Try in a rice bowl with baked tofu, picked red onions, and avocado.


Banana Pancakes

makes 6-8 pancakes |  Recipe by The Kitchen Twins, authors of The Teen Kitchen cookbook.  Visit their blog and follow on Instagram for more recipes!

1 ripe banana
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour

To make:
In a medium sized bowl mash the banana well. Add the egg and flour and mix until combined. On a preheated and greased frying pan, over medium heat, scoop generous tablespoon sized amounts of batter onto your surface and cook for about 3 minutes per side, flipping when brown. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy! Pictured with strawberry jam, chocolate and peanut butter.

This recipe contributed by community partners Lyla and Emily Allen, aka The Kitchen Twins, who've been in the kitchen since they could walk. Find their cookbook, The Teen Kitchen, at both co-op stores. Their goal is to get families in the kitchen, bonding over good and healthy food.


Sweet & Savory Sweet Potato Toast

serves 4 | prep time: 5 minutes | cook time: 20 minutes | Recipe by Maxine Sroda, MS, RD follow Healthy But Hungry for more recipes!

Why you should eat more sweet potatoes:
They're packed with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and the antioxidant beta-carotene which gives them their orange pigment.
Compared to regular potatoes they contain more fiber and vitamins.
They have a lower glycemic index which means they don't cause your blood sugar to spike even though they are sweet.
Sweet potatoes assist in reducing inflammation, improve digestion, vision, and skin health, prevent dehydration and boost the immune system
1 large sweet potato
Sweet or savory toppings for your sweet potato toast - suggested combinations below!
To make:
Wash and dry sweet potato
Slice sweet potato lengthwise into four 1/4 inch toast slices.
Season with salt, pepper and EVOO Place on a baking sheet and bake on 400 for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through.
Top with your favorite toast toppings
Alternate cooking method: Place the sweet potato slices in a toaster on high and toast 2-3 times.

Sweet Sweet Potato Toast suggested toppings:
Peanut/Nut butter, banana, cinnamon
Honey, apples, granola
Peanut/Nut butter and jam
Nutella and strawberries
Cream cheese and jam
Yogurt and chia seeds
Tahini and apples

Savory Sweet Potato Toast suggested toppings:
Mashed avocado, sliced cucumber, tomatoes and everything seasoning
Fried egg, cheese and hot sauce
Black beans and cheese
Hummus and broccoli sliced radish and salsa
Tahini and quinoa
Cream cheese and quinoa
Fresh basil, tomato and balsamic drizzle

This recipe contributed by community partner, Max Sroda. Max is a Registered Dietitian for Catholic Charities WIC Program working to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants and children with nutrition education. Her passion is to inspire others to live a healthy well-balanced lifestyle while incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their diet. Follow Healthy But Hungry on Instagram and Facebook for more delicious veggie-forward recipes, grocery shopping tips, nutrition facts, and article postings centered around health, wellness and most importantly — food.


Asparagus & Black Bean Tacos

serves 4 | $2.27 per serving | $1.62 per serving with Double Up Food Bucks

1 lb asparagus, tough stems removed and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces 1 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed 1 T olive oil 1/2 tsp cumin 1/2 tsp coriander 1/2 tsp paprika Salt and pepper, to taste 8 corn tortillas, warmed 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro Lime wedges, for serving Preheat oven to 425° F. Toss asparagus and beans with olive oil, cumin, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper. Spread on baking sheet and roast until asparagus is tender and beans are crispy, about 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Divide asparagus and beans between warm corn tortillas. Top with sliced red onions and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges. recipe adapted from pccmarkets.coop

Herby Asparagus Orzo

serves 2 | $4.69 per serving | $2.43 per serving with Double Up Food Bucks

8 oz orzo pasta2 T olive oil 1/2 yellow onion, diced 1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces, woody ends discarded 1 cup curly parsley, chopped 3 T fresh mint, finely chopped 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 1 lemon, zest and juice Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes Pinch each of salt & pepper 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional) Cook the orzo according to package directions and drain, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking liquid. While the orzo cooks, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for a few minutes. Add the asparagus and sauté another 3 minutes or until asparagus is just tender. Remove from the heat and add the reserved cooking liquid, parsley, mint, garlic, lemon zest and juice and red pepper flakes. Mix together with the hot orzo. Season with salt and pepper and garnish the individual servings with Parmesan. Serve warm. welcometothetable.coop recipe


Easy Greens & Beans

serves 2 | $3.92 per serving | $2.61 per serving with Double Up Food Bucks

1 bunch greens (kale, collards, chard, or dandelion), torn into small pieces1 red onion, sliced 1/2 tsp coriander seeds 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 T olive oil 2 T tomato paste 2 T lemon juice 1 can cannellini beans salt and pepper to taste In a skillet, melt the oil over low heat. Add the onion and coriander seeds and cook very slowly over low heat until onion softens and just starts to brown, about 5 min. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute longer. Add olive oil and tomato paste and increase heat to medium-high. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon for 5 min or until tomato paste starts to caramelize. Add greens and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Let cook for 2 min. then add lemon juice and continue to stir until collards are bright green and just starting to wilt. Season with more salt and freshly ground pepper. Add drained beans and stir to combine. Season with more freshly ground pepper. Serve with crusty bread on the side. adapted from lakewinds.coop

Lemony Lentil Soup with Spinach

serves 4 | $2.01 per serving | $1.17 per serving with Double Up Food Bucks

1 cup lentils1/2 large lemon, seeds removed 2 large carrots, chopped 4 cups fresh spinach, chopped 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped 4 cups water 1 tsp oregano 3/4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper Place the lentils, water, lemon half, carrots, oregano, salt and pepper in the slow cooker. Cover and set on low, and cook for 6 hours. At 6 hours, take off the lid and stir in the spinach and parsley. Stir for 1 minute to wilt, adjust seasonings and serve. welcometothetable.coop recipe

Easy Pea and Spinach Carbonara

serves 4| $3.51 per serving | $2.50 per serving with Double Up Food Bucks

1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil½ cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat 1 small clove garlic, minced 8 T grated Parmesan cheese, divided 3 T finely chopped fresh parsley 3 large egg yolks 1 large egg ½ tsp ground pepper ¼ tsp salt 1 (9 oz) package linguine 8 cups baby spinach 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen) Put 10 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan and parsley. Set aside. Whisk the remaining 6 tablespoons Parmesan, egg yolks, egg, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Save the egg whites you are not using in this recipe for a morning omelet. Cook pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Add spinach and peas and cook until the pasta is tender. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Drain and place in a large bowl. Slowly whisk the reserved cooking water into the egg mixture. Gradually add the mixture to the pasta, tossing with tongs to combine. Serve topped with the reserved breadcrumb mixture. eatingwell.com recipe