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Spring 2009

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Budgeting on a Shoestring

Mo-Jo Chili. Shoestring Chicken Potpie. Salmon Primavera. Three Bean Ramen Salad. Nutrition instructor Melody Anacker’s Culinary Fundamentals class showcased these and many other recipes when they held an open house, “Budgeting on a Shoe­string,” this past spring in the Herrick Hall Lounge. The project began as an idea when Rebecca Jones, a senior in Food and Nutrition, worked as an intern for the summer lunch program at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank.
 “Because I’m also secretary for Montana Student Dietetic Associa­tion, a nutrition club on campus, I try to find volunteer activities for the club to participate in, and so I periodically ask Heather Grenier, Gallatin Valley Food Bank director, if there is anything we can do to help out,” Jones said.

Grenier saw an opportunity to apply a real life situation to the classroom. She brought in food boxes from the food bank  that would provide for a family of three for five days. She then challenged the students to create recipe op­tions to best utilize items in the box, mindful of nutritional values.

 “What is the best nutritional value for the cost?” she asked students.
After students analyzed items in the box, they were asked to improve the contents or provide ideas for adding inexpensive ingredients to make the menu more interesting and nutritious.

Nutrition students Kristin Dowd and Amber Stacy found it was “a lot of work” to pick a recipe, then “shop” for items that food bank clients can access. Cory Talbott and Melissa Frazier were chal­lenged further when their family needed to find recipes that were gluten free and dairy free. Both agreed that the project was a “neat assignment and a good chal­lenge to see how far you can make the food last.”

To culminate the assignment, the class worked in pairs in the Foods Lab to pre­pare one of their recipe ideas and share it with the class.

 “I am glad to have incorporated a ‘real life’ outreach project into the Culinary Fundamentals class that allowed students the opportunity to un­derstand the challenges that families face on a limited budget, as well as apply the important principles of nutrition in menu planning and recipe development,” Anacker said.

Photo of some food at the Budget on a Shoestring.
Nutrition students prepared a variety of delicious foods.

Photo of faculty and staff enjoy the budget on a shoestring fiest.
Students and Herrick Hall staff enjoy a variety of nutritious dishes at the open house.

While most of the students are food and nutrition or family and consumer science students, a few are taking the class as an elective.
Fish and wildlife major Andy Schell said, “I’m taking the class as an elective because I like food.”

Others in the class noted it was because he got to take home leftovers from the labs.


Hamburger Soup with Potato Dumplings
Cory Talbott and Melissa Frazier
(Dairy and Gluten-free)
1 lb. lean hamburger
16 oz. chicken broth
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 can black beans, partially drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can French-cut green beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
Salt, pepper, seasonings of choice.

Brown hamburger with chopped onion and drain. Set aside. In a large pot, bring chicken broth and tomatoes to a simmer. Add beans, corn, onion, and hamburger. Add seasonings as desired. Simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pre­pare dumplings.

Potato Dumplings
3 oz. soy milk
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup prepared potato flakes
(1/4c. soy milk, 1 TBS margarine,
2/3 c. potato flakes, ¼ tsp salt)
2 egg whites, beaten stiff

Mix soy milk, baking powder, salt, pep­per, and whole egg with prepared flakes. Gently fold in egg whites. Drop by teaspoonfuls into pot of soup. Let sim­mer for 3-4 minutes. Place briefly under broiler to brown if desired.


For more information on the Foods and Nutrition program at MSU, go to:

Or contact the Department of Health and Human Development at:

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