Friday, January 4, 2013
Eating Healthy On A Budget-Part 1
Ok so let’s face it, the healthy stuff is expensive. No wonder so many struggle with obesity. It is much cheaper to buy white tortillas than wheat, 2-3 dollars cheaper. I discovered this when I was trying to buy some the other day. It takes time to develop a healthy pantry. I can see why so many give up on eating healthy. The thing is with a little help from my list; some effort on your part and the want to, it is possible.
Your first step is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Nobody eats healthy without a plan. Plan your weeks, recipes and shopping trips. I already meal plan and plan out shopping trips, and when I went to check out my pantry I discovered I already have most that I need…I just needed some tweaking.
Go to your pantry and make a list of everything you have and how many of each thing. Then next to each item decide if you can make it a bit healthier, like buying whole wheat pasta instead of white, brown rice instead of white…you get the idea. There are some things that you can make yourself much cheaper than buying them, like tortillas that I mentioned above. Yes this takes time but if you took an hour and made as many as possible, kept some out and froze the rest it would be worth your time. Throw away processed and sugary foods. I know that is going to hurt the pocket book…..BAD! It will be worth it, whether you are trying to lose weight or just trying to feel better. If you have these things in your house there is no doubt you WILL eat them!
Next go to your fridge and freezer and do the same. Basically you are starting over, if you only have healthy food in your house you have no choice but to eat it right?!
Alright so here is my list of things I keep in my fridge:
*Greek Yogurt-I LOVE Chobani but any kind will work. It is high in protein, calcium and low in calories. Add some nuts, granola and fruit to it for a great breakfast. I usually buy it for $1 each, sometimes I find coupons and they are free or under $1.
*Cottage Cheese-low in fat, high in protein, full of vitamins and minerals. I am a cheap ass so I always check the dairy clearance and pick up my cottage cheese for about a dollar. They have sales on it all the time. I love to add peaches or pineapple to the cottage cheese, or add it to a smoothie.
*Eggs-Organic or regular. I had chickens not long ago and will say those eggs were fantastically delicious. The problem is at the store they are expensive and who really knows where they come from??? So now I just buy the store brand. They are fine and I buy 5 dozen at a time (I love to bake). It costs about 3 dollars and lasts me about a month.
*Tortillas-Whole Wheat Recipe here. Tortillas are so versatile; you can use them in casseroles, burritos, wraps, and quesadillas. Great for fast meals.
*Cheese-Ok So I am a cheese freak. I put it on everything, I know this isn’t healthy but it just makes everything taste better. My theory is that I don’t drink milk so I have to get my dairy from somewhere lol Justification! I have been trying to cut back a little bit. You can buy the lower fat cheese if you would like. I like to buy things full fat, some of those low fat foods seem sketchy to me. The grocery store has sales on cheese all the time; I usually buy a pound for about 2 dollars but go through 2 or 3 a month. The best thing to do is buy it from Sam’s or Costco. I get a 5 lb bag for 11.87 dollars and it lasts me 3 months. You can split this up in quart bags and freeze to make sure it doesn’t spoil.
*String Cheese-At a grocery store these are ridiculous, I walk by them and almost have a panic attack. Luckily Sam’s club has 48 pieces for about 8 dollars. At the grocery store you get 12 for 5 or 6…ouch! String cheese is a great choice for a quick snack. It is healthy convenience food.
-Carrots-Regular and baby-low in fat and cholesterol, high in vitamins and fiber. Great snack foods. I usually buy the organic at Sprouts Farmer’s Market and it is a dollar on sale and lasts me a couple weeks.
-Celery-Ok so celery literally has no nutritional value but they trick you. The crunch and the water in them keep you from snacking on something not so good for you. I find this at Sprouts for .88 cents and it lasts awhile. Store it in foil and it lasts a really long time.
-Kale-This is a super food. Some people do not like it and I can admit it is very grass like. The thing is if you hide it in smoothies or even in salad with romaine or spinach you hardly notice the taste. A bunch at Sprouts is usually 1-2 dollars and lasts me a couple weeks if stored right. Store it in paper towels in a gallon ziplock.
-Lettuce-Green, red…as long as it isn’t iceberg. Iceberg has NO nutritional value. What is the point? The other’s do and are very low calorie. We love to make a salad of lettuce, kale and add things like fruit, tomatoes, almonds, carrots and cucumbers. Store the same way as the kale. Mine sometimes lasts more than a month and costs .99 cents for a bunch at Sprouts…awesome.
-Cucumbers-These babies are full of vitamins…as long as you eat the peel. That’s where the nutrition is at. I usually cut them up and eat them plain, with a tiny bit of Italian dressing, with tomatoes or in salads. I bag them up and use them for lunches or snacks. I can usually get them for about .50 a piece at Sprouts. I store them on the counter until I cut them up then they go in the fridge. They don’t last too long…a week or so, so eat them fast!
-There are a million vegetables I can name that you can buy. From the above you can see they really aren’t that expensive and some last quite awhile. I know people think it is expensive to buy produce and it definitely can be but buy seasonal and you will be ok. I always buy lettuce, kale and cucumbers because they always stay around the same price. Always check your weekly ads to find out what is on sale and plan your meals around that.
*Fruit-Some of these go in my fridge and some stay on my counters.
-Bananas-Vitamins, Potassium and Fiber. Bananas are a great grab and go snack. They are great for stomachaches, or late night food cravings. There are a million and one things you can do with bananas, smoothies, muffins, put it in yogurt, some people grill them (weird I know), freeze them with peanut butter, so many possibilities. I have seen a lot of different ways to store them but mine always seem to go bad pretty fast. I freeze them at that point for future smoothies or banana bread. Anyone have a sure fire way?? I admit bananas aren’t the cheapest. They are about .55 cents a pound and usually cost me about 3 dollars a week…ouch but better than grabbing a candy bar right?!
-Apples-You know the saying…”An Apple a day keeps the doctor away”. It has lots of fiber and vitamin C. I love apples and this is another one that you can make a million and one things with. Cut them up and snack on them, put them in oatmeal, salads, pies, breads, make your own applesauce, or apple butter. Buy them when they are in season and they can cost as low as .25 cents a pound. Whoa! Fall is the best time of year and if you have an apple orchard nearby this can be a great activity. If you cut up the apples make sure you add lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Keep these on your counter unless you cut them up. They can last a month or more.
-Oranges-Great source for fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. We prefer cuties around here, they are easy to snack on and they taste delicious. There are so many different types of oranges and many things you can do with them. You can also cut them up and store them in the fridge for a quick snack. Store these on the counter unless they are cut up. Depending on the season you can get oranges as low as .37 cents a pound. I usually stock up! Cuties can be a little more expensive but my son loves them so they are worth it to me! Anytime you can get a kid to eat fruits and veggies…cherish it!
-Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blackberries-There is no limit to the things you can do with berries and every one of them is so good for you. Vitamins and Minerals galore! Put them on salads, oatmeal, cereal, I make my own syrup for waffles and pancakes, smoothies, marinades, I could go on and on. I only buy berries when they are on sale because sometimes strawberries are 5 dollars a pint owowow! I just recently got blackberries for a dollar a pint. Not too bad, we ate them on salads and just by themselves.
-Avocados-Another super food! Oh the vitamins and minerals! So many things to do with avocados, make salad dressing, cream sauce for pasta, guacamole, put it on chicken, put it on bread, put it on a sandwich, seriously do whatever you want with it lol
I could go on for days and name every fruit and veggie and how they are good for you, how much they cost and how to store them but you get the idea. It does not cost a lot for produce. If you keep a lot of it in the house and make an effort to eat it all before it goes bad then it is worth every penny. I usually only spend about 20 dollars every two to three weeks, sometimes even less if there are some really good sales. I mostly buy produce at Sprouts and on Wednesdays because it is double ad day. They have the sales from the week before and the week ahead together so sometimes I get some rock bottom deals. Sometimes King Soopers (Kroger) has even better deals. I am always watching!
As for condiments, if you stock up when there is a good sale you won’t have to buy them for a long time. To be even healthier you can make your own, my favorite is gluten free ketchup. It is so much tastier than the bottled crap. I also buy real butter. It can be expensive but if you look at margarine and all the ingredients that look like another language it is worth it. So yes sometimes I spurge, but I try to make up for it in other areas. I have many more posts coming on this and I hope you will join me in making our houses healthier! I am also going to include meal plans and recipes that can come straight from your pantry! Who says you can’t eat fast and healthy??! If you have questions about other fruits and veggies please ask away! Hope you all have a great weekend!
Don't forget to check out Part 2,3 and 4!