Eating Healthy on a Budget-YES YOU CAN!
How far can you stretch a dollar for groceries?
What tips or tricks do you have?
When the budget is tight what fresh foods do you purchase and how do you stock your pantry?
It goes without saying that for some folks, money is just plain tight. And in those instances these folks aren’t shopping at leisure at Whole Foods who some affectionately refer to as Whole Paycheck. No, they are working 2 and 3 jobs to make ends barely meet and in between running to the store to get bare necessities or visiting local food banks.
BUT I love Whole Foods! I love how beautiful the produce looks and all the great products they have and I love how I feel after I shop there with all my organic locally sourced and lovingly raised fruits vegetables, meats and sustainably fished fish-I LOVE IT! But things have been little tight as of late with just finishing school, working through an internship, building a business and looking for a job. SO what’s a Princess to do when her bank account is painfully low? Institute a budget? Implement a code red state of emergency? Call on the Bank of Mom and Dad? Hmmm. I say, GET CREATIVE! There is a lot you can do with a can of beans or bag of lentils and lots of great places to shop.
-It goes without saying but PLAN PLAN PLAN:Plan your menu for the week
-Reuse ingredients to limit waste and maximize nutrients and dollars
-Consider dried, canned or frozen foods
-Be strategic in the fresh foods you purchase
-Cook once eat twice or more
-Cook for the freezer
-Prep for the freezer
Build a SMART Pantry:
Canned Beans: Look for Beans packed in water with NO or low sodium. Some canned goods use seaweed or Kombu to season in lieu of salt. This is a plus. The water and Kombu will break down the phytic acid in the beans causing them to be more easily digested when consumed. Canned beans are quick, easy and inexpensive. In some instances all you have to do is drain, rinse and add to a dish. They are low in saturated fat, high in fiber!! Great options: Chickpeas, Black Beans, Cannelini Beans, Kidney Beans, Black Eyed Peas, Lentils
Other Canned Foods: Tomatoes (stewed, whole, crushed), olives, artichoke hearts, Lentils, Tuna (in water) *A note on canned tomatoes, avoid tomato sauce, often times there are hidden sugars and you can easily make your own out of stewed or crushed). Canned tomatoes are usually canned at their most ripe and flavorful point so less spices and salt needed. So Delish, rich in antioxidants!!! BINGO!
Dried Beans or Lentils: Like canned Beans dried lentils and beans will last A LONG time in the cabinet and great in a pinch when times are tighter than usual. Be sure to soak your beans or lentils in water for 5 hours-overnight, before cooking. You will want to drain and rinse the beans or lentils and add them to fresh water for cooking. This way you will slightly sprout the bean or lentil releasing healthy live enzymes while at the same time breaking down the phytic acid produced by the beans enabling them to be more easily digested.
Herbs and spices: Garlic/Dried Garlic Powder, Oregano, Sea Salt/Mineral Salt, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Turmeric (great for memory and brain health by the way), Cumin, Cayenne, fresh or dried Ginger ( great for upset stomach-try sliced fresh steeped in hot water). Consider growing Fresh Rosemary and/or Basil and thyme in a small jar or pot in your window or yard. These herbs grow easily and fast- as a side note if your tight on cash at the holiday’s who wouldn’t love to receive a rosemary bush- just plant a clipping in a mason jar, wrap a ribbon around it and waalaaa! Avoid spice blends and make your own.
Frozen: Frozen fruits and vegetables are terrific and will last a few months if closed tightly. Consider fruit like blueberries, pineapple, strawberries and Vegetables think Spinach, Peas, Carrots or whatever is your favorite and on sale. Frozen fruits are prefect baked into desserts, or breads or baked goods. Frozen vegetables are well suited to be cooked into soups, casseroles, and stews
Dry goods: Oatmeal!!!!!, Brown Rice, Quinoa, There are a bazillion things one can do with Oatmeal. It’s gluten free too. You can use it as a breakfast cereal, you can grind it to make flour and mix into cookies for a healthier version, you can make granola, you can bake into bars or you can use it as a topping for a fruit crumble-just to name a few. And oh by the way you can do the same with rice and quinoa.
Fresh Must Haves:
Onions (Rockin cancer fighter!)
Garlic (basically a nutritional powerhouse!)
Eggs (A perfect protein and only 70 Kcal per egg-eat the yolk)
Any form of Dark leafy green if you can.
So you planned out your menu, shopped accordingly and are good to go What next?
If chicken is on the menu, buy a whole chicken, cut up the pieces or have the butcher do it, when you get home, repackage according to what you will eat together. After cooking, remove the meat from the bones and keep the bones. Store in an airtight container in the freezer not much longer than a few days then use chicken carcass, onion, garlic, celery and carrots if you have them and make a chicken broth. The broth can be frozen for months in air tight containers and pulled out when needed. This will save $2-3 per container of broth at the store. And beside, bone broth is the “in” thing right now, if you make your own your trend setter!
Try to repurpose your left overs into new meals. Left over Salmon from Sunday could be made into Salmon burgers for Tuesday. Make one large pot of Chickpeas, make three different kinds of hummus and keep in the freezer until your ready to eat.