I’m a mom, a business owner, and I’m a little lazy when it comes to cooking. Want to hear the rest of my excuses for eating fast food and junk? I have a small kitchen, no dish washer, I don’t feel like cooking, fast food tastes good and I can’t afford to eat healthy. I thought if I could get a meal off of a dollar menu or by sticking a frozen pizza in the oven for less than $8 for the family, why not? After feeling sluggish, gaining weight, and having a sinking feeling that I was not giving my son the nutrition he needed, we challenged ourselves and decided to try to eat healthy on a budget. I was amazed at what we could do. Here are some ideas:
- Quinoa: This protein packed food has so many benefits and is incredibly versatile. It’s full of lysine (pretty hair growth), magnesium (good for those that suffer from headaches), B2 (good for energy and brain health), manganese (antioxidant) and packed full of fiber. We picked up a box for about $5. Not only is it organic, but super healthy. We made veggie tacos with quinoa being the key ingredient. It made enough for lunch and dinner and that’s only using half the box!
- Fruits and Veggies: Everyone loves sweets in our family. We were buying a candy bar here and there, ordering sweet tea off the menu, and constantly had cravings for anything sweet. If you buy fruits that are IN SEASON you will not only save money, but help the environment by not buying produce that has to travel miles and miles to make it to your tummy. A juicy pineapple will go a long way. Eat the core too! It’s a little chewy, but packed full of manganese. Cut the fruit up yourself, you’ll save a ton of money. Wash and cut it all up at once, stick it in a bowl and you have dessert for a couple days. Or a great snack to slip in a ziplock bag for an on-the-go option.
- Beans: They’re good for your heart! (I won’t complete that rhyme). I’m all about getting the most protein for your buck and beans are a great way to do that. Add them to your quinoa tacos and get some extra flavor while filling you up.
- Whole Grain Pasta: We can get a jar of pasta sauce for about $1. It’s not the best tasting, but easy to fix up with some herbs and spices. Pair that up with whole grain pasta and you have a complete healthy meal!
- Cheese: I could probably live on cheese alone. It really does make a great snack though! Substitute your salty processed chips and snacks for a couple of pieces of cheese. You still get that salty satisfaction, but you’re actually eating REAL food!
- Water: It seems obvious, I know. Ditch the diet drinks (they’re SO bad for you), say no to soda, and try limiting your caffeine. Drink water. We do not like the taste of our tap water so we buy a gallon jug at a time. Give tap a chance, though. You should be drinking at least half your weight in ounces every single day to flush out toxins. If you decide to go out to eat, take some $ off your tab by ordering a cup of water instead of a soda or tea.
- Greens: We get our fruit and vegetable servings in by drinking It Works Greens. We add two scoops of Greens into our orange juice every day and get the equivalent of 8 salads in just two servings. It’s great stuff, GMO-Free, and only about $1 a serving. We’ll be trying the chews too which are packed full of a TON of blueberries! You can buy Greens from my site here: http://tennessee.myitworks.com/shop/product/321/
- Pancake Mix: Pick a day where you’re not too busy and make up a box of pancake mix. You can get a box of whole wheat pancakes for about $2. I like to make mini pancakes so my 16 month old can hold one in his hand and eat it as he toddles around. Stick them in the freezer and you can warm them up in the microwave in about 30 seconds.
- Meat: We’re not big meat eaters but if we do eat meat, we buy it when it’s on sale. Buy chicken when it is less than $1 per pound, and freeze what you do not use.
- Chia Seeds: Let me be completely up front and let you know that Chia seeds are NOT cheap. But they do go a LONG way! We paid about $12 for a 12 oz bag of chia seeds at a health food store. If you live in a bigger city, you’ll have better luck finding a bargain. This is a nutrient-rich food packed FULL of Omega 3 and Omega 6. I add chia too my juice and even create pudding using chia seeds. My son loves the pudding and I’ve seen recipes for strawberry chia jam that looks delicious. The chia forms a gel when mixed with liquid. It takes some getting used to, but you get a lot of fiber, antioxidants and you feel fuller when you use these funny little seeds.
So you cannot be completely lazy when it comes to eating healthy. But I usually find that I have about 1 day a week to plan ahead and make things in advance. I see amazing things on Pinterest about salads in a mason jar, freezing fruits and veggies, canning, etc. Pick a day out of the week where you can prep some meals in advance. Search for recipes using quinoa and chia seeds. You’ll be surprised at how great this stuff tastes!
Please comment with recipes that use these ingredients below!