A Healthy Life Within Your Budget

Years ago, before I was ready to commit to my own health, I believed I wouldn’t be able to afford eating healthy foods.  Happily, this turned out not to be true, but it took a while to convince me. Many of us put up blocks to change, and financial discomfort is at the top of my go to list. With some guidance and tools, I have found that not only is it doable, but it is necessary, if I want to feel good in my body and life.  The alternative is not feeling good, and a slew of preventable diseases that will end up costing way more than organic groceries in the long run. 

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, it only costs about $1.50 more per day, which is only about $45.00 a month. Most people spend more on Starbucks in one month (you’ll find out just how much they spend very soon).

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If you want to make your health a priority, take a moment to reflect on why taking care of it might be important.  Can you put a monetary value on that? Most people I talk to want to feel good, and know that part of the solution lie in changes to their diet. So, in the spirit of supporting your movement towards that desire, I’ve compiled a list of tips that can help you get there, no matter what your budget is.

Value your Health: The average person spends about $90.00 a month on Starbucks. If you track your expenses, it won’t take long, if you’re honest with yourself, where you’re spending your dollars. I started using the app expense tracker, and it has does wonders to help me figure out how much money I need to budget for groceries. David and I are on the same page, and that creates health in our relationship.

Create a Budget: you knew I was going there. Financial health is, of course a whole other topic, but prioritizing what you are spending money on can free up dollars that aren’t bringing you what you want. Manisha Thakor is a great resource for simplifying this overwhelming beast of a topic.  

Plan out your Meals; I’ve spent so much money on last minute groceries because I had no idea what I was going to eat. Take 30 minutes a week to decide on what you want to make that week for dinner. Stay tuned, I’ll be posting more recipes and ideas in the near future. Check your pantry to see what you already have to avoid doubling up on things, and then make your grocery list. There are many apps and programs to help you save recipes on line.  Paprika is one I’ve recently read about, here on the Kitchen’s website, along with copy me that

Shop Once or Twice a Week: Going to the store with a well thought out grocery list will keep you focused on what you need, and make it less likely for you to impulse shop (and wander)

Use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen List: While buying organic produce will ensure you don’t ingest any pesticides, gmo’s, orchemical fertilizers, the dirty dozen and clean fifteen guide will tell you which conventional produce is safe to buy (the clean fifteen), and which produce you should always buy organic (the dirty dozen ). This can help you prioritize your spending.  You can find both lists on the link here.  There is even a free app you can download onto your phone. 

Cook at Home: this is always the least expensive option, and the one that allows you to monitor your health the most. Occasional dining out is important and fun, but restaurants have a heavy hand on salt and sugar, so limiting your visits will go a long way to save money and your well being

Eat Lots of Veggies:  Veggies by their nature, especially the dark leafy greens, don’t cost very much; about $2.00 a bunch. Buy beets with their leafy green tops attached and you will get two veggies in one. The tops are reminiscent of swiss chard and can be sautéed, steamed or boiled. A dab of coconut oil, some sea salt and pepper and we’re doing the happy dance.

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Shop at the Farmers Market: Shopping at the farmers market is almost always less expensive than the grocery stores. (See my post about the farmers market). They also taste better and its way easier to stay committed to your health if you like what you’re eating. Veggies from the farmers market also have a longer shelf life, because 9 times out of 10, they were picked that morning or the day before.  Keep your leafy greens dry by putting a paper towel inside the bag before storing, and they will last even longer.

Eat More Legumes:  Like veggies, beans and legumes by their nature are less expensive, especially when purchased dried, (about $.30 a cup). This will noticeably cut down on your weekly grocery bill, while decreasing your meat consumption.  Eating less meat has not only become synonymous with weight loss, but it is better for our planet. Not to worry about not getting enough protein, beans and legumes have plenty of that, (about 8 grams per serving) along with fiber, and essential minerals like magnesium, potassium and iron. 

Buy in Bulk: This is my favorite way to shop because I can decide on the quantity I need. Believe it or not, Whole Foods has some of the better prices in their bulk section. They often have a good selection of beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and super foods like chia and hemp.

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Rally Support: Get the family involved so you don’t feel alone. Connect with other likeminded people and find out what they are doing to be healthy on the dollars they have.

There are also some great resources out there like this guide from the EWG listing the least expensive foods with the most nutrition. Just click on the category you want at the top of the page; i.e protein, fruit, grains etc…

You can also check out Frugally Sustainable, or The Frugal Girl.  They both have great tips on how to get more for less.

This soup is one of my favorite ways to enjoy these plump and creamy beans, especially when it’s cold and raining. This whole recipe costs less than $3.00 to make, and will feed about 5 people. Would love to hear your feedback.

 


Tuscan White Bean Soup


Yield: 6 cups
Use organic whenever possible

  • 1 ¼ cup dried great northern white beans; Soak in 5 cups cold water overnight, one day prior to using
  • 1 cup onions, cut ¼ inch cubes
  • ½ cup celery, cut ¼ inch cubes
  • 2 tsp garlic, chopped, about 3 large cloves
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or 8 cups water + 2 organic vegetable bouillon cubes
  • ¾ tsp ground fennel
  • ¾ tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 oz parmesan rind, or 1/3 cup nutritional yeast if you want to keep it dairy free
  • 1/8 tsp chili flakes, or more if you like it spicy
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 3 cups kale, de stemmed, cut into bite size pieces and washed
  • ½ tsp sea salt, optional

 

PREPARATION

  1. Heat a 2 gallon stock pot on high heat for about 45 seconds.
  2. Add oil, and cook onions, celery, and garlic on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Drain the beans and rinse them under cold water, while your onions cook.
  3. Add the beans, veg stock, parm rind, (or nutritional yeast, if using) fennel, chili flakes and black pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 60-70 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  5. Remove from heat and add kale
  6. Taste before adding salt. You may not need, depending on the sodium content of your vegetable stock.
  7. Your soup is now ready to enjoy. When soup has cooled, transfer the remainder into airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to six days. I usually keep the parmesan rinds in the soup for a day or two after it’s made before discarding.