A gallup poll report from May 2015, asked Americans to list what they are spending more of their hard-earned cash on now compared to one year ago. The majority of Americans (55%), say they are spending more on groceries followed by utilities (45%) and Healthcare (43%). Food prices are rising and it is so easy to fall into habits that cost you more than you realize over time. Here’s my top 5 tips that will fatten up your wallet and keep you fit and healthy at the same time.
1. Keep it Simple. Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you have to use all kinds of fancy health food from specialty stores. It also doesn’t mean that you have to use complex meal preparation methods to consume a clean and nutrient dense meal. Check out some of the meal ideas below and you’ll see what I mean!
2.Brew your Own. Attention coffee drinkers! Trips to the coffee shop and those oh-so popular K-cups will cost ya! I looked at several sources and one fairly typical analysis, compared Caribou brand K-cups vs. ground coffee, showed that per-cup cost was 66 cents vs 28 cents, respectively. If you make 2 cups per day, 365 days/year that adds up to $482 spent on K-cups vs $210 on brewed coffee. Now how does this compare to the cost of a 12 to 16-ounce coffee-house coffee of $1.85? It adds up to $675/year but keep in mind this is just regular coffee not those tempting lattes and frappuccinos nor does it account for the likelihood that you would grab a pastry or sandwich from time to time, all of which add up fast!
3.Protein Selection Matters. Eat meatless meals more often! The cost of beans/legumes/lentils per 1/2 cup serving ranges from 10-60 cents! How about eggs? They’re one of the most complete protein sources out there! Eggs are nutritious, fast to prepare and will cost you just ~20 cents per egg! Canned tuna or salmon is another way to serve up the protein power but not the big bucks, coming in around 75 cents per serving or $1.50 per can. Try boneless/skinless chicken thighs or bone-in chicken in place of skinless/boneless chicken breast from time to time. Chicken thighs and bone-in chicken is often half the price of boneless/skinless chicken breasts. And yes, the dark meat (thighs & legs) tend to be a little higher in fat, but they contain more of some vitamins and minerals and the variety is good.
4.Plan Ahead. Convenience will cost you! Sometimes it’s worth it but if you’re trying to reduce you’re food costs then some planning can make a big difference. Plan a Sunday Prep Day and chop your fruggies, make a pot of homemade soup, pre-portion yogurt from a bulk container instead of buying individual containers. This will not only save you $$$, it will save you time and improve your chances of making healthy choices in the week ahead. Plan meals that use similar ingredients so nothing goes to waste. Make a grocery list! Scan what’s left in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer and take a look at this week’s sales flyers before preparing your grocery list. Use coupons! Finally, eat out less often.
5.Produce not Perfection. Fruggies (fruits & veggies) are an important part of a healthy diet but fresh organic produce can run up a grocery bill fast. While I do try to buy organic where possible, I believe it’s better to eat non-organic fruggies than no fruggies at all! If you’re able to buy organic food then I’d recommend starting with the EWG’s Dirty Dozen, a list of the fruggies with the most amount of pesticides. Fruggies in season will also cost you less. Also, keeping some frozen and canned (low-sodium/sugar) fruits and vegetables on hand can reduce waste and help you keep your fruggie intake up in a cost-effective way!
Healthy Meals under $1.50
Poached Egg on Avocado Toast
Prep: Drop egg into boiling water for 3 min, remove with a slotted spoon on to a paper towel. Toast whole grain bread and spread with 1/2 avocado. Season with salt & pepper.
Tuna (2.5 ounces)
Penne pasta (1 cup, whole grain)
Chopped cucumber & tomatoes (1/2 cucumber, 1 roma tomato)
olive oil (1 tsp)
lemon juice (1/4 tsp)
salt & pepper (to taste)
Prep: Put tuna, pasta, veggies in a salad bowl and toss with olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt & pepper.
Chicken Thigh and/or legs
Roasted Red potatoes (1 cup)
Carrots (1/2 cup)
Prep: Place all ingredients on a baking sheet, season with garlic powder, dried rosemary and a little salt & pepper. Roast at 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.
Budget Friendly Recipe
Sweet Potato Nachos
2 large sweet potatoes, sliced thinly
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Optional toppings: Plain Greek yogurt, salsa, avocado
1.Clean and slice sweet potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil making sure potatoes are well coated. Season with chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes in a oven preheated to 425 degrees F.
2.Take potatoes from the oven and top with beans and cheese. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
3.Top with green onion and other optional toppings such as plain Greek yogurt, salsa or avocado.