A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. – Dave Ramsey
In today’s fast-paced, multi-task oriented society, it can certainly be a struggle to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, while also staying within a budget. Organic food prices are often exorbitant and the cost of living just seems to rise–at least in California. However, I am excited to share with you my top ways to eat clean and still save yourself precious time and dollar. Of course, the best way to eat sustainably and pocket your cash is to plant your own garden. However, if you don’t have the space, rest assure there are other options for you. Yes, you and your family can and deserve to eat all those healthy greens and veggies on a dime.
Here’s how to do it…
1. Subscribe to Your Local CSA: Community Shared Agriculture Box
How wonderful it is to get a package delivered right to your door, however it is even more wonderful to get fresh, local, organic and seasonal produce (a.k.a. healthy food) delivered right to your doorstep with delicious recipes to accompany. Grocery shopping for healthy, good-tasting produce is time consuming. Furthermore, the fruits and vegetables in our local grocery stores may not always be the freshest or the best-tasting, but by purchasing a weekly or bi-weekly subscription to an organic box of veggies–straight from your local farmer–it is a win-win situation! Find the local CSA for Stanislaus County–Rancho Piccolo–here. To find a CSA anywhere in California look here.
2. Grow Window Herbs
Unlike my family members, I really don’t have much of a green thumb. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t recruit those family members to teach you how to grow window herbs or better yet, YouTube it! Growing your own herbs, saves tons of money and it brings a little bit of the outdoors inside. Herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and dill have a wonder fragrance and more importantly, they add so many terrific health benefits to your dishes. You can even dry your herbs by hanging them upside down. When they have completely dried, you can refill your empty herb jars and place the leftovers in sealed bags.
3. Meal Prep Once a Week
When you work an 8-5, it can be so exhausting coming home and having to cook. I’ve been there and done that. However, what saved me time and sanity during the week was having meals already made that I had meal-prepped the weekend before. Dishes like soups, salads, steamed vegetables, organic meats and baked fish, can all be made ahead of time and can even be put in the freezer for when you are ready to use them. I always have fresh fruit and easy snacks on hand that I place in plastic baggies, ready to go for those busy days. Snacks like bananas, oranges, nuts and seeds, sliced cucumbers, dates, snap peas, carrot and celery sticks, baked sweet potatoes, grapes and avocados. All of these foods are so easy to have on hand and will help keep the Hangry episodes away.
4. Eat More Plants & Save Those Scraps
Eating a plant-based diet really does seem to be more affordable than solely relying on heavy proteins to sustain you…plus, it’s much better for your overall health and longevity. Use the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 list to choose your conventional fruit and veg, which are sprayed less or have the least amount of contamination: avocados, sweet potatoes, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, citrus, kiwi and cantaloupes are just a few on the clean list. Also, when preparing your meals, don’t throw away your scraps of veg. Save them for making soup stalk or juicing. Saving your scraps ensures you are getting more vitamins and minerals, but also saves you money.
5. Eat More Legumes & Beans (Protein + Fiber= Super Filling)
Some cultures live solely off of beans and legumes. These gifts from nature are full of healthy protein and essential fiber, which ensures our digestion is in tip-top shape. Plus, making a big pot of beans over the weekend, it entirely do-able and easy. You can fill up your portable glassware (free of xeno-hormones) with the extras or simply store the left-overs in zip-lock bags and place in the freezer for when you just don’t have the energy to cook. There are so many varieties of beans and legumes, which ensures you won’t get bored with your freezer stash: mung beans, adzuki, garbanzo, navy beans, butter beans, pinto, white beans, lentils, kidney, red beans and fava, just to name a few. If you are really feeling creative, mix a few different varieties together with a homemade vegetable stalk and fresh “window herbs” for a wonderful bean soup.
*Bonus: 6. Make Your Own Cereal (Amaranth, Quinoa, Millet or Gluten-Free Oats)
Quality cereals come with a heavy price tag, especially if they are organic and/or gluten-free. Instead of paying $5-6 on a box of cereal that will last three days tops, make your own. Look for puffed quinoa or millet in bulk and mix in raisins, shredded coconut, nuts and seeds. Add a splash of non-dairy milk and viola–healthy inexpensive cereal! You can even cook quinoa, millet or oats in big batches for the week and enjoy them as a porridge, by simply warming with a bit of nut milk and honey. Throw on some berries, banana, chia or hempseeds for a beautiful, healthy breakfast or lazy dinner;) Other great ideas for healthy, quick and inexpensive breakfasts include: overnight chia pudding, overnight oats or even just a mix of chopped fruit with a dash of milk, topped with nuts and seeds.
Do you have any great ways to eat healthy, while also saving time and cash? Let me know in the comments below?
<3 Eat Your Greens Out