Health Foodie: Thriving on Nutrition and a Budget

Health Foodie: Thriving on Nutrition and a Budget

This is very much a daily passion for me. Healthy food relationships should never break the bank and its is achievable. When hitting the urban jungle, make the most of your hunt for a better you and your family.

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

With my littlest red in tow we set out for our biweekly marathon of food gathering in the urban jungle. For a family of six plus a dog,  it’s the only marathon I ever care to participate in. It’s not the worst chore I have to complete as my laundry piles on my dryer.  However, we do love to eat and it’s crucial to maintain our wellness. There are strategies I use to keep our wellness goals while shopping and lessen my pain in the after math

List. List. List.

I am a list freak.  Largely to help me regulate my thoughts and ADHD. But I do love them and labels. List may mean meal planning which saves money on its own. Creating a list adds further kindness to your wallet in decreasing impulse buys. When creating your list, pad in your health favs and a few not so healthy favs for those cheat days. Don’t go hungry. Your stomach will lead and mine usually sabotages my wellness and budget. Many major store apps will allow you to find most of what is in stock, on sale, and, some times, which aisle to find it in. Target will automatically link you to the store you’re in and bring up the store map in the app. Walmart App, not grocery app, now has an in store feature.

Develop a love affair

Love the stores in or near your neighborhood. Traveling too far when not necessary spends more than save. The more you go the more you will see sale patterns which leads in to three….

Shop sales and in season.

Healthy food on sale. Not junk food on sale.  Companies are starting to recognize the demand and putting natural/organic/healthy items or produce on sale more often.  This past month at one of our local stores, between sales, in season produce, and digital coupons, I cut my bill in half. We saved almost $150. Many stores have online adds that you can compare prices which saves another valuable resource of yours, time.

Use loyalty programs and digital coupons.

If I receive a paper coupon in store or the mail I will use most of the time. Otherwise all many coupons are available on a loyalty card.  Saves paper and money. Double bonus. In one particular store, the more loyalty program is used, more personal rewards. Stores may track what you buy and give back specific to past purchases. There are grocery apps that do reward just for uploading a receipt.  Use them. Some apps of these apps can be used for school fundraising. Other stores allow for schools to give a number to link your loyalty cards. In your every day purchases, your child school benefits.

Make budget from for sales.

When you have some extra budget room and sales are really good take advantage of the abundance.  If you have the room, squirrel it away as long as it won’t expire before you use it.

Take advantage of shopping clubs, online services, and pick ups.

 If you benefit from buying in bulk then a shopping club like Cosco or Sams may be worth it for you. Toilet paper is a guarantee it will be necessary always, but with perishable items be mindful. Truly buy what you would use. A kindness to your wallet and your environment. During one summer, as a foot injury necessity, we used store pick ups a lot. It’s an excellent way to keep impulse buying down and seeing potential costs. Delivery your door is becoming an option with similar benefits and convenience.

Meatless Mondays, Tuesday, Wednesdays….

Meat can be expensive, especially lean meat.   Lately, I am finding one of our stores putting meat substitutes crazy cheap.  We are riding that gravy train for as long as it last. We like using cauliflower as well. Bonus, cauliflower can be easily found in every form in most stores.  As a substitute, cauliflower adds nutritional value and protein content while wallet friendly. Too much meat protein can be hard on some of your organs, especially kidneys.  Just a thought to keep in mind on how many meatless days you want to try.

We have a large family, dog, and dietary needs- the need for the budget to stretch can get scary. However, with these seven solutions make magic happen. In your food gathering hunt, make the most of you and your food relationship.

Namaste in your food gathering hunt

Juls

A Bowl of WTH: We are Food Container Hoarders

A Bowl of WTH: We are Food Container Hoarders

Also known as meal prep. And we get pretty excited about it and like to take pictures. Look what I did! It takes a fair amount of effort in meal prepping. It doesn’t need to be difficult or extremely time consuming. However. Hard truth. You will pay for it one way or another. It is your choice and not my place to judge it. I make the choice to put my efforts before hand which is less costly than paying afterwards. It’s easier to get organized and create healthier options when meals are planned and prepped before hand. It makes your life easier to be well and there are hacks. It has little to do with salads. I love salads but it can get old, quick.

Foremost is understanding your ingredients and materials. Prepared foods and boxed foods can help or hurt you. Lots use terms to catch your attention in hopes you never become aware of what is actually in it. Watch sugar and salt content. Avoid chemicals as much as possible. Organic and natural is best. It’s not just a health nut lifestyle choice. Those chemicals GMOs impact your health in every possible way, physical and mental. Reduce or eliminate when possible.

Please be environmentally friendly. Avoid small packaging when you can. I get it. Prepackaged makes it easier to grab and go. Opt for recycle-able or reusable containers. Small changes make a difference!

Meal prep Hacks

Bulk it and repeat it. This is where we reduce costs in this house and it’s much less work. You need variety but it can be every other week or by season. Rice and soups can be frozen. If you need more variety. Create your own frozen meals. Just eat within a month or two (soups hold longer). Canning, if you’re in to that, is another great way to maximize your meal planning efforts. Vegetarian meals tend to be cheaper in cost. Intentionally creating left overs when you cook dinner is an excellent way to simplify meal prep.

Go raw. This isn’t recommended for everyone. For digestive issues, it may be safer to lightly cook your food for it to absorb better. However, creating raw meals cuts out cooking time. Salads, sandwiches on multigrain, or wraps in lettuce or multigrain tortillas work. Sushi grade fish with some rice and veggies works. Lunch meat wrapped with veggies works. Veggies and dip. Fruit and yogurt. It all works.

Semi done prep or prepared is allowed. I do it all the time. Buying some salt free or flavored nuts then mixing and putting in small containers is a stable in this house. I buy string cheese or spreadable cheese wedges to go with veggies and fruits work. Precooked meat with veggies, sweet potato, or pre cooked rice is done. I will buy chicken or turkey meatballs or beans to create meals. It truly is about checking the labels for sugar, salt, and chemical content.

The Snack Station in the Riley House

Stay seasonal. Many vegetables and fruits are out of season where we live. I love pea protein and buying them frozen in bulk to go with carrots, brown rice pasta (watch portions), and olive oil plus herbs. In the fall I was all about sweet potatoes, brussels. In the summer, it’s wraps and salads. Don’t think you absolutely must eat something right now that is expensive. Watch produce and a quick search about your area will let you know what is in season when.

Eat what you like within reason. If you don’t like salads, don’t eat them. If you are quesadillas like we do, there are a variety of ways to make them. It’s always beneficial to try new things. But don’t continue to eat something you know you just cannot stand.

Think Herbs, not salt. When creating flavor, stock up on herbs and spices. A link is included for the basics with expansion soon. I love my herbs! They do so much for your body. https://notjusthealthnuts.com/2018/04/17/no-salt-added-spice-up-your-food-life/

Watch fillers. That means chips. Veggie chips or home made veggie (not potato) chips or parmesan crisps are okay. I love doritos but it is in the rare occasion box. For good reason. It’s a filler food and horrible one at that.

Quick Meal and Meal Prep Ideas:

  • Baked chicken and salad
  • Pizza (limit) and salad
  • Turkey lettuce burgers and sweet potato fries
  • Some groceries offer griller veggie options
  • Breakfast
  • Quesadillas: chicken or choice meat, just veggies, avocados, and/or beans. Watch cheese portions and often I will reduce cheese amounts by mixing in a reduced fat cream cheese.
  • Burrito or taco bowls with brown rice or whole grain rice
  • Asian bowls: choice lean meat, chick peas, veggies with jasmine or basamati rice. For flavor, I love Asian sauces but go sparingly as they tend to be high in salt.

Meal planning is often cost effective and allows more healthier opportunities. The most important benefit is investing in yourself. You need well and to create your well being.

Prep on and Namaste

Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

As my love affair with all things spicy cools off, I have to find ways to live in between.  I am between my love of food relationship exploration and the need for it not to kill my stomach.  Creole food is one of those perplexing situations for me. About a year ago on a pinning spree I took on gumbo and LOVE it.  I love the earthy and fiery flavors with the simple base.  Recently, a more palatable version found my bowl as tweaking to remove shellfish allergy and reduce reflux triggers.  This reworking of a Creole icon reduces the spice, lowers fat content, and switches to a low acid tomato.   Make your shopping list, grab your pots, and find the zydeco music.  It’s time to channel that not so spicy but spiced up food encounter.

Gumbo/Stew

Ingredients and Prep

Roux

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour or all purpose gluten free flour

Gumbo

  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 1 tsp of Creole Seasoning (cayenne will do in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley (1 tbsp dried parsley can be substituted)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1 lb of chicken cooked and diced
  •  oz of smoked turkey sausage (if you can handle the spicy go for chicken andouille sausage)
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 9 ounces of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Optional add ins: crawfish or shellfish

Cooking

  1. Roux: this mystical beast is the wonderment base.  The key is to never leave it alone and constantly stir.
    • Heat skillet to medium heat then add in oil.  Gentle stir in flour with a whisk and keep stirring.  The goal is a medium to medium dark brown.  Once you reach the desired color, give your arm a break and head to step 2.
  2. Add in: garlic, red bell pepper, celery, and tomatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes
  3. Add in broth, meat, and spices
  4. Simmer on low for about an hour

How you address or dress this dish when it’s done is up to you.  The classic is with rice.  We went for corn polenta (pictured), but it’s up to you and any idea you dream of.  Classics like this have staying power as it carries tradition, memories, and iconic flavors.  It doesn’t mean you can’t mess around a little in your food relationship.

Namaste

Check out part two next week!