Congratulations to our contest winners, submitting their best ideas that help them “Eat Right On a Budget!” Here are two of the lucky winners who get $50 of free GreenSmoothieGirl stuff, and free shipping. My next blog entry will announce my second contest, where five winners get $50, too! Watch for that next. And after that, I’m running the tips by three more winners and frugal whole-foods enthusiasts. Today we start by running Jennifer Hayes’ of Fruitland, Idaho, and Amy Lowright’s, of Boulder, Colorado—enjoy!
Tips from Jennifer Hayes of Fruitland, Idaho (I guess you can eat whole foods even in a small town with no Whole Foods Market):
- Have a budget! Then you have a plan that allows you to know how you can get what you want, and money doesn’t slip away to things that don’t matter. With a budget, I think about what I’m buying and if it’s worth the money.
- Have a plan, a menu. This, too, keeps you on task.
- Look for sales, coupons, and promotions online, in print, and word of mouth among friends.
- Buy in bulk, split costs with others.
- Barter or trade for items you want.
- Put your desires out there. Tell people what you want and those things tend to actualize.
- Watch websites like freecycle, craiglist, KSL, certain facebook groups, etc., where some people will list if they have extra produce they want to get rid of, sometimes free.
- Have a grain mill, to make your own flours with grains and beans.
- Find an elderly person and garden in their backyard; they may want some produce in exchange. [Note from Robyn: I did this, too, when I was a married college student living in an apartment.]
- 10. If you can make it, don’t buy it. This includes, for us, breads, crackers, tortillas, snacks, desserts, dips, salad dressings, yogurt. This also gives you far more control over your food, avoiding hybridized and GMO and refined products you may not even know are there.
- Serve green smoothies every day. There’s no waste involved! Make popsicles of leftover smoothie.
- Beans are cheap. Eat them a lot. They, and grains, can be sprouted.
- Pass up processed foods, even if they’re cheap. The resulting health care needed is expensive.
- Eat a lot of oatmeal.
- Make your own household items like cleaners, and self-care items. Coconut oil, and a variety of essential oils, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, saves you money and eliminates toxicities.
- Have a one year food storage, or at least three months! When you can buy something cheap, stock up. (Having a budget and allowing for food storage helps you build up a great storage.)
Tips from Amy Lowright of Boulder, Colorado:
- Buy everything you can in the bulk section of the natural foods store. I buy beans, rice, quinoa, hemp seeds, chia seeds, nuts, greens, Bragg’s liquid aminos, oats, lentils, dates, spices, and flours from the bulk section at natural grocery stores. I store things in leftover jars and restock as needed. This especially helps me if I’m particularly broke one week, or waiting for a paycheck; I can go purchase enough for just one or two meals if necessary, usually for under a dollar per meal. It’s also a great approach if you want to try something new. Buying a package of hemp seeds can be a waste of money if it turns out you don’t like them, but buying a couple of tablespoons from the bulk section isn’t a huge loss.
- Find your staples: I know that foods like bananas, spinach, lentils, and carrots are always budget friendly and easy to combine with anything for a cheap, healthy meal.
- Limit your packaged and processed foods: Most packaged foods cost more and usually have a whole food alternative, or can easily be made by hand. Plus these foods usually don’t provide enough nutrition for what you’re spending, vs. whole food alternatives. Ask yourself if you really need it, or if it’s something you could replace or make yourself at home.
- Pre-prep meals: I spend a couple of hours every weekend cooking a big pot of quinoa or brown rice, lentils or beans, and washing and cutting up veggies for the week. If I have a long day during the week, I’m less likely to eat out, or eat junk, if I already made something that’s in my fridge.
- Throw some steamed veggies into your already cooked quinoa and lentils, season it, and you have a quick, healthy meal ready. It’s also perfect to pack for lunches.
- Splurge when on the items that matter, you’ll save more money in the long run. High speed blenders (Vitamix or Blendtec) last years and save tons of time for making smoothies in the morning. The amount of money that you will spend on cheap blenders that die quickly, and the time it takes to blend, makes the cost well worth it if you’re able. My nice food processor, high-speed blender, and pressure cooker have definitely paid for themselves. I’m more likely to eat healthy now that I have the proper equipment to make my own meals from scratch.
- Do It Yourself! Packaged foods like hummus, peanut butter, energy bars, granola, crackers, etc. are infinitely cheaper and healthier to make yourself. Many don’t take much time, and are fun for kids to make.
- Shop at ethnic food stores: If you’re looking for some curry, seaweed, coconut, greens, ginger, onions, interesting produce, and more—it’s bound to be cheaper at an ethnic grocery store.
Cheap and easy meals:
- Grain + protein + veggie bowl: This is my go-to for lunches or quick dinners when I don’t feel like being creative. I usually cook quinoa or brown rice, beans or lentils, and sautee whatever veggies I have on hand. Mix it all up with some spices and you’re set.
- Wraps: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from eating on a budget, it’s that you can put nearly anything into a wrap and it will be delicious and easy. Find cheap rice paper wrappers, large lettuce leaves, whole wheat tortillas, corn tortillas, or make your own. Throw in leftover beans and veggies, tempeh, sweet potatoes, whatever. I like to grill mine a bit to get them crispy.
- Overnight oats: there are tons of recipes online for this, and infinite possibilities.