This picture is my family’s funny idea of helping me to meal plan…gotta love them and their input, right?!
Thankfully, this is just a joke, but did you know that over two-thirds of Americans are obese or overweight and that number is climbing daily? Additionally, did you know it is estimated that 1.8 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2018?
Those statistics are heart breaking and definitely NO joke!
There is also plenty of research directly pointing to environmental factors, such as diet and toxins, as the cause of obesity and disease, and the only way to win this war is to change what people are eating!
Let’s be honest, when people eat healthier, they feel healthier and act healthier. Plus, not only does it directly affect their physical health, but it also impacts their emotional health.
Did you know that over 80% of serotonin is made in the gut?
Serotonin is the neurotransmitter known to be the biggest contributor to feelings of happiness. It also allows people to experience deep sleep. So, when someone is eating too many processed foods, they are breaking down the integrity of their gut and inhibiting the production of serotonin.
“But I can’t afford to eat healthy!”
I’ve heard this exact statement from so many people…even my husband used to say it! However, this is simply a lack of understanding on how to shop and what to eat.
So, to help you understand that you CAN eat healthy on a budget, here’s my top 10 tips, as well as, a few of my favorite healthy recipes that are perfect for leftovers:
1. Meal Plan
You know the saying, “failing to plan is a planing to fail.” This is exactly why it is tip number 1! If a person plans their meals for the week and does some meal preparation on the weekends, they will save money and time!
For me, I love pouring a glass of Pinot Noir after the kids are in bed and pulling out my favorite cook books to pick out meals for the week. Then, I create a shopping list and head to the store on Mondays to grab what is needed!
But, here’s the trick…stick to the plan! I know how easy it is to be persuaded to just “go out to eat” or say, “I’m too tired to cook.” Yes, there are certainly times to enjoy eating out or eating take-out “in,” but when really wanting to improve eating habits without breaking the bank, this has to be limited.
2. Buy cheaper cuts of meat
Even though I would prefer a rib eye steak (grass-fed, grass-finished, off course) for every “steak” meal, I simply can’t justify that in my food budget. However, a less expensive cut of meat, like rump roast, will not only make a killer meal but is easily thrown in to the crockpot in the morning and ready to enjoy after getting home from work! Now that’s my kind of meal…easy, nutritous AND affordable.
Our family also does a lot of ground beef meals, such as taco bowls, burger bowls, and meatballs. And for chicken, we go with bone-in and skin-on, as well as, opt for thighs, wings and drumsticks over the breast because it is less expensive and usually tastier.
3. Shop for seasonal and local produce
At the store, produce that is not seasonal or local, is usually imported from another country. This means it isn’t fresh and is 2x the price. So, when planning, intentionally choose meals with produce that is in season. Here’s a great link to help know which produce is available in the local area.
Also, the local farmer’s market is a great option. Plus, it’s usually all organic and supports the local farmer. Here’s a great link to find farms, markets and produce near you.
4. Order online
In my small town, we don’t have Target, Uber or Starbucks, so you can imagine that means we also have limited options at the grocery store. So, I’ve learned to order some things online. For example, I purchase all of our dry goods, as well as, toilet paper, paper towels and even certain cleaning supplies from Amazon or Thrive Market. This saves time, money and helps me avoid grabbing “extra” items that weren’t on my list. Plus, with Amazon and Thrive Market, I enjoy free shipping options and have my order usually within 2 days.
5. Avoid packaged foods
When I had my private practice, I would give grocery store tours to my clients. It was always so fun and such an amazing learning experience for them. My first suggestion was to avoid the center isles in a grocery store. If you pay attention next time you run into your local market, you will notice that all of the fresh food; meats, produce, dairy, eggs are all on the perimeter of the store. If you start to get sucked into the inside isles, that is where you will end up spending a lot of money on packaged foods that are not only expensive, but typically lacking nutritional value.
6. Learn to enjoy leftovers
Now, this is an easy one for me. I didn’t actually have to learn to enjoy leftovers because I have always LOVED them. In fact, I personally believe that most dishes even have more flavor the next day. However, for those that tend to dry heave at the idea of last night’s dinner for today’s lunch, I graciously and persuasively encourage you to “learn” to enjoy leftovers! It will make life so much easier.
Also, be sure to throw out the microwave to reheat any food. We have been using a toaster oven like this one for over 8 years, and it works perfectly for our daily leftovers.
7. Pack your lunch
For those that work outside of the home, pack your lunch. This will save so much money, as well as, give the ability to make wise choices on what to consume. For example, to help prevent a mid-afternoon slump where the idea of talking to one more client seems impossible, include plenty of healthy fats, protein and veggies to the lunch you bring to work. Not only will this provide more energy and patience throughout the work day, but the extra saved money at the end of the month will bring extra joy when you splurge on that grass-fed, grass-finished rib eye and fancy bottle of wine.
8. Make Broth
Don’t worry…I’m not going to suggest replacing meals with broth! Though this may not be the worst idea ever, I personally couldn’t do it and wouldn’t ask anyone to do something I couldn’t do. (You are welcome)!
However, in all seriousness, not only should everyone regularly consume broth because of its amazing health benefits, but one batch of broth provides multiple meals. For example, in one batch, I use all of the chicken meat to create a delicious chicken salad for dinner. Then, I can make a Chicken Enchilada Casserole (recipe below) and freeze it for another night. And finally, I can use the broth to prepare our rice or beans, or we can simply enjoy drinking it straight for a daily dose of gut and brain health.
9. Purchase meat in bulk
This is probably one of my favorite tips. When someone purchases a quarter, a half or an entire cow, the cost per pound drops…by over half!! So, we can enjoy a grass-fed, grass-finished ribeye steak for $5, versus the $15 in the store. Also, when purchasing meat in bulk, the buyer is charged by the pound, not by the cut. Therefore, they pay the same price for the steaks that are paid for the ground beef.
To get started, simply find a farm that is raising grass-fed, grass-finished cows. Then, decide how much cow and the type of cut you want. To help, here’s an example…our family of four buys a quarter of a cow, and it allows us to enjoy beef at least 2x a week for an entire year. We get all of the steaks from our “share” of beef, a few roasts and the rest is turned into ground beef.
10. Make coffee at home
I can feel it…that look of disgust and that glare that says, “Oh no she didn’t!! She didn’t just suggest that I stop seeing my favorite barista every morning, did she?!!”
Well, guilty as charged…I did! Just remember that this if for your health and pocket book.
My husband, Josh, bought me this espresso machine 13 years ago. Yes, it was an extravagant gift, but this beautiful creation has made me countless cups of coffee. Not only do we save money ($4/day times 365/days per year = $1,460) that allows us to go on amazing vacations or buy half a cow, but most coffee drinks are very toxic. The beans aren’t organic, and they are loaded with sugar from syrups, creams and powders.
To help, here’s my favorite coffee drink at home that is delicious and full of powerful nutrients!
So, let’s make a deal?
I challenge you to choose 3 of the listed tips to implement this week. Remember, this is to help improve your health and your budget. I believe in you, friend, and I want you to be as healthy, happy and financially free as possible!
Then, share below in the comments section of how it went and what you learned. I can’t wait to hear how this journey goes for you!!
Chicken Enchilada Casserole with Red Enchilada Sauce
This recipe is a family favorite! Because it makes for great leftovers and can be frozen for up to 6 months, I always double each batch.
Serves at least 6-8
Chicken Enchilada Casserole Ingredients:
- Cooked meat from 2 whole chickens that was used to make chicken stock
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2-4 small green peppers, hot or mild, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 3 cups grated raw Monterey Jack Cheese
- 8 cups red enchilada sauce (recipe below)
- sliced avocados, for garnish
- creme fraiche or piima cream, for garnish
- salsa, for garnish
Red Enchilada Sauce Ingredients:
Chicken Enchilada Casserole Instructions:
- Shred chicken and mix with onion, pepper, carrot, 2 cups of cheese and spices.
- Combine all ingredients and place in an oiled Pyrex dish.
- Cover with remaining sauce and cheese. (Can cover and freeze at this point.)
- To serve, cover and heat in 325 degrees oven until steaming. Serve with avocados, cultured cream and salsa.
Red Enchilada Sauce Instructions:
- Clean the dried chilies by removing the stem and seeds. Be sure to wear rubber gloves for this process and be careful not to touch any part of your face.
- Meanwhile, sauté onion in olive oil. Add cumin and cook stirring constantly, until well amalgamated into the oil.
- Add stock and chilies. Bring to a boil, skim and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Whisk in garlic, vinegar, and tomato paste. Simmer covered for about 45 minutes.
- Pass the sauce through a food mill (I used the food processor).
- Please Note: This sauce can be made in large batches and frozen, which is what I always do. I usually double or triple the recipe and freeze the remaining sauce.
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