Eating Healthy on a Budget: It Can Be Done!

f40fab9210aee93a83df63133f5de09bSunday Night I went to the grocery store to pick up milk, bread, and a few other things.

I spent $42 and it was not all that much stuff. While I was waiting in line, the lady behind me in line was going through her coupons, and her grocery list. We got to talking, I showed her the store app, where she was able to find a few more coupons. We started talking about how expensive it was to eat healthy, and I confessed to her that this was not my weekly shopping trip, I was just picking up stuff that I only buy at Food4Less:

  • Milk (it’s cheapest at FFL),
  • A specific kind of higher protein bread (it’s the cheapest place to buy this type of bread and has no High Fructose Syrup),
  • A specific kind of popscicles
  • 5 lb bag of bananas (cheapest place to buy that many bananas)
f834221cdcc1ced5355d01adda45f107.jpg
This doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

And I picked up a few other misc. things that we needed and were on sale (cheese, oranges, and a 5 lb. bag of Gala apples), and a 2 liter of diet Cherry Pepsi and a jar of maraschino cherries (Mama needs a cocktail sometimes, OK?).

She asked about my grocery budget and where I shop the rest of the time. I told her my shopping strategy, after I make my grocery list:

My Top Ten Deals at 99 Cents Only– Start there for fresh produce. Salad, carrots, celery, berries, pineapples, zucchini, squash (all kinds), onions, potatoes are all types of produce that are regularly stocked. They usually have other interesting seasonally available produce too. They also have great sauces, condiments, herbs and spice blends.

Keep a Price Book- I know the best place to buy Milk, cheese, bread, and butter. I keep my price book in my phone now, but I used to use a little spiral bound notebook that lived in my purse.

Stock up on food that you will eat frequently when it does on sale. I’m not talking about fresh produce that can’t be kept (like lettuce), but if you find a good deal on strawberries, for example, chop and freeze some for smoothies or baking, make fruit leather, or dry some (they are really tasty dehydrated). Bread can be frozen, so can butter! Canned goods, shelf stable foods are perfect for stocking up. I also like stocking up on chicken when it’s on sale. I can butcher a whole chicken in a few minutes, and I frequently will break up large packages of chicken breasts into meal sized portions, season them, and put them into the freezer. Learn more about meal prep here.

For our family, meal prep and meal planning saves us a lot of time and money. There are always multiple choices for each meal at our finger tips, so the allure of getting food from take-away is gone. I always have a batch of pizza dough in the freezer too! I make two batches once a week- one for the freezer, and one to go in the fridge that gets used within 1-2 days of making.

Use Cashback/Couponing Apps. Here is the list I use frequently.

Here is an article I wrote a few years ago that has more tips on how to get “Extreme” savings without being an “Extreme Couponer” (which by the way isn’t even possible anymore thanks to that stupid TLC show and coupon abuse).

It doesn’t matter what your food budget is, you can still eat well! It may take a little prep work each week, but the health of your family is worth it, right?

If you are on a very tight budget or are facing food insecurity, here is a list of San Diego based food resources that offer healthy food.

Protein Shake Recipes!

DSC_0824For some of us, our New Year’s Resolution to lose weight has already started to peter off. NOT ME! I’ve got 40-ish lbs to drop to get back down to my pre-bitty Bird weight. I’m using protein shakes to help me.

A few years ago hubs and I did Sharp Weight Management to lose weight and to this day, we still use the protein shakes that are part of their program. HMR shakes are tasty and have a good amount of protein and other nutrients. All of the recipes below use HMR shakes, but you can use whatever kind of protein powder you like best (everyone has their favorite!).

I usually start my day with a coffee based shake!

Hazelnut Mocha: Mix Chocolate protein powder with  tablespoon sugar free chocolate pudding powder, 1 tablespoon Cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons Sugar Free Torani Hazelnut syrup, and 12-20 ounces of strong, hot coffee, When blending hot drinks in the blender make sure to vent the lid or it might pop off! To do this cold, use cold coffee and add 8-10 ice cubes.

Cinnamon Dulce Latte: The same drink at Starbucks (made with Fat Free milk and without whipped cream) has 210 Calories. With my version, you save 40 calories, and score at least 10 more grams of protein- this will vary for you, depending on how many grams of protein your protein shake has. Mix vanilla protein powder with 12-20 ounces of hot coffee (I like a larger drink, so I add more coffee), 2 tablespoons of Torani Syrup Brown Sugar Cinnamon (sugar free), a dash of cinnamon.  When blending hot drinks in the blender make sure to vent the lid or it might pop off! To do this cold, use cold coffee and add 8-10 ice cubes.

Frappacino: If you have leftover coffee after making your morning pot, don’t throw it away, put it in the fridge and make yourself a blended frozen protein shake. They will taste just like a frappacino, but with a lot less calories.  The average ice blended drink from a coffee shop has 300 calories!

The basic Frap recipe is as follows:

  • Protein Powder (the amount indicated on your package for 1 serving)
  • 12-20 oz cold coffee
  • 8-10 ice cubes (add more if you want it more icy)

Add in any of the following:

  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite sugar free syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder, Ovaltine, Sugar Free Pudding powder (your choice of flavors)
  • Use  Walden Farms Calorie Free Chocolate Syrup (or one of their other ice cream syrups- they make caramel and strawberry too) as a drizzle inside the cup and on top to make your drink with more of a Coffee House Flair without adding any calories!

Here are a few more of our favorite shakes. When we did the Weight management program through Sharp, we drank 6-8 a day, so creativity was the key to keep us from becoming bored and deviating from the program. (AKA cheating) These days, I use these shakes as a swap for a higher calorie dessert most of the time. That way my sweet tooth is happy, and I’m consuming WAAAY less calories!

As a note, I usually use a lot more ice to make it more “ice cream-y” and less like a chocolate milk.

Cherry Cheesecake shake: 1 pouch vanilla HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free cheesecake flavored powdered pudding, 3 pumps (roughly 3 tablespoons) sugar free black cherry Torani Syrup. You can substitute Strawberry syrup in place of the black cherry.

50/50 Bar Shake: 1 pouch vanilla HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free vanilla flavored powdered pudding, 3 pumps (roughly 3 tablespoons) sugar free orange Torani Syrup.

Eggnog shake:  1 pouch vanilla HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free cheesecake flavored powdered pudding, 1tsp. rum extract, sprinkle/dash of grated nutmeg. (Mr. C had this on X-mas eve and it was FABU!)

Lemon/Raspberry Shake: 1 pouch vanilla HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free lemon flavored powdered pudding, 3 pumps (roughly 3 tablespoons) sugar free Raspberry Torani Syrup.

Peanut Butter Cup Shake: 1 pouch chocolate HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free chocolate flavored powdered pudding, 2 tablespoons of PB2 powder.

Almond Joy Shake: 1 pouch chocolate HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free chocolate flavored powdered pudding,2 pumps (roughly 2 tablespoons) sugar free Almond Torani Syrup, and 2 pumps (roughly 2 tablespoons) sugar free coconut Torani Syrup . You can use 1 tsp. Almond extract if you prefer in lieu of the almond syrup.

Mounds Shake: 1 pouch chocolate HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free chocolate flavored powdered pudding,3 pumps (roughly 3 tablespoons)  sugar free coconut Torani Syrup .

Milky Way Shake: 1 pouch chocolate HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free butterscotch flavored powdered pudding.  To make a snickers shake, add 1-2 Tablespoons of PB2.

Butterfinger: Mix chocolate protein powder with 1 tablespoon PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter, 1 tablespoon sugar free butterscotch pudding powder, 1 tablespoon Cocoa powder, 8-10 ounces of cold water and 8-10 ice cubes. Blend on high until the ice cubes are incorporated.

Mud Pie: Mix chocolate protein powder with 1 tablespoon sugar free chocolate pudding powder, 1 tablespoon Cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon Ovaltine, 8-10 ounces of cold strong coffee and 8-10 ice cubes. Blend on high until the ice cubes are incorporated.

Chocolate Malt:  MIx chocolate protein powder with 1 tablespoon sugar free chocolate pudding powder,  1 tablespoon Ovaltine (choose the malted variety- it’s in the yellow package), 8-10 ounces of cold water and 8-10 ice cubes. Blend on high until the ice cubes are incorporated.

PB&J: Mix vanilla protein powder with 2 tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter, 2 pumps of your favorite fruit flavored Torani Syrup (strawberry, grape, raspberry are just a few), and 8-10 ounces of cold water and 8-10 ice cubes. Blend on high until the ice cubes are incorporated. Tastes just like a PB&J!

Later in the week, I’ll be posting my home made protein bar recipe and an oatmeal protein muffin recipe- perfect for keeping you on track!