Eat Healthy on a Budget

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat healthy. In fact, focusing on eating whole foods will actually SAVE you money! Yeah, I know you’ve been to Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) and have probably spent way more dollars than you wanted to. But, you can save money, eat a healthy diet, and even while shopping at Whole Foods (if you choose). What’s important is to have a strategy. Knowing what to buy, where to buy and how to buy your food is the key.

This blog series is all about where to budget your money, and where to splurge, when purchasing food. First, we’re starting out with how to shop for healthy food on a budget.

1. Buy fresh produce that is in season. This will always be the cheaper option. It’s very hard to do this during the winter in some areas of the country, but you can at least make this a goal during the spring, summer and fall months when seasonal produce is abundant. A great and wallet-friendly way to do this is to shop at your local farmer’s markets or join a CSA (or Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA is a farm share, you pay a lump sum to a local farm in advance, and they give you veggies from their farm all summer long! For more information, check out:

If you don’t know when fruit or veggie is in season, check out my guide to seasonal produce below. Right now berries and greens are at their peak!

2. Use the Dirty Dozen list when shopping for fresh produce. Conventionally grown produce are sprayed with pesticides and chemical fertilizers that may be toxic to us. Organic product can be pricier, though. The Dirty Dozen list shows the worst offenders when it comes to fruits and veggies – and those items you should always buy organic if you can. The items you can buy conventional, which are cheaper, are the fruits and veggies NOT on that list. For example, to save money, I sometimes do not buy organic bananas, sweet potatoes and avocados. Those are items I eat a lot of, and not buying organic saves me some money. There is a Dirty Dozen app you can download for reference.

3. Purchase whole foods (and stop buying anything in a box). Buy whole grains and beans like quinoa, oats, rice, black beans and lentils and make your own dishes! Most items that you buy in a box have been stripped of much of their nutritional value, have a ton of sodium and/or sugar added to them, and have nasty dyes and preservatives. And, you are paying for the the marketing and advertising that went into to selling that product. Even better & cheaper, buy whole foods like grains and dried beans in bulk.

4. Get back into the kitchen! Did you know that what Americans spend on eating out just overtook what they spend on groceries? Eating out can really be a leak in your budget, and it’s usually not the healthiest – especially if you are eating fast food. You can buy twice as much food for the money at the grocery store. Try to eat and prepare most of your food at home, and save eating out for a treat or for social occasions. And, how much do you spend on your daily latte? Consider making your coffee and tea at home, and save coffeeshop time as a treat.

5. Plan your meals. This is where a lot of people fall short with both their budgeting and eating healthy. When you don’t meal plan, you may end up buying more food than you need, or food that you forget you have, which then goes bad. Instead of throwing your money away and wasting food, be strategic about what you buy.

Here is an easy way to meal plan. Think of the kinds of meals you like to eat. Then plan out a week like this:
Monday – Pasta
Tuesday – Veggie stir fry
Wednesday – Burritos or tacos
Thursday – Salad
Friday – Pizza
Saturday – Soup
Sunday – Grilled food

This strategy should make it easier to make a grocery list, and actually use the food you buy. If you need more help with this, I’ll be offering an online workshop on meal planning soon!

6. Limit impulse spending. Ok, so the more expensive items we buy at the grocery store… they are usually not the items on our list, right? Try limiting yourself to one impulse item each shopping trip. My favorite impulse buy is fresh flowers. And, please tell me you don’t go shopping hungry – we all know that does not end well for your wallet!

7. Make your own. One of my favorite beverages is kombucha tea. It’s a delicious fermented tea flavored with fruit juice that I will be doing a post on soon. Anyhow, it can cost upwards of $4 per bottle! I found tutorials on youtube, and recipes online, on how to make my own kombucha. Now I spend 50 cents or less per bottle! Other fun things you can DYI for cheaper (and healthier without added sugar and preservatives): nut milks, granola, energy bars and salad dressings.

8. Eat more plants. The next time you are shopping, compare the price of any meat, poultry or fish to a package of dried beans (which covers a few meals). Think about eating a few more vegetarian meals a week if you already don’t and making plants the center of your plate. To make them heartier, use beans (any kind), tempeh or tofu. Do not worry about protein as grains, veggies and fruits also have protein!

How to eat your green leafs!

Greens are pretty much the most nutritious thing you can eat. They are loaded in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E and K. They also contain high amounts of fiber, folic acid and chlorophyll and many other micronutrients. In fact, dark leafy greens are the most nutrient dense food we can eat, as according to the CDC’s list of nutrient dense foods.

Growing up, I didn’t experience eating a lot of greens. I had lettuce on a sandwich, the occasional salad, and that was about it. In fact, it wasn’t until I was out of college living on my own that I tried kale for the first time. I wasn’t feeling well, and one of my housemates cooked up some kale with garlic for me. Later, I joined a CSA, and was forced to learn how to cook with kale, chard, collards, bok choy and more. Now, I strive to eat greens on a daily basis, both cooked and raw. I love spring because it means I will have access to fresh greens!

This saute of greens is my “go to” way to cook greens. It’s easy and quick. Try it with kale, chard, collards, broccoli rabe and any other green you come across. Choose local, organic greens if you can.

Green Garlic Saute
sauteedgreens (1)

Serves: 2 large servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5-10 minutes

Kale – one bunch, organic
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Sea salt to taste


Strip the kale leaves from the stems. Discard the stems (or save for juicing) and chop up the leaves.

Heat the coconut oil up in a pan on medium high heat.

Add the garlic and pepper flakes and stir for a minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the kale to the pan along with a little bit of water. Stir, lower heat to medium low, and cover. Steam the greens in the pan until wilted. Then remove the lid and continue cooking greens until tender – just a few minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Here are ways to enjoy your greens:
*with quinoa and beans
*as a topping for a baked sweet potato
*with mac and cheeze
*with roasted potatoes

How to get an awesome night’s sleep

“You are not healthy, unless your sleep is healthy” 

Dr. William Dement


If you have trouble sleeping, you are not alone! It is estimated that as much as 70% of Americans suffer from sleep deprivation. And, that is not a good thing. Our mental, emotional and physical performance will suffer if we do not get enough sleep. Some resulting problems from lack of sleep include weight gain, diabetes, memory loss, depression and possibly even cancer.

To get optimal sleep, you need to make getting enough quality sleep a priority. How much sleep is enough? For most people it is at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Now, let’s talk about to get that amazing good night of sleep we all crave.

Keep your room dark. Like really dark. It is a fact that we sleep better in a dark environment. So, try to eliminate any artificial light (for example, your alarm clock light, night lights, light coming in from outside, etc.).

Avoid blue light. That means screens! You know when you pass someone’s house at night, and you see the the light from their television, and its blue? That’s blue light. Try cutting down on your screen time a few hours before you go to bed. And, yeah, that includes tablets and cell phones, which are the worst offenders as you hold those items closer to your face.

Get your Magnesium. Magnesium is an important mineral for getting optimal sleep, and a lot of us are deficient. Dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds and brazil nuts are excellent sources. Additionally, supplementing with Magnesium is pretty easy. You can either take an Epsom salt bath before bed, or take some Natural Calm supplement with water or tea at night. They also make Magnesium oil that you can rub into your skin at night.

Cut the Caffeine. Did you know caffeine, a powerful stimulant to your nervous system, can stay in your system for up to 7-8 hours after you ingest it? Now, I know you guys aren’t going to give up your coffee habit. And, that’s cool. Just set a coffee curfew at 2 p.m.

Go easy on the booze! You know that glass of wine or pint of beer you drink to “wind down”? If you want to sleep well, limit your alcohol intake to one glass (or pint). Even though alcohol might make you sleepy at first, it actually disrupts your REM sleep. So you never get that good, deep, sleep.