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Healthy Meals on a Budget

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Over the past few years grocery prices have skyrocketed, right alongside gas prices and the general inflation rates. Here are some tricks to pinching pennies at the grocery store while still enjoying nutritious and delicious food:

 

Eat more beans - Beans are wildly economical and versatile. You can make bean salads, Cajun dishes, Indian dishes, vegetable soup, chili, Mexican bean dips, stir them into whole-grain pasta—the list goes on and on. Your family will never catch on to the fact that they’re eating beans most nights of the week. Beans are high in protein and fiber.

 

Vegetarian Meals - Eat more vegetarian meals than meat-based meals. This is a great time to stock up on your veggies and give yourself an extra dose of antioxidants to boost your immune system and fight free radical damage. But be sure you are still meeting your protein needs for the day. This is different for each person and the amount of protein you need can be understood when you know your body type.

 

Chop your veggies - Spend more time than money. In other words, cruise by the convenience foods—even those that you think are healthy. For example, buy a head of romaine lettuce and cut it yourself rather than buying prepackaged salads. A head of romaine may only cost a little more than $1, but prepackaged salads often cost at least $3.50. Ditto for all fruits and vegetables, plus meat. Buy a whole chicken and cut it yourself to make it last for six meals, including making chicken stock with the bones.

 

Buy in bulk - This will save you money over several weeks. Sure, you might spend $20 on a bushel of apples this week, but you won’t have to buy them for three weeks. If you had spent $7 per ½ peck once a week for three weeks instead of buying the bushel, you would have spent $1 more for ½ peck less of apples.

 

Go local - Buy as many local foods as possible. Produce from local farmers is unbelievably cheap, incredibly tasty, and chocked full of more vitamins since it spends far less time being transported to your plate. End-of-season crops you can get right now include broccoli, cauliflower, beets, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, apples and apple cider. If you eat meat, try to find a local farmer. You’ll save money by buying in bulk, and the meat will contain no antibiotics or hormones.

 

Cook once, eat twice - Most people have no idea what’s for dinner tonight and make something that will be eaten just at that meal. If you can plan ahead, your ingredients will go farther. A whole chicken can make up to 4 meals! First meal chicken breasts, second meal chicken stir fry, third meal chicken tacos, fourth meal chicken soup made by boiling the remains for stock!

 

Don’t shop while you’re hungry - You’ll be tempted to stray from your weekly budget with unnecessary items such as potato chips and cookies. Eat a healthy snack like a handful of almonds or a piece of fruit right before shopping.

 

 

Don’t Stress Out Over Food

Maintaining balance and stress can be a challenge! For many people, money can be a huge stress trigger. If you find yourself feeling anxious, angry, sad or overwhelmed when it comes to household spending try planning your grocery shopping list by using these budget friendly tips before your next supermarket trip. Make the conscious effort to be in command of the stressors that are in your ability to change. You will be eating healthier, spending less and creating balance at the same time. Plus the money you spend on healthy foods generates savings in medical costs now and in the future since you will be less likely to develop chronic conditions from unhealthy eating habits.

Asian Stir Fry Recipe

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

If you like Asian flavors I highly recommend the House of Tsang® stir fry sauces. For this dish I used the Classic Sauce which has mostly soy, sherry wine, garlic and ginger that makes it super tasty when added with a protein (chicken in this dish) and a variety of vegetables. You can really add just about anything from the fridge so this doesn’t have to be a ‘special trip to the market’ kind of dish.

 

The key to making this meal in under 35 minutes is to start the rice first. When I walk in the door I immediately put the brown rice into my rice cooker and then I start the prep of cutting the vegetables and sautéing everything together. If you don’t have a rice cooker, no problem, simply start the rice when you get home; change your clothes, pet the dog (or kids) and then get started with the dinner prep. Another shortcut is to use boneless chicken tenders instead of the breast so you do not have to prep the chicken by cutting it into strips. Plus, if you’re one of those people that doesn’t like to handle raw meat, this definitely limits your interaction!


 

Ingredients

2 cups cooked brown Jasmine rice (Follow cooking instructions on bag or use rice cooker)

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 package of boneless chicken tenders

Pinch of salt & pepper

1 each red, orange, yellow bell peppers sliced into strips

½ yellow onion sliced into strips

½ cup sliced mushrooms (any kind but I like the shitake)

1 garlic clove minced (~1tsp minced garlic)

1 bottle House of Tsang Classic Stir Fry Sauce

1 cup snow peas rinsed

¼ cup chopped green onion

 

Instructions:

As the rice is cooking, add the sesame oil and garlic to a large sauté pan. Heat for a few minutes and add the chicken tender pieces. Add the salt & pepper to the chicken. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the onions and peppers and sauté for 3-5 minutes until onions are slightly opaque. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and stir until the chicken and vegetables are thoroughly coated. Let cook on medium heat for another 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, snow peas and green onion and stir until coated. Cook another 3-5 minutes. Spoon a cup of rice into a bowl and add a scoop of the stir fry on top. And now moan your way through another wonderful meal! (PS This tastes even better the next day for lunch or dinner.)

       

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

People are always asking me the best way to eat healthy on a budget and on-the-go. The answer is there is no magic wand to wave over your kitchen to make a meal magically appear that is healthy and doesn’t break the bank. What I usually tell me people is that you have to plan ahead. Just like you plan your work day and even make plans for keeping your house in order and taking care of the kids.

 

So how do you do it? For some people who are master planners you can pick a day on the weekend to do your grocery shopping and do some food prep like cutting up veggies and/or baking a protein so that you can easily whip up a meal later in the week. For others who don’t want to spend that much time in the kitchen it’s all about keeping healthy foods on hand that are easy to prep.

 

This recipe is for those people who do plan ahead and have a cooked protein and grain already on hand. My motto is ‘cook once and eat twice’ so I will prepare a meal on Sunday night and be able to incorporate part of it into mini-meals later in the week. It saves a ton of time during the week when you can simply reheat a food and mix it in to make something else.

 

Sunday Meal #1 Chicken Fajita Rice Bowl (~25 minutes total prep/cook time)

Serves 2 (With left overs for lunch and the chicken and rice can be used in another meal)

2 Chicken Breasts (sliced)

1 onion (sliced)

2 green bell peppers (sliced)

1 garlic clove (diced)

2 tsp EVOO

½ tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp salsa

2 pinches of shredded cheese

4 cups cooked brown rice

½ avocado sliced

 

To Make:

Sauté chicken breasts in pan with EVOO & garlic until mostly cooked throughout

Remove half of chicken and place in container to be used in another meal

Add sliced onions, peppers and cumin to the remaining chicken mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes

Add ½ cup rice to bowl and top with chicken & peppers

Add salsa and cheese

**If you want to heat up some black beans to add in some additional protein feel free to add those as well

You can add leftovers to a salad for lunch the next day as well. Or you can wrap up in a whole wheat tortilla to make a chicken fajita burrito.

 


 

Monday Meal #2 Chicken Stir Fry (~ 15 minutes total prep/cook time)

Serves 2

Leftover chicken breast (~1 chicken breast)

Leftover brown rice (~ 2 cups)

2 pounds green beans (Can chop off the ends if you have time but otherwise these can go straight into sauté pan)

1 Bunch of Green onion (chopped)

1 garlic clove (diced)

2 tsp sesame oil (can also use EVOO)

¼ cup teriyaki marinade (Wan Ja Shan Organic or Kikkoman; you can also make your own with soy sauce, honey, garlic & ginger if you have the time)

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional for extra heat)

 

To Make:

Sauté green beans and garlic in sesame oil for 3-5 minutes on medium/high heat

Add chicken and teriyaki marinade and stir together for another 3-5 minutes

Add rice and continue stirring until marinade is mixed well with the rice

Top with green onion and stir again

Serve in a bowl and top with red pepper flakes for added heat

 



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