Cheap and Healthy: Zucchini

healthy budget meals, cheap healthy food, healthy food on a budget

Next on the list of cheap and healthy foods, it’s my favorite vegetable. That’s right, it’s zucchini day!

See also:

Lentils

Bananas

Do you like zucchini? Unfortunately it usually doesn’t get much attention unless people can make it into a sugar-laden bread. Just throwing it into bread hurts my heart because as a vegetable it is so delicious and versatile. This delightful summer squash contains plenty of nutrients, including folate. Folate is super important for women of childbearing age, as studies have shown a diet low in folate during pregnancy puts a child at risk for spinal conditions. The flavor ranges from sweet to savory, depending on the size (the smaller the size, the sweeter it is). The blossoms are considered a delicacy when stuffed with cheese and herbs.

Growing up, I always had zucchini sliced and steamed, or in bread (okay I do really like the bread, but the sugar content is usually really high).

Zucchini has recently been rediscovered as a low-carb star, especially in paleo and gluten-free diets. Popular dishes include “zoodles” (made by either shredding or running it through a spiralizer), or by cutting lengthwise, scooping out the seeds, and filling with meats, cheese, and sauce for either a lasagna or pizza boat. It has a mild flavor so it can pick up the flavors of the spices you use with it.


Thrive Market sells your favorite organic and non-gmo brands for up to 50% off retail.

Last summer a friend gave us a large harvest of zucchini and instead of baking it into bread, I looked up new recipe ideas and found that it can be an apple alternative in pie and cobbler. Zucchini cobbler is delicious, ya’ll.

What is your favorite way to eat zucchini? Post your recipes in the comments!

Want to learn how to slash your grocery budget and still eat healthy? Download my free ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition!

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Cheap and Healthy: Bananas

cheap healthy food, healthy meals, budget meals, healthy budget meals, healthy food on a budget

See also:

Lentils

Zucchini

It’s banana day! This is particularly good timing since they are on sale at Aldi for $0.29/pound, and no that was not planned.

Bananas are technically a berry. The high amount of vitamin B6 in one banana makes them a great source of quick energy.

Growing up, I thought they had a weird texture and I went through a phase where I really didn’t like them. Tristan has the same texture issue so he just squishes it around his place at the table and doesn’t actually eat them yet. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate this odd fruit.


Thrive Market sells your favorite organic and non-gmo brands for up to 50% off retail.

Everyone knows  you can either eat them plain or let them “go bad” to make banana bread, but they are actually quite the versatile fruit. Did you know you can use them as egg replacements? Use one ripe and mashed banana to replace an egg in a recipe. This is especially helpful if anyone is trying to “vegan-ize” old favorite recipes.

Mix a banana and an egg together for gluten-free pancakes and top with a berry compote or real maple syrup. For extra protein, add a scoop of protein powder to the pancake mix. Some of my friends use Juice Plus’ Complete protein (with nutrition from 24 different plants!) in their mix and they call them “plantcakes.”

Peel and freeze bananas and blend them with some berries and/or cacao/chocolate powder (or more protein mix) for some healthy ice cream, or add to your smoothies for added thickening, chill, and creaminess. My favorite smoothie is frozen banana, chocolate protein powder, a scoop of peanut or almond butter, and a splash of almond milk.

What are your favorite ways to eat bananas?

For more money-saving ideas, download my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition, for free!

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Cheap and Healthy: Lentils

how to cook with lentils, cooking with lentils, lentil recipe ideas, cheap vegan protein

For the next few Mondays I will be sharing some of my favorite healthy basics and a few ways to eat them. Enjoy! 

Lentils

Lentils are technically a legume, and they are a very common ingredient in middle eastern dishes, mostly curry or stew, or served over rice. High in zinc, iron, and phosphorus, with a solid 26g protein per 100g raw, they are an excellent addition to anyone’s diet, but especially pregnant women and people with anemia.

There are many different colors of lentils. The yellow and red hold together during the cooking process better and are good for stews. The brown tends to turn mushy and is used as a thickener for soups. Personally, I use brown most often and serve it over rice.

Related: Download my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition, for free!

The lentil is particularly appealing because it cooks very quickly, somewhere between 10-45 mintues. However, to maximize the nutrition value it is recommended that you soak lentils for a prolonged period of 8 hours. Sprouting the lentils is another way to get rid of the enzymes that inhibit digestion and release all those minerals and delicious protein.


Thrive Market sells your favorite organic and non-gmo brands for up to 50% off retail.

My all time favorite recipe is to cook them with wild rice in a mushroom broth with onions and garlic. Back when I was especially strict with my diet, this meal was a staple both for price point and nutrition. Lentils tend to take on the taste of whatever they are cooked with, so they are wonderful used to extend meat in chili or tacos. A local restaurant here in town is known for their lentil burgers. It’s an extremely versatile food and definitely a staple in healthy frugal eating!

Do you eat lentils? What is your favorite recipe? If you leave a recipe in the comments I might just try it and feature it in a future post!

 

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How to Get Healthy Food for Cheap – Without Coupons!

healthy food on a budget, how to buy cheap healthy food,

Yes, it’s true. I used to be an extreme couponer. I spent hours each week clipping, organizing, planning, and executing my multiple-transaction purchases. I had enough deodorant, shampoo, hair dye, toothpaste, and non-perishable food products to last me a good 3 years.

And then I went hippie.

Related: Download my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition, for free! 

When you make your own toothpaste and deodorant because you are concerned about toxic chemical overload, $0.25 toothpaste isn’t a draw anymore. And unfortunately, most places don’t have extreme coupon scenarios for their coconut oil.


Thrive Market sells your favorite organic and non-gmo brands for up to 50% off retail.

Here are 6 things I’ve learned since transitioning to the bright side:

  1. Occasionally, there are coupons for organic produce. I have found coupons for organic salad greens, nuts, peppers, and more. I have also written to companies and they have sent me coupons for free products as well as $ off coupons. Target’s Cartwheel app also frequently has deals on produce.
  2. Organic is becoming more widespread, so places like WalMart and Aldi now carry organic produce, organic/gluten-free boxed food, and even organic coconut oil! At my last trip to Aldi I noticed they have a bag of organic quinoa for less than $3. Brilliance, I tell you.
  3. It is much more convenient to make your own care products than to spend hours searching for free toothpaste. Because after so many hours of clipping/planning/driving/shopping, was it really free? I discovered a couple one-time investments in ingredients made it possible for me to mix up toothpaste for myself and my husband for two years! Plus when you realize at 11pm that you’re out of toothpaste, it’s much faster to mix up a quick batch than to get dressed, run to the store, pick out the toothpaste, drive back from the store, brush your teeth, and get back in your pajamas. Just sayin.
  4. I can use the creativity and problem solving skills I learned while planning my coupon trips to find creative ways to save on organic food. For example, I learned to buy organic for free.
  5. Use coupons for other things. I still use coupons for clothes, books, toys, and everything else. Just not to the extreme, because I do not need 10 bath towels.
  6. Shop online. Thrive Market is an online discount club with significantly reduced prices on all your favorite health foods. Try it out for free before you join, and get 20% off your first three orders!

How do you save money on healthy items?

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How to eat organic for FREE

Happy Monday friends!

The biggest argument I hear to healthy eating (that honestly, I’ve given myself) is “it’s too expensive!” So today I wanted to show you how you can actually eat organic food for free.

Yes, free.

When we first got married, I brought my amazon prime account into our marriage. Which was super awesome because not only did we get free shipping on basically anything, but we had access to the Prime movies – yay free entertainment! Right after we got married, Amazon introduced the most awesome thing EVER – Amazon Pantry.

The general idea is you order however much of whatever pantry-ish item you want for a flat shipping fee of $5.99. Oh, and they give you a running total of how big your box is (and they can get pretty big). One time Peter did a one hour phone survey about going to college and earned a $50 amazon gift card, and so we headed right on over to Amazon Pantry and ordered a HUGE order of food and toilet paper. I think we paid $0.28 in total out of pocket.

{Click here to get a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, and get access to the Amazon Pantry!}

This was so awesome we wanted to take advantage of this goodness again, so I started earning Swagbucks and trading them in for amazon gift cards.

I’ve been diligently earning Swagbucks again recently, so I took a look at the Amazon pantry. They now have TONS of organic options! I saw everything from granola to broth to pasta. Obviously you can’t get your perishables there, but if you can earn Swagbucks, turn them into gift cards, and get all of your nonperishables organic, how much of your grocery budget would that free up to get the rest organic?

So, how do you earn Swagbucks? 

  1. Join for free! {Earn a $3 gift card when you sign up through this link!}
  2. Install the Swagbucks search bar as your main search site. Anytime you search, you have the chance to earn Swagbucks!
  3. Earn 40+ points every day just by adding the swagbucks tv app on your phone and letting it run for an hour or so while you do other things, answer the daily poll, complete the NOSO (just click “skip” the whole time till the end), and enter a swag code, which is usually sent daily.
  4. Refer friends (you earn 10% of all of their earnings for life!)
  5. Use the “shop and earn” feature. This is my favorite! Anytime you order anything online, check Swagbucks first to see if they have a partnership. Chances are they do, so you first log in to your swagbucks account, click “shop and earn,” then click the store you want to go to. This creates a unique code that tracks how much you actually spend, and you earn so many Swagbucks per $1 spent! Right now Amazon is giving 5 SB/$1. Christmas shopping = FREE GIFT CARDS! They also have partnerships with Walmart, Target, Vitacost, and even Groupon and Living Social!

One of my goals for 2016 was originally to pay for all of Christmas just with Swagbucks gift cards. However, now that I see this I’m thinking of all the organic things I can purchase for free that I can use to benefit my family’s health.

Swagbucks are a great way to earn a little extra spending money, especially when on a tight budget. I hope this will encourage you that with a little ingenuity, organic healthy living IS possible!

Ready for more tips to stretch your dollars and still eat healthy? Download your free copy of my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition! 

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