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 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 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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Healthy Food To Eat For Less: 7 Tips for Eating Well on a Budget

how to eat healthy food on a low income or tight budget

Has anyone ever told you “it’s too expensive to eat well, you can’t find healthy food to eat on a budget?”

I’m here to tell you something big: that’s a myth.

It is possible – if not easy – to find (and create!) cheap healthy food to eat on a budget.

When I first moved out on my own, my food budget was $27 every two weeks.  This did not include money for milk and eggs purchased from a farmer, but did include everything else.  My grocery budget has increased over the past two years, but I did learn a significant amount about how to save money on healthy food.

I am often asked where I buy my food.  When preparing this post, I realized while I used to do basically all of my shopping online with immediate needs purchased at Whole Foods or the local farmer’s market, I’m now spending most of my budget at Aldi. Here are a few tips for a buying groceries on a budget:

When shopping at a store,  shop with cash.

Once cash is gone, it’s gone. I find it much easier to shop for groceries using cash because it limits my spending and ensures that I get what I absolutely need and will get the most benefit from purchasing. For instance, shopping with cash means I will think twice about stocking up on a year’s supply of peanut butter if I’m about to run out of eggs and fruit.

When shopping online, have a budget.

Whether you choose to pre-load a Visa gift card as your “cash” or you are very well self-controlled when you purchase online, having a budget will help keep impulse spending under control.

Shop with a calculator

so you don’t go over budget. What’s the point of a budget if you won’t keep track?

Eat mostly produce.

I have found that the more produce I eat, the more energy I have and the better I feel, so I aim for 8 servings of vegetables a day and 1-3 servings of fruit (to help limit my sugar intake).  I then add in my proteins for the day, along with plenty of healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, salmon, and the occasional handful of cashews).  Most of my non-perishables are purchased organic online, but especially during the summer I like to visit the local farmer’s market.  I love supporting local businesses so occasionally I’ll order straight from a farmer (but only if it’s within my budget!).

Stock up on favorites.

This may go without saying, but you save money when you buy things you know you love and will use.  Experiment occasionally, but do so in small quantities until you know you really love a certain product.  For instance, I got a great deal on a 5 gallon tub of organic coconut oil.  I know that I will use that 5 gallon tub of coconut oil, so that was a good purchase.  But if I had purchased a 5 gallon tub of pickles because it was a great deal…well, I hate pickles so it wouldn’t be great deal.

Limit processed purchases.

The ingredients I buy are basics that I use to make my food staples (coconut flour/oil, olive oil, raw honey, etc).  I drink water, coffee, tea, kombucha, bone broth, and the occasional mug of hot chocolate or tea.  I make most of my basics, including kombucha and bone broth.

Cycle purchases.

I don’t eat my fridge and pantry empty every week, so I don’t purchase all of these things every week.  This is one huge way I can make my budget work for me.  I generally use about a quart of coconut oil every other week or so.  I could spend $17 on a quart every other week, but that would cut into a lot of the purchases.  I made my big 5 gallon purchase when the price was $11 a quart on sale.  Now I don’t have to buy coconut oil for a long time, and have that savings freed up to spend on other things, like eggs (I eat about 2 dozen a week, on average).

Order online and order in bulk.

I signed up for a local organic produce delivery service. This significantly limits my personal impulse spending, and also saves on shipping costs.

I used to be quite the coupon queen, but because I now buy mostly online or at discount stores like Aldi, (and make just about everything from scratch), I don’t use a lot of coupons anymore.  I do, however, take advantage of sales and specials, so I am easily able to save money on healthy food.

One of my favorite places to shop online is Thrive Market. Thrive Market is an online store best described as “Whole Foods with Aldi prices and Amazon convenience.” For every membership sold, Thrive Market donates a membership to a family in need. It’s a great program and it’s how I save hundreds of dollars every year, without sacrificing quality of food! Click here to get 20% off your first three orders! 

Ready for even more tips, including a sample grocery list, menu plan, and cooking guide? Download your free copy of my ebook, Dirt Cheap Nutrition!

How do you save money on healthy food?

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