breakfast, budgeting, dinner, lunch

Healthy Meal Planning on a Shoestring Budget

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When I was 5, my family moved to a hippy commune.

It wasn’t creepy newspaper headlines kind of place. More of an organic farm mixed with a yoga retreat and an extended episode of Thirtysomething. A lot of pastel was worn. Moral of the story is: the people who lived at this place (many of whom I consider family to this day) were exceptionally healthy and they managed to be this way on very little money. Wholesome meals were prepared from scratch in a shared kitchen space using simple ingredients. No chia seeds or goji berries in sight, but loads of whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and farm-raised meat. My parents laugh a little about the move now, seeing it as their “new agey” phase. Still, living with so many inspiring, creative, thrifty, healthy people had a big influence on my life and my approach to well-being.

Which brings me to the topic of this post…healthy meal planning on a budget.

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When I’m strapped for cash one of the first places I cut back is my food expenses.

  1. I start cooking at home 95% of the time.
  2. cut back on fancy health food items that I like to have, but don’t need to have; and
  3. I menu plan. Menu planning makes it so much easier to reduce food waste at home and saves you from surviving off of crappy takeout.

Since I know meal planning isn’t an easy thing for many folks to do, I’ve tried to break it down for you…using a nifty chart.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
BREAKFAST Toast with peanut butter, sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey Oatmeal with apples, sunflower seeds and cinnamon Toast with poached eggs
LUNCH Kale salad with lentils, carrots and celery Bean and grain bowl Sardine salad and crackers
DINNER Fish with brown rice and salad Chicken, potatoes and kale Roast squash stuffed with tofu scramble
SNACKS Homemade granola barsHard boiled eggs Celery and Carrots with hummus and rice crackers Apple and peanut butter

Why did I choose these meals?

Of course it’s all personal preference and feel free to pick and choose the foods you love, but the meals I’ve chosen for this plan are all healthy, easy to prepare and most importantly…cheap! Eggs, grains, beans, peanut butter and root veggies are staples of a penny-pincher’s diet. When it comes to meat and fish, it’s always good to choose cheaper cuts of meat (bone-in, skin on chicken legs for instance) and fish that’s local to your region. This is just an easy way to put it all together!

Shopping List:

  • Eggs
  • Whole Grain or Gluten Free Bread
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oats
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Sardines in tomato sauce
  • Rice crackers
  • Tofu or Tempeh
  • Chicken legs or thighs
  • Local white fish (hake is a great choice)
  • Broccoli
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Onion
  • Squash
  • Potatoes
  • Brown rice
  • Extras: Tahini, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper

Hope you enjoy! Good luck & keep saving those pennies for the things that really matter….Like data overcharges and a new pair of air force 1s. 😉

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