Yes, eating healthy on a dime can be done. Especially if you're used to buying a decent lunch; by decent, I mean those who skip the fast food chains and opt for things like gourmet soups, sandwiches and salads.
I hear so many people complain that eating healthy is so expensive, but in truth, I think they may just not know how to shop.
First let me tell you what inspired this post today. Let me start with this. SOOO here's what happened to me this month, my car broke down, yep, it sucks, but it happens to all of us, but this was a bit exceptional. Let me precise with this, being a younger 30 something just getting my bearings in life right after grad school, I know enough to save money in the event of an emergency, but being young and just getting started, there's not a huge amount of excess available yet. Thankfully, I had enough to fix my car, but this is what my month looked like. (Please no complaints about grammar, this is meant to be a satiric representation of the events that transcribed).
Driving, driving, driving, all of a sudden, every sensor in my car comes on, thermostat gauge jumps to "I'm on fire," just kidding, but seriously "I'm WAY over heating" Oh crap, where am I at, great on the I-90 bridge heading into Seattle for the day. Not a good place to leave your car, because it's likely to be towed right before rush hour, so I quickly roll down the windows and blast the heat to pull the extra heat off the engine, and take the next exit. Cognitive mapping system kicks in once I'm on the exit, and I realize, "great, I'm in one of the worst possible areas ever to be female and alone with a broken down overheating car." Ok, now what? Keep driving, slowly taking the back roads to West Seattle until I reach the home of my Seattle mom (one of the best woman I know, she's is not my mom, but lives in Seattle, and claims me as her adopted daughter). Anyway, by the time I arrive at her house 15 min later, my car is very steamy, very overheated, and I'm praying I didn't do major damage. Sweet, Seattle mom calls AAA and has me towed to a nearby mechanic's garage. The result? Broken serpentine belt and water pump, boo. That will be $600, OMG. Tap into savings, thank you to my loving husband for the assist on that one. I finally get my car back, and I'm happy because the bus system takes FOREVER, to get me to work, I'm talking 1.5 hrs+20 min walking, for what is normally a 12 min, 7 mile drive. Celebrating my survival of this short term personal catastrophe, 3 days later I'm driving and my car yells, "But wait there's more." Well, actually, my car temperature gauge suddenly keeps reading that my car is overheating (but no check engine light). WTF CAR? After visually checking and inspecting my car, everything seems fine. Ok, weird. Well its time to change the oil and flush the radiator anyway, so maybe that's all it needs. Radiator fluid is low and purple instead of pink, yes, it's definitely time to fix that. Total due $180. Ok, NOTHING ELSE CAN GO WRONG WITH THIS CAR BECAUSE I CAN'T AFFORD IT. Then 3 days more go by, yay, happy car, WRONG, thermostat starts acting up again, but everything still seems fine, I will get that checked this weekend. Driving, driving, driving OH CRAP, ALL MY SENSORS CAME ON...AGAIN! "NOOOO! What now car? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU? " The car is still not overheating, but says it's overheating, my check engine light came on with a few other sensor lights, and I'm in panic mode. "Please, please, please just let my car be a hypochondriac because i can't afford this anymore." So I take the car to another shop, no such luck on the hypochondria wish. As you can guess by now what the problem is, the thermostat sensor went out, "that'll be $225." Omg. THANKS SWEET HUSBAND for a second assist... AND NOW, I AM BROKE... with 6 days left until payday. A woman has to eat. Which leads me to the second part of this post.
Eating healthy on a budget :)
As a woman who works in the alternative medicine and natural health industry, I constantly preach eating healthy, a good plant based diet, moderate exercise, minimizing sugar, and participating in preventative health care for the body. Just like a car needs routine maintenance, good fuel, good oil, etc etc, so too does the body if you want to keep it functioning at an optimal level. That being said, as a natural health practitioner, my integrity is based on practicing what I preach. Don't get me wrong, I still eat cake occasionally, and this may come as a shock, but I'll indulge in a giant cheeseburger from time to time, but over all, I try to eat very healthy. This can add up if you don't know how to do it, but being on a VERY TIGHT budget this week which means, absolutely no splurging. It's Sat, and I have to go to work. I have $25 to spare on lunch extras this week. What can I do? Eating out is obviously not an option for lunch with the average cost of a healthy lunch being roughly $15 in my location. What to do, what to do?
Time to go grocery shopping (or hit your local farmers market if you can), so here's what I did. I went to our main grocery store chain and hit the produce isle. I basically live there when I'm in the grocery store anyway because that's where all the best healthiest stuff is. I stay out of most of the other isles with the exception of the natural food isle. They don't have much to offer a healthy eater like me. Here's what I bought.
1 pound of washed, chopped ready to serve organic arugula.
2 organic red delicious apples
1 bag of organic baby carrots
1 head of celery
32 Oz free range chicken broth
1 small container of humus
2 small avocados
1 pouch of Seeds of Change organic brown rice quinoa mix (it's already cooked, so it's perfect for lunch)
Wow, I'm impressed with myself. That's a healthy lunch for at least 3 days.
Some of you are looking at this like, "what the hell are you going to do with this mix matched group of ingredients?" Here's what you can do.
Yummy green smoothie:
Handful of arugula
5-6 baby carrots
1 stock of celery
1/2 an avocado
1 apple, cored
1 in piece of ginger
Yep, it was delicious. Some people may think this is weird because the arugula, but I love the spicy, nutty flavor arugula provides on a smoothie.
1 cup of hot chicken broth (heat in microwave)
Small handful of arugula
1/4 cup of quinoa mix
Tiny amount of chopped ginger
Veges with humus:
carrots and celery with humus
1/2 avocado chopped with salt, pepper, and lemon juice (optional)
1 cup hot chicken broth w/ 1/2 stalk chopped celery, 3 chopped carrots
1/4 c quinoa mix
1 cup arugula
1/2 chopped apple
1/2 chopped stalk of celery
4 chopped baby carrots
Whatever salad dressing, or 1-2 tsp olive oil and 1Tbl apple cider vinegar (hopefully you have dressing or something like this on hand)
This is a 3 day sample menu. I still, easily, have enough produce to repeat this menu for the last 3 days until I get paid. Healthy lunch problem solved. Woop woop!
If you'd like easy cheap additions to this menu, look in your refrigerator. I have eggs on hand that I can boil and bring to add to my menu. I also usually have a selection of Mediterranean olives in my fridge, which are a delicious addition to add some good fat.