Saturday, August 15, 2009

Healthy on a Budget

I get so frustrated when I read articles that talk about eating healthy on a budget and they offer no real savings. I thought I would share a few of the ways we try and eat healthy on a very modest budget. We spend only $100 a week to feed and provide necessities for 5 people and a baby. Believe it or not it can be done! Here are some nutritious and cheap foods and the ways we have found to use them.

Breakfast Foods:
  • Oatmeal, we use a lot of this at our house. It is quick and easy to make. We like to make it with pure maple syrup (only affordable because my hubby makes it :), cinnamon, flax seeds and butter, on occasion I will add frozen blueberries. We also make pumpkin oatmeal with milk, canned pumpkin, maple syrup and pie spices. Pumpkin is cheapest in the fall, we usually stock up then. Oatmeal is best priced at Aldi. We've been getting ground flax seeds at a store called U-Bake next to Aldi in Savage. You can get a big container of cinnamon at Sam's club for a huge savings over the little bottles from the store.
  • Cereal. Our goal is to always purchase cereal for under 10 cents/ounce. You can get regular granola, frosted shredded wheat and raisin bran all from Aldi for that price. These are still highly processed so we keep our cereal consumption to 1-2 days/wk.
  • Muffins, quick breads, pancakes and waffles. I have a recipe for ww baking mix that makes these quick and easy to make. Baking Mix: 3/4c baking powder, 1C wheat germ, 3/4c sugar (use sucanat if possible), 1T cream of tartar, 3T salt (always use sea salt), 5lbs whole wheat flour (whole wheat pastry flour makes this even more light and tasty). Mix all together and store in freezer 6mos. or fridge 3mos. To make pancakes take 1 egg, 1c milk, 1T oil and 2C mix. Stir together and fry. For biscuits take 3 1/2c mix and cut in 1 stick butter. Mix in 1 1/2 c milk until just blended. Drop on a greased pan and bake 425 for 12-15min. Use this in place of all of the dry ingredients in quick bread and muffin recipes.
  • Eggs and toast. You can get really good quality eggs for under $2.75/dz. We usually purchase these at Rainbow or Walmart for the best prices. This is a very nutritious protein for not a lot of money. Try the omega-3 kind for a nutrient boost.


  • Whole Wheat tortilla's. We use a lot of these! Natural peanut butter, honey, banana's and mini choco chips are a treat for the kids. We also do sandwich style wraps with nitrate free meat (Target's Archer Farms brand is the tastiest and cheapest), cheese (either bought from Sam's and shredded at home or slices from Aldi), vegetable's and dressing. One way I introduced new raw vegies to our girls was to cut up several vegies and put them on a tray for the children to pick at least two to put in their wraps. Quesodilla's are another delicious option. We like to put beans of all kinds on a buttered tortilla face down in a fry pan and top with cheese then dip in salsa and sour cream. Adding left over light meat is tasty too. We get our re-fried beans at Aldi and ww tortilla's at Sam's or the regular grocery store. We also do hot dog wraps with nitrate free hot dogs, re-fried beans spread on tortilla and cheddar cheese. Roll up and dip in ketchup.
  • Tuna is another staple at our house we like it as a melt sandwich, in a pasta salad or as a tuna salad sandwich. Simply add some fruit and cut up vegies for a meal. Tuna is best priced at Aldi.
  • On occasion we do a box of mac n cheese. 35 cents a box at Aldi.
  • Eggs are another good lunch. We make eggs in a hole often. Take a piece of bread butter both sides cut out a hole in the middle with a biscuit cutter. Put in fry pan add egg in middle with salt and pepper and cook to desired doneness on both sides.


  • Corn Tortillas (from Aldi) are super inexpensive and tasty. We like to do taco's with warmed tortilla's. We also make our own taco seasoning mix to save. Mexican Seasoning Mix: 1/4c dried onion flakes, 1/2c chili powder, 1.5T Salt, 1.5T cornstarch, 1T cumin, 1T garlic powder, 1T crushed red pepper (less for less spice), 2t beef-flavored bouillon granules (or chicken), 1.5t dried oregano, 1.5t cilantro leaves. Mix all together and use 2T and 1C water per lb. of meat. Breakfast burritos for dinner are a favorite at our house. We use nitrate free Jennie-O breakfast, scrambled eggs, cheese, salsa and sour cream to top and warmed corn tortilla's. For a snack you can drizzle honey and cinnamon on a corn tortilla and put in a hot oven until crispy.
  • Tuna hotdish.
  • Pizza's. We make pizza sauce from a can of tomato sauce (Aldi). Pour in small pan with a bit of olive oil and Italian seasonings like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary etc. Then we either make pizza dough, use pita's to make individual pizza's, or ww hoagies cut in half from Sam's to make french bread pizza. Using a big block of mozzarella from Sam's and shredding it yourself to freeze really makes this affordable. There is pepperoni available nitrate free and nitrate free Italian turkey sausage from Jennie-O we like to use.
  • We also like pizza pasta, the recipe is from Cathy Langlois. You take a box of penne pasta (we use ww from Aldi), cook it. Then layer it with 1/2 pasta, 1/2 bottle spaghetti sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layer and bake 350 for 30-40 min until bubbly.
  • Soup is great dollar stretcher. Sometimes I will puree a vegetable soup and put some alphabet pasta in it to make it more palatable for the children. Always keep your chicken and turkey bones to make soup.
  • Roast chicken is so simple and delicious. Take a whole chicken, thawed and cleaned rub with olive oil and seasonings like salt, pepper, summer savory, thyme, rosemary etc. Stuff with some aromatics (onions, lemons, limes, oranges) and put some potatoes, onions, carrots and celery tossed in olive oil, sea salt and pepper around it. Bake at 400 degrees for 1.5 to 2 hours. Check to make sure temp is 180 degrees and it's done. If you have leftovers (we almost never do this is so good) you can make a soup out of the vegies and leftover meat.
  • Fried Brown Rice. Fry up vegies and meat of your choice, scramble some eggs with it. Add cooked brown rice and season with soy sauce.
  • Beans are always a great filler and economical. We do a lot of Mexican dishes with beans like nachos', beef enchilada's, burritos and chille verde. Let me know if you want bean recipes I am happy to share.
  • Chicken pot pie is a simple meal to have ready on to make on the pantry shelf. You can make a ww pie crust (I have a simple recipe if you want it), keep a couple of cans of veg-all (we use the Aldi kind), a can of chicken meat, and a can of cream of chicken.


  • fresh fruit and vegies
  • ants on a log (celery and either peanut butter or cream cheese with raisins on top)
  • Raisins or other dried fruit
  • crackers and cheese
  • chips and salsa

A word about what we avoid. We try and avoid sodium nitrate/nitrite which is a meat preservative and has shown to be carcinogenic in tests. If you look you can find meat without it and not much more of a cost. We also avoid food coloring, corn syrup and refined sugar. I try and do the 90/10 rule. 90% of the time we eat great and choose healthy foods, but, 10% of the time I try not to worry about the cookie at church or the occasional splurge on sugar cereal or the hot dog they order when we are out. As long as we are serving nutritious meals the majority of the time I don't believe a splurge here and there will harm. I think not splurging harms more and makes our family feel restricted which does not lend to a healthy attitude about food.

In my next post I will address eating complaints and issues with our families and some ways we handle them. Until then I hope you find a new way to try some healthy foods and enjoy them!

1 comment:

  1. I need to print this up... How did you know I was going to invite you and the girls over and ask you to bring your fave recipes??? It's easy to keep doing the same things over and over. Variety is good. Timely entry. Thanks.

    BTW, How are the chickens? We were at the fair yesterday and saw Julia's presentation board. Very fun (and practical)!