Guest Blogger Jennifer: Ten Tips for Eating Well & Saving Money

Fast food restaurants offer a dollar menu. Processed food at the grocery store is super cheap. These might be a good fit for some people’s budgets, but these foods aren’t a good fit for ANYONE’S body. Trust me, I used to eat from the dollar menu and out of boxes of processed, food-like products.
I began to realize the toll these “foods” were taking on my body. I was 40 pounds overweight, tired, anxious, and had no energy. When I took a step back, I realized that I was consuming things chock-full of fillers, artificial dyes, chemicals, and lots of ingredients I couldn’t even pronounce on a daily basis. I did a clean sweep of food in my kitchen and found ingredients including: propylene glycol alginate, disodium inosinate/guanylate, aspartame, phenylketonurics, Red 40, sorbitol, acesulfame, Yellow 5 & 6, Blue 1, propylparaben, high fructose corn syrup, and soybean oil with TBHQ; just to name a few.
I knew it was time for a mealtime makeover! Out with the junk and in with the healthy stuff!
My goal was to eat better and feed my family better, but I had to do it in a smart way. I couldn’t go throwing tons of money on organic everything! With some adjustments, now our family eats a healthy, 6 meal a day diet for $70 or less per week. Eating well DOES require some planning and preparation, but it doesn’t have to be difficult OR expensive. Check out my top ten tips for eating well and saving money and check out the sample meal plan below!
  1. Make a plan: Take inventory of what food you already have and plan your meals around this FIRST. On Wednesdays, I do a quick inventory list of what is in our cabinets, fridge, and freezers. I categorize the food we have into these categories: protein, fruit, veggies, carbs, healthy fats, pre-made meals (frozen from leftovers), and other. These foods are then incorporated into our weekly meal plan, so I make sure we use up what we already have instead of spending extra money on things we don’t really need at the grocery store.
  2. Shop from a list: Use your meal plan to create a grocery list. On Thursdays, I develop a meal plan for the following week, using as many ingredients that I have on hand as possible. That meal plan is then used to make our grocery list, categorized by food types to save me time at the store. I use these headings for our grocery list: produce, meat, cold/frozen, grains, other, and non-grocery. That way, I only get what we REALLY need (saving money!) and shop in one section at a time rather than running all over the store (saving time!).
  3. Shop once: I used to run to the store anytime I needed an ingredient or had a whim to whip up something in the kitchen, but proper planning and valuing my time has stopped this habit! I usually do our grocery shopping for the following week on Fridays and buy only what we need. That’s the only time we go to the grocery store, unless there is something that we run out of or absolutely can’t live without until the next shopping trip.
  4. Buy multi-use ingredients: For example, buy one chicken that can be used as a protein in a salad for lunch on M/W/F and shredded for taco bowls for supper on T/Th. You can change up the seasoning depending on what type of meal you’re having. Black beans can be used as a carb in the salad with the chicken for lunch on M/W/F and with the taco bowls on T/Th!
  5. Use the “Dirty Dozen” list: These produce items have been found to contain high levels of pesticide residue and should be bought organic (if possible): strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. (Think “thin skinned” produce.)
  6. Prep your meals & snacks in advance and take with you on the go: I prep our breakfasts, lunches, and snacks on Saturday and Sunday. Then, these meals are easy to grab & go on busy mornings during the week. This keeps you out of drive thrus, helps you avoid impulse buys when you’re HANGRY, and fuels your body throughout the day with healthy things!
  7. Cook in bulk and eat leftovers throughout the week: I used to spend hours cooking and cleaning up the kitchen EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Not anymore! I cook one bulk meal on Monday night and a different bulk meal on Tuesday night. We eat the same meals every other day (ex: Grilled fish, rice, and roasted broccoli on M/W/F and shredded chicken, corn tortillas, and sauteed zucchini/onions/mushrooms on T/Th.) Finish or freeze the leftovers during the weekend (we do a fridge clean out on Sundays) to avoid wasting food (AKA money!).
  8. Utilize your FREEZER: I check for marked down meat when I grocery shop. I’ll get what I can use for future meals and put in the freezer! I also like to freeze bread, chopped veggies, grilled chicken breasts, cake icing, you name it! This makes it quick and easy to pull out needed ingredients without an extra trip to the store. We also freeze any leftovers at the end of the week to use for future meals, which is a huge money saver!
  9. Get cash back: Browsing apps such as Ibotta (https://ibotta.com/r/kounnnl) before your shop can help you save even more money! It only takes a few minutes to check through the cash back offers. They offer gift cards & cash back through Paypal just for using your store card or scanning your receipt. It’s free, super easy to use, & you get a $10 bonus when you enroll!
  10. Eat a portion controlled diet: Americans typically eat WAYYYY too much food at a time. Instead of eating 3 large meals, try 6 smaller meals spaced 2-3 hours apart. Scale back to a proper portion to save some bucks!
Sample Meal Plan:
The meal plan below is based on a 1500-1799 calorie diet. But, I don’t count calories AT ALL. I use a simple, color coded, portion control system that allows me to eat food from just about every category as long as it fits in the container. Easy peasy!
Monday/Wednesday/Friday
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, banana, toast with peanut butter
Snack: Shakeology (superfood shake!), frozen banana
Lunch: diced turkey, hard boiled egg, mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, crackers, cheddar cheese, balsamic dressing
Snack: carrot sticks
Supper: baked pork chop, sweet potato, peas
Snack: apple slices with peanut butter
Tuesday/Thursday
Breakfast: vanilla Greek yogurt, pineapple, oatmeal
Snack: Shakeology, frozen banana
Lunch: baked chicken breast, mixed greens, onion, tomato, whole wheat bread, honey mustard, cheddar cheese
Snack: carrot sticks
Supper: grilled salmon, jasmine rice, roasted brussels sprouts
Snack: apple slices with peanut butter
If you’d like help figuring out an eating plan that won’t bust your budget, if you’re interested in more info on the portion control system mentioned above, or you’d just like to connect; check out my business page at: https://www.facebook.com/gritandgracewellness/ and send me a message. I look forward to hearing from you!

Get our healthy solutions right to your inbox now!