Cheap and Healthy Eats

As food is one of my biggest budget busters, I always like to learn about cheap and healthy food options to make at home. I eat a mostly plant based diet and am very conscious about where my food is coming from and I want to eat to live, not live to eat.

My eating habits have changed so much over the years. I would say I grew up with eating the typical meat and potatoes diet. When I was in high school, my sweetheart was a vegetarian, so I decided to join him. For several years, I was a vegetarian and an awful one at that. I used to eat pizza, mac and cheese and sometimes even salad! In retrospect, it was the worst kind of vegetarian to be. I wasn’t educating myself about protein or vegetables and was pretty careless.

After realizing that I was anemic and consistently had low energy, I started slowly integrating meat back into my diet. I felt better, but I wasn’t necessarily eating better. In short, my taste buds hadn’t matured since I was a child. I was eating like a 5 year old. I hadn’t adjusted, or tried new things.

I am happy to say my current partner really pushed me to stop eating the same crap. I am ashamed to admit this, but before him, I never had beer, sushi, guacamole, Thai food, or Lebanese food. Now, I love all those things! I can’t believe what I was missing. I was just too stubborn to try new things and was set in my ways. I was scared of the complex tastes, but now I savor them. Boy am I glad I changed.

A few years ago when living in New York, one of my best friends took me to a cooking class. She was a vegetarian and used to make all these amazing things. I finally started realizing the power of legumes and vegetables! In New York, I was mostly living off of boxed or microwave food, which is horrible for you. I finally started to realize that I was getting older, I still didn’t really know how to cook and I was just eating/cooking things that were comfortable or convenient, but had little nutritional value.

Now that I live in Portland, it’s so easy to get inspired by good, nutritious local food. I am inspired by what people are doing in this city with healthy food and I am so happy to say that I am eating so much better than I was even 2 years ago. I eat mostly vegetables and fruits, I get my protein from beans and some meat, and have cut down on the dairy, sugar and alcohol. Oh, how I have loved dairy, sugar and alcohol but they don’t love me back! I feel so much better when I have those items in small doses.

Since I have changed my eating habits, I have tried some new, quick and healthy recipes. I’m not the best cook and prefer simple and easy, over complicated…still working on my patience 😉 Here are a few of my favorites:

Fresh bean salad:

1 can of garbanzo beans, strained

1 avocado, diced

1 lime for lime zest

Add salt if necessary. This recipe is so easy, cheap and good!

Vegan Ice Cream:

1 banana. Peel banana, break up into small parts and put in freezer.

1 cup of almond milk.

Dash of cinnamon.

Put frozen banana, almond milk and cinnamon in a blender until the consistency is thick and smooth, like ice cream. So fresh and tasty! You can even add flax seed, chia seeds, hemp seeds or any other health nut seeds you have in mind.

Caprese Salad:

2 tomatoes diced

Mozzarella

Fresh basil

Put some fresh mozzarella and basil on top of sliced tomatoes and voila!

Fake Chipotle bowl:

Brown Rice or Quinoa

1 can of black beans

1 avocado, diced

2 spoonfuls of pico de gallo (Trader Joe’s!)

1 cup of corn

Hot sauce as desired. Mix and enjoy!

All of these meals will cost between $2-6 depending on where you buy your items. As I said, I am not the best cook, I prefer simple, healthy, cheap and not too time consuming.

Do you have any other recipes to share that fit the bill?

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16 responses to “Cheap and Healthy Eats

  1. Those sound yummy! Might have to try some of those. Here’s one I do quite frequently – 1 can of garbanzo beans, 1 tomato cubed, half a cucumber cubed, greek dressing, and feta cheese – toss and serve 🙂

  2. Ooh, love the fake Chipotle dish! I incorporated meat back into my diet last year since my bf is a major carnivore, and absolutely love it though I know I’m not doing myself any favors health-wise. I’ll try out that Chipotle dish and see if he likes it (though will have marinated chicken on reserve ;)). Thanks for sharing great dishes!

    • Chipotle dish is so good! I still love the real Chipotle, but I’m trying not to go out 🙂 You can definitely add chicken and it would be tasty.

    • Mmmm your soy ginger soup sounds amazing! Yeah, I understand veggie meals can be light sometimes. You can add meat to some of the dishes. I’m getting hungry thinking about this!

  3. I’m like you in how my eating habits have changed for the better. And I really don’t mind putting a little extra money into that part of my budget because I think it’s worth it. Holy cow the vegan ice cream is a brilliant idea. I love dark chocolate, and I know it’s good for me, but I have a problem with sugar. I realize it’s pretty much all or nothing for me and I just can’t have it in the house. 😦

    • The vegan ice cream is really good! As I said, I LOVE real ice cream but it’s so much sugar, dairy and fat. Can’t handle all of that…this is a nice substitute. Sorry you can’t have any sugar, that must be tough. I am so glad our habits have gotten better than worse!

  4. I was never a particularly picky eater. Growing up in a rural area, vegetables were always abundant and cheap. I don’t like eggplant or cooked greens, but vegetable-wise, pretty much everything is okay by me. About the only food that I say that I don’t like but haven’t actually tried would be shellfish. They just look too much like aliens for me to be able to put it in my mouth. I’ve tried a couple times but just can’t bring myself to it.

    I have a few healthy recipes on my food blog ifyoucanread.com. I’ve got a low-fat version of alfredo sauce, stuffed peppers (you can substitute the ground beef for your preferred protein source), vegetarian sloppy joe’s, and homemade pita chips on there as a selection of the healthier recipes on there and all have under 10 ingredients, including spices.

    • That’s great you were never a picky eater! It’s been a long journey for me, but a good one! I will definitely check out your food blog. I love stuffed red peppers, with goat cheese, garlic, onions and rosemary. Didn’t make the list, bc it’s time consuming, but so very good!

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  6. I liked everything except the banana ice cream…because I really hate bananas. LOL. is there something else that you could substitute? I used to be a vegetarian for 5 years and really enjoyed it. But I travel too much so being a vegetarian became a pain…and I didn’t want to feel restricted 🙂

    • You could try making a sort of sorbet with frozen berries and ice? I am not a vegetarian, I just prefer to be plant based when there is a choice. I have chosen to eat mostly plants, but I still eat fish. I have decided that I will eat whatever, if there is a social situation or if I am traveling, because food is such a big part of connecting, and I wouldn’t want to not take part in that experience.

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