Can you afford to eat healthier?

Everyone’s busy, and almost everyone is on a budget. Meals need to be cheap and fast, but when we eat cheap and fast foods – it’s often not the best option.

When I first started eating healthier, I would spend SO much money at the grocery store. Partially because I didn’t know how to shop and also because I didn’t have a plan. Can you relate? Do you find yourself running into your local health food store for just a few items, and $300 later, you’re scratching your head and wondering why you’re only walking out of the store with only 2 grocery bags?? That was me! I was so angry with myself, I’d drown my sorrows in a pint of ice cream (not purchased from the health food store).

Eating healthy is expensive if: You do all of your shopping at Whole Foods (no hate against Whole Foods – I LOVE it, it’s just expensive!). You buy a lot of “healthy” prepackaged foods.  You buy a ton of “health” foods then drive through McDonald’s everyday. You don’t have a plan. You let the food go to waste.

Eating healthy is economical if: You have a plan. You cook your meals most of the time. You only buy what you need. You shop from your local grocer or farmer’s market.

I’d like to share with you how I’m able to feed my family on $100 per week. I know what you’re thinking… Yes, I only have a family of 3; however, out of the 21 meals eaten per week, my daughter and I eat 19 of those at home (plus snacks) and my husband eats 15 meals at home.

My challenge:

$100 for 1 week of healthy groceries.

Before going to the store:

Have a plan. Take a few minutes to scan cabinets and the refrigerator. Look for items that are running low or  items you have run out of (milk, butter, etc.) . Throw out anything that is old, rotten or expired.

Make a list. Attached is a list I use to get help with grocery shopping brainstorming. Grocery Shopping Condensed List

Plan a menu rough draft. Saving money requires some planning, but once you do it a few times, I promise it gets faster. I can usually prepare a menu and grocery list in about 20 minutes. When brainstorming a menu, think about a few things: How many things can you pre-cook for use later in the week? What will be good served as leftovers? What freezes well? How many servings will I need?

Sample Menu:

To see how I used my groceries, check out my one week menu plan.

1 week menu plan

* Only buy what you need for one week of meals, unless there is a great sale – then stock up if you know you will use it at a later date.

At the store:

Shop the perimeter as much as possible. The aisles are a distraction, and most of the unhealthy, processed foods are located down the aisle.

Stick to your list.  When I don’t stick to my list I spend more. For instance, my bill was $113 because I bought a snack for my daughter and my husband (which were not included on the menu this week).

Be quick. When I take a leisurely stroll through the store, I buy everything I see. Get in and get out!

Keep a rough running tally.  You don’t have to go through the store with a calculator, but keep a running tally in your mind. For instance, I know (roughly) 60% of my grocery budget will be spent on protein/fat (meat, eggs, nuts, butter/oils), 30% will be spent on veggies and fruit, and the rest will be spent on odds and ends (like new spices, dry beans, milk or an occasional canned item).

Don’t buy junk food. Although it may look cheaper, junk food has little to no nutritive value. This means, you’ll be wanting more soon after you eat it, which will make you buy more, and in the long run, I promise you are spending more money.

Go for whole foods. Do you know your food’s origin? I can look at a green bean and know it came from a bean stalk. If you look at an Oreo or a hot dog, can you clearly tell it’s origin?

Avoid frozen dinners. These are not healthy and full of sodium.

Buy organic (when you can): If you’re going to eat the leaves or the skin, buy organic. If you’re going to throw away the peeling, save your money. Stay away from preservatives, sugars and additives in all other items purchased.

When you get home:

Wash and pick up fruits and veggies. I store these in clear containers that are easy to see. If the veggies and fruits are in plain sight, I’m more likely to eat them.

Store meat that won’t be used within 3 days in the freezer. We have a 3 day rule in our house, some people choose to keep meat in the refrigerator longer with meat, and that’s okay 🙂 Do what works for you!

My grocery store loot!

ol 502

Notes and disclaimer:

I do not coupon! I wish I did, but I don’t. I have a difficult time finding coupons for whole food items. I occasionally use coupons for home goods.

I don’t always go to the same grocery store. I generally will go to the most conveniently located store with the best prices.

I prefer to get my produce from the local Farmer’s Market. Produce purchased directly from the grower is usually cheaper and lasts longer than produce purchased in grocery stores.

*One of my meals used shrimp. I purchase shrimp wholesale for $4 per pound.

** The “impulse purchases” added $10.41 cents to my bill, and I also purchased sponges for $1.95. Had I stuck to my list, my final total $100.64 – close enough~

*** The bananas and blueberries are my little girl’s “go to” snack foods.

**** All of the items in the picture correspond with my attached 1 week menu plan! 1 week menu plan

How much do you spend on groceries per week? I’d love to hear about it!!

Are you ready to jump start a health and wellness plan for your life? Click here!  for healthy weight loss, cleanses, vitamins, pain management and breast health products!

Questions or comments – email JadaDanos@gmail.com

Sources:

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-american-eating-habits

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Cajun Tradition and a Roasted Dirty Bird

I’m cajun. Not the pretend kind of cajun that claims the heritage becuase they spell words like “go” with an “-eaux”. I’m the real deal – born and raised on Bayou Lafourche. I spent most of my childhood hating the place, but now that I’m grown and gone, I’m very nostalgic about certain things. In the Cajun tradition, three things are very important family, faith and food. They’re all intertwined and revolve around each other.

One of the most important traditions is what is known as “Sunday dinner.”

Growing up in our family,  this is what Sunday dinner was all about…

Every Sunday, after church, everyone gathered at Maw Maw’s house for lunch .  When you arrived, you were typically greeted with smells of gumbo roux, roast, fried chicken and cake. An average Sunday dinner consisted of gumbo and rice, roast or beef stew, fried or baked chicken, potato salad and cake (this is why it’s called Sunday dinner, you eat a noon, and are full until the next day.) You had to fill your plate with one of everything, and it was offensive if you only served yourself once. After lunch was family time, in the fall and winter we watched football, in the spring and summer we played outside before slipping into a carbohydrate/blood sugar coma.

This tradition is still preserved in my family. Almost every Sunday we gather at my mom’s house after church, we have lunch (albeit, a much smaller version of what Maw Maw used to cook), spend the afternoon together, enjoy each others company, and occasionally slip off into a carbohydrate coma – Sunday is most definitely cheat meal day.

Occasionally, I get to host Sunday dinner, and when I do, I like to try to impress my family. This past Sunday, I was lucky to host my brother and his lovely girlfriend, and in honor of the New Orleans Saints season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, we ate roasted dirty bird (turkey breast).

Here’s my recipe:

Citrus Roasted Turkey Breast

Ingredients:

1 turkey breast (thawed and sliced into cutlets). From a safety standpoint it is best to thaw turkey breast in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours.

1 naval orange (sliced)

1 lemon (sliced)

2 -4 tablespoons of coconut oil, butter or ghee (depending on the size of the breast)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons all purpose seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash, but use whatever your family likes – rosemary is also very good!)

1 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic

Let’s cook:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a roasting pan, place the slices of orange and lemon on the bottom of the pan.

After the turkey breast is thawed and sliced, placed the slice of turkey on top of the citrus slices (you don’t have to be perfect, just lay them on top).

Melt butter, ghee or coconut oil. After melted, add olive olive, seasonings, and garlic. Stir to mix well.

With a basting brush, brush the turkey cutlets with the seasoning mixture – reserve any leftover mixture.

Bake for 40 minutes. Remove pan from oven, flip cutlets over, baste with any dripping and leftover seasoning mixture, and place pan back in the oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove from oven. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature – which should be 165 degrees.

dirty bird

I’m really picky about turkey, because I often find it to be too dry for my liking. This turkey is not! It’s so yummy, and a great fall meal since citrus is in season.

We served the turkey with oven roasted veggies (brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots and onions – all fall veggies) and salad.

Unfortunately the Saints lost, but the bird was good!

For questions or comments, please email JadaDanos@gmail.com

big FAT lie

I”m so over the “f” word getting a bad rap… Get your mind out the gutter, I’m talking about FAT.

For years I’ve consumed thinks like 1/3 fat cream cheese, low-fat milk, reduced fat salad dressing, reduced fat grains, and I shudder to think about the amount of margarine I’ve eaten in my short 29 years. I picked canola oil over butter. I ate chicken in place of steak. Heck, I even went the vegetarian route for a hot minute. All the while trying to figure out what is the best way to nourish this machine God gave me.

Then someone introduced me to a wonderful book by Gary Taubes PhD, titled “Why We Get Fat, and What to Do About It.” This book changed my entire thinking about nutrition and the garbage (literal and figurative) we’ve been fed since the 1950s.

Here’s a run down, then I want you to read it for yourself – don’t trust me, make your own conclusions!

In the 1950s a lovely little man by the name of Ancel Keys introduced what we now know as the “low-fat diet.” The long and short is, he conducted the largest nutritional study, of 7 countries  and 13,000 men. He concluded that eating fats (specifically saturated animal fat) leads to heart disease. His research was erroneous, but even still he was then appointed a position with the American Heart Association, and bing, bang, boom – some of the most recommended nutritional guidelines were born.

While low-fat isn’t necessarily bad (there are some bad fats including trans fats and vegetable oils), we’ve exploited this recommendation.  When fat is removed from foods, it is disgusting and flavorless, so naturally, a flavor replacement has to occur. Often this replacement is sugar, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) or sugar substitutes.

So why are we still buying into the big fat lie?

Mainly, it’s been fed to us (pardon the pun) for so long, that we just accepted it. Secondly, food marketing! For many decades, commercials, packaging and weight loss programs touted the “low-fat” diet as a way to lose weight, and finally it was recommended by the American Heart Association to recommend low-fat diets. However, new research is coming out (article sourced below) about fat being our friend.

So how is fat our friend…

Our bodies need fat for the p of vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat is also great for your skin and your body uses it for fuel when you perform aerobic activity. It is also recommended by the USDA that we get 20%-35% of our nutrition from fat.

In parting, it may be best to think twice about those 100 calorie snack packs in exchange for a sliced avocado or tree nut. Please don’t buy margarine, and for the sake of Pete, order a steak every once in a while. Just remember that fat is not the “f” word. Our bodies need it. Our bodies don’t need prepackaged  junk foods.  I find that when I eat clean, whole, natural foods – the fat argument is a moot point. If we eat what God intends for us to eat and designed our bodies to eat, we could save a whole lot of time and money on pointless research and just live healthier lives.

*I have a challenge for my readers – next time you visit the grocery store, check the labels on a few “low-fat” or “non fat” foods, then notice the sugar content. If for some odd reason, the sugar content is 0g, look in the ingredients for hidden sugars and sugar alcohols.

Questions or comments email JadaDanos@gmail.com

I believe is the power of whole food nutrition, but I also supplement my diet. If you’re interested in learning more about supplements click here.

Articles used for this post about fat being our friend:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/02/health/low-carb-vs-low-fat-diet.html?_r=0

http://authoritynutrition.com/11-biggest-lies-of-mainstream-nutrition/

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303678404579533760760481486

Taubes, PhD, Gary. “How We Get Fat and What to Do About It”

Other Sources used for this post:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/oils-why.html

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/skinny-fat-good-fats-bad-fats