Sample grocery list and tips for eating on a budget

Wow I can’t believe how time has flown. It was February the last time I made a post, but things have been pretty crazy for me the last two months. Good news is I finally got a job! I am incredibly excited about it and love it so far. So things have been kind of hectic and It has taken me a little time to get adjusted to my new place and having a working schedule but I think I am finally settled in enough now to start back up with my blog.

One thing that has been very important for me with the move is making sure that I maintain my healthy lifestyle while staying within my budget. Living alone does present some problems when it comes to buying groceries and cooking, when I buy my fruits and veggies I need to make sure that I can use them before they go bad. Cooking can be a challenge too, when I make something its sometimes hard to make enough just for one but I don’t really want to be eating the same thing all week either.  So I have come up with a sample grocery list and a few tips for those of you out there dealing with the same problems. Things that have worked for me so far and hopefully will help you stay healthy on a budget.

Sample list and tips:

Pick hearty veggies that will last well in the fridge:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Red leaf romaine (last the longest if you rip it up, wash it in a salad spinner then just store it in the spinner. It stays fresh and crisp for up to a week and a half, plus it takes some of the work out of making a salad when you want one later!)
  • Lemon/lime- great to keep on hand for seasoning fish or chicken
  • Peppers
  • Unripe avocado- if you buy and avocado at the beginning of the week before it is rip and you don’t plan on using it right away keep in the fridge it will ripen more slowly and that way you can have one around for when you want it later in the week.
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Onion

Hearty, fridge friendly fruits:

  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Bananas- Not for the fridge but I make sure to buy them slightly green, that way they last through the week. If they do get too brown before I eat them I peel them then throw the in the freezer to use later or a smoothie or to dip in dark chocolate 🙂

Canned or frozen:

  • Frozen corn and peas-These are always great to have around. You can throw them into soups stews and stir-fry’s for a little color and sweetness or de-thaw small amounts at a time to add to a salad.
  • Canned un-pickled beets- great for adding to a salad during the week not only are they delicious but packed with vitamins!
  • Canned Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans- Another great addition to salads and a vegetarian source of protein. They can be roasted and turned into a salty snack, mashed into a humus or curried and poured over rice for a vegetarian dinner. The possibilities are endless!
  • Canned black beans (low sodium)- I loved having canned black beans around they are great for adding to salads, or rice or for making vegetarian tacos or burritos.
  • Frozen fruit- Let’s face it we can’t always have fresh fruit on hand. So for them times when we can’t frozen unsweetened fruits are a lifesaver! I love to have a bag around to use for topping my vanilla Chobani yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese. Its perfect for a quick snack or breakfast! If you prefer them thawed just take some out the night before and store in a Tupperware in the fridge. If you forget, just zap them in the microwave for a few seconds till they are thawed but not hot.

Protein:

  • Eggs- always a great option, cheap delicious and healthy plus they work great for breakfast lunch or dinner.
  • Fish- of course fresh is always a better fresh, but can get expensive and hard to buy the day you want it. I try and stick with Trader Joe’s frozen uncooked shrimp or frozen cod.
  • Chicken- when I buy a pack of chicken breast I always trim and butterfly them right when I get them home. I then put the two halves into freezer bags and freeze them so they will be ready to use later. That way they are portioned perfectly and I get two meals out of them!
  • Beef/pork/other meats- Personally I don’t buy a lot of other meat, if I do these are things that I buy usually the day of, but you could use the same method for these meat as I do for the chicken.

Dairy:

  • GREEK YOGURT- I LOVE this stuff. Chobani and Fage are definitely the two best kinds in my opinion as far as consistency, flavor, protein and sugar content. I usually buy the big vanilla 32 oz container from Chobani its cheaper than buying the individual flavors and that way I can flavor it with my own fruit. Plain Greek yogurt is also great to have and makes a great substitute for sour cream. Use it to top tacos or baked potatoes you can’t even tell the difference!
  • Low-fat cottage cheese- Makes a great sweet or savory snack. Add fruit or veggies or just eat it plain its delicious and satisfying. For a real treat, top some whole grain crackers with it.
  • Silk almond milk- my favorite non-dairy milk

Grains and snacks:

  • Quinoa- quick delicious and incredibly versatile, not to mention a great source of protein.
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa pasta
  • Old fashioned rolled oats -none of this instant stuff. Old fashioned rolled oats are just as quick. Add some water and put it in the microwave for a minute and its cooked, the instant stuff is just too mushy!
  • Popcorn kernels- Since I started making my own popcorn on the stove top about 7 years ago I can’t go back to the microwave stuff. There are a lot of benefits to buy the kernels, its cheaper, healthier and you can make as much as you want. For three tables spoons of kernels (that’s about a serving) I use 1 tsp of olive oil for popping. Add a little melted butter or margarine when it’s done and a dash of salt or any other seasonings of your choice.
  • Roasted unsalted almonds great snack with some raisins or other dried fruit

So there you have it. A little sample list of the things that I like to make sure I keep on hand week to week. Of course there are other things like cheeses and herbs and seasoning, occasionally breads that you will want to get for certain meals, and then of course things that you will already have at home. But for the most part it’s pretty easy to whip up a weeknight meal with this list whether its just grilled chicken and salad or a shrimp stir fry this list will pretty much cover it.

One other tips I have for you is FREEZE YOUR LEFTOVERS. If you make a meal and have a ton of leftovers don’t make yourself eat the same thing for a whole week. Get some freezable Tupperware or freezer bags and freeze them. Most meals can be frozen, so freezing meals in individual serving sizes is always a great idea. That way if you have a busy day you can just come home and microwave your meal. So instead of buying frozen meals you are just making your own its much healthier and much more economical.

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