Don’t let your budget stop you from fueling your engine with the best bang for your buck. After all, you are your very own Ferrari.
No matter how rich or poor you are, one thing is for certain, without food or energy you will not go far. The rich have it easier. If food/nutrition is not their thing, then they can simply hire someone to help them solve the optimum energy riddle. Easy enough.
For those of us on a budget, it is a bit trickier but not by much. Here are some tips to solving the healthy food on the cheap riddle:
- Eating whole foods does not translate to shopping at Whole Foods.
- Whole foods are simply foods in their natural state from sardines, small fish that look like fish, to bananas and peanuts. The closer the food product is to looking like it’s natural state, the better it is for you.
- Refined sugar is a Jedi mind trick. It is the crack-cocaine of the food industry. If we eat it regularly, we become moody when we don’t have it. It is the same as withdrawal. Cut it out as best you can. I do it by giving myself 5 cheats a month. When I really want a sugar fix, I have it. But most of the time I refrain and feel better.
- Find the Asian market near you. For some reason, the produce is better and usually cheaper, or buy what is on sale or in season at the market near you.
- Your freezer is your friend especially for fruits. Buy a bunch, eat some and freeze some.
- Yogurt is your friend. If you can get a culture and follow google instructions, it can also be made cheaply. Yogurt has live cultures. It is good for your gut – hence why all Mediteranean diets are yogurt and fish based.
- Fish is usually cheaper than meat but offers the same benefit. Just don’t fry it.
- Fried food tastes so good but offers little nutritional value. The food is simply cooked too high to maintain any of its nutritional benefits, and microwaves offer none.
- Grilled and baked food is better for nutritional value and optimum energy. Try your favorite dish grilled or baked instead of microwaved or fried.
- Eggs are cheap and cheaper if you have a hen or two.
Healthy breakfast on the cheap:
- Fresh fruit smoothie – two bananas, one apple, ¼ cup 100% apple juice, two tablespoons yogurt, one teaspoon cocoa, two tablespoons sugar free peanut butter, handful nuts, handful of raisins or dates, blend – add water to desired consistency
- Turksih kahvalti – two types of brick cheese, 3 cubes each per person, one loaf fresh bread, 4-6 non-pitted black olives each, 2-3 green olives each, one half tomato sliced per person, one half cucumber sliced per person
Lunch on the go:
- Lentil and black bean soup – leave beans overnight – boil -add spices – put in thermos – serve with one small container of plain yogurt and some bread
- VEggie wrap – tortilla, layer of bean paste with rice, lettuce and herbs, cheese, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt + pepper
- Moroccan Egg and Cheese – half loaf bread, empty core, add hard boiled egg, two pieces of soft spreadable cheese, salt and pepper, olive oil
Dinner to refuel all served with salad:
- Pasta with olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper
- Homemade pizza
- Boiled or baked potatoes with boiled carrots, onions, garlic, and other root vegetables served with yogurt
- Baked or grilled fish
- Baked or grilled chicken
Salad: Dark leafy greens with tomato, onion, pepper, cheese optional, seeds or nuts with an olive oil based dressing with a dash of mustard.
Snacks in your bag:
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh vegetables
- Simple cheese and tomato sandwich
I have just described basically my diet minus the fish and chicken. The simple of it is this, cooking has been around as long as man. It’s not hard. It takes a bit of trial and error, but most meals take 20 minutes tops to prepare, and if prepared well, are always better than a restaurant. It’s like a tailored made suit or dress, it’s for you.
So mix and match, and use Chef Google. When you go to the store and find something in season and on sale, buy it. Find a recipe that looks good. Try it. If you like it, try it again. If you don’t, don’t.
Other than that, drink water. Get used to it. When you get over it, add some lemon and then go back to water. Sometimes the hardest part of something new is rewiring the system of old. It takes time.