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Health Monster: Plant-Based Diet on $50 Per Week

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•Health Monster: How to Eat a Healthy Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet on $50 Per Week

•Money Saving Tips for Eating Vegan on a Budget

 •Navigating the Grocery Store as a New Plant-Based Eater: What You Should Know


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Having a tight grocery budget is something most all of us can relate to at least at some point or another. We all have our ups and downs when it comes to a food budget, and if you’re ever had to watch every penny, you know it can be tough. Sadly, a whole foods, plant-based diet is still seen as an incredibly hard task to manage. “Healthy eating is too expensive!” How many times have we all heard (or said) that?  

Well, the options are now easier than ever and more affordable when it comes to eating a healthy, whole food and completely plant-based diet if you want to give this a shot. If you have $50 per week to designate for groceries, you can easily eat healthy, cheap, and stay full and satisfied at the same time. The USDA reports that of March in 2015, the average food cost for females per week ranged between $47 (low-income) to $57 (moderate income). Mens’ budgets were roughly $20 higher in each group. Many of us buy way more than that each week, and yet find ourselves with food leftover and possibly throwing food out week after week. We’re all human and let cravings, moods, and multiple trips at the store influence our ability to stay on a food budget and eat what we have. So, let’s take a look at how eating healthy, plant-based, and budget-friendly can be done. Spend $20 on Fresh Produce SUPERMARKET (1)
Always keep $20 of your food budget for fresh produce. This will do several things all at once: First, it keeps you accountable for choosing the best foods possible first, it ensures that you have a good amount of fresh food in your diet each week, and it prevents you from spending all your $50 on boatloads of fruit and vegetables you likely won’t be able to eat in a week. If you can choose organic, please do. It’s much healthier for you due to less pesticide exposure, and is very easy to do these days with more stores offering affordable organic foods. Here’s a great idea to start with: 1. One bag of chopped organic kale (or spinach)- $5 2. One head of broccoli (and/or cauliflower!)- $3 3. One bag of organic apples (or bananas, etc.) -$5 4. One bunch of organic celery -$3 5. Two Avocados or Sweet Potatoes, Onions, etc.- $4 If you want to designate $5 more dollars to your budget here, choose lettuces like romaine, or a spinach mix instead. Don’t want apples one week? Choose some oranges and bananas instead. And if you’re one of the few people that doesn’t like avocados, buy a different veggie or more fruit instead. If you need to carry a calculator with you, do it! Or, just use your phone and tally up as you go. Spend $10-$15 in the Bulk Section

bulk-bin-whole-foods Now it’s time to head to the bulk bins. Here you’ll want to buy some grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, except … don’t go crazy with amounts. You don’t need a pound of almonds to eat all week long and don’t need a pound of beans either. Or, skip the bulk beans if you don’t like soaking them, and spend a few dollars on some canned options instead. Purchase nuts and seeds in 1 ounce amounts and only choose a few different ones each week. Remember, you can always try a new kind next week. Here are some good examples of what you could buy: 1. $3 worth of whole grain oats 2. $3 worth of raw almonds 3. $2 of beans 4. $2 of whole grain quinoa or rice But…Don’t Neglect Some of the Options on the Aisle wholefoodscanned

If you prefer, you can also purchase oats and rice in larger bags found in the aisles (or in containers) that are roughly around the same price. Choose this option if you’re fine with eating the same grain all week and save a new grain for next week. Canned beans are also pretty affordable, which makes them a great option if you don’t have time on your hands and don’t want to go through several steps to cook them. Check out These Ideas: 1. Two cans of chickpeas – $4 2. One bag of lentils- $3 3. One container of oats- $3 4. One bag of organic flax seed- $3 Spend $5-7 on Non-dairy Items

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Pt1: DOSE MORINGASOP TO TAKE For Cancer Or In General Prevention from Eric Plott on Vimeo. silk almond Pick up a couple of non-dairy milks; you’ll likely need only one, but if you have a child, roommate, sibling, or you just love the stuff, you might need an extra container. Or, buy a container of non-dairy yogurt if you enjoy it. No need to spend too much of your money here, but non-dairy milk is one of those “must-have items” for many of us, even if we eat whole foods otherwise. Spend the Rest on Frozen Veggies and Fruits

silk milk Don’t neglect frozen foods when you’re trying to eat healthy and on a budget; they’re actually very healthy for you! Plain frozen greens, berries, and veggies like broccoli are must-haves for budget-savvy individuals watching the pennies. A pound of organic frozen spinach costs around $3 per bag, which would easily last you several servings. A pound of frozen fruit is usually around the same amount and you won’t have to worry about it spoiling before you eat it all. You can use frozen veggies in meals when the fresh veggies run out, and you can use the greens in fruits in your morning smoothies! Here are some ideas: 1. One bag of frozen spinach – $2-$3 2. One bag of frozen berries- $3-4 3. One bag of frozen broccoli or mixed veggies – $4 What About Protein?

The-Truth-About-Hemp-Seeds (2) If you’re concerned about protein, you have some options. First, don’t neglect the beans, legumes, and oats which are all great sources, along with other foods high in protein too. Or, if you’d prefer, choose some tofu, tempeh, or even hemp seeds instead of bulk beans, legumes, and nuts. Eat plenty of produce, and some sort of bean, legume, grain, nut/seed daily. A bag of hemp seeds (a complete protein source) is around $8, some smaller bags are less, or if you can swing it, hemp protein is also around $12-$14 per pound, and will easily last you a month per container for smoothies.

For more tips, see How to Navigate the Store as a Newly Plant-Based Eater, 10 Ridiculous Easy Tips to Live on a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet, and remember, where there is a will, there’s a way. Plant-based eating can be healthy, easy, filling, and you can always rotate what you buy so you don’t get tired of the same foods. Check out some more budget-friendly meal tips for more ideas and feel free to share your own!

Money Saving Tips for Eating Vegan on a Budget

Being on a budget is pretty easy to do if you’re vegan, but there are some extra tips you should be aware of to save the most money possible. When it comes down to it, plant-foods are almost always cheaper than animal foods, not to mention kinder to your body and the planet. However, like many of you, I head into the store and get a bit giddy to buy healthy foods, and can find myself going way over budget in no time. To prevent that from happening to you, I’d like to share my top money-saving tips that I use every single week. It’s pretty easy to stick to your budget if you follow these tips, and you’ll even have plenty of food leftover at the end of the week as a bonus. Definitely let me know if you have any money-saving tips to share too. I’m always looking for more ways to save money!   1. Stay Away From Trendy Packaged Foods Hey, we’ve all bought them, whether it be kale chips, fancy raw cookies, raw chocolate, overpriced superfoods at the store, or nondairy ice cream we just “had to have”. While these foods are nice to have (and I admit the really help nix cravings), the truth is, they’re not essential to a healthy diet and especially not to a healthy budget. Staying away from these products is the best way to save money that you can use for more filling items like grains, produce, beans, seeds, and nuts.   2. Buy Grains in Bulk If you’re like me, you get tired of eating the same thing everyday, so I suggest instead of buying three or four packages of different grains, to just buy three or four servings of those grains from the bulk section to try throughout the week. Then you can rotate your grains each week and won’t get stuck with a whole box of something you find you don’t enjoy. Grains costs cents in bulk but can cost much, much more in a package.   3. Rotate Your Seeds Seeds like chia, flax, hemp, and pumpkin are all great sources of omega 3 fats and fiber to include in a vegan diet, but buying them all on a regular basis can add up quickly. So, what I suggest doing is using two different kinds at a time until you run out. I’m partial to flax over chia since it’s higher in omega 3′s, and I love the added crunch and inexpensiveness of pumpkin seeds over hemp, however choose whichever seeds work for you since those are the ones you’ll enjoy and eat the most of.   4. Buy Organic if You Can I’m a firm believer in buying organic produce to avoid pesticides, however when you’re on a budget, it’s much better to choose what you can afford over not having it at all. Choose items that rank low in pesticides when you can and the other times, buy organic only if it’s on sale. Treat yourself to one or two organic items per week and learn to shop at the farmer’s market to find organic foods at a lower cost.   5. Buy Nut Butter in Bulk Ten dollar jars of nut butter do not last long and they’re extremely hard to keep your hands out of! I like to buy nut butter in bulk from the produce section where it’s half the cost and you can even grind it yourself so it’s fresher. You can also buy whole nuts and seeds and grind them at home in a food processor or high-powered blender to make nut butter and save even more money.   6. Buy Frozen One tip I would give to anyone, vegan or not, is to buy frozen foods whenever you can. Frozen greens, veggies, and fruits are far more affordable and possibly more nutritious than fresh forms, not to mention they won’t go bad before you can use them. I realize you can’t do this with all fruits and produce but doing what you can here and there makes a huge difference. For instance, I love buying a couple different bags of frozen mixed veggies so I can make different soups each week. I just mix them with some vegan cooking broth, spices, and maybe some frozen endamame, lentils, or canned chickpeas. Then I’ve got an entire lunch or dinner for under 50 cents per serving. You can also buy frozen berries, cherries, acai packs, spinach, kale, collards, broccoli, and many more items in frozen form too. These items are frozen just hours after harvest so they’re possibly more nutritious than fresh counterparts that take days or even a week to get to the store.   7. Buy Generic Labeled Items Whole Foods’ 365 brand carries amazing non-GMO, vegan items like beans, legumes, grains, spices, produce, nondairy items and more. These are half the cost of their equal name-brand counterparts and every bit as delicious and nutritious. This one tip can cut costs by almost 50 percent if you practice it every single trip on as many items as possible. Unless there’s a coupon for a brand name label that can save you more, always go for generic as the best option. If you’d like more ways to save money, check out a few of these helpful articles as well: Healthy and Budget Friendly Vegan Snacks, Top 3 Superfoods to Choose If You’re On a Budget and How to Make Tasty, Affordable Vegan Meals on a Budget Last but not least, if you find yourself getting bored with basic foods, try out a new spice that’s inexpensive and that you can flavor your meals with, or look for new recipes for items you already have on hand. Being on a budget might mean sacrificing pricey items but it doesn’t have mean you have to sacrifice creativity and flavor. What’s your favorite budget-saving tips?

Navigating the Grocery Store as a New Plant-Based Eater: What You Should Know

Being a plant-based eater is pretty awesome – you get to eat as much plant-based food as you want, all from nature’s finest foods. You won’t be wasting your money on processed foods with nasty additives that will make you feel tired and give you mad cravings. You’ll be eating vitamins, minerals, natural sugars, filling fiber, and colorful foods that help you feel your best. While you probably already know the benefits of eating a plant-based diet, navigating the grocery store as a new veggie eater is a whole other ball game. As consumers, we’re literally bombarded at the store with way too many options than one person should have to stock up on food each week. Even items that appear healthy may not actually be, despite being vegan. For example, you may already know that technically, Oreos are vegan, but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy for you or that they should appear in your grocery carts. So what are you supposed to buy at the grocery store as a new plant-based eater? Here’s what you should know and how to be a first time success.

1. Start in the Produce Section

Even as a gal who’s eaten plant-based foods for years, I still practice this same rule. You might be tempted to head to the produce department last so your foods will last longer until you get home, but head there first because the majority of your purchases should come from this section. Put anything in your cart that looks appealing to you. Great examples are:
  • containers of spinach and mixed greens (for salads, wraps, and smoothies)
  • fruit (any variety you like –  try a few new ones too)
  • moringa and other leafy greens (for salads, juices, smoothies, wraps, and entrees)
  • veggies (any that look appealing to you – you’ll be using these on salads, wraps, entrees, and even in smoothies!)
  • Nuts and Seeds (buy these in the produce bulk department section where they’re often cheaper and you can buy only what you need)

2. Avoid Most Boxed Items

Most items on the shelf aren’t worth your time or money. Nix the boxed cereals and processed breakfast bars. They often have added sodium, sugar, preservatives, and sometimes added oils, which you don’t need. It’s also a good idea to avoid the pricey vegan energy bars (since you can make your own at home) and the ones at the store usually have added sugars.

3. Buy Grains, Legumes, and Beans Next

Grains, legumes, and beans should round out the next portion of your diet outside of fruits and vegetables. These foods all help keep you fuller longer, they’re naturally low in fat, and they have more fiber than higher fat or sugary foods. Go for the following choices:
  • oats (rolled oats or steel cut)
  • oat flour (for baking)
  • quinoa (or quinoa flakes)
  • millet
  • amaranth
  • wild rice
  • brown rice
  • black rice
  • any whole grain noodles (not regular white)
  • whole grain or gluten-free flours (like brown rice, chia flour, oat flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour, or almond flour)
  • kidney beans
  • endamame (you can usually buy this frozen)
  • white beans
  • garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • green peas
  • split peas
  • lentils
  • black beans
  • adzuki beans
  • pinto beans
Canned vegetables and canned beans are fine in a pinch – but do watch the sodium. Go for varieties that have no salt added. If you’re low on money, buying canned can help you stretch your budget further than buying fresh, but not always, so compare prices. Just be sure to buy from companies that don’t use BPA liners to be safe when it comes to aluminum in canned foods. Organic is also always the better option.

4. Add Some Healthy Seeds

Seeds like chia, flax, hemp, sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds are all powerhouse foods. They have tons of nutrition and can help you stay full due to their filling fiber. Plus, chia and flax contain omega 3 fatty acids so they make wonderful additions to your diet.

5. Be Condiment Savvy

Vegans have it lucky when it comes to condiments because there are limitless options. The best options include:
  • mustard
  • ketchup (buy those with little to no sugar)
  • hot sauce
  • tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • coconut aminos
  • raw apple cider vinegar
  • all spices and herbs
  • vegan Worcestershire sauce (check labels to be certain)
  • barbecue sauce (most brands are vegan but check labels to be sure)
  • hummus
  • guacamole
  • salsa
You can use these in a variety of different ways. I like to use several of them to make vegan salad dressing, but you can use them anyway you like, such as a marinade, a sauce, or as an ingredient in any entree. Check out these tips for How to Take Condiments From Ordinary to Extraordinary.

6. Buy Some Nondairy Milk

Since dairy milk is off the menu, you’ll need to pick up some nondairy milk as a yummy replacement. I like unsweetened vanilla almond and unsweetened soy milk. You can choose from any of the following:
  • soy milk
  • almond milk
  • hemp milk
  • cashew milk
  • coconut milk
  • oat milk
  • flax milk
  • rice milk
These are awesome in hot cereals that you’ll cook with your grains you just bought, and they’re absolutely fantastic in smoothies and baked goods. They also have added calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and magnesium, so they’ll help support your diet on an overall basis.

7. Be Wary of Trendy Vegan Foods

Items such as: coconut butter, tempeh, coconut milk ice cream, and soy yogurt are all great options when you first go vegan and need replacement foods, but they’re very pricey, have added fats, and you truly don’t need them to be healthy. Superfoods can be great options, however I suggest basing most of your diet off whole foods first and filling in the gaps with trendy vegan foods. One exception I would suggest is plant-based protein powder. Many brands out there produce excellent products that can help support your body on a vegan diet, especially if you love fitness and/or you’re an athlete. Choose options without added sugars and you might also consider one containing greens or using a greens powder daily. These foods can help boost nutrition in your diet and will generally last several months once you purchase them.

8. Don’t Fear Frozen

Don’t forget the frozen section, because most regular fruits and vegetables from this section will save you a ton of money. Frozen fruits and veggies, along with frozen greens are often cheaper than fresh and if you live a busy lifestyle they can help prevent items from going to waste. They’re also great to use in smoothies, entrees, or to use to pack your lunch with. If you’re a new plant-based eater, what foods do you buy each week? Need recipe suggestions for these foods? Check out our recipe section to give you ideas for meal planning.

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