Eating Healthy on a Budget

A few years ago, I began cooking the majority of my food at home. During that time, I also began studying nutrition and learning about the importance of food quality. I was eating well and feeling great, but I quickly realized that I was spending a crazy amount of money on my food and it was unsustainable. I was buying all of the things! Kombucha, probiotic coconut yogurt, protein bars, supplements, fancy sauerkraut, all the paleo baking flours, nut butters, grain-free chips, sprouted hummus and 100% organic produce. I had to transition away from these specialty products, shop smarter and simplify my life.

My commitment to healthy food did not change, but the way I shopped changed dramatically. Today, I stick to buying whole foods and stay away from packaged foods (even if they are healthy) the majority of the time. I shop at the farmers market for my meat, eggs and produce and pick up anything else throughout the week at a local co-op. However, each week I have room in my budget for one or two of these “speciality items”. Last week it was a Simple Mills almond flour pizza crust, and it was totally worth it! But I try to limit those purchases because they definitely add up over time. When I stick to just vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts and seeds my weekly bill is so much more manageable!

I’ve learned a lot of money-saving tips throughout the past year. Here are the best ways I’ve learned to save money when grocery shopping, from always bringing a list to always buying certain items in bulk or even frozen! 

MY TOP TIPS FOR EATING HEALTHY ON A BUDGET:

  1. Scope out the grocery stores in your area.
    • Certain grocery stores will be better for certain things. Visit the stores in your area and find what makes the most economical sense. Create a game plan. For example, I like Trader Joe’s  for oils, spices, nut butters, canned goods and frozen produce. Costco is great for large quantities of things like coconut oil or avocado oil. Whole Foods is best for specialty items, fresh produce and quality meat. If you are lucky enough to have options in your area, you may have to make a few stops at different stores to find the best deals! Thrive Market is also a great option!
  2. Stay away from the inner aisles.
    • The inner aisles of grocery stores are not only where all the more expensive packaged foods are, but it’s also where all the processed food is found. Even in the healthiest of grocery stores like Whole Foods, I try to just shop around the perimeter of the grocery store (fresh produce + meat) and avoid the center aisles for the most part.
  3. Plan ahead and take a list with you.
    • Spontaneous grocery trips usually result in a bunch of items you don’t actually need. Create a plan of what you need before heading into the store! Even if my list just has a few items, it helps keep me stay on track and not wander aimlessly around the grocery store. Also, an important aspect of bringing a list with you is so that you don’t forget any items you do actually need!
  4. Visit your Farmers Market.
    • Do a quick google search and find the farmers market in your area. When you shop at the Farmer’s market you are getting what is in season, local and abundant. These items will be less expensive, fresh and extremely nutrient-dense! Pro tip: become friends with your farmers! They always cut the regulars a deal and throw an extra zucchini in your bag for being a great customer. Or, go to the farmers market right before closing time- most farmers are trying to get rid of the produce at that point in the day. If the farmers are close enough, it’s worth visiting their actual farm. It’s a great experience to understand where your food comes from and the farmers will definitely appreciate it!
  5. Stay away from pre-packaged, plastic vegetables.
    • Buy the head of kale instead of the packaged kale, the whole cauliflower rather than the pre-riced one. Grocery stores understand that people are busy and stressed, so they carry a lot of pre-cut fruits and veggies for convenience purposes. While convenient, this is definitely not the most price-friendly option. You’re paying for the prep work and packaging and it’s usually almost double the price. Yes, it takes more time to do it yourself at home but you’ll save money and the process of washing, cutting and drying your kale can be quite rewarding!
  6. Avoid food waste and use the entire food.
    • Have you ever chopped broccoli into florets and tossed out the stems and scraps? I love to save the stems and scraps, throw them into the food processor and make riced broccoli to toss in a salad, stir fry, or store and freeze for those nights I have no fresh produce in the fridge for dinner. Every few weeks I love to roast an entire chicken, and I always save the bones and scraps to make a bone broth! When I cook lamb meatballs, I always save the drippings, store it in a mini mason jar and use it as a cooking oil! All of these little things avoid food waste and save money over time. It’s also just a great habit to use the entire plant or animal when cooking it!
  7. Don’t eat 100% organic produce.
    • Yup, I said it! We can only do our best, and organic produce is much more expensive. Maybe one day we’ll be able to afford all organic produce, but for now I am content being mindful about what I choose to buy organic and what I buy conventional. For example, produce like bananas, avocado, lemons, melon, onion, mango and pineapple have a thick outer layer of skin and require much less pesticides, so I don’t buy them organic. Produce like berries, spinach, apples, tomatoes and peppers require much more pesticides, so I always buy organic. Since it can get expensive to buy organic blueberries at Whole Foods in the winter time (when they’re out of season), I usually only buy blueberries in the summertime when they are in season, organic and abundant. Or, I opt for frozen organic blueberries in the wintertime. There’s no way i’m spending $6 on out of season, sour blueberries in January! If you want to learn more about what to buy organic, and what to buy conventional check out the 2018 “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15”.
  8. Buy in Bulk.
    • It always pays off to buy pantry staples in bulk If you know that you are going to end up buying it again in the future. A few things I buy in bulk are oils, nuts, seeds, grains, dried beans (instead of canned), frozen meats and even frozen organic fruits and vegetables. This is where Costco, and other online marketplaces come in handy!
  1. Buy Frozen seafood.
    •  Most “fresh” seafood at grocery stores is previously frozen anyway. To save some money, buy frozen unless you have a connection to fresh fish through a fisherman, or live in a fishing community. It will be less expensive and be there for you for a random weeknight when there’s nothing in the fridge. I buy all of my seafood from a company called Sizzlefish, and absolutely love it. Another great delivery service for seafood is Vital Choice.
  2. Make things yourself you’d normally buy made.
    • Sauerkraut, ghee, pickled vegetables and bone broth are a few of my favorite items to make myself. A jar of sauerkraut at the store can cost up to $15, and I can create the same thing at home for $2. Youtube is an amazing resource and I’ve taught myself so much through watching cooking tutorials. Don’t be intimidated to experiment and make some of these pricey items yourself!
  3. Stay away from paleo baking.
    • I love baking and I definitely still do it from time to time. But, almond flour, maple syrup, honey and cacao powder are not cheap items. Keep baking to a minimum or watch your grocery bill skyrocket!

I hope this list was helpful for you, and feel free to share some of your own tips below!

 

No Bake Fudge Brownies

The other day, I realized I had a container of dates that had been sitting in the fridge for about a week. I knew I had to use them up quickly, and I have been SO into raw desserts lately. Raw, chocolate fudge brownies was the answer! They turned out so delicious that I had to develop a recipe for them. There is a brownie layer, and a frosting layer that sort of melts into the brownie layer, which definitely elevates the texture and flavor profile.

I love this recipe because it comes together in about ten minutes. Keep these brownies in the freezer, and pull them out when you are in the mood for a decadent, cold, refreshing brownie made with real ingredients. Enjoy!!

No Bake Fudge Brownies

Easy, delicious raw fudge brownies made with real ingredients. Paleo and vegan!

Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine glutenfree, Paleo
Keyword fudgebrownies, nobakebrownies
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 10 people
Author lexiborr

Ingredients

For the brownies:

  • 1 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting layer:

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

For the brownies:

  1. In a food processor, first process the dates alone.

  2. Remove the dates from the food processor, and process cashews and walnuts separately. 

  3. Add dates back in, and process with cacao powder, coconut oil and vanilla extract until the texture of the dough is smooth. 

  4. Press dough into the bottom of a loaf pan lined with parchment paper.

For the frosting:

  1. In a food processor, blend ingredients for the frosting and spread on brownies.

  2. Chill in freezer for at least one hour before cutting into squares. 

  3. Store brownies in the freezer for up to one month! Enjoy!

Raw Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

 

Raw Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

These raw, vegan, paleo blueberry cheesecake bars are absolutely delicious. Made without grains or refined sugar.

Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine dairyfree, glutenfree, Paleo, Vegan
Keyword blueberrycheesecakebars
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 16
Author lexiborr

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 cup pitted medjool dates
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

For the blueberry layer:

  • 1 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

For the crust:

  1. In a food processor, process dates until small pieces are formed. Remove from processor.
  2. Process almonds and coconut shreds until a fine meal forms. Add dates back in and process again until dough forms.
  3. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Transfer the dough mixture and pack it evenly to the bottom of the dish. Refrigerate until you are ready to pour the cheesecake layer on top. 

For the blueberry cheesecake layer:

  1. In a high powdered blender, combine soaked, rinsed and drained cashews, coconut oil, coconut cream, maple syrup, vanilla extract and matcha powder.

  2. Blend until smooth and creamy and pour batter over the crust and freeze for at least two hours.
  3. When ready to serve, cut into squares. Keep frozen for up to one month.

Recipe Notes

  • For the cashews, soak in bowl with filtered water for six hours prior to using. Then, rinse through a strainer and you're good to go!
  • If your dates are a bit hard, soak in warm filtered water for a few minutes before using so that they soften.
  • For the coconut cream, I buy full fat coconut cream and scoop off the top layer of cream. This usually comes out to exactly 1/2 cup which is what this recipe calls for.

Raw Vegan Matcha Cheesecake Bars

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I am a huge fan of matcha green tea. I drink it almost every morning and it’s a vital part of my morning routine. Matcha is unique because it contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that helps balance out the caffeine content. While matcha may contain the same amount of caffeine as other types of tea, the L-Theanine is known to create calmness without drowsiness. It is also known to increase energy and focus! Switching from coffee to matcha helped me in my journey to heal my adrenals and keep my anxiety at bay. I have grown to LOVE the taste and wanted to incorporate it into a dessert. Today’s recipe is a raw vegan cheesecake bar made with cashews, coconut cream, coconut oil and high quality matcha green tea powder. The crust is made with dates, almonds and shredded coconut making the most delicious snack or dessert!

I’ve tried a few brands of matcha over the past year or so. My favorite brand is Soar Organics because I think the quality is extremely high and it is much more affordable than some of the other brands on the market. If you want to try it, be sure to use my discount code LEXIBORR15 for 15% off your entire order at checkout.

I hope you love these Raw Vegan Matcha Cheesecake Bars!

Raw Vegan Matcha Cheesecake Bars

Creamy and Delicious Cheesecake Bars make for the perfect afternoon treat! 

Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine dairyfree, glutenfree, Paleo, Vegan
Keyword matcha, rawvegancheesecake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 16 people
Author lexiborr

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 cup pitted medjool dates
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cheesecake filling:

  • 1 1/2 cup *raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Soar Organics matcha powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

For the crust:

  1. In a food processor, process dates until small pieces are formed. Remove from processor.

  2. Process almonds and coconut shreds until a fine meal forms. Add dates back in and process again until dough forms.

  3. Line a dish with parchment paper. Transfer the dough mixture and pack it evenly to the bottom of the dish. Refrigerate until you are ready to pour the cheesecake layer on top. 

For the cheesecake layer:

  1. In a high powdered blender, combine soaked, rinsed and drained cashews, coconut oil, coconut cream, maple syrup, vanilla extract and matcha powder.

  2. Blend until smooth and creamy and pour batter over the crust and freeze for at least two hours.

  3. When ready to serve, cut into squares. Keep frozen for up to one month.

Recipe Notes

  • *For the cashews, soak in bowl with filtered water for six hours prior to using. Then, rinse through a strainer and you're good to go!
  • For the coconut cream, I buy full fat coconut cream and scoop off the top layer of cream. This usually comes out to exactly 1/2 cup.

Paleo Banana Bread

Paleo Banana Bread

This moist, delicious banana bread tastes like the real deal but is it free of grains, refined sugar and dairy! 

Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine dairyfree, glutenfree, Paleo
Keyword bananabread
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 12 people
Author lexiborr

Ingredients

  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 5 large eggs room temp.
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp creamy almond butter
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • optional: 1 extra banana to garnish on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

  2. Line a 9×5-inch metal loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease pan with coconut oil.

  3. In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Whisk in the eggs, maple syrup, almond butter, coconut oil and vanilla. Slowly add in the coconut flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and sea salt.

  4. Stir until evenly combined. Then, pour the batter into the pan. If adding a banana to the top, slice it in half and gently place on top of batter. 

  5. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean!

  6. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Then, remove the bread from the pan and slice. 

  7. Banana bread should stay nice and moist for up to five days in the fridge. 

Easy Pickled Red Onions

If you are at all intimidated by making your own pickled onions, don’t be! Give this recipe a try because they are so simple to make. These pickled red onions are perfect to have in your fridge because they taste great on pretty much everything and they last for about 6 months! I love mixing them in with my salads for lunch. This recipe is very basic, but you can add any spices or fresh herbs you like for a little extra flavor!

Easy Pickled Red Onions

The best way to preserve onions and also the most delicious topping for salads, tacos, you name it!

Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine dairyfree, glutenfree, Vegan, whole30
Keyword pickledonions
Prep Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 2 hours
Author lexiborr

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup filtered water

Instructions

  1. Peel and slice the red onion into thin slices. Place into a pint sized mason jar, or other glass jar with lid.

  2. In a small saucepan stir together apple cider vinegar, filtered water and salt. Add in additional spices or herbs if you like. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

  3. Pour mixture over onions in jar until full. Place the lid on and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Place the lid on to seal and refrigerate.

Gluten-free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These cookies were inspired by my grandpa! He asked me to make him a healthy version of the traditional chewy, sweet, delicious oatmeal raisin cookie for his 79th birthday. I added chocolate chips to his batch, but you can also add dried cherries, shredded coconut, or extra raisins. These cookies will make your kitchen smell like an absolute dream!!

Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

The best oatmeal raisin cookies ever! They're thick and chewy but also soft and delicious. Free of gluten and refined sugar!

Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine dairyfree, glutenfree
Keyword oatmealraisincookie
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 14 cookies
Author lexiborr

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened raisins
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted/cooled
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional Toppings:

  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp dried cherries
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Stir together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the wet ingredients. 

  4. Add the wet mix to the dry mix and stir until well combined.

  5. Form the dough into balls on the baking sheet. Press the balls down slightly with your hand or a fork. If your dough is too soft to roll into balls, refrigerate for about 30 minutes (I do this to make forming the balls easier). 

  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. They'll be quite soft straight from the oven but firm up as they cool.

  7. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe could not get any easier! Throw all the ingredients in a bowl, mix it up, bake for 12 minutes and you have the dreamiest peanut butter chocolate cookie of all time!

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The cookie that will make all of your dreams come true. Sweetened with coconut sugar, grain free and dairy free. 

Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine glutenfree
Keyword cookie, flourless, grainfree, peanutbutter, peanutbutterchocolatechip
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author lexiborr

Ingredients

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well until a dough forms.

  3. Prepare a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

  4. Use a small ice-cream scoop and drop dough into balls. Bake on 350F for 12 minutes, then let them cool before serving.

Recipe Notes

-If you are avoiding peanut butter, this recipe will work with almond, cashew or sunflower seed butter.

-To keep this recipe refined sugar free, use 100% cacao chocolate chips.

Paleo Burrito Bowls For Two

Paleo Burrito Bowls For Two

These Paleo Burrito Bowl are packed with spicy seasoned ground beef, sautéed peppers and onions, cauliflower lime rice, guacamole, juicy cherry tomatoes and salsa.

Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine dairyfree, glutenfree, Paleo
Keyword burritobowls
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author lexiborr

Ingredients

For the cauliflower rice:

  • 12 oz. cauliflower rice
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp minced cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Dash of black pepper

For the beef:

  • 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder

For the peppers and onions:

  • 1 large red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Pinch of sea salt

Guacamole

  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • chopped fresh cilantro to taste
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

For garnish:

  • cherry tomatoes
  • extra cilantro or parsley
  • salsa
  • lime

Instructions

For the cauliflower rice:

  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add coconut oil. Add the riced cauliflower and stir. Cover pan and cook for about 5 minutes to steam. Uncover and stir, then add seasonings and lime juice. Cook and stir another minute or two uncovered until you have desired texture, then remove from heat.

For beef, peppers and onions

  1. Meanwhile in a separate skillet heat 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium high heat.

  2. Add beef into the skillet and break up meat with a spatula. Add the seasonings and cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Continue to cook and stir until thickened, then remove to a separate bowl.

  3. Heat the same skillet and add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Add peppers and onions and stir well. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until softened and browning, then remove from heat.

For the guacamole:

  1. Mash together the avocado with the rest of the ingredients, season to taste.

Assembly:

  1. Begin with the cauliflower rice, then layer the beef, peppers and onions, and guacamole. Garnish with more cilantro, cherry tomatoes and lime.

Baked Plantain Chips

Baked Plantain Chips

The perfect snack when you're craving something crunchy and salty! Serve with guacamole, hummus or your favorite dip.

Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine dairyfree, glutenfree, Paleo
Keyword plantainchips
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author lexiborr

Ingredients

  • 1 light green plantain
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • sea salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F

  2. Make 2 cuts lengthwise down the plantain, just enough to cut through the peel. Then remove the peel with your thumbs.

  3. Cut the plantain into very thin slices. Add the plantain slices to a bowl and toss with the avocado oil.

  4. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the slices on the tray. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 15 minutes, flipping half way through.

  5. Let plantain chips cool, and serve!