Budget Friendly (and healthy) Carb Choices

Hey everyone! If you have just joined us, you are just in time. We have been talking about budget friendly ways of filling our 21 Day/Portion Fix colored buckets. I’ve saved everyone’s favorite yellow bucket for last! Most people I talk to have no difficulties getting all their yellow buckets in, but I still want to help you find the most economic way possible. So onward to the yellow bucket!

Corn tortilla
Tortillas are a staple in my home, in fact they have replaced bread entirely. Whole wheat ones, while they are not extremely pricey, do tend to creep up in price when you only get 8-10 in a pack. Corn tortillas can come in stacks of thirty while being under $2 and even at two per serving that’s quite a bargain.

Beans
There are so many varieties of beans out there and they are full of fiber! It is so good to add these little carbs into your meal plan. You can find cans of beans for under seventy cents, but the real budget cutting ones come dry and in a bag. They require a little extra work but if you are serious about cutting costs this is a big help!

Brown Rice
Another cost saving gem is brown rice. You don’t have to pick the fancy stuff, the unbranded or store brand works just as well for a side of rice, unless of course you’re making sushi, but that just doesn’t fit with the cost cutting budget.

Lentils
Another great “dry good” that saves you money! Small batches really last and you could easily have a bag that lasts two to four weeks that costs you under $3!

Potatoes
Okay, I might be pushing it here, but based on the size of the yellow bucket, I feel like you can get a lot of servings depending on the type of potato and the season. My favorite is a sweet potato, but those little red new potatoes can be pretty cost effective during the right season.

Three Budget Friendly Healthy Fats

Hello! I hope you are doing well and are enjoying Spring! We are doing a series on filling the colored buckets of the 21 Day/Portion Fix meal plan as economically as possible. There is a misconception out there that to eat on a healthy plan you must spend a lot of money. It is just not true. You can eat clean and stay on a budget as well. This week we are filling the blue bucket which holds a variety of healthy fats.

Cheese
There are so many different types of cheese out there and the price varies. Some of the more budget friendly are mozzarella, Monterey jack, and feta. If you fill the whole bucket with shredded cheese, you’ll find that it is a fairly big serving!

Nuts
Not all variety of nuts are budget friendly but peanuts, walnuts, and pecans can normally be found without breaking the bank. If you shop at a place that offers bulk foods, you may find almonds for a decent price as well.

Hummus
I love hummus, the spicy red pepper kind is my favorite. Aldi carries a great variety that is much cheaper than many brand name chain grocery stores. An even better idea might be to try and make your own!

Grilled carne asadas/fajitas

 

Ingredients:

1 flat iron steak (about 3 lbs)

1 red onion sliced

4-5 small sweet peppers (red, orange, and yellow)

3-5 cloves garlic minced

Small bunch of minced cilantro (as desired)

Equal amounts cumin and chili powder (about 1 TBS each)

chipotle powder (optional for kick)

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4-1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (reserve one full lime for after cooking)

1/2 cup stock (I used homemade chicken stock)

Marinate all together for at least 8 hours/overnight

 

Grill the steak as desired (mine is rare-medium rare)

Cook veggies separately in either an iron skillet or broil them in the oven. (if you broil, watch closely!) Squeeze the fresh lime over the veggies and enjoy!

 

Staying On Plan While Eating Out

At first look this may seem like an oxymoron, but I’ve learned that it is possible to eat pretty close to your plan while in a restaurant. I will be honest, I look to eat at about 85-90% “clean” or on plan while out. Eating 100% clean, while not impossible, would probably take a little more effort.

Salads

Really look at what is in the salads, sometimes your better choice is actually a burger compared to all the junk they throw on salads. Try to have mostly a dark green leafy base with assorted raw veggies. Get the dressing on the side and only use about a tablespoon or less. Skip the cheese and croutons. Make sure it has a good protein like grilled chicken (not fried chicken tenders).

Protein

Stay away from anything fried. Ask if they marinate the meat with anything and choose something that is grilled, baked, or broiled without a breading or coating. Ask if they will make the protein according to your plan, most restaurants will do this for you!

Sides

Okay, here is where we typically get in trouble. Normally a dinner comes with a couple of sides and those are typically a simple carb like bread rolls, mashed potatoes, or rice pilaf. If you can’t stay away from these entirely only eat a small portion. The 21 Day Fix plan measures one serving of this kind in about half a cup. Look for steamed or grilled veggies and stay away from the butter. Again, ask to substitute for what you can have on your plan. YOU get to choose what goes in your mouth.

Drinks

Just choose water. It’s simple, healthy, and free! Great for your health and your budget! Woo hoo!

Desserts

All those desserts look fantastic in the display case! Some are just so hard to turn down! Why don’t you get one dessert for the group and split it up? That way you can have that taste but not over indulge.

Portions

Anyone that looks at a typical restaurant meal in America can tell you we think bigger is better. There is some truth to this, but maybe we can do this an even better way. Instead of eating all of the meal that comes to you, ask for to go box up front. Portion out what a meal on your plan looks like, then put the rest in the box to take home for a different meal. Two for one deal for the win!

 

Eliminate the “Uh Oh Effect”

Your challenge for the next 21 days is to plan your week in advance, make some extra protein, and eliminate that “Uh It’s 5:30 and the day has been crazy, school, library, grocery store, post office, and you just realized that the chicken you pulled out of the freezer is still frozen! ARRRRGGGH! What’s a mom to do? Guess we’ll have to run and get something on the way to soccer…

This is what we’ve dubbed the “Uh Oh Effect.” It’s what causes most cases of “drive thru on the way syndrome.” I know this, because I have lived and sometimes am still living this. I have the best intentions of fitting a family meal in between the scheduled places we need to be. The problem is that I am not that good at planning, so my half-hearted attempts at getting something ready completely backfire and my family ends up paying for it. They, of course, don’t realize that they are paying for it, but think that it’s awesome to go to the pizza buffet. Now it’s not a bad thing to have pizza every once in a while, but when we do this 3-4 times a week we are teaching our family that this is the way to eat.

The only way to eliminate the “Uh Oh Effect” is to plan. UGH!!! I am so baaaad at planning. When do I fit this in? Seriously I need to do one more thing? Yes, yes you do. I do too. The amazing thing about this kind of planning is that it will make your life so much easier! It will bring your stress level down immensely, provide a better family morale, and teach your family how to live a healthier lifestyle.

Okay, so how do we do this planning thing? You’ll need to pick a day that you have at least an hour to use. Sit down and plan your week’s menu. The days that you have very little time between things, assign a meal you can cook in the crock pot or something that is already made and frozen (turkey meatloaf works well for this).

It’s also important to plan for your meals throughout the day. It is sometimes difficult to come up with a protein for your meals when you haven’t planned well enough. One of the things that I have found that works best is to make extra chicken breasts while I am making dinner on a weekend. Just grill up three or four times as much as you would normally use for one meal. You can then separate them into serving portions and either freeze or place in the fridge for later. These can be added to salad, tortillas, veggies, just about anything!

OH!”