We’re hosting a Healthy Every Week Challenge for the month of May; a month-long initiative to develop healthy eating habits. The plan is to develop a manageable healthy habit each week that will carry through the new year. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter .
Between work, exercise and a busy social life, sometimes I find it difficult to prepare myself meals during the week. It’s time consuming and after a long day in meetings the last thing I want to do is cook a meal for myself. It’s usually easier to heat up a frozen meal or to stop and grab a sandwich on my way home. So what’s the problem with this? Well I’m spending money that could be saved and I’m also not 100% sure of what additives or hidden calories are in my food. Okay and I’ll admit: I’m a firm believer that cooking at home is a creative energy that should be explored by all.
In an effort to stay on track with this past week’s cooking at home theme, I referenced my bank account spending. I was surprised to find that I was spending about $50 per week eating out, grabbing coffee, and quick snacks; that’s about $200 per month that could be saved. (Helloooo end of the month shopping spree!) I decided to make it my mission to prepare my own meals to save time and money; plus I know that my body generally feels better when I’m eating whole foods that I’ve prepared myself. Last Sunday I made a list of my favorite healthy staples that would enable me to make effortless quick meals during the week.
Here’s a peek of what was on my list:
- Whole-wheat tortillas or pitas
- Non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- Chicken breast
- Lean ground turkey
- Sweet potatoes
- Black beans
- Low-fat feta cheese
- Romaine lettuce
- Roasted almonds
- Almond or coconut milk
- Strawberries (fresh or frozen)
- Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- Pineapple (fresh or frozen)
- Condiments (BBQ sauce, salsa, hot sauce, honey mustard, balsamic vinegar)
- Nut butter (almond, peanut, or cashew)
I was able to purchase the staples I needed for the following meals for around $50 and they ended up lasting me the entire week. For breakfast I alternated between oatmeal, breakfast quinoa (I make a big batch on the weekends), eggs and Greek yogurt parfaits with fresh fruit. I also had a couple frozen pancakes leftover that I heated up one morning and spread with creamy nut butter.
For lunch and dinner I stuck to healthy proteins, grains and vegetables. Since I am usually really busy during the week, I focused on what I could prepare ahead during the weekend. I cut up celery and cucumbers and put them in snack bags for grab-and-go ease. I also grilled a couple of chicken breasts Sunday night so that I could easily pair them together with different ingredients during the week. For example. I wrapped cut up grilled chicken, black beans, avocado and cheese in a tortilla; all I had to do was microwave it and add some salsa for an incredibly easy and healthy meal. I even liked it enough to transform it into a quesadilla and play with the ingredients. One evening I even made my favorite turkey burgers with avocado & feta cheese for dinner. They make wonderful leftovers.
To get me through the afternoons I focused on healthy snacks like veggies with dip, fresh fruit or almonds. By the end of the week I was feeling fantastic not only about how much money I was saving, but by the result it was having on my waistline. I found that the grocery list helped me stay on track with portions and healthy eating.
We all need to indulge sometimes and for those of you who have visited my blog, you know that I have an intense sweet tooth. By midweek I found myself craving a sweet summertime smoothie so I began rummaging through my fridge. Using some of the ingredients from my list, I made an amazing vegan (and virgin) Pina Colada Smoothie. It’s one of my new favorites. Ripe bananas, pineapple and coconut milk are blended together for something reminiscent of a tropical vacation. I froze the bananas before blending so that the smoothie would end up extra creamy. It’s some serious guilt-free goodness that you have to try.
Vegan Pina Colada Smoothies
Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen
1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup coconut milk (I like Silk coconut milk, unsweetened)
1 large frozen banana (chunks)
1/2 cup ice cubes
Place pineapple chunks, banana, coconut milk, and ice cubes in blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. Pour into two glasses. Top with pineapple for garnish, whip cream (vegan if desired), or drizzle with honey.
- For frozen banana chunks, simply cut up banana, place in small ziploc bag and place in freezer
- Recipe would be great using coconut milk ice cream or yogurt instead of coconut milk
After my experience, I recommend making a list before you go to the grocery store. Find a couple of recipes that you want to eat during the week and buy the ingredients that you will need. Try and focus on buying healthy staples that you can mix and match to use throughout the week. Check what you are spending now and see what you can save by preparing your own meals; you might even find that you really enjoy cooking meals for yourself or your family!