This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Mint opinions and text are all mine.
While I love making healthy recipes, I often get messages from people who think that eating healthy is expensive. To some degree, I can agree with that because in my family of four I can spend over $300a week at the grocery store. It’s important to me to share nutritious and delicious recipes, but I also understand that affordable recipes are just as important so that budget can’t be an excuse to have a fast food diet and skip healthy eating. It is possible to eat good foods at a low cost- I made this Spaghetti Squash Lasagna for only $15, but it did take some planning and research to be able to prioritize both health and savings in my home.
To help get you on the right track, here are my top tips about how to eat healthy on a budget:
1) Set a food budget…and stick to it!
Establishing a budget is usually one of the first steps when it comes to saving money. You have to have a real sense of what you actually need and compare that to what you actually want to spend. This is easily done through Mint, a free service that helps track all your finances, helps with budgets and financial goals. Since utilizing the Mint app, I’ve been so much more conscious of my spending- it’s been life-changing actually! I’ve set myself on a budget in groceries, clothing, entertainment and dining. I then made a separate goal with all the money I plan on saving for a family vacations and home improvements. All I did was connect my accounts and cards, and my spending automatically gets categorized so I can see all that I spend on groceries- and everything else. I even received emails each week to show my spending categorized in a chart, which I can easily compare to the previous week. Once I saw how much I was spending, I knew I had to scale back and be smarter about eating healthy. All this money spent on food could be saved to spend in other categories like a trip to Hawaii!
That was when I created my food budget. My goal was to first reduce spending in my groceries category to $200 a week, so I set my amount to spend each month. After that, each time I went to the grocery store, the transaction would post and automatically show how much of the grocery budget was already spent for that month. It even lets me know if I’m getting close to my budget for the month and a notification when I go over. Seeing that budget has helped me so much in making sure that I’m not overspending. It’s a great tool and almost like having online partner helping me stick to my budget each month.
2) Use Seasonal Produce
There are so many reasons why eating seasonally is better- less impact on the environment, more nutrients, and better taste (to name a few)- but buying produce in season is actually a great way to save money and eat healthy. You don’t have to spend on foods that are imported from different regions when it’s growing in season. I like to go to farmer’s markets because you can really see what’s growing at the moment, plus you support your local farmers. I personally like the anticipation of waiting for foods to be in season- especially in the summer months when there are so many delicious fruits available.
3) Buy in bulk
Yes, this is the trip to the warehouse. I know that this may seem like it’s not money-saving when you’re shelling out hundreds of dollars for a cart full of multi-pack foods, but if you play this right, you can save so much per month. One trick is to see what you find yourself running out of each month. For instance, if you know you make pasta once a week, why buy individual boxes of pasta and sauce when you can buy everything ahead of time and be set for the month? I would rather be fully stocked than having to take the time to go to the grocery store each week for items that are in my weekly meal plan. Time is money, but when you’re also buying in bulk, the price per ounce is usually a greater idea. I also find that since I have twin girls who are in a growth spurt, having snacks and fruits readily available is best for them, and buying those ahead of time in bulk saves time, money, and my sanity!
4) Have a meal plan and grocery list
I suggest planning out your weekly meals and making a grocery list for it. This not only saves a lot of money, but will also help reduce food waste. Of course leave some wiggle room for those impulse buys and cravings we all have, but it’s still good to come to the grocery store with a plan. It also takes some stress away from the week knowing we have a menu plan for each meal. It is actually very motivating to set a challenge and meet it. When I saw I saved $100 last week I gave myself a mental high five! Setting a goal by putting myself on a budget was actually fun! Who doesn’t love a challenge?
If you’re looking for recipes to cook at home, I have so many healthy recipes on my blog for all preferences, but I’m really excited to share my Spaghetti Squash Lasagna to help kick you off on your money-saving healthy recipes. It’s only $15 for 4 servings, and it’s low-carb, gluten-free and keto-friendly so it can fit into many different diet plans. What I love is that this recipe suits my husband since it’s gluten-free, it fits my diet since it’s low-carb, but it’s so delicious that it doesn’t even matter to my girls! Anything that looks or taste like a noodle and my kids will gobble it up.
2 spaghetti squash
1 jar marinara sauce
4oz mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
With a sharp knife poke a few holes around spaghetti squash.
In a large pot bring water to a boil and submerge both squashes simmering for 20 minutes.
Drain and cool for 15 minutes before cutting in half and scooping out seeds.
With a fork shred squash strings and place in a large bowl.
In skillet pan heat up oil to medium heat and add garlic and ground turkey. Cook and stir for 7-9 minutes or until turkey is completely cooked. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2. tsp. black pepper.
Add ground turkey with squash, then marinara, Parmesan cheese, ricotta and remaining salt and pepper. Gently fold and mix.
Scoop back into halved squash shells and add slice thin mozzarella on top.
Bake in oven at 350F Degrees for 15 minutes for all the cheese to melt