Healthy Hacks: Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Does any one else have a habit of spending wayyyy too much money on fancy groceries? I often walk into Whole Foods intending to grab some veggies and almond milk and come out with veggies, almond milk, a handful of granola bars, a bottle of kombucha, and something totally random I saw on Instagram and just had to have.

I’m still in high school and living with my family, so I’m very lucky that I don’t have to buy all my own groceries yet. (If I did, I’d be broke in a month.) However, I am the only one that follows a primarily plant (haha) based lifestyle, so there are lots of foods, such as almond milk and tofu, that I have to buy for myself, and therefore I find budgeting very important.

Assuming I’m not the only one who struggles with overspending (if I am don’t tell me), today I’m sharing some of my tips for keeping the nutrition high and the prices low when grocery shopping.

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Top 5 tips for grocery shopping on a budget:

  • Focus on ingredients over brand name. I’m constantly tempted to buy the expensive products I see my favorite bloggers posting about on Instagram, from granola to face wash, but I try to keep in mind that there are alternatives of equal quality for a fraction of the price. Sometimes I will splurge and treat myself to something from a fancy brand, but most of the time I try to find something less expensive with a comparable ingredient list (i.e. few ingredients, real foods, words I’m familiar with).
  • Compare price per ounce. This is a shopping trick my mom taught me when I was still sitting in the baby seat of the shopping cart. Sure, a  $2 carton of almond milk might look like good deal, but if the $3 carton is significantly larger, the $3 milk may actually be the better purchase.
  • Go in with a specific list. This one is pretty simple. If you know what you need and have a clear plan for what you’re going to buy, you will be less likely to find yourself wandering through the store making unnecessary purchases.
  • Never grocery shop in a rush. While making a specific grocery list should speed up the shopping process, it’s also important to give yourself plenty of time to peruse, explore, and find the best deals.
  • Keep a tally of prices as you shop. I find this strategy especially useful when paying for my groceries in cash, as I’m terrified of getting up to the cash register and not having enough money on me to pay for my mountain of food. Even if you’re paying with credit, keeping a list of prices as you shop and adding it all up before you check out saves you from having to nod and smile and pretend you’re not dying inside when the cashier tells you how much money you owe.
  • Sales and coupons are your friends. I bought a pack of Justin’s peanut butter cups the other day that had a coupon inside, so I saved it and redeemed it for a squeeze pack of nut butter.

Using these strategies, I managed to snag all the goods pictured above for just over $30! I’m pretty proud of myself to tell the truth.  I had so much fun practicing mindful shopping, and I discovered some really great brands I’d never tried before. All these great brands, along with what I make with them, will be showing up on my Instagram throughout the week.

If you have any shopping hacks, I’d love to hear about them!

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Invigorating Latte Oatmeal

 

I think one of my greatest weaknesses in life may be my intolerance for coffee. I love the way it tastes, and there are definitely times when I would appreciate the caffeine buzz, but unfortunately coffee just makes me feel jittery and slightly nauseous.

Even though I know I don’t like how coffee makes me feel, I continue to order lattes or cold brew once in a while, always promising myself “this time will be different.”

The other day I went out for coffee with a friend before school and ordered a chai flavored cold brew. It was delicious and I felt very trendy, but before I even finished my drink I could feel the effects. For the entire class I had to fight the urge to laugh hysterically as I frantically googled whether coffee could kill me (yeaahhh I may be a bit of a hypochondriac). The jumpy feeling passed quickly, but the experience was uncomfortable enough to keep me away from coffee for a while.

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This recipe is the perfect middle ground in my love-hate relationship with coffee. The small quantity of coffee imparts all the flavor I love without the discomfort I experience from caffeine, and the heartiness of the oats cures my usual coffee-induced queasiness and packs a nutritional punch. Anyone else have a star-crossed coffee love story? What are your solutions?

Latte Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup quick cook oats
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbs freshly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 tbs maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Cook oatmeal on the stovetop according to package instructions.
  2. While oatmeal cooks, pour milk into a glass jar and microwave for 45 seconds.
  3. Remove jar from microwave, screw on lid, and shake vigorously for  about 60 seconds. (If jar is too hot to hold, wrap in dish towel before shaking)
  4. Once milk becomes frothy, pour into oats (which should remain on the stove) , and stir gently.
  5. Stir freshly brewed coffee into oats and allow to cook for another minute before serving.
  6. Drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy.

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Restorative Banana Muffins

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These muffins are restorative in so many ways. First of all, the whole wheat flour, natural sweetener, and immune boosting spices make them perfect for a physical health boost. Bananas also provide numerous health benefits, as detailed in this article from Well Being Secrets. More importantly, the comforting aroma, classic flavor, and relaxing baking process are SO emotionally restorative, especially after a long week.

For me, the past week was a hard one. I failed a math quiz I thought I’d done well on, I missed an important appointment, I double-booked myself by mistake, and I just felt off my game. But looking back it’s so amazing to see how many wonderful moments there are even in the hardest of times.

When my best friend heard my quivery voice over the phone after a particularly rough day, she was at my house (with snacks) within 15 minutes. A classmate I’ve been wanting to get to know better made me laugh with a silly pep talk when I was sad about my bad grade. My parents told me time after time that they love me and are proud of me, no matter how many “off weeks” I have. I need to remember it’s important to struggle sometimes, because that’s when you see how many people are there for you, and it’s when you can see how much you’ve grown.

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Honestly, the most grown up moment of my week was probably eating ice cream for dinner last night. The truth to that statement is both sad and wonderful, but I choose to celebrate it. Enjoying a drippy cone piled high with strawberry ice cream (the guy serving gave me an extra scoop- according to my dad he was flirting with me?? I’m completely clueless) on a warm fall evening is absolutely a decision to be proud of. Now I’m ready to take the weekend to rest, reset, study hard, and, of course, spend some quality time in the kitchen.

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Though it is the season for all things pumpkin, banana bread is one of my ultimate comfort foods. These muffins are simple, moist and delicious. Despite the healthy-ish twist, the classic flavors are all there, perfectly comforting and cozy. I’m not going to say you have to make the crumble topping, but you’d have to give me a reeeeally good reason not to. Turmeric and cinnamon are awesome additions due to their anti-inflammatory, immune boosting benefits, but if you don’t have them on hand you could absolutely substitute other spices.

Restorative Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

Muffins

  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup (or use ½ cup if you prefer sweeter muffins)

Crumble

  • 1 tbs whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a muffin tin.
  2. Mash 1 banana in medium mixing bowl
  3. Cut second banana into coins, then cut each coin into fourths and add to bowl.
  4. Gently mix in wet ingredients (syrup, milk, eggs).
  5. Add in flours, baking soda, and baking powder, stirring continually.
  6. Once ingredients are thoroughly combined, scoop batter into muffin tin (I recommend using an ice cream scooper).
  7. Bake for 15 minutes.
  8. While muffins are baking, make crumble.
  9. Combine crumble ingredients in a small bowl and stir until clumps form.
  10. Pull muffins out of the oven, top with crumble, then return to oven for 30-45 minutes.

Hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I did.

Much love,

K