As a self-proclaimed “FalafeLover” (and “many-other-foods-lover”) in Brooklyn, grabbing a yummy meal at one of the Big Apple’s thousands of amazing eateries is pretty par-for-the-course when it comes to socializing & enjoying New York City life.
BUT, eating out’s not always super budget friendly…
(9 bucks for a measly chicken sandwich… Say what??)
In an effort to save some moola, I committed to avoiding (*almost* all) restaurant-dining in March – as part of my blog series, where I challenge myself to add or eliminate a new “habit” each month. My overall goal for this challenge was to food shop and cook more frugally, without sacrificing the nutritional quality of my meals.
One major take-away has been learning how to better navigate the aisles of my local grocery store, and identify the most low-cost/nutrient-dense foods. News flash to the health-and-budget conscious: healthy home-cooking can still be quite expensive (especially in the city), IF you’re not savvy about it….
….But have no fear, Falafelover is here! To let you know that it IS possible to eat well without breaking your bank account. And now presenting…
FalafeLover’s TOP HEALTHY/CHEAP GROCERY LIST
Whole wheat pasta
Whole wheat bread
Potatoes (white or sweet)
Canned beans (any kind – but my fav is Garbanzo, obviously, being a Falafelover, and all :))
Tofu (extra firm for highest protein content)
Canned tuna or sardines (in water)
Cottage cheese (plain, low-fat)
Peanut butter (without added sugar/salt)
Raw nuts (unsalted, in bulk – more cost-effective)
Bonus tips for getting most nutritional bang for your buck:
Go for the generic brand whenever you have the option– there’s almost always no difference in the quality
For canned beans, make sure to rinse out the excess salt
Cook a big pot of rice or pasta for the week, and then portion it out and use as a base for different stir-fries, soups, etc.
Produce prices ebb and flow big time depending upon what season we’re in. Berries are cheaper in summer, and squash is cheaper in fall/winter, for example. Go for the produce that’s in-season when you can (it’s fresher and yummier, too).
Don’t worry about buying organic. It’s not worth it, in my opinion. Just wash your produce well, and you’ll be good to go.
Skip the protein/granola/energy bars and make your own healthy snacks, like a DIY trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruit and little pieces of chocolate.
Invest in a water bottle and enjoy nature’s healthiest and cheapest form of hydration, H20! Skip the vitamin-infused stuff (way over priced for the lack of nutritional value it offers) and the juice (fresh fruit is cheaper – 30 cents for an orange versus 1 or 2 bucks for a bottle of OJ).
The week before last I worked from home – yay! On Thursday morning, I made and ate breakfast immediately after I woke up. I was so proud, I took a pic of my breakfast and posted it on Twitter 🙂 This got me thinking, “I’m going to commit to eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up for the next 5 days. Not only that, I’m going to take a picture of my meal and post it on Twitter for accountability.” Well, turns out that what our parents say is TRUE, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. Studies show making breakfast a daily habit can help you lose weight – and keep it off. Personally, I felt the following changes/benefits that week:
I wasn’t starving at lunch which helped me make better food choices
My digestion was more “regular” 😉
My energy level was higher during the day, especial during my workouts
I felt lighter and leaner
Based on my fitness experience and nutrition knowledge, I have created a formula for what I consider to be a complete “GRITTY” breakfast:
FYI – a “KICK” is little bit of caffeine to get my body going full speed. Remember all the benefits of Coffee that we learned about earlier?
Below, are pics of all of my breakfast meals that week. All were prepared in less than 5 minutes, making them excellent options for those of you rushing to work in the morning. Try out the breakfast challenge for yourself. You may just take on a new healthy habit!
Monday(up in the air, breakfast at the airport before a 6am flight…the life of a consultant)