Holiday Season Eating Tips: Quick, Healthy And On A Budget

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The holidays are a wonderful time of the year to for parties, gift giving, stuffing stockings and tree lightings. Most likely all your time and money are being spent on family and friends leaving you low on funds, little time to cook and a hungry tummy. I’m here to help you get through the holidays on a budget while eating healthy foods that can be made fast.

I wish I had a present for how many times I've heard the sentence "I can't afford to eat healthy foods." FYI, this couldn't be further from the truth -- there are so many ways to enjoy healthy foods without breaking the bank. In fact, the pre-packaged, processed foods that aren't improving your health are more expensive. They cost more per serving, and they certainly cost more in the long run if we're factoring in your long-term health and doctor bills. The good news though is with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can eat healthy and for much less than you think.

Here are 6 tips that will have you eating healthier without straining your budget...

Dust off your slow cooker. A crockpot is like having a personal chef cooking for you. All you have to do is chop some veggies of choice such as onions, carrots, garlic and butternut squash. Add some BPA free canned beans, (lentils, maybe?) low sodium vegetable stock turn the cooker on for a 4 to 6-hour slow simmer. Wa-la, you have a homemade vegetable soup that is nutritious and didn’t take any time to prepare.

Buy frozen berries.This is my personal favorite tool in my kitchen toolbox (or should I say icebox?). Berries are notoriously expensive, even when they’re in season. With the frozen ones, the nutrients are locked in at the peak of freshness. They don’t spoil, and you can toss them in with spinach and fresh bananas for a simple smoothie. I also like to put frozen berries in my hot oatmeal. They defrost quickly and add nutrients to morning hot cereal.

Quick oats for on-the-go. Morning breakfast can still be fast without those pre-packaged oatmeal packs which have additives and sweeteners. If you have to get out the door quickly, pour boiling water on your quick oats and breakfast is done. You can also toss in some of those frozen berries for good measure. Steel cut oats have more nutrients but I’d rather you eat quick oats than a donut.

Make use of kale. Kale is s superfood that is delicious and easy to use. Most people only use lettuce to make salads and those same people, despite their best intentions, become tired of those salads a few days into the week. Instead, buy kale, which is less expensive and more nutrient dense. You can make it into salads, bake it into chips for a fantastic snack, or even sauté it like spinach. I like to throw kale in a soup that has been simmering in a crock-pot the last 5 minutes to let it wilt then serve dinner.

Fresh from the farmers market. Check out the produce from your local farmer’s market. Often, the fruits and vegetables you’ll find there are considerably less than those you’ll get at the supermarket and much fresher too. Plus, many local growers will discount bruised produce even further. Don’t be afraid to check it out and score an even better deal.

Meal planning is not a dirty word. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re not planning your meals for the week, then you’re going to be throwing money away. Take the time to sit down and get organized for the holidays, prepare for leftovers to be incorporated and stick to the plan. You’ll find you’re saving a lot more if you do!

Include seasonal items. One area where you can and should be flexible is with incorporating seasonal items. If a recipe includes asparagus, but it’s not in season or costs too much, replace it with something that is in season and costs less like greens, root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, broccoli or beets.

If you look around your kitchen, you’ll likely find even more ways you can save on eating healthy the next time you go grocery shopping. Try out these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to a holiday gathering!

Do you have any more tricks up your sleeve that I didn’t mention here? Hit reply and let me know, I’d love to add any tips to my list.