Making a Healthy Eating Routine Delicious, Affordable & Stress Free – Yay!

Hello friends! As you may know, a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important things to me. I love to eat healthy, and it makes me feel good to do so (both physically and emotionally). My food related posts seem to get a lot of action, and let’s face it, eating is one of the greatest joys of life.

On the other hand, I’m also a junk food junkie at heart. The bad stuff just tastes SO damn good.

In my 28 years, I’ve learned six things when it comes to eating:

  1. Healthy Food does not have to taste like cardboard.
  2. Eating healthy does not have to be difficult or terribly expensive.
  3. Don’t stress yourself out thinking you have to eat healthy 24/7/365… It’s OK to “cheat” on occasion. Overall, stress is probably more unhealthy than a bad diet.
  4. You cannot live a truly healthy lifestyle without incorporating a healthy eating routine.
  5. Eat real food. Food that comes from nature, and that you know what all of the ingredients actually are. You don’t need to count points, follow fad diets, or anything of that nature. In fact, you shouldn’t.
  6. Watch your sodium and sugar intake, and don’t exceed recommended daily values with those. Too much sodium is a leading cause of bloating and weight gain, as well as more severe medical conditions. Sugar is basically the worst thing for you. All things in moderation. Stay conscious of your daily caloric intake and where it should be, but don’t drive yourself crazy counting calories either.

In this post I will share with you how I have created a healthy eating habit that is delicious, affordable, and doesn’t cause undue stress. I will also share some of my favorite recipes. Bon Appétit!

Make it Routine

You will hear me say this line a thousand times over throughout this blog, and in many, many posts to come. Why? Because I’m a boring old stick in the mud that doesn’t stray outside of her schedule? No no no. If you get to know me you’ll learn that I’m quite fun, a tad nerdy/corny maybe, but I definitely like to have a good time and step outside of the box.

I have learned however, that without routine in my life there is chaos. I feel stressed/overwhelmed/unproductive and so on.

Having routines actually gives you more free time to throw caution to the wind/run amuck/what have you. How you ask? Because you’ve confidently and routinely gotten your shit done and now there’s more time to play without the stress, guilt and fluster of not having accomplished your goals/even made an organized plan of how to achieve them.

So, do I literally have set time in my schedule to meal prep on Sundays? Yes I do.

Do I have this set on my Google calendar at the same time every Sunday to remind me I need to do so? Yes I do.

Do I check my Google calendar on my phone every morning, and throughout the day? Yes I do.

OK I definitely sound like a boring old stick in the mud now… But seriously, this works…

Do I eat a lot of the same meals every day/week? Yes I do.

You don’t have to do this, but if you find things that you really enjoy eating that you won’t easily get sick of like I have, this does save extra time/energy as well. You can always switch things up when you do get bored, and you can certainly find a bajillion ideas on Pinterest and through a quick Google search on how to step up your healthy eating game.

Sticking to a few staples though does make shopping and cooking that much quicker and easier because you don’t have to plan for and learn how to cook something new every week.

You don’t have to make drastic changes either to switch things up a bit. Rotate salad toppings weekly. One week chicken, one week salmon, one week quinoa.

For dinner sides, one week brown rice, one week sweet potatoes, and switch up your veggies. You get the idea…

Switch up the fruit in your smoothies weekly.

Make the Crock-Pot your best friend. Yada Yada.

Below are my standard cooking/eating routines organized by meal. Woo grandma status!

Breakfast

I eat one of two things every day for breakfast (except on the rare occasion we eat breakfast out). A banana-berry-spinach-collagen smoothie, or scrambled eggs with spinach, peppers, onions, and a little pepper jack cheese. Both are amazingly delicious.

BERRY COLLAGEN SMOOTHIE

My Smoothie Standing by the Christmas Tree

Smoothies are a super easy way to get a healthy breakfast in. And if you’re really in a time crunch in the mornings, you can also portion out all of your smoothie ingredients in freezer bags on Sundays or whenever works for you for the week ahead, and then just store these in the freezer, take one out to use every morning, voila!

Please be environmentally conscious though and use reusable baggies! These also save you a ton of money in the long run. I have invested in reusable straws too in an effort to save the sea turtles! Please do the same if you’re a straw lover like me 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 organic banana (organic bananas are probably one of the most affordable organic foods!)
  • Handful of frozen mixed berries
  • Handful of fresh organic spinach
  • Just enough water to blend! Believe it or not I actually prefer to use water in smoothies over juice or any type of milk. Still tastes amazing, and less sugar/calories if that’s a concern.
  • I also add in two droppers of this Nature’s Answer Pau D’Arco supplement because of its multitude of amazing health benefits. Smoothies are a great place to add any other liquid or powder health supplements you may use as well.
  • 1 scoop of either the PROMIX chocolate or the PROMIX coconut collagen powder. I actually prefer the coconut, plus it’s cheaper. If you’re not a coconut person then the chocolate tastes great too, and everyone loves chocolate right?!

As you probably know, collagen is all the rage right now. It’s a great source of protein, and is also great for healthy bones, skin, nails, hair, etc., which is why I use it in my smoothies.

But I do want to take a minute to tell you why I use the PROMIX brand. For starters, I don’t like to consume chemicals, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, GMOs, etc. If you take some time to do some good research on the harmful health effects of all this crap you will understand why. And I have done a ton. But that’s a post for another time so this post doesn’t turn into a large novel.

The only ingredients in the Promix coconut collagen powder are: grass-fed collagen peptides, organic coconut milk, organic acacia fiber, and organic cassava root

Only ingredients in the chocolate: grass-fed collagen peptides, organic fair trade cocoa, organic coconut sugar

Seriously, that’s it! And p.s., coconut sugar is actually said to have some health benefits (though like regular sugar you don’t want to consume a ton,) and it doesn’t make the chocolate taste like coconut at all.

Also, a while back I stumbled upon a study performed by the Clean Label Project that showed that many (even organic) protein and supplement powders contained very high levels of toxins like mercury, lead, arsenic, etc.! Say wha?!

Obviously this is very uncool, so I wanted to find a natural supplement that also tested well in this department. This is how I found PROMIX. You can see the results of their third party testing below:

Another tip for smoothies if you need them to be more filling is to add rolled oats or even avocado. These both give smoothies great texture too.

Just throw all of these ingredients in your blender and you’re done! I use a NutriBullet for my smoothies. Purchasing one was one of the best investments I ever made for my health, and it makes the smoothie making process so simple. I love that the “blender” is also the cup you use so there’s less clean up, the cups come with lids, and it really does work great.

Veggie Egg Scramble

Ingredients:

  • Tablespoon or so of Coconut oil to grease pan
  • 2 eggs
  • Frozen spinach, peppers, and onions. You can of course use fresh this just makes it easier. Use as much or as little as you’d like.
  • 1 slice deli sliced pepper-jack cheese
  • Organic canned black beans. Again, use as much or as little as you’d like. We usually get about 8 servings per can.
  • Organic salsa to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

I have to thank my boyfriend for this one because on the days I do eat this, he makes it. Bless his soul. But it is really quick and simple to make, just throw a little coconut oil in a frying pan to grease it, and then scramble all of the ingredients above together in the pan until fully cooked.

And if you don’t know how to scramble eggs, well… I don’t think I can help you. 😛

You can also put this mix on a wrap to make a breakfast burrito. I love the Angelic Bakehouse wraps discussed below as a healthier alternative.

COFFEE!!

Somehow, I almost forgot about my coffee! Besides my NutriBullet and my Crock-Pot, my Keurig is definitely my third best friend (sorry real-life friends). I am definitely a coffee lover and am not sure how I would live without it. I only have one cup a day usually though, with a little bit of UNSWEETENED ALMOND milk and honey as opposed to using artificial creamers.

We use organic, compostable coffee pods as they are much healthier and better for the environment than the one’s that come in the classic little plastic cups! These are also very affordable per cup. I adore them because they still offer the convenience of brewing one cup at a time.

Avocado Toast

Another healthy breakfast idea I haven’t made in a while but is delicious is avocado toast topped with either hard boiled eggs and fresh pepper, or strawberries and balsamic drizzle. My mouth is watering as we speak. I would actually use the Dave’s Killer Bread organic bagels for this. Just spread your avocado on whatever toast you choose and then add your toppings!

Lunch

Salads are the main thing I eat for lunch every day. I portion these out on Sundays in Tupperware for my meals for the week.

Spinach & Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

  • Fresh organic spinach
  • Grilled chicken
  • Fresh, organic carrots, avocado, peppers, red onion, or whatever veggies you like
  • I’ve also been adding a little cheddar cheese lately to keep things interesting
  • For Dressing I just use olive oil and balsamic vinegar which is a much healthier alternative to nearly all salad dressings you can buy. I found these organic flavored balsamics online from Mantova which also taste great and make your salad more fun (if you’re into fruity salads).

Spinach, Strawberry & Feta Salad

  • For this one I use all of the same ingredients as the other salad above, but add strawberries and feta cheese instead of the cheddar. This is an awesome summer salad.

Kale & Salmon Caesar

  • Fresh kale
  • Grilled Salmon
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Cucumbers
  • I do actually buy an organic Caesar dressing for this one

Quinoa is a great salad alternative to meat if you’re vegetarian or vegan, and a great source of protein to make your salad more filling.

Besides my salad, and rather than eating one big lunch a day, I actually eat several small meals throughout the day between breakfast, said salad, and dinner.

I am of the camp that this keeps your metabolism working faster, makes you less likely to gorge, and eating throughout the day is just fun and satisfying in my opinion.

My “in between” meals consist of the snacks listed in the next section.

Snacks

The snacks I eat during the day are:

Pears or apples with peanut butter. You can use any form of nut butter.

Carrot sticks and organic hummus. We actually do a lot of our food shopping at ALDI. They have a great organic selection and are crazy affordable. Like crazy crazy. I will also eat a cup of their organic cheerios sometimes as a snack.

Fun fact, ALDI and Trader Joe’s are owned by the same company.

Occasionally I’ll eat a protein bar as a snack too. Epic bars are my favorite, and only contain a handful of ingredients you can actually understand (like egg whites and dates).

After workouts and sometimes just as a snack also, I will mix a scoop of the Promix collagen powder I talked about earlier with some UNSWEETENED almond milk in my Blender Bottle. I absolutely love this thing, and it’s also small and cute compared to the full size ones which is a bonus. I have a fondness for all things miniature. I guess that’s the grandma in me.

A couple times I have also thrown a scoop of the chocolate Promix collagen into my cup of coffee with a drop of peppermint essential oil (just one drop or it will taste bad!) to make an awesome healthy version of a peppermint mocha. Score.

Dinner

For dinner we primarily stick to the basics, and also meal prep once a week. I don’t like to reheat in plastic, so I love these glass meal prep containers.

A Protein, A Starch, & A Vegetable

By basics I mean a protein, a starch, and a vegetable.

These usually consist of some combination of:

  • grilled salmon, chicken, or steak for the protein
  • baked sweet potatoes or brown rice for the starch or carbohydrate
  • some sort of frozen mixed vegetable which we use a steamer to cook (again, I avoid cooking in plastic at all possible costs).

You can season your meats but we just cook them plain and they still come out amazing on the grill! I love my grill.

If you don’t have a grill, you can just cook your meat in the oven. When I would do this I would primarily cook everything at 450°F for 20 minutes so the meat would stay juicy. Make sure to use a meat thermometer though because every oven seems to be different.

The potatoes can be thrown in on their own pan at this temperature as well. These usually have to cook a bit longer than the meat, probably about 40 minutes. Just cook until a fork can be easily inserted and to your desired consistency. I like them soft.

As for steaming the vegetables, I use that spaceship looking thing.

Basically all you do with this is put a little water in the bottom of the pot you’re going to cook your vegetables in, put this steamer in the bottom of the pot (the steamer should sit about level with the water line as opposed to be sitting in a pool of water… that’s too much,) add your frozen veggies into the steamer basket, cover, and cook on medium temperature on your stove top until the veggies are to your desired consistency. I like them al dente.

Tacos

Taco night is probably our favorite night. This we don’t meal prep, but tacos are one of the simplest things to make, and we make a healthier alternative to the classic.

Ingredients:

  • 48 oz. pack of Ground turkey. We actually split this pack between the tacos and the chili I discuss below. So just get about half the size if you’re just doing tacos (for two).
  • Organic peppers, spinach and salsa
  • Angelic Bakehouse wraps
  • Half Packet Simply Organic Taco Seasoning

I use Angelic Bakehouse wraps instead of normal taco shells that contain so many preservatives and chemical ingredients and are not non-GMO. We use their reduced sodium ones.

We also use the Simply Organic taco packet which is only a little more than a dollar so it won’t break the bank. You should be able to find this at your local grocery store.

Chili

Chili is another of our weekly favorites and a very simple to make dish.

The recipe below probably makes about 5-6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • Other half of the 48 oz. package of Ground turkey (from taco recipe above). This already has some of the taco seasoning in it from when we made the tacos.
  • can of Aldi’s organic kidney beans (15.5 oz. can)
  • half a can of their organic crushed tomatoes (half of 28 oz. can)
  • half a jar of their organic pasta sauce (half of 24 oz. jar). We use the tomato basil one because it has less sodium.
  • Diced peppers, onions, and carrots. I usually use about 5 mini peppers, 2-3 three large carrots, and a quarter of a red onion, but you can use as much or as little of these as you like! I know there are a lot of alternatives you can make chili with too.
  • Chili powder, cayenne pepper and paprika to taste. We like our chili spicy and I usually just eyeball these, but I’d guess I use about a 1/2 teaspoon of each. If you’re concerned about the spiciness level you can always start light, and then add more spices to taste once it’s done or close to done cooking!

I like the Simply Organic spices because they are Non-GMO, Non-Irradiated and Non-ETO. You can do your research on what those things mean, and I will provide some more insight on health topics such as these in future posts.

All you need to do for the chili is combine all of the ingredients together in your Crock-Pot, give it a good stir, and then just let it cook on the low setting for anywhere between 4-8 hours. That’s it!

There are so many easy and delicious things you can do with a Crock-Pot, and I look forward to finding and trying more recipes myself.

Dessert

Fruit is always a good alternative to traditional desserts. Or an apple or pear with nut butter as I suggested above.

Yogurt with chia seeds is another.

We even like to mix some of those organic cheerios I mentioned with peanut butter. Sounds weird I know, but is amazingly delicious!

But don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some good old fashioned ice cream. It’s probably my number one kryptonite. Which leads to my final point…

Cheat Meals

Never underestimate the power of the cheat meal. I’m sure many may disagree with me on this, but I personally have no desire to be perfect.

My inner junk food junkie wants to live it up once in a while, and I’m gonna let her!

What fun is it if you don’t allow yourself to eat something bad once a week? What if you’re at a party or event and there aren’t any healthy options there? I’m definitely not going to be the one to starve.

Again, all things in moderation. Let yourself be bad once in a while as a reward for being good the majority of the time.

Don’t stress about trying to be perfectly perfect.

And who could live without a good cheeseburger and fries once in a while? Here’s the one I ate last weekend:

Well, many people could live without cheeseburgers I know, and I support your choice fully if you decide to be vegetarian or vegan. But that’s not something that works for me, and I do believe we essentially should be eating as the first humans (who were hunter gatherers) did. But that is just my opinion.

How about some yummy pancakes? I made these a little healthier with fresh fruit, and I always use real maple syrup.

Your Health is an Investment

At the end of the day, your health is an investment. Probably the most important one you’ll ever make. I’ve talked about organic foods a lot throughout this post, as that, based on a lot of research, is what I believe is best for my body. It also helps to give me peace of mind about what I’m eating.

We have also found ways to eat mostly organic without spending a ton of money. Between my boyfriend and I we spend about $130/week on groceries for the two of us. That’s pretty damn cheap, especially considering he eats a TON. Literally.

How do we manage this? We do a lot of our shopping at ALDI which is incredibly affordable and has a lot of organic options, as I mentioned.

I am also the online coupon master and I find deals that save us a lot of money all the time. Check out the apps I use in my post Financial Independence & The Side Hustle.

Take advantage of your grocery store’s reward programs, and check to see if they have their own app where you can find deals. The other grocery store we shop at besides ALDI is Hannaford, and they literally send me free money for shopping and free items based on my purchasing history all the time. Yesterday they emailed me a coupon for $11 off my next purchase of $100 or more, and one for a free Clif bar. Score!

A couple weeks ago I got $15 off my entire Hannaford To Go order and a free $5 Nature’s Promise item of my choice. No joke.

We do not eat out a lot, and we always pack our lunches. This saves an unreal amount of both money and sodium ingestion.

We also buy simple foods, and if the organic item of something is too expensive we will buy conventional. Bottom line is we do the best we can.

You don’t have to go the organic route to follow my meal plans above, but again, that is my choice and I strongly suggest you at least do your research.

We are also going to start trying out our local farmers market, as I do believe this is the best way to do your food shopping. And supporting local businesses is always a huge plus.

I may spend a little more money now, but I still find ways to make my healthy diet very affordable, and I know my health is a major investment. I do not want to have to deal with astronomical medical bills, or the severe physical, emotional, mental and countless other tolls health problems would take in the future if I chose to live an unhealthy lifestyle.

So eating healthy is in reality less expensive.

When you incorporate a healthy diet with regular exercise and wellness activities like meditating, I promise you will look, and more importantly, feel so much better in every way!

Well, that’s all folks! I really hope you enjoyed reading this and that it will help you to easily make some healthy changes in your life. I’d love to hear about some of your healthy eating tips in the comments below!

Peace & Love Always,

Amber

Oh p.s., don’t forget to drink tons of water! Lemon water is amazing for keeping the body’s pH at a healthy level, which reduces the inflammation that leads to many health issues. Drinking lemon water every day is probably one of the healthiest things you can do. And for the healthiest drinking water possible we use the ZeroWater filter as it removes more of the bad stuff than any other brand out there, and is the only pour-through filter that is able to remove lead and chromium. Definitely don’t want to be drinking that stuff!

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