Tag Archives: food

12 Cheap Meals You Can Make on a Budget

Eating healthy does not have to be expensive.

If that’s the excuse you’ve been using to put off improving your diet, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s simply not true. Healthy food doesn’t mean $10 juices and $12 açaí bowls and so on. Healthy food doesn’t have to be elite. It also doesn’t have to be boring.

Sure, there won’t be much filet mignon on the menu, and you might opt for a 50-cent apple instead of a $5 basket of blackberries, but if you are willing to cook, there are a plethora of low-cost meals available at your fingertips. Also, meal planning can help reduce food costs. Before picking your recipes, look at store circulars before you shop and build your menu around what’s on sale that week. Shop the bulk bins for dry goods like whole grains, legumes, dried fruits, and nuts, and buy just what you need.

To test this “eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive” theory, I compiled a list of my favorite recipes from the Beachbody Blog and calculated how much a serving of each costs using prices gathered at Ralph’s, a Southern California branch of Kroger supermarkets. Since sale items change every week, I relied instead on the normal retail price. Also, I did not include the cost of common pantry items such as olive oil, vinegar, spices, honey, and maple syrup.

What are some of your favorite inexpensive meals? Let us know in the comments or tag us on Instagram @BeachbodyLiving, and we may include them in a future blog post.
Savory Slow Cooker Beans with Rice
Cost per serving: 70¢
Beans and rice are staple foods in many cultures for a reason: they’re cheap and can easily be transformed into a variety of meals. This savory dish flavored with garlic, chiles, and tomatoes, cooks all day in a crock pot, and is ready for dinner when you get home from work. Get the recipe.

Savory Slow Cooker Beans with Rice


Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins and Walnuts
Cost per serving: 45¢
If your mornings are busy, you’ll love these baked oatmeal cups made with walnuts and sweet raisins. They freeze well, too. Get the recipe.

Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins and Walnuts


Turkey Chili
Cost per serving: $2.72
Ground turkey was the most expensive ingredient, but this chili still costs less than $3. To save even more dough, use dried beans instead of canned. Get the recipe.

Turkey Chili


Spinach Salad with Quinoa, Chickpeas, and Paprika Dressing
Cost per serving: $1.48
Unlike most salads which get soggy within hours after you add the dressing, this leafy green version stays fresh for days even after you add the paprika dressing. It makes for a filling lunch that’s great year-round. Get the recipe.

Spinach Salad with Quinoa, Chickpeas, and Paprika Dressing


Lentil Soup
Cost per serving: 45¢
My frugal grandmother always made lentil soup for our family, and no wonder. It costs just pennies per bowl, and it’s good for you. This recipe has 13 grams of protein and 179 calories per serving. Get the recipe.

Lentil Soup


Chicken with Quinoa, Oranges, and Walnuts
Cost per serving: $2.20
Chicken is pricey when money is tight, but in this recipe, the bulk of the volume is comprised of quinoa, fresh herbs, oranges, and walnuts. To make each serving go further scoop half-portions onto fresh spinach or other greens. Get the recipe.

Chicken with Quinoa, Oranges, and Walnuts


Slow Cooked Steel-Cut Oats with Apples and Cinnamon
Cost per serving: 45¢
For this breakfast oatmeal, add the ingredients to a slow cooker before you go to sleep and it’ll be ready to enjoy when you wake up. Get the recipe.

Slow Cooked Steel-Cut Oats with Apples and Cinnamon


Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup
Cost per serving: $1.66
Another excellent way to turn a small amount of chicken into a lot of filling meals is by using it in soup. In this recipe, we combined butternut squash, red bell peppers, and corn to create a hearty winter soup. Get the recipe.

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup


Sweet Potato Skins with Chicken and Spinach
Cost per serving: $2.57
These stuffed sweet potatoes look like appetizers, but they’re actually pretty filling since they’re packed with spinach and chicken. Get the recipe.

Sweet Potato Skins with Chicken and Spinach


Carrot and Spiced Chickpea Salad
Cost per serving: $1.05
If you’re trying to be budget conscious, definitely consider carrot recipes. Carrots, though starchy, are an excellent source of fiber and nutrients, and in most grocery stores a couple of dollars will buy a hefty bag of them. This recipe pairs them with another thrifty favorite: protein-packed chickpeas. Get the recipe.

Carrot and Spiced Chickpea Salad


Hearty Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Apples
Cost per serving: $1.85
It should go without saying that by using up leftovers from other recipes, you can stretch your food budget. This recipe calls for cooked chicken and sweet potatoes, so meal plan your week so you have leftovers of each. Get the recipe.

Hearty Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Apples


Lentil and Feta Salad
Cost per serving: $2.23
Once you’re done chopping the fresh vegetables and herbs to compose this lentil salad, you’re left with a large enough recipe to feed you all week. Plus, it’s a good vegetarian source of protein and fiber. Get the recipe.

Lentil and Feta Salad

*original post here, by BeachBody

Year END Resolution

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This time of year I’m usually convincing myself I’ll be alright through the holidays; that I won’t over-do it and put on any extra weight- at least not THAT much that it won’t come off easily. Thanksgiving isn’t quite here, so the reality of how powerful the sugar laden food-pull is, is easily pushed off as not-so-bad.


Than the second week in December hits, and all bets are off. Every weekend there’s some Christmas Party, and everyone is bringing yummy treats to every place you go- work, class, etc. It’s unavoidable. At first I pretend to play damage control, but that goes right out the window too quickly.

A Better Place

This year is different. I’m 20 pounds lighter than I was last year. I’ve been working out all year, so it’s become part of a routine I don’t like to miss. This lighter me will be able to combat the peer pressure a bit, because when you feel good, your will-power increases (it does for me anyway). Plus, my metabolism is naturally higher because my lean mass is greater, AND if I do decide to indulge, the actual workouts help burn this off. Definitely a better place than last year! The will-power to say NO, the body chemistry that naturally burns more, AND the schedule to help combat the questionable decisions I may make. I’m definitely in a better place. 

Let’s face it- we need to live a little. This holiday weight fiasco shouldn’t send us completely into stress mode, but neither should we just throw in the towel and succumb to every sugar impulse, especially if that’s already part of your yearly routine (be honest with yourself). 

The holiday festivities are so enjoyable for me BECAUSE I don’t eat like this all the time. I EARN it. Not that I don’t indulge here and there (those of you who know me, know that I’m known to EAT! -but only because I take my days of restraint seriously so all the days balance. I’m often doing doubles to balance my diet decisions. I know. I know. You can’t out-train a bad diet, but I’m getting better).


I told myself for years I’d start getting back into shape. That I would stop eating so much crap. That I could invest 30 minutes a day to improving my life. Years later, tomorrow had still not arrived, so I decided TODAY would be the day. That day, I started a fitness schedule, started tracking what I was eating, changed the way I grocery shopped…

…then I forgot. Time passed. Today came again.

I stopped, again.

Today came back around. This time I lasted a little longer, but I still fell off the wagon.

Life can legitimately get crazy, and I’m not good with maintaining things when my schedule gets all switched around, which seems to happen way too often, but every time TODAY comes back around, it’s easier and easier to find, and we dance just a little bit longer.

2015 progression

In August I moved from FL to NY and my schedule got totally whacked out… then the stress of opening a new business… But I’m back to it and going strong into the most dangerous time of year for weight gain!

Demand Better

You get the picture. This has not been a smooth journey for me. I’m up and down, back and forth, but learning to stop being frustrated by this. Not feeling guilty because of these falls was the biggest thing I learned that helped me REALLY be stronger each time I came back around to TODAY. It’s the first thing I tell people when they engage me in any kind of I need to be better talk regarding food, fitness, health, etc. The guilt needs to be put aside. The stress about yesterdays failures need to be viewed as learning curves for today. The victim mantras that are our excuses need to be seen as such, forgotten, and simple steps that solve the problem need to be executed. There’s no reason that if 60 minutes can’t be put in, than no time should be put in. Some of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done were only 15 minutes. Even with screaming kids running around, a 15 minute workout can be completed (just ask my niece and nephews).

Demand from the people around you that you be allowed to make yourself better. Demand it from yourself. When I’ve mis-calculated my day, so it’s midnight and I still haven’t gotten my workout in, I get my workout in. I’ve found that this doesn’t actually bite into my sleep or rest time, since I’d never go right to bed anyway. Being too tired is not an excuse I allow for missing a workout. 10 minutes in and the movement has woken me up. Being tired should be a reason we work out. Look up the studies that show how non-activity breeds non-activity. Your relaxing time isn’t helping you recover from being un-relaxed.  

Make It Happen

Bottom-line: Make it happen today, whatever it is. Tomorrow will never come. When you forget, like I’ve done over and over, just pick up and continue on when you remember again.

7 Foods You Had No Idea You Shouldn’t Be Eating

If you’ve been eating healthy and exercising yet the bulge is still refusing to budge, then something is wrong. That “something” is probably the fact that you’ve been duped by the food industry’s marketing tactics, and all that healthy stuff you thought you were consuming isn’t healthy at all.*

Continue reading

5 Bad Habits Fixed by Meal Replacement Shakes


1. Skipping Breakfast – 

People who skip breakfast are less likely to lose weight**. The Four Hour Body iterates that

Not only will…increased protein [in the morning] decrease water retention, resting metabolism increases about 20% if your breakfast calories are at least 30% protein.

A lot of people struggle with eating breakfast, whether it be time constraints, or simply not feeling hungry. Increasing morning protein load to the equivalent of 5-6 eggs can be rough on the stomach if not accustomed to eating this much food right away (you can train your body to adjust to it with practice).


Enter meal replacement shake: Finding most, if not all, of that protein in a quickly prepared format, the time crunchers can be satisfied. Less likely to set off the iron-brick feeling in the stomach that a slow-carb breakfast might provide, those avoiding a heavy stomach can be appeased.

2. Not Getting Enough Vegetables – 

I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head who consistently eats enough vegetables. 2 1/2 – 3 cups per day is the RDA. Even at my best, I might hit 2 cups, and never consistently. Drinking a shake whose tag-line is: “a salad that tastes like dessert” was a huge selling point. I can drink my veggies! Count me in!!


3. Forgetting Your Multivitamin – 

If you’re on a weight-loss plan, you’re probably eating less than your body needs. Calorie deficit = weight loss, right? But, in doing this, we’re not getting the nutrition our bodies need either. This is where vitamin and mineral supplements come in. A quality meal replacement shake will be fortified with the vitamins and minerals you may be depriving yourself of by cutting calories.

Higher quality shakes will even have pre- and pro-biotics to aid in digestion, and possibly others such as cinnamon and green tea to aid in blood sugar maintenance and  fat loss.

Dr. Linus Pauling suggested that every disease can be attributed to a mineral deficiency. The World Health Organization has stated North American soil is 85% depleted***.

What do you think this means about the quality of our nutrition?

4. Over-indulging Your Sweet Tooth – 

Sugar is addicting, and anyone who says otherwise has been living under a rock. (Check this out and pay attention to slide 6). Not only that, we only so many willpower points a day.

…willpower gets depleted not just by acts of self-control but also by other key things the self does: making choices and decisions, exerting initiative, perhaps planning and executing plans…willpower seems tied in to the body’s basic energy supply, as carried in glucose in the bloodstream. This suggests that willpower is not just a metaphor. We had been using the ideas of energy and depleted energy in a largely metaphorical fashion, but apparently it is the same basic energy that the body gets from food. It is also the same energy used for other metabolic activities…****

If you’re one of those, like me, who do great all day sticking to the meal plan, than cave and binge after dinner, you need some help. A meal replacement shake can combat these cravings in a couple of ways:

  1. Most shakes are tasty, as they have sweetness and sugar added to make them tasty. Because of the added fibers and nutrients, they’re a WAY better alternative than chips and cookies.
  2. Higher quality shakes won’t have the added sugars, but will have the nutrients needed to curb these late night cravings because your nutrient level will be higher, i.e. your body’s getting what it really needs so it’s not hungry.


5. Eating Fast Food – 

We’re busy! A lot of people I talk to rarely take scheduled lunches, and often, they’re rushing to grab something to get right back to work. Having a shaker bottle handy that just needs some water added is the quickest, easiest lunch break there is! And think about all the money you can save when you’re not hitting the drive through.

Often, I wait too long to eat, so when dinnertime comes, I’m so starving only disproportional amounts of food will help. Grabbing a shake for lunch, or as a post-lunch snack, can help maintain human-sized portioning later in the day.

What do you think?

How do you feel about meal replacement shakes? Gimmick from the multi-billion dollar nutrition industry? Or viable source of daily caloric and nutritional needs?

What’s your favorite meal replacement shake?

*Ferriss, Timothy (2010-12-14). The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman (Kindle Locations 1766-1767). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

**2Farshchi HR, Taylor MA, Macdonald IA. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(2):388-96.



Healthy Chicken Eggs

Guess which: One Of these Egg Yolks Is Actually From A HEALTHY Chicken!?

*Originally posted here, by Jesse Herman*

egg yolk colors

One of the more interesting aspects of living in Brazil is the different approaches to food. We are connected to local farms from friends and family, spoiling us with organic homegrown everything. Regarding chicken eggs, the sizes vary, the colors of the shells vary but if the egg comes from the family farm, the yolk almost always a darker color. It is also thicker than the typical yellow yolk you find at the store.

In the United States all the eggs that can be bought at our local supermarket are yellow.  Organic, vegetarian or cheap; they are all yellow and the yolk is not as thick. What is the reason for this? Could it be that myself and almost everyone I know has been eating eggs from unhealthy chickens? Have you ever even seen an orange egg? It took me 30 years to discover an egg from a healthy chicken. That’s crazy.

Having returned to the states, Craigslist is the go-to route to accommodate my urban life with homestead flare in search of the dankest foods.

From Garden Betty… Last year, I compared my pasture-foraging, insect-pecking, soil-scratching, whole grain-feeding chickens’ yolks to the yolks of both their “free-ranging” and factory-farmed counterparts. The are  clearly visible: Yolks from my homegrown eggs were not only darker orange, but also fuller and thicker. Even the eggshells were denser and harder to crack. But what’s the big deal about orange yolks? Besides being a coveted color, orange yolks are an indication of a well balanced and highly nutritious diet. A few things factor into the making of an orange yolk: xanthophylls, omega-3 fatty acids, and meats. Xanthophylls are a class of carotenoids. Carotenoids are natural plant pigments found in many fruits and vegetables. It’s often thought that beta-carotene, one of the more well-known carotenoids, is responsible for giving yolks the orange pigment that people associate with carrots. But in actuality, beta-carotene benefits yolks nutritionally, rather than colorfully. The carotenoids that cause deeper yolk coloring are xanthophylls, which are more readily absorbed in the yolks. (Lutein is one such xanthophyll, and a lot of lutein means a lot more orange.) Xanthophylls are found in dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and collards, as well as in zucchini, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in flax seeds and sea kelp, which are both important components of my homemade whole grain chicken feed.

And did you know that chickens are not meant to be vegetarian, no matter what your premium carton of organic/grain-fed/cage-free eggs tells you? Chickens are omnivores by nature and their healthiest diets include meats, such as mealworms, beetles, grasshoppers, grubs, and whatever creepy-crawly they can pull out of the ground. I’ve even heard of chickens (those ballsy ones out in the boonies) attacking small rodents and snakes!

When you have all of these sources incorporated into a hen’s healthful diet, the nutrients they consume are passed on to their eggs and concentrated in their yolks. According to Mother Earth News, which conducted its own egg analysis, and a more recent Pennsylvania State University study, pastured eggs contain higher levels of vitamins A, D and E; more beta-carotene; and more omega-3s.

All this means is that a pastured egg is better for you. And that’s one of the reasons we raise chickens, right?

So, how do we get those delightful dark orange yolks from our backyard chickens?

Let your ladies roam a pasture (or a garden — especially if you’re digging over new beds — or even just a new patch of dirt in their chicken tractor) for an orange-boosting bug buffet.

Give them plenty of fresh greens to increase the lutein in their yolks. The darker the green the better, so I often fix them a feast of edible amaranth (one of my favorite summer greens), kale, collards, broccoli leaves, or whatever I happen to have growing in my garden. If it’s the middle of winter and your garden greens are lacking, you can feed them alfalfa.

They’re very handy helpers at the end of the season when most of my greens have bolted and become bug-ridden. Let the chickens clean up those plants before you pull them out for your compost pile. It’s a win for everybody! (Except the bugs, that is…)

chicken vegetation

(As an aside, don’t be fooled by the cheater method that egg factories take, and simply feed your chickens more corn. While corn can give your yolks that nice golden color, it has little nutritional value.)

After a few weeks, you’ll be so used to seeing orange yolks (the way most of us have been conditioned to see yellow yolks) that you might even think they haven’t changed in color. Buy some eggs from the store and crack them into a bowl with your homegrown eggs — you’ll be stunned at the difference!

Those are some interesting observations by Garden Betty. Here is a bit more of an explanation by food and nutrition.

When it comes to yolks, the color is determined by a hen’s diet, not its breed (artificial color additives are not permitted in eggs) or the freshness of the egg. Hen diets heavy in green plants, yellow corn, alfalfa and other plant material with xanthophylls pigment (a yellow-orange hue) will produce a darker yellow-orange yolk. Diets of wheat or barley produce pale yellow yolks; hens fed white cornmeal produce almost colorless yolks.

Free-range hens may have access to more heavily pigmented food so they may produce eggs with darker yolks. According to the American Egg Board, consumer preference in the U.S. is typically for light gold- or lemon-colored yolks.

At the end of the day, know your farmer and the diet of the chickens producing the eggs to be eaten.