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Spotlight of the Week // Cheap Eats

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Spotlight of the Week_Simply Adventurous

Every Wednesday a blogger will be featured for Simply Adventurous’ Spotlight of the Week. I am so excited to share with you a new and different blog and/or brand. Each writer will also be writing for my lovely readers!



Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 9.15.32 PMMeet Jamila!

I’m a 20-something Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters degree in Food Science. I have a passion for food, fitness, nutrition… Actually, I have a passion for life. And by optimizing my health and well-being through food, fitness, and nutrition, I’m able to live my life fully and happily. This isn’t just my job description. It’s my life. You’ll typically find me in the kitchen experimenting or in the gym workin’ on my fitness. And when I’m not doing that, I’m spending time with family and friends just relaxing and having fun like anyone else. 

Why did you start a blog?  

As you know, there is nutrition information galore from self-proclaimed “experts” giving less than par information and making claims that are unrealistic and often based on scare tactics. Well, I want to change that. I have a “no nonsense” approach to nutrition. There is no “good” or “bad” way of doing something because everyone is different. There is not a one-size-fits-all way of eating. There is only a one-size-fits-one. So, I give you real information that lets you decide what is right for you. And, some recipes to keep it entertaining and fun !

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Cheap Eats

Cheap Eats – Eating Healthy on a College Budget

Eating healthy on a budget is a challenge for anyone. But, it rings even more true for college students. You may be living off of loan money, a little bit of money from your parents, maybe some cash from a part time job, or some combination of these. You have to find a way to balance your limited budget between your living expenses and all of the things you want to do. This leaves little for food, especially healthy food. But, with a little know how and some simple tips, you can make those pennies count. It isn’t necessary (or desirable) to live off of ramen noodles and boxed mac and cheese.

My number one advice to eating healthy on a budget: PLAN.

You’re probably already doing it with your coursework, your workout schedule, and your social engagements… So, why not make a little room to plan how and what you will spend on food?

Planning prevents you from wasting money on unnecessary things you didn’t intend to purchase (which are typically the unhealthy items). A plan helps you stick to your budget and choose more nutritious items. Beyond that, here are my top 10 tips to being healthy on a budget.

[1]Check out coupons & store ads
This is your first go-to in making a plan. Check out which healthy options are on sale or have coupons. Add these to your list and make a week’s worth of menu ideas from those ingredients

[2] Shop on Wednesday
For most stores, Wednesday marks the start of the new weekly ad/coupon cycle and last week’s sales items might be reduced even more to get rid of stock. This means additional savings to last week’s items plus the savings you’ll get from the new weekly ad.

[3]Scope out your local farmer’s market
Produce, especially organic, can be less expensive. But, not always. Be sure to compare to your local grocery prices. In-season items are generally cheaper because there is abundance!

[4]Be flexible (with food choices and brands)
Don’t be afraid to try new foods, particularly if they are on sale! If you went in wanting pitas but the whole-wheat tortillas are cheaper this week, change up your menu. Consider store brands over the name brand. You may be surprised to know that often these are the same product in a different package. Brands cost more because of the reputation, marketing, and many other things not relevant to the final product.

[5]Buy in bulk when possible
Stock up on boxed and canned goods – whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds, and even lean protein (canned tuna, salmon, chicken, etc.) when on sale.  Avoid pre-packaged ‘single’ serve snacks. Though convenient, they’re typically a lot more expensive. And you can take just a few minutes out of your day to package into plastic baggies and make your own portion-controlled snacks! Example? Oatmeal. Buy the large canister and make your own. Skip the single serve packets.

[6]Don’t forget the frozen aisle
Frozen fruits and vegetables are typically quite cheaper and often nutritionally superior because they are frozen right after harvesting. Add frozen veggies to stir fries, soups, or simply roast with a little oil and some spices. Use frozen fruit in smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal. Make sure you look for ones that contain only the fruit or vegetable, not the veggies smothered in butter or the fruits coated in sugar. And don’t forget about proteins, either. Meat, poultry, and seafood are often cheaper than fresh. Just be sure to avoid products that have been battered and seasoned.

[7]Be smart with organic
While it would be great to only buy organic and from your farmer down the road, it isn’t always possible or practical. And although prices are coming down because of demand, organic is still more expensive than non-organic. If you really want to buy organic but stay within budget, I suggest paying attention to fruits and vegetables, specifically the “dirty dozen”. These 12 items have the highest amount of pesticides so if you can only buy these organic, you’ll be making a great step. Currently, the Environmental Working Group classifies these 12 items as highest in pesticides (and thus best to buy organic):

Celery
Peaches
Strawberries
Apples
Blueberries
Nectarines
Bell Peppers
Spinach
Cherries
Kale/Collard Greens
Potatoes
Grapes (Imported)

[8]Consider going meatless
I’m not suggesting you take on a vegetarian diet full-time (unless you’d like to, of course) but vegetarian protein sources are generally much cheaper than meat and seafood. Think: beans, legumes, eggs, nuts/seeds, and dairy products. You don’t need a “meat” to have a complete meal – just a good balance of healthy fats, carbohydrates, and protein.

[9]Don’t. Waste. Anything
Buy only what you need and use it all. Don’t want to eat the same thing for a week? Re-purpose your items. Use the same ingredient in several ways. Take zucchini – eat it sliced up fresh in a salad, quick pickled in a brine, or roasted in the oven. Transfer leftovers into a new dish. Freeze leftover meals in air-tight containers and reheat when ready to eat again.

[10]Dine out less. Cook in more
This is difficult in college when you want to meet friends and be social. You don’t have to stop enjoying restaurants. Just be smart about it. Try limiting your dining out experiences to 1-2 times a week and make sure to scope out the menu before you go (to be sure you can choose healthier items). Better yet, invite your friends over and make dinner together. You can save money with the ingredients you buy and you know exactly what’s going into it. That way, you get healthy foods, save some cash, and still get to enjoy hanging out with your friends!

Now you have all the tools you need to get started. Go make your plan now!

Be sure to follow Jamila via:

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If you are interested in participating in the Spotlight of the Week, please contact me for available dates.

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24 Comments

  1. September 10, 2014 / 3:58 pm

    These are really great tips and reminders! They are especially helpful for me since I am now doing all my own shopping and cooking for the first time 🙂 Groceries definitely add up!

  2. Erica
    September 19, 2014 / 11:24 am

    Sometimes eating healthy is just so hard… thanks for all the great tips! 🙂

  3. September 19, 2014 / 11:47 am

    Awesome tips! For me the biggest money saving tool is planing ahead! When I don’t have that night’s meal planned out, I’m more likely to eat out or splurge on bad foods <3

  4. Fiona Naughton
    September 19, 2014 / 12:01 pm

    Great tips! I think I actually do a lot of these things already so yay 🙂

  5. September 19, 2014 / 12:27 pm

    Awesome post! I’ve been in search of something just like this! Thanks girl. <3

  6. September 19, 2014 / 12:30 pm

    Really great interview and tips. It is hard to shop healthy with so many temptations out there, so I appreciate these!

  7. Melissa Haag
    September 19, 2014 / 1:17 pm

    Great tips! I follow pretty much all of these, plus I try to cook things ahead when I have time, like dry beans.

  8. September 19, 2014 / 3:27 pm

    Very cool, love these tips!

  9. September 19, 2014 / 5:11 pm

    This is a great list even for those not on a budget or in college! I am trying much harder to make my own food. I have been relying too much on bagged salads. Ugh.

  10. September 20, 2014 / 8:29 am

    Thanks for all the great tips..

  11. September 20, 2014 / 8:36 am

    These are all really great tips! I had no idea about shopping on Wednesdays so I will have to give that a try! Planning out meals for the week has helped us out so much. Instead of going to the fridge twenty times looking for inspiration we just look at our meal plan for the week.

  12. Kristine Foley
    September 20, 2014 / 9:18 am

    I agree planning is winning more than half the battle! When I set a plan up for our family on exactly what we eat at every meal it allows for healthier eating not to mention better for our budget. Thanks for the awesome tips!

  13. September 20, 2014 / 6:46 pm

    Great tips. Eating out less and cooking more is such a money saver. And the food is healthier.

  14. Carly Anderson
    September 20, 2014 / 11:32 pm

    Thanks for sharing these great tips! I definitely agree that planning is the biggest thing you can do to eat healthy and stay on a budget!

  15. September 21, 2014 / 10:52 am

    Planning and being organised definitely helps with eating healthy on a budget.

  16. September 21, 2014 / 2:05 pm

    My BF & I definitely need to work on our meal planning so we waste less! These are great tips.

  17. September 21, 2014 / 2:45 pm

    Great tips! I’ve been working on meal planning and getting local grocery deliveries to ensure that we don’t just order take out!

  18. September 21, 2014 / 9:48 pm

    Thank you so much! I needed to read this – and actually follow it!!! Can’t wait to follow her blog! Thank you!

  19. September 22, 2014 / 7:42 am

    Great tips – eating healthy feels like it can be so expensive at times!

  20. Laura
    September 22, 2014 / 10:12 am

    thanks for such practical tips. #9 reminded me of the quote i have on my fridge ” I will buy carefully. I will take good care of the things I have. I will waste nothing.”

  21. September 22, 2014 / 2:52 pm

    Great tips! I usually buy everything organic and try to plan ahead so hard.

  22. September 23, 2014 / 6:09 am

    Fab tips! I hate wasting food. When I lived at home, everything would get recycled and no food would ever be wasted! Now, I think we do pretty well as we only cook what we need and then eat the left-overs for lunch!

    Katie <3

  23. Laurel Wads
    September 24, 2014 / 3:10 pm

    Great tips for not only college students but young families too. If I don’t plan my meals I definitely take the easier way out and pick up take out.

  24. September 24, 2014 / 7:13 pm

    Good tips here. I do want to mention that sometimes you are so effing broke you can’t afford to buy in bulk, or scope out that many places. People tend to forget that some people on a budget’s budget is tighter than others’. That said, I’m trying to do bigger shops now instead of smaller more frequent ones and I should really look for coupons more often. I always forget those are a thing. I never dine out because I can’t afford it and I don’t have a freezer and I need to eat meat at least every other day because otherwise I find myself desperate for it. I’m also trying to cook more and it turns out you need like, a lot of ingredients. Thankfully I’m super boring so I always go for the simpler recipe, but I’m trying to work out if making a cake (and shit, getting a cake pan) would really be cheaper than buying one.