Clean Eating on a Budget!

imageSeveral days ago I posted a photo to Instagram and Facebook of my groceries for the week. I asked if anyone would be interested in My opinion and tips on how clean eating can actually be more affordable than traditional, over-processed fare.

 

The hr response was a little overwhelming. SO many people wanting to know how I do it that ice put off his post for far too long in hopes of perfecting it.

 

So, let’s just get this out of the way right now. I’m not perfect. Groceries are still expensive. There are foods we buy in bulk that help keep our costs low. And yes, I still buy some of that processed junk occasionally- especially in the summer!

 

In my post I mentioned that this was groceries for a family of six for two weeks, and cost only $150. Please know that we have a freezer full of pork that was raised by family, buckets full of flour we stock once a year, and tons of other staples in the pantry, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal, which we buy bulk only a few times each year. We do make weekly stops at the store for a few fresh staples such as melons, bananas and salad.  If we had to buy these pantry items weekly the cost would change drastically. But what you see in the picture was indeed all we needed for two weeks with a family of six, along with our food storage.

With that being said, I’ll give you my grocery list and ideas of how I use each item in our menu.

*I was also asked how I can get my kids to eat so much produce, but that’s a topic for another day. Don’t worry…I’ll get it posted soon!


Meat, Poultry & Fish

Tilapia, about 3 lbs – We use this for fish tacos, or coconut crusted tilapia

Chicken – this was four packages of thighs and legs that were on sale for $.88/lb. I divide them into four meals for our big family and we grill them with various seasonings and a salad on the side.

Al Fresco Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage, 4 pkgs – we LOVE these for breakfast! Dice hem up and Waite with veggies for an omelet or scramble, or sauté them whole with sliced peppers and onions

Deli Meat, 1 lb – We don’t buy a lot of deli meat, but when we do it’s the high quality, whole meats, not the pressed, processed stuff. We just watch for specials on our favorites, like this Black Forest ham. Use it for sandwiches or tortilla rolls at lunch, wrap it up inside a lettuce leaf with other veggies, or make hot sandwiches in the oven with your favorite rolls, meat, and cheese.

Bacon, 1 pkg – Bacon is also rare. I only buy it as a topping for a big Cobb salad, soups, or other dishes. We never use it as our main protein.

Eggs, 5 doz – we eat a LOT of eggs in our house. Breakfast, hard-boiled for a snack, lunch, or to top a salad… We rarely go a day without eggs and probably go through three of these big cases each month.


Dairy

Cottage cheese, the big tub – My kids go through cottage cheese like its candy. I usually buy it to use in some recipe, or as a quick protein for my snacks or lunch on a busy day. Typically, this big run lasts no more than two days once my children discover it. Try it with tomatoes, salt and pepper, or peaches and cinnamon. I’ve also been told it’s amazing with grapefruit but haven’t been quick enough to actually try it.

Plain Greek Yogurt – I typically use this in recipes that call for mayo or sometimes sour cream, but it’s not my favorite. Lately I’ve started to enjoy it alone with some vanilla, cinnamon, and stevia. SO delish!

Cheese! We enjoy cheese a LOT in our house and use it often to jazz up a boring dish. Feta cheese is a regular salad topping. Cheddar or Monterey Jack are our go-to for most dishes. We grate a bit into a bowl of soup that’s a little too spicy for the kids. Mozzarella cheese is for the lasagna or pizza nights! Sometimes we slice up the cheese with Rotz crackers and ham to make our own lunchables–that is a huge hit with all of the kids!

Go-Gurts – No, I don’t recommend them for a healthy eating lifestyle. But we’re being real here, and balance is important. I buy a box very rarely as a treat (bribe) for the kids. They are loaded with sugar so I avoid them as much as I can.

Milk – I didn’t buy milk this time but wanted to include my tips because I know it is a staple. We were the family who went through five gallons each week, and it was SO expensive. We have cut back our consumption a LOT after realizing how much extra calories it was adding to our diet. Now we usually have a gallon of 2% in the fridge for an occasional drink or for use in creamy sauces. I also buy unsweetened almond milk which we use in our smoothies, and hot cereals.


Pantry Items

Olives – We buy olives on the regular to jazz up our pizzas, salads, tacos, or nachos.

Whole tomatoes – We by a lot of canned tomatoes for various sauces (spaghetti, pizza, lasagna) and to put into or soups and stews. I learned recently that the best tomatoes are used in the whole canned tomatoes, while the lower quality are chopped up for the diced, stewed, or sauced tomatoes. I put it to the test, and the flavor is SO much better when using whole tomatoes! It adds an extra step of cleansing or mashing the tomatoes but it’s well worth it for the added flavor.

Refried Beans – I prefer to make my own, but occasionally I buy a can for a quick meal, usually just 7 layer bean dip.

Broth – I’m a pretty picky cook, and broth always taste better than bouillon. I spring for the good Swanson’s broth for the reduced sodium. We use it for soups, stews, sauces, and meats.

Coconut oil – yes, it really as good as they say. Coconut oil is a super heathy fat to add to your diet and is even used as a supplement. We use it for cooking, put it in shakes occasionally, and even use it to create healthy candies.

Mac n Cheese – Ick. But yes, it’s summer vacation and I buy a few boxes each payday for days when I REALLY don’t want to deal with feeding my kids lunch. 😜

Corn tortilla chips – These are pretty much a staple in our house. We use hem for nachos or 7 layer bean dip, or as a topping for tortilla soup.

Tortillas, corn and flour – Tortillas are another staple–we love our Mexican food! I can’t convince the family to go whole wheat with tortillas, they just aren’t very good yet. We use flour tortillas for tacos or quesadillas, & corn tortillas for fish tacos.

Yeast – I love making our own whole wheat, whole grain bread! I buy a lot of yeast!

Whole wheat noodles – I have successfully switched my family to whole wheat noodles! Spaghetti, lasagna, or whatever we come up with, we buy whole wheat. If you’re struggling to convince your family to make the switch, I recommend going 1/2 and -/2 for awhile before switching completely to wheat.

Salsa – This is a super good way to spice up any dish, though when I say spice, I really don’t mean it because my family is a bunch of gringos and we buy super mild. We use it on our breakfast burritos, tacos, nachos, etc.

Himalayan salt – You may have heard of this or seen the pretty pink salt in the stores. There’s a good reason for its popularity. Basically, all the BAD things you get from salt are the GOOD things you get from Himalayan salt. It has so many health benefits that it is used as a supplement and has been used in the native villages where it originates. I have replaced table salt with this and buy it bulk from my grocery store.

Dates – Dates are a fruit that get overlooked a LOT. I have recently discovered them during my sugar-free adventures, and use them to make a TON of treats that call for sugar. Blend it up into a paste and use it for pancakes, breads, desserts, jams, etc. I buy them bulk in my grocery store.


Produce

SO much produce! It’s too much to list here in this post, but just know that if the store sells it, we buy it. I will try to post more of my recipes and ideas for fresh produce and link to them here in the near future. In the meantime, if you have any questions about a particular produce and how to use it, store it, or convince your kids to eat it, please feel free to message me on Facebook or email me at kandice_mcdermott_fitness@gmail.com

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Tropical Asian Salad with Coconut Crusted Chicken

My seasonal food habits are demanding all things tropical lately. It’s easy to get bored with salads, but this delicious combination of tropical and Asian flavors mixes things up and let’s you have a little fun.

The chicken can take a little longer if you’re feeding a large family, so if you have an extra large skillet I would recommend it. You could also make it gluten free by using coconut flour. It is SO delicious though, and it would even make awesome chicken strips for lunch one day.

The vinaigrette is still a work in progress. This was tasty, but I’d like to find a way to have a creamy dressing without adding a ton of calories. We’ll see what I come up with.

In in the meantime, give this a try and let me know what you think! image.jpeg

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Ultimate Reset Week 2 Review {Beachbody Ultimate Reset Cleanse Review}

Well, week two is DONE! I am freaking PROUD of all that I accomplished this week. I managed to survive a camping trip. I don’t know about you, but camping is synonymous with s’mores, licorice, candy, chips, cookies, and any number of other treats/snacks that are definitely NOT allowed. My mom and I planned all our meals around what we could eat and it worked out great! I even managed to avoid having even a single lick of my kids’ square ice cream cones!

Success? I think so.

I even survived the end-of-soccer pizza party last night, to which my boys convinced me to bring dessert pizza for the treat. OREO and COOKIE DOUGH dessert pizza from our favorite pizza buffet. That was a pretty big test!

But… I did it! Not a single bite.

And you know what? I wasn’t even all that interested!

So, here’s a quick-ish, rambling, probably a little annoying, video, reviewing my week and talking about my plans for after the Reset is done. In ONE WEEK! Check it out!

 

So, there you have it! Week 2 is done, now on to week 3 and completion of one of the HARDEST things I’ve ever done! What’s the hardest thing YOU have done lately?

Kandice

**If you want more info about the Reset or 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme programs, just fill out the form below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

Sweet Potato Nachos {Healthy Clean Eating Family Ideas Free Challenge}

So, after almost two weeks of eating very little other than TONS of fruits and veggies…I have to admit, I’ve gotten a little bored.

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But you know…there’s nothing better than boredom to fuel creativity! It has been super fun to branch out from the recipes in my Ultimate Reset guide book and find something else that will work. Today I decided to *finally* try a recipe that’s been floating around for awhile…with my own modifications of course. (Have I ever told you that I refuse to conform to recipes? I’m kinda a rebel that way.)

Wow.

baby-surprised

 

For real, this was so much better than I ever imagined. I didn’t even miss the normal, salty tortilla chips. I liked it so much that I’m most likely going to have it again tomorrow…after I go to the store for more sweet potatoes.

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So, since I’m coming up with some pretty freaking amazing new recipes, I think it’s high time I share them, don’t you?? 🙂 I’ve decided to host a FREE 5-day clean eating DETOX group on Facebook this week! We’re going to DETOX from all the CRAP we eat and fill up on all this delicious, whole food!
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Have you ever done a clean eating group? It’s awesome! I’ll provide you with a complete meal plan, shopping list, weekend survival tips, and tons more. We will help each other stay strong through the 5 days and celebrate our successes when it’s done!

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Wanna join us? Shoot me an email at kandie_mcd@yahoo.com OR fill out the form below and I’ll message you ASAP. The group starts Wednesday, so don’t wait!

 

Kandice

Cooking with Kids: Zucchini Boats

As my kids are getting older, they are getting more and more insistent that I teach them how to cook. For most moms, this is super exciting and a ton of fun. Don’t get me wrong…I love being with my kids and I most definitely want to teach them ALL how to cook for themselves.

But…I was raised by my mother, who does not like to have other people in her kitchen. She’s a genius in the kitchen, she knows how it needs to be done to be perfect, and it drives her crazy if we don’t get it done right. I am exactly the same way! I go a little stir-crazy when the kids are in the kitchen with me, while Brett is pretty laid-back and easy-going about it.

But I’m working on it! We were trying out a new recipe recently from one of my favorite recipe books, and as I was thinking about it I realized it was the perfect recipe to get the kids involved and not feel like it was all out of control.

We made these awesome little “zucchini boats” based on the recipe for “Stuffed Zucchini” in the first Our Best Bites recipe book. Seriously…LOVE their recipes! If you’ve never heard of them, hit up their website…STAT! Of course, I very rarely follow a recipe to a “T,” preferring to tweak and twist recipes to make them my own. This particular recipe is SO versatile to any of your family’s preferences, so give it a try and get creative! You should also know that I very rarely measure when I’m cooking, so this isn’t so much a recipe (you can get that from the book) as a general guideline/explanation of the process.

Check out our little “trailer” video showing some of the steps to creating these fun little finger foods! These were our entire meal (we added some home-canned peaches and pears on the side) or slice them into large chunks and serve them as an appetizer!

For the filling, we used elk sausage because we have a freezer full of it, and because it’s pretty dang healthy stuff! You could use turkey sausage, pork sausage, or ground beef…whatever strikes your fancy! We went for an Italian flavored theme. Our filling included the sausage, chopped zucchini flesh, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, basil, and Parmesan cheese. You could also do a Mexican filling (ground beef or shredded chicken, tomatoes, green chilies, black beans, Cotija cheese, etc), Asian filling (shredded chicken, garlic, ginger, broccoli, almonds, etc), or whatever flavors you want!

Super simple steps:
1) Slice zukes in half lengthwise without cutting off blossom ends.
2) Scoop out seeds (great job for kids!)
3) Scoop more of the flesh out to make a bigger “boat” and save the extras to chop up into your filling.
4) Rub both sides with EVOO or coconut oil (great job for the kids!)
5) Grill cut sides down for about 5 minutes.
6) Carefully fill boats with your filling, then top with your cheese of choice and some bread crumbs (another great spot for the kids to help).
7) Grill another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

SO delicious!

 

 

 

Skinny Chicken Salad {Healthy Family Recipes}

So, a couple weeks ago I had to come up with a way to cure my craving for a big chicken salad sandwich without killing my new healthy eating habits. Have you ever looked at what’s in a good chicken salad? Wowza, talk about heavy calories! So I created my own recipe using lighter ingredients. It’s not exactly perfect, and I may continue to tweak it, but it was good enough for me to scarf it down for several days in a row!

 

Chicken SaladMy family wasn’t quite as excited about the recipe as I was, but they don’t like any chicken salad, so I wasn’t too surprised by that. I think I’ll continue to make it and expect them to eat it, but I may mix it up for them with fun lettuce and cheese cutouts to put on their sandwiches, or give them crackers to scoop it up instead of putting it on bread.

One thing I did differently than most salads I’ve had was to add several different fruits, rather than just one. You could easily mix it up to match your tastes or be more seasonal. I think it would be yummy with nectarines instead of apples! Or apples and pecans for a delicious fall flavor.

Do you like chicken salad? Do you eat it with a fork? On a sandwich or in a wrap? Where do you get your FAVORITE chicken salad, and how much  does it run you in calories? Super curious if anyone else is a chicken salad junkie like me. 🙂

Let me know if you give the recipe a try!

Kandice