When I think about spring I think about the newness that it brings. Spring makes everything so fresh. After months of winter, life can seem so dull and colorless. Then spring arrives and everything comes to life again! Spring is my favorite time of year!

I don’t know about you, but I run into similar patterns with my eating habits. I go through times when I am so bored with food and nothing is exciting anymore. Eating starts to feel like a chore. Then there is the whole idea of making sure that food is affordable and I’m not spending all of my money at Wendy’s, and that I’m not eating ice cream for every meal. (Ask my husband… I would do it if he let me.)

Then when we try to put it all together... don’t get me started on trying to eat healthy on a budget! Well actually, let me get started. I think it’s not so hard if we are smart and a little savvy. So today I want to share with you a few things that are close to my heart, good food and saving a little money. After all, if we’re going to live life in these bodies that God gave us, why not live it to the fullest?
Here are a few tips to help you start this spring off right and eat healthy on a budget: 

Not having a budget for food can get you into a lot of trouble. If you don’t have a set amount to spend on food for the week, month, etc., you’re going to spend like crazy. Without a budget it’s very easy to go out to eat all of the time or grab everything at the grocery store that looks good. You can always make adjustments to your budget, but like a wise person once said, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”

If you stick to it, this one also keeps you from wasting your money on terrible fast food. For my husband and I, I sit down and plan a two-week menu and write my shopping list based off of that menu. I plan to have enough food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the entire two weeks. I take into account any nights where we won’t be eating at home, or days where I don’t have time to cook a full meal and we need to make something in our crock-pot. Meal planning takes some time up front, but it’s worth it to avoid the last minute decisions about what to have for dinner.

Depending on your area you might have some great discount stores. Usually these are smaller grocery stores that are locally owned. We have Aldi here in Springfield and the prices are super cheap. If you have an Aldi in your area and you haven’t checked it out, do it now! The prices at these stores are usually much lower than chain stores.  

If you don’t want to make trips to multiple stores, take advantage of Walmart's price matching if you can. The way this works is you scan your local ads for lower prices on items you want to buy. Then you find the same item at Walmart and tell your cashier the sale price and at which store and Walmart will (usually) give you that price! Check Walmart’s website for all of the specifics on their price match policy. I found a great site that does all of the work for you. They scan your local ads and post the deals for you. That website is www.pricematcherz.com.

One last tip I have is to shop the outer aisles of the store. People have studied the layout of the average grocery store and the majority of the natural, unprocessed foods can be found on the outer edge of the store. This would be your meat, produce, and dairy items. The vast majority of your shopping can be done without even going through the center aisles!

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. I would suggest starting small. Pick one or two steps that you want to take to eat healthier on a budget. Regardless of your stage in life, with a little effort you can establish healthy eating habits and save a little money.

Here are two of my favorite (mostly) healthy and cheap recipes. You can make each one for right around $10. They are also husband approved, and the second one is my husband’s favorite dish that I make.
1. Ranch Pasta Salad (serves 4-5)- you can easily substitute the ranch for another dressing or even something homemade. We don’t mind the ranch because it’s such a big recipe and only about half a cup of ranch. We also use garden rotini pasta that is made out of tomatoes, and broccoli. (Aldi sells it for $1).

      2. Zucchini Lasagna (serves 2-3)
            You’ll need:
            1 lb ground turkey
            3 zucchini
            1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
            ¼ cup of shredded cheese (I use colby jack)
            italian seasoning
            olive oil
            9x13 baking pan (or 8x8 for a thicker lasagna)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Brown the ground turkey and set it aside.
3. Slice the zucchini lengthwise in strips that are about ¼ of an inch thick. You want them to be thin enough that they will cook quickly.
4. Heat a small saucepan and add a small amount of olive oil. Cook the zucchini strips until they are tender. Season with italian seasoning.
5. Mix the ground turkey, cheese, and pasta sauce and a little more italian seasoning in a bowl. Pour about half of the mixture into the bottom of the baking pan. Cover the first layer with some of the zucchini strips as if they were lasagna noodles. Repeat the process until you use all of the ingredients. For me this is usually just two layers.
6. If you’d like, sprinkle the top with some more cheese. Bake the lasagna for 20 minutes or until it is bubbling. You want to make sure that it is heated up all of the way through.
7. Enjoy!



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