Time for another featured blogger in my Healthy Living on the Cheap series!
Healthy Living on the Cheap Spotlight #5
Hello, I’m Lauren from “Breathe Deeply and Smile”!
1. What is your favorite budget-friendly meal?
What I always have on hand are carbs (quinoa, sweet potatoes), lean protein (salmon, chicken, ground turkey), and lots of fresh and frozen veggies. Most nights I end up picking one of each and throwing it together for a meal.
Lately something I love is making an Italian “Pasta” Primavera. Spaghetti squash is in season so I eat that at least once a week but you could substitute whole-wheat pasta instead.
Italian “Pasta” Primavera
1 spaghetti squash
1 T Olive oil
1 T minced garlic
1/2 yellow onion
1 green pepper, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1-2 tomatoes, diced (or use a can of already chopped tomatoes)
1 16 oz jar of your favorite marinara, tomato sauce
Optional: Cooked ground turkey, cooked chicken breasts
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pulp. You can microwave the squash for about 15 minutes skin side down or roast in the oven at 400 degrees for around 30 minutes. It just has to be tender enough to scrape out the squash with a fork and make it stringy like spaghetti. Also make sure to drain the squash after it is removed from the skin by pressing on it in a colander because the squash releases a lot of water.
After the squash is cooked, sauté the garlic and onion with some olive oil until they start to brown. Then add all of the chopped veggies and seasoning and sauté for about five minutes before adding the tomato sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickens up a little bit. Then pour some of the veggies and sauce over a bowl of spaghetti squash.
You can also add whatever vegetables you look or some protein. I’ve made this with ground turkey, chicken breasts, and even tempeh added in!
2. What is your best suggestion for working out on the cheap?
Well, running is my favorite source of cardio-all you need are running shoes! Otherwise now with Pinterest and blogs it’s easy to get inspired and make up a circuit workout. I’ll pick 10 exercises to do for a minute each and do that 3 times. My go-to exercises are pushups, mountain climbers, high knees, tricep dips, planks, bicep curls, jumping jacks, and lunges!
3. What is your favorite budget-friendly way to relax?
Running is my stress relief but most weeknights I end up renting a movie from Redbox (a dollar a night) and a glass of wine. If it’s the weekend and I have more time, I check out a museum in the city. Many of the museums in Baltimore such as the art museum near my apartment are free or run admission specials. It’s a great, unique way to spend an afternoon!
4. How often do you eat out?
I eat out about once or twice a week, usually on the weekends. I live in a city so there is so many good restaurants nearby that it’s hard to resist!
5. If you have a favorite restaurant/fast food joint, what is your go-to meal that is healthy and (relatively) inexpensive?
I think anytime you’re eating look for something with balance which is mostly vegetables and lean protein. I usually order a fish or chicken entree with vegetables, sweet potato, or a salad on the side. Something I’ve become a lot more comfortable with when eating out is asking to alter the dish on the menu. I substitute sides for a salad or more vegetables or ask for the dressing or sauce on the side. Most servers and restaurants are very accommodating!
6. What is your best suggestion for socializing without breaking the bank?
I take advantage of local deals at restaurants and special pricing for events. Also I think inviting some friends over to watch a movie, have a potluck, and enjoy a bottle of wine is pretty easy to organize.
7. What is your one splurge that you just can’t give up?
I love retail therapy and always splurge on clothes and health foods. I need to stay away from Target and Trader Joe’s because I always end up buying a ton! Lately I’ve also had to watch how many races I sign up to run because they are expensive!
8. How do you keep track of your budget? (excel spreadsheet? smartphone app? set aside cash for the month? notebook? none of the above?)
I’m old school and use online banking but actually save all my receipts and write out in a physical record book all my spending and deposits. It makes me more accountable if I have to take the time to write everything down. I also just started using Mint.com’s app on my phone. I like it for budgeting and that it allows you to see what categories you spend most on!
9. What are your top 3 best “Healthy Living on the Cheap” tips?
1. Have a list of basics that you always buy when you go to the grocery and limit what splurges or treats to purchase.
2. Keep things simple. I drink mostly water and put together meals with the formula of a carb/starch, lean protein, and vegetable.
3. Utilize local farmer’s markets to buy fresh produce and get good deals or if that is not an option, eat what is in season because it will be cheaper and plentiful!
10. Just for fun – What is the best deal you’ve ever gotten?!
The best deal I ever got was probably this pair of black patent Sperry wedges on eBay. They were $15.50 plus $7 shipping, and they retail for around $100 regular price! The wedges are super cute and comfortable.
Another thanks to Lauren for all her great tips! Here are all of the ways you can connect with her:
For some other Healthy Living on the Cheap Spotlights: