Investing in Your Health from an Early Age

If you’re still in college or a recent grad working with a limited budget, the idea of implementing a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming and very expensive. If you aren’t careful, you might find yourself shelling out lots of cash in the name of health—whether you’re overspending on organic produce, designer athleticwear or monthly membership fees for a fancy gym. This can leave you feeling lost and overwhelmed about what a healthy lifestyle means or is worth to you. To prevent an unproductive cycle of spending, here are some tools to help you invest in your health wisely.

Intentional Inaction

While intentional inaction may sound counterproductive, it’s a great first step towards figuring out where your money is best spent. If you don’t figure out what works for you, you end up spending money on groceries and health regimes that aren’t beneficial at all.

Instead of following fad diets, begin to experiment on your own with nutritionally dense food. (A good rule of thumb is bright and bold-colored vegetables.) As you do this, pay attention to how these make you feel. After a meal do you feel energized or depleted? What foods are contributing to this? Increase your personal food knowledge and discover what foods act as fuel for your body and contribute to your overall health. This will help you allocate your budget towards foods that increase your energy and health versus empty calories or foods that deplete your energy. Shop locally to save money on fresh foods—you can often get a much better deal at a local produce stand or farmer’s market than a chain grocery store.

Another important factor of the intentional inaction phase of developing a healthy lifestyle is mindfulness (a.k.a. monitoring your thoughts). Self-talk can be helpful or hurtful to you, and whether it is good or bad self-talk, your body is always listening. The best part? Monitoring your thoughts doesn’t cost anything, and it can actually have healthy benefits! Pay attention to your daily thoughts and take time to analyze them in a way that is effective for you. Whether you prefer meditation, deep breathing or a daily journaling exercise, invest time in discovering how you talk to yourself. Are you standing in your own way, or are you acting as your own advocate? This awareness is the key to making real changes to your habits and your lifestyle.

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Manageable Small Tasks

Find small, low-cost steps to help get you started on your journey to health. You know yourself better than anyone, so it is up to you to decide how you can set yourself up for success. If you don’t know where to start, try some of these tips:

  • Do you enjoy working out only when you have fashionable workout gear? Treating yourself doesn’t have to mean breaking the budget. “We think like-new, on-trend activewear is the best gym motivator,” says Samantha Jacob, spokesperson for thredUP, an online thrift store that offers brand-name workout clothes at a discount. A little unsure about buying someone else’s gym clothes? Don’t be alarmed. “At thredUP, we have incredibly high quality standards, and only accept about 40 percent of the items we receive. Many of our activewear items are in like-new condition, or even new with tags! You can’t go wrong with up to 90 percent off Lululemon leggings,” Jacob notes.
  • Do you struggle to eat healthy during the week? Try meal planning. Browse Pinterest for meal inspiration, draft a few grocery lists or pick up a meal planning journal or new food storage containers. Taking these tiny steps can motivate you to cook a week’s worth of healthy food that you can grab and go when you’re exhausted after work or running late to class. The best part is meal planning eliminates those last-minute stops at fast food restaurants—bad for both your health and your wallet.
  • Does it feel impossible to get up for your morning run? Try setting your alarm to a favorite song and putting your running clothes and shoes right next to your bed. You’ll wake up in a better mood and have everything you need to get out the door within arm’s reach.

Regardless of what sets yourself up for success, gather some actionable items and write them down. Make these tasks small and manageable enough that they’ll stand up to the test of a busy schedule!

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Habitual Healthy Action

The trick to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is action through knowledge. Once you’ve given thought to what you need to get started, your mind will find more motivation because it now understands the value of doing this action towards a healthy lifestyle. Turn your small actions into habits by understanding the importance of investing in your health and what it truly means to you. Whether it’s a budget-friendly gym membership or a carefully planned Trader Joe’s shopping list, you’ll be equipped with tools to avoid extremes and empty costs by knowing what works for you and your lifestyle.

Catherine Claire is stylist, blogger and reiki practitioner who knows the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Catherine is the co-founder of The Crystal Press and curates content for her own blog, Cathclaire. She also uses her wellness expertise to write for thredUP on everything from yoga tips to budget-friendly workout fashion. Click here to view thredUP’s selection of designer athleticwear, including items from brands like Lululemon, Nike and Adidas.

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A Health-Centric 7-Day Meal Plan That Won’t Break The Bank

Welcome to the second of a six-part collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! Last time we talked about my top ten tips for making healthy groceries budget-friendly. Today we are going to take that a step further with a full, healthy week-long meal plan!

The two notes I want to preface this meal plan with are – this is not a “weightloss” meal plan. I don’t believe that health and body shape are always correlative, so I choose never to focus on that. The second is that my grocery list assumes that you will already have a few pantry staples at home. If you do not, this list may be more expensive than estimated.

Health-Centric 7 Day Meal Plan

RECIPE LINKS & NOTES

Blueberry Overnight Oats

Spinach, Avocado & Egg Wrap – Simply use one of your large wraps with spinach, ¼ large avocado, 2 scrambled eggs, and even a spread of vegan mayo if you want!

Chickpea “Chicken” Salad Wraps – use your large lavash or tortilla wraps for these

Chinese Chicken Kale Salad – The recipe calls for you to make your own dressing, but it’s probably cheaper to buy an Asian dressing that you like.

Asian Quinoa Snack Bowl

Spaghetti Squash Pasta with Chicken

Chickpea Street Corner Tacos

Marinated Mushroom Zoodle Pasta

Salted Chocolate Pudding – If you don’t have tahini in your home, just use the nut butter from your grocery list!

Speaking of, here’s the full grocery list needed for the above food plan (click on image to expand):

Grocery List by Brewing HappinessFeel free to swap what days you make the recipes on – this is totally customizable to your life! For instance, I suggest eating the Asian quinoa snack bowls on days that you workout, for some extra protein. So if those days are different than the chart suggests, then switch it up! Or if you are a person who likes to eat more meat than this meal plan allows for you could add shrimp to your chickpea street corn tacos or chicken to your marinated mushroom zoodle pasta.

The pricing in this meal plan obviously isn’t exact, but it can provide a good estimate of your costs for the week. Just remember to be smart about your grocery shopping – go to a store with bulk bins, so you can buy exactly the amount you need. That way you don’t have a bunch of extra food and empty pockets at the end of the week!

Follow along!

Over the next couple of months I’ll be covering tons of ways to be healthy on a budget. So keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!

Haley Hunt Davis is the voice behind Brewing Happiness, a food blog dedicated to celebrating healthier choices. Haley makes “health-ified” versions of everyone’s favorite foods, like pizza and chicken nuggets, as well as suggestions for how to make every dish fit one’s lifestyle. For more from Haley, follow her on InstagramFacebookPinterest and Twitter.

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3 Easy Ways to Make Coffee Shop Drinks at Home

Welcome to the fourth of a six-part collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody!

In the first few articles I covered tips on making healthy groceries affordable, cutting food costs while traveling without sacrificing, plus a 7-day meal plan for under $150! Today I’m switching gears and providing three “fancy” coffee recipes you can make at home. There’s no need to spend $5 a day at your local coffee chain when you can make something delicious at home. Plus, all of these recipes are much healthier than the processed stuff you’ll buy.

These are some of my favorite recipes to make at home, because they only require a blender and a couple of minutes. Plus over the course of a month the switch to making “fancy coffee” at home can save you tons of money! If you are looking to save money in the coffee shop section of your monthly budget, this is the way to do it.

3 Easy Ways to Make Coffee Shop Drinks at Home

Easy Non-Dairy Vanilla Creamer

INGREDIENTS

1 cup water

2 tablespoons natural nut butter*

2 tablespoons maple syrup

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

  • Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend on high until smooth and frothy.
  • Pour into your coffee and store the extra in the fridge, shaking before use.
  • DRINK UP.

Recipe Notes:

I used unsalted and unsweetened almond butter. If you use a nut butter that is salted or sweetened, reduce the amount of maple syrup or leave out the salt.

Cinnamon Clove Coffee

INGREDIENTS

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

a tiny pinch of cloves

1 teaspoon honey

1 cup freshly brewed black coffee

a splash of Easy Non-Dairy Vanilla Creamer (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  • Add cinnamon, cloves, and honey to the bottom of a coffee cup. Pour some freshly brewed coffee over the top of the cup. Stir vigorously.
  • Add in creamer or milk if you like and DRINK UP.

Recipe Notes:

Feel free to skip the creamer or milk all together in this recipe, and just drink it black. It’s delicious that way as well!

Healthy Vanilla Blended Iced Coffee

INGREDIENTS

½ cup cold coffee

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons nut butter

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

10 ice cubes

DIRECTIONS

  • Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend just until the ice is crushed.
  • Pour into a glass and add a straw.
  • DRINK UP.

Recipe Notes:

You can adjust the amount of maple syrup based on how sweet you like your blended iced coffee. Or if you are more of a plain iced coffee person, feel free to blend all of your ingredients except the ice and simply pour over ice before drinking!

For a bonus recipe check out my French Press Chai Latte recipe on Brewing Happiness.

Let’s take a look at the cost breakdown of making your fancy coffee at home versus buying it in a coffee shop. An average medium “fancy” coffee at a coffee shop costs about $3.95. If you buy coffee at a coffee shop five days a week, you’d be spending about $87 dollars a month.

By using the cost estimates below, my creamer will cost you $2.09, and will make about 4-8 servings. My Cinnamon Clove Coffee will cost you $0.94 per cup, including the creamer! And the blended iced coffee will cost you $1.54 per cup. If you drink a combination of these over the course of a month, you’d spend about $37.62. That would save you about $49.38 per month!

  • Almond butter – $0.73 per 2 tablespoons
  • Maple syrup – $0.53 per 2 tablespoons
  • Vanilla extract – $0.10 per ¼ teaspoon
  • Coffee beans – $0.16-$0.18 per cup
  • Honey – $0.17 per 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon – $0.07 per 1/8 teaspoon

Switching to making your fancy coffee at home versus buying it in a coffee shop is an easy way to save money every month. You’ll still have great coffee, and you’ll save money at the same time. I’d call that a win-win situation.

Follow along!

Over the next couple of months I’ll be covering tons of ways to be healthy on a budget. So keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!

Haley Hunt Davis is the voice behind Brewing Happiness, a food blog dedicated to celebrating healthier choices. Haley makes “health-ified” versions of everyone’s favorite foods, like pizza and chicken nuggets, as well as suggestions for how to make every dish fit one’s lifestyle. For more from Haley, follow her on InstagramFacebookPinterest and Twitter.

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Top 5 Tips for Eating Well (And Cheap) While Traveling

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Welcome to the third of a six-part collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody!

In the first two articles I covered grocery shopping on a budget, and provided a healthy 7-day meal plan for under $150! Today I am going to shift my focus to eating healthy while traveling. As a person who has created a career around eating healthy, it is important to me to keep this up even when I am traveling.

This past month I set out on a month-long trip around Europe, so I had the chance to figure out the best strategies for eating healthy on a travel budget. I found that there is a delicate balance between penny pinching, eating healthy, and really indulging in the local cuisine. I didn’t want to miss out on any of that, and I figure you don’t either. So today I am going to share my top five tips with you! I promise there is a way to indulge (in a healthy way) on a budget.

#1 Come prepared.

Avoid wasting money on snacks at cafes or airports or train stations by coming prepared with your own snacks. Maybe this means trail mix, or protein bars, or nut butter or fruit – whatever it is, it’s much more cost effective to buy them preemptively than to buy them on the go. This way you can save your money for the meals that matter. Don’t let hanger drain your bank account!

#2 Be choosy.

Take time to do your research before visiting a city – search on the internet or ask friends for recommendations – and make a list of the top restaurants you must try. Then you can allocate a larger percentage of your food budget to those specific meals. That way you are nearly guaranteed a food experience that you will like, and you aren’t thoughtlessly spending money at cafes or restaurants that may or may not be worth it.

#3 Split food.

If you are traveling with another person or a group, splitting meals is a great way to save money. It allows for you to be able to try more dishes at one restaurant without breaking the bank. That way you can experience all of your destination’s food offerings without spending a fortune. It is also very helpful in practicing moderation (see tip 5.) BONUS – it helps prevent food waste!

#4 The market (AKA. grocery store) is your best friend.

If you run out of snacks or if you are lucky enough to stay in a place with a kitchen, grabbing snacks or meal supplies at the grocery store can save you so much money. Do your big spending at your list of top restaurants, and save the rest of your money by grabbing food at the market. (HINT: cheese and meat boards are a great cheap meal to buy at the store.) You can still try exciting local products at the market that will save you money at the same time. Especially if you are a coffee drinker, buying coffee at the market and making it in your accommodations will save you tons of money on your trip.

#5 Practice moderation.

It is easy to give into the “YOLO” mentality when traveling, and be tempted to order anything and everything on a menu that looks good. But the truth is that you will enjoy the meal more if you limit your order to one or two items. This way you won’t waste food, and you won’t break the bank. You can always return to a restaurant that blew you away, or save your money to try other unique menu items at the next restaurant you go to. That way you get to indulge in a healthy way!

So that’s it – my top 5 tips for eating well and cheaply while traveling! I know that travel isn’t always cheap, but it is possible to do well on a budget, especially when it comes to food. I hope these tips have helped inspire and remind you that eating healthy while traveling isn’t very hard.

Follow along!

Over the next couple of months I’ll be covering tons of ways to be healthy on a budget. So keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!

Haley Hunt Davis is the voice behind Brewing Happiness, a food blog dedicated to celebrating healthier choices. Haley makes “health-ified” versions of everyone’s favorite foods, like pizza and chicken nuggets, as well as suggestions for how to make every dish fit one’s lifestyle. For more from Haley, follow her on InstagramFacebookPinterest and Twitter.

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Food Budgets Liefstyle

The Best Sources for Affordable Healthy Food

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Well hello there, Mint family. Welcome to the very first installment of this super exciting partnership between Mint and Root + Revel!

Before we dive into today’s post, how about a little meet and greet? Hi! I’m Kate Kordsmeier, the founder of Root + Revel, a food and wellness blog helping people strike the balance between good and good for you.

I’m a full-time food writer for magazines, a recipe developer, and blogger. I’m also living proof that food is medicine (check out my story to learn more!). My main message is: Food Heals! That doesn’t have to mean bland chicken and steamed broccoli. Taste is paramount and we take it back to basics, infusing beauty, flavor and celebration into everyday life, helping you live naturally, without sacrifice.

That being said, I’m the first to admit that healthy, organic food is expensive. Plain and simple. Even if you support organic agriculture and pasture-raised/grass-fed/wild-caught growing methods, they just cost more money than their conventional counterparts.

But that doesn’t mean you have to shell out wads of cash every time you hit up Whole Foods. Hence why I’ve teamed up with Mint to spill all my affordable, healthy eating secrets.

The Cost of Eating Healthy

Here’s the thing: whether you pay a bit more upfront to nourish your body with healthy food, or you save money by filling your belly with factory-farmed meat, pesticide-laden GMO produce and processed junk filled with artificial colors, preservatives and other toxic chemicals, it’s possible you’re going to pay for it one way or another. And I’d rather not do it later in the form of medical bills. Let’s pay our farmer before our doctor.

Let’s think big picture, long term, full story, because eating unhealthy food will cost you much, much more in the long run. And, as it turns out, eating healthy, organic food actually doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. It IS possible to eat healthy on a budget.

To wit, here are the best sources for affordable, healthy food:

Buy Direct From Your Local Farmer

There are so many savings to be had on healthy food when you go straight to the source. Think about it—not only are you cutting out the middleman, but the food isn’t being shipped in from across the country (read: no transportation costs added into the price). Cheaper AND more nutrient-dense and delicious, as the food is fresher, too.

And if that weren’t enough, when you buy direct, you can ask the farmer questions about their growing practices (Are they organic? Are their animals grass fed and free range? Do they use sustainable practices to preserve the environment?), ensuring you get exactly what you want and you know precisely where your food came from.

Not sure where to find farms near you? Simply head to your local farmer’s market, or find one near you through LocalHarvest.org or the USDA. Similarly, you can join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which delivers boxes of fresh, locally-grown produce from small, family farms right to your doorstep. Sometimes health insurance providers will even reimburse the cost CSA memberships.

A few insider tips: When you develop a personal relationship with farmers, you can often negotiate prices with them. Likewise, you can buy in bulk (i.e. purchase a quarter of a cow and freeze the meat until you’re ready to use it) to save even more. You can also save at the farmer’s market later in the day when prices get slashed to get rid of everything before the farmers go home.

Shop Online for Healthy Food

There are dozens of healthy e-tailers serving up real food online—even better, you can shop from your PJ’s on the couch.

One of my personal favorites for non-perishable food is Thrive Market—a Costco-meets-Amazon-meets-Whole Foods source selling healthy, non-toxic foods and products at wholesale prices. Nearly everything they sell is the lowest price I’ve seen, and they’re always giving customers free gifts of full-size products and hefty coupon codes to save even more money.

Another money-saving favorite is Amazon Subscribe & Save, where I stock up on healthy favorites like organic coconut milk, cacao powder, flax seeds, chia seeds, spices and protein bars. Amazon Fresh also offers some great deals, and they deliver within 2 hours right to your house!

There are also lots of incredible companies shipping frozen organic, sustainable and grass-fed meat and wild-caught seafood right to your doorstep. Some of my favorites include Butcher Box, U.S. Wellness Meats and Vital Choice Seafood. These services frequently have sales, discount codes and generally affordable prices on high-quality food.

A few insider tips: Don’t forget when you shop online you can use cash back sites and frequent flier shopping portals to supercharge your savings. Some of my favorites include Retailmenot.com, Ebates.com, Joinhoney.com, EVReward.com, ChaseUltimateRewards.com and Dealspotr.com.

Use a Meal Kit Delivery Service

One of the biggest expenses any home cook has is inevitably waste. We all have the best of intentions when we stock up at the grocery store, but we almost always end up throwing away something because it went bad before we could use it, or we bought too much, or we were too tired to cook that night. This isn’t just wasteful, it’s expensive—think about how much money you could’ve saved if you actually used everything you bought!

Fortunately, there is a solution to this dilemma: meal kit delivery services. These companies send you exactly what you need, so you’re not buying obscure or uncommon ingredients you’ll only use once, or even just more food than you’ll need in general. The ingredients are also all pre-measured, so in addition to less waste, you’ll also have an easier cleanup.

The best healthy meal kit delivery service I’ve tried is Sun Basket, which offers organic, gourmet, fresh recipe boxes, including Vegan, Gluten-Free and Paleo meals, in eco-friendly, recyclable packaging.

For more tips on how to save money and eat healthy, visit Root + Revel.

Coming up

In my next article, I am going to talk about how DIY’ing your own beauty and cleaning products can save you oodles of cash, reduce the toxins in your home and body AND save the environment (psst: did I mention it’s also super easy and fun?!).

Be sure to follow along on Mint and follow me on Instagram @rootandrevel, so you don’t miss a single healthy living tip.

Kate Kordsmeier is a food journalist turned turned real food and holistic expert after her own chronic health issues catapulted her into a journey of healing her body naturally. After much success, she started Root + Revel, a food and wellness blog dedicated to natural living, without sacrifice. But that doesn’t mean bland chicken and steamed broccoli. Taste is paramount, and Kate infuses beauty, flavor and celebration into everyday life, helping readers strike the balance between good and good for you.

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Food Budgets Liefstyle

A Summer Dinner Party Menu for Under $100

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Welcome to the final installment of a six-part collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m so excited to bring you this summer dinner party menu for under $100, so that you can celebrate the long, hot days with all of your friends.

Recently, I wrote about my top 10 tips for eating out on a budget and one of those tips was to skip going out and have a dinner party instead. So I figured it would be helpful if I provided you with a cost-effective menu to help you execute that idea. I love throwing dinner parties, and I’ve perfected the skill of creating delicious, yet easy meals to impress my friends with. Don’t be intimidated by the idea, you can do totally do this. I mean, the menu even includes frozen pizza – does it get any easier than that?

Since I’m all about healthy(ish) food, the menu is vegetarian but it includes both a cocktail and a dessert. I don’t think you will feel deprived from the lack of meat at your table. In fact, I think you’ll feel invigorated from this fresh and seasonal menu, which is perfect for those hot summer nights.

I’ve broken the pricing down by menu item, and also included a per-person cost breakdown. This way you could ask your friends to pitch-in and everyone would be spending less way less than you would by going out to eat. If you decide you still want to cut down the cost even more, you can eliminate the cocktail or the dessert. Or if you decide you want to add a protein (perhaps try chicken on the salad), you can know exactly how much extra that will cost.

A SUMMER DINNER PARTY MENU FOR UNDER $100

Serves about 6 people

GREEN GRAPE SANGRIA

7 cups green grapes, about 1 bag $3.29

2 lemons $0.99 each, $1.98 total

1 bottle chardonnay $9.99

½ bottle cava $6.99

¼ cup agave nectar (sub maple syrup) $6.09 per bottle

NON-ALCOHOLIC VERSION

7 cups green grapes, about 1 bag $3.29

2 lemons $0.99 each, $1.98 total

1-2 bottles sparkling water $2.09 each, $4.18 total

¼ cup agave nectar (sub maple syrup) $6.09 per bottle

TOTAL COST – $ 28.34 / NA version $15.54

CRISPY AVOCADO SUMMER SALAD (double the recipe)

2 bags mixed greens $3.09 each, $6.18 total

2 large ripe avocados $1.59 each, $3.18 total

2 cups breadcrumbs $1.09

2 cups non-dairy milk (sub any kind of milk) pantry staple 

1 cup all purpose flour pantry staple 

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast $6.69

3 peaches $0.07 each, $0.22 total

1 cup cherry tomatoes $3.69

1 cup chickpeas, about 1 can $1.29

1 sweet onion $0.69

honey mustard dressing $3.09

salt & pepper pantry staples

TOTAL COST – $26.12

STRAWBERRY BALSAMIC SUMMER FLATBREAD (double the recipe)

2 frozen cheese pizzas $7.39 each, $14.78 total

2 cups strawberries $4.89

1 tablespoon olive oil pantry staple

½ cup feta cheese $3.09

4 tablespoons almonds $3.69

4 teaspoons high quality balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction $7.39

salt & pepper pantry staples

TOTAL COST – $ 33.84

WATERMELON CUPCAKES WITH COCONUT CREAM ICING

½ seedless watermelon $6.09

1 can coconut cream $4.69

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract pantry staple

salt pantry staple

powdered sugar, to taste pantry staple

TOTAL COST – $10.78

TOTAL MENU COST – $99.08

NON-ALCOHOLIC MENU COST – $83.54

Per person total – $16.51 / $13.92

All of the pricing is based on the current cost in my area (Atlanta, Georgia). This means that the menu cost will be slightly different depending on where you live and what grocery store you go to. However, I think that generally the price will hover around the $100 mark no matter what, unless you want to buy fancy wine or something like that.

Enjoy!

Follow along!

Check out all of the other ways to be healthy on a budget I’ve covered: 10 Tips for Eating Out on a Budget, 3 Easy Ways to Make Coffee Shop Drinks at Home, 5 Tips for Eating Well (and Cheap) While Traveling, A Health-Centric 7-Day Meal Plan that Won’t Break the Bank , and 10 Tips to Make (Healthy) Groceries Budget-Friendly.

Head over to Brewing Happiness for more healthy recipe inspiration!

Haley Hunt Davis is the voice behind Brewing Happiness, a food blog dedicated to celebrating healthier choices. Haley makes “health-ified” versions of everyone’s favorite foods, like pizza and chicken nuggets, as well as suggestions for how to make every dish fit one’s lifestyle. For more from Haley, follow her on InstagramFacebookPinterest and Twitter.

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10 Tips to Making (Healthy) Groceries Budget-Friendly

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Welcome to the first of a six-part collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! As a food blogger, I know a thing or two about how expensive healthy food can be. Over the years I’ve developed some tips and tricks to make healthy living more affordable. So in this series we will talk about everything from groceries, to eating out, to eating healthy while traveling, and tons in between.

Today I want to start with the most basic of our food budget – groceries. Groceries can be expensive no matter what, but especially if you are a healthy eater. But this doesn’t have to be so; there are tons of ways to help you save money and still eat healthy. Here are my top ten tips to help you stay healthy while reducing the cost of your groceries.

10 Tips to Making (Healthy) Groceries Budget-Friendly

1. Buy Seasonally. Especially produce.

Taking time to research what is in season in your area will make buying produce much more cost efficient. When produce is in season there will be a surplus, allowing for reduced prices. If you are unsure of what is in season in your area, try shopping at the farmer’s market or subscribe to a CSA box that can be delivered to your door!

2. Go meatless. At least once or twice a week.

Not only is it good for your health and the environment, it will help your wallet tremendously. Beans, nuts, and meat substitutes are significantly cheaper than any meat product. Perhaps you start with one or two days a week and see how you feel. I bet you’ll feel lighter physically, and thicker in the wallet. I call that a win-win.

3. Limit your alcohol consumption. You and your wallet will feel better.

Alcohol is expensive. No matter if you are a glass of wine with dinner or a cocktails at the bar kind of person, it will add up. I suggest limiting the amount of days you drink, maybe only on the weekend. I also suggest drinking most of your alcohol at home; we all know it’s cheaper that way! It’s not the most fun suggestion, but I think your body will thank you as much as your bank account.

4. Buy frozen or canned. For produce that isn’t in season.

Read the labels on frozen and canned items to make sure they aren’t swimming in preservatives. If they aren’t, this is a great healthy way to save money on out of season produce. They will last longer, and are usually pretty affordable.

5. Eat or freeze leftovers. One less meal to spend money on.

I am the first to admit that if I make a large meal or eat a restaurant, I don’t always want to eat the leftovers the next day. So I make a rule that if I don’t eat them in the 2-3 days post original meal, I freeze them. Be sure to label what they are so you don’t forget, and then you have a fun surprise meal for later.

6. Limit grocery trips. Make a plan and stick to it.

If you only go to the grocery store 1-2 times a week it will force you to finish out what you buy instead of wasting ingredients or having produce go bad. Making a meal plan for the week ahead of time will help you not forget anything, and can make it easier to limit your trips.

7. Stick to your list. Don’t just throw stuff in your cart.

I fall victim to the shiny grocery item allure all too often, but this can quickly deplete your grocery budget without even realizing it. When you limit your grocery trips to just the items on your pre-planned list, you can much more easily budget how much you will be spending per week. So keep your eyes on the prize.

8. Allow 1-2 treats per week. You deserve it.

While sticking to the list is important for your budget, I think treats are important for your mental health. Give yourself the freedom to buy one to two “treats” per week. Maybe this is a chocolate bar, or an expensive juice, or even that fancy cheese – whatever the case, give yourself some freedom here. It won’t blow the budget if you ration the frequency.

9. Try to make pantry staples at home. It’s so much cheaper.

Store bought “health food” items like nut milk and nut butter are pretty expensive at the store. So if you have the time, it will be extremely beneficial for you to start making these things at home. I would bet that it’s easier to do than you think, and in the long run it will save you a ton of money.

10. Buy in bulk. Especially spices and pantry staples.

Buying in bulk is a great way to be able to limit the amount of what you need. This way you can buy just a cup of rice, or tons of oats, or just a pinch of saffron instead of buying what is pre-portioned. It’s worth driving a little further to the grocery store that has a bulk section, because this will save you SO MUCH MONEY.

Follow along!

Over the next couple of months I’ll be covering tons of ways to be healthy on a budget. So keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!

Haley Hunt Davis is the voice behind Brewing Happiness, a food blog dedicated to celebrating healthier choices. Haley makes “health-ified” versions of everyone’s favorite foods, like pizza and chicken nuggets, as well as suggestions for how to make every dish fit one’s lifestyle. For more from Haley, follow her on InstagramFacebookPinterest and Twitter.

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Budgeting Food Budgets Liefstyle

How to Get Your Food Budget for Two on Point

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Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.

Today I’m going to give you my best tips for food budgeting for couples. Since every couple is different, I reached out to many of my friends to hear about their budget struggles and successes. Out of those conversations I developed six main strategies to help couples successfully food budget.

I won’t go into specific numbers, because those are for you and your partner to decide. However, I will provide helpful percentages and guide points for you to form your budget around. Hopefully these tips help you form a food budget strategy that makes sense for your life!

#1 Actually sit down and set a budget.

This was the number one comment I got when interviewing couples about their food budgets. Most people don’t take the time to sit down and talk it through. A good starting point for developing a budget is to look at what 10-15% of your combined income is. That number might be too high for you, depending on how much you pay for rent or how tight money is, but generally that’s a good place to start.

#2 Once a week make a plan and grocery shop.

After your budget is solidified, take one day a week (usually Saturday or Sunday is best) to sit down and make a game plan for the week. This should include what time each person will be home for dinner, if you are eating separately or together, etc. From there you will want to make a grocery list for the week and go grocery shopping. Just make sure you stick to the list when you are at the store!

#3 Make smarter meals.

When I say “smarter” meals I mean meals that make sense for both sides. Crockpot meals are great for this, because they can stay warm and be ready no matter if you are eating together or separately. Plus, they make great leftovers. Salads, grain bowls, and sandwiches are other smart meals that can be eaten for lunch or dinner and leftovers can be saved.

#4 When money gets tight, turn to pantry staples.

Perhaps at the end of the week, or at the end of the month money is tighter if you are sticking to a solid budget. This is when you can turn to pantry staples like oats, grains, pasta, cans of beans, etc. to fill you up. Use your pantry staples as the bulk of your meal and add in what you have left or leftover. This will usually get you through the week.

#5 Do date night at home.

It’s easy to buy steaks or chicken or make pizza, along with a cheap bottle of wine, a little side salad, and some chocolate for under $30. This is half of what you’d spend at a restaurant for the same meal. So make date night at home by buying some “fancier” items, you wouldn’t buy during the week, but stick to a $30 budget.

#6 Save splurging for the weekend.

Ideally, your one grocery trip provides you five days worth of groceries. That way, on the weekend, you can use the rest of your budget to eat out for a meal or two. This can help motivate you to really stick to the budget all week long, if you know there are reward meals coming.

Sticking to a five-day plan is the simplest way to start food budgeting as a couple. Agree on meals you want to make that week, and do the shopping together. Aim to spend 70-80% of your weekly budget on your grocery run at the start of the week. Save the final 20-30% of your budget for fun weekend dinners out or a date night at home.

The easiest strategy to food budgeting is simply to start. And as with all things in a relationship, communication is key. Starting this process with an open an honest conversation about expectations will allow your budget to work with your life!

Follow along!

Over the next few months I’ll be covering a variety of ways to be healthy on a budget. Keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!

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Budgeting Food Budgets Liefstyle

How to Throw a Holiday Dinner Party on a Budget

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Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.

The holidays are full of friends, family, and festivities – all of which can be expensive. But I believe that you can host a beautiful and delicious dinner party for your friends and family without breaking the bank. So I’ve put together some tips on how to decorate and what to serve, as well as provided an example dinner party menu.

How to Throw a Holiday Dinner Party on a Budget

1. Thrift your plates.

Don’t fret if you don’t have a collection of nice china just waiting for the perfect occasion. Head to your local Goodwill or favorite thrift store and grab some mismatched plates! They can be fun and festive, or perhaps you’ll get lucky and find a set you love. Thrift store plates are often priced around $0.50 – $2.00, making them an amazingly cost effective way to decorate your table.

2. Use plants and spray paint to help you decorate cheaply.

Eucalyptus and evergreen leaves are a beautiful and seasonal way to bring life to your tablescape without breaking the bank. If you want to get even more festive, get a can of gold or silver spray paint, and buy some cheap decorations from your local Dollar Store. Once you spray them gold, they will look like an expensive and beautiful table decoration!

3. Make it a BYOB event.

Food and decorations are expensive enough; don’t add to your budget by also providing alcohol for everyone. Make sure your guests know it’s a BYOB event, that way you can just focus on the food and bringing people together!

4. Serve soup as your main course.

Soup is cost effective, cozy, nourishing, and easy to make. It will take the stress away from an elaborate main course, and everyone will leave feeling satisfied. Check out the example dinner party menu below for recipe ideas!

5. Make it meatless.

A vegetarian dinner party will simply be cheaper to make, because meat is an expensive addition to a meal. I promise, with the menu I’ve provided, no one will leave feeling hungry. Plus, the holidays are already full of heavy, unhealthy food – why not lighten it up a bit?

6. Don’t go overboard with desserts.

You probably have a house full of desserts around the holidays, so don’t go crazy making tons of cookies for your guests. Instead, try repurposing some of the food gifts you’ve been given by serving them to your guests. Or you can make just one kind of cookie, but I wouldn’t suggest more – people are already overloaded with sugar this time of year.

Example Menu

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

SERVE IT UP!

TOTAL COST : $53.48 / $48.83, serving 6

The pricing estimates on each recipe are based on prices at my local Whole Foods in NYC, so they can vary depending on your location. They do not include the price of “pantry staples” like olive oil, spices, honey, etc. The exact cost will change depending on those elements, but generally I think it’s possible to have a dinner party that costs about $10 per head including decorations!

Don’t be afraid to invite people over for dinner this holiday season, and make it a party. There are tons of ways to make hosting a dinner party cost effective! I hope my suggestions and meal plan inspire you to give it a try. Happy holidays, folks!

Follow along!

Over the next few months I’ll be covering a variety of ways to be healthy on a budget. Keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!

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Food Budgets Liefstyle

How to Eat Seasonally And Know What’s In Season

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Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.

Today I am going to share with you some easy strategies to identify what is in season, why eating seasonally can help your budget, and even a few Fall recipe ideas! It is a misnomer that eating seasonally is hard to do, or difficult to identify. I find that eating seasonally is very intuitive and nourishing. Don’t worry, you don’t have to figure it out on your own – I am here to help make this a simple process for you.

Let’s begin with three easy ways to identify what’s in season:

1. Peruse your local farmer’s market.

Shopping at your local farmer’s market will insist that you buy seasonally, because all farmers’ market produce is seasonal! It takes out the guesswork, and allows you to support your local farmers. But if you are a person who doesn’t like the farmers’ market or doesn’t have one near, don’t worry; there are ways to identify what’s in season at your local grocery store.

2. Scour the grocery store for what’s abundant, cheap, and local.

When at the grocery store you want to look for three qualifiers in the produce you are buying that will indicate if it is seasonal. The first is abundance. Look around for what there are large amounts of at your grocery store, because often those are the items that are in season. Second, check out the prices. Seasonal food will often be on sale or priced fairly low, because of the supply being high. The third seasonal identifier is to check where the produce is grown. If signs or stickers indicate that it is grown fairly close to you it is most likely in season, but if they have to ship from a different country or very far away it is probably not.

3. Google it.

There are tons of great resources on the Internet that can guide you toward what is in season. Simply search the month you are in and seasonal produce USA. So for example this month would be, “October seasonal produce USA.” This way you can tailor your grocery list based on these guides, and check the prices once you get in store. I find this can be the most helpful strategy if I want to plan a large seasonal menu or if I’m just in a rush.

There are so many reasons to eat seasonally. Eating seasonally helps complete the circle of supply and demand, benefitting your local farmers. As I mentioned before, the high supply will create a lower cost, in turn helping reduce your food expenditure. Finally, seasonal foods often pair well together. So if you are a person intimidated by branching out in the kitchen – this is a great way to create reliable flavor parings.

Here is a brief list of what is in season for October and November:

Mix and match your seasonal produce to create these seasonally inspired dishes!

Breakfast – Top your oatmeal or yogurt with apples, figs, cinnamon, and honey.

Lunch – Make a kale salad with oranges, broccoli, roasted beets, sweet potatoes, chicken and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.

Dinner – Try roasting squash, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, and cauliflower and serving it with salmon topped with pepitas and pomegranate seeds.

Snack – Make a trail mix with roasted pumpkin seeds and dried apples!Dessert – Roast pears in the oven with cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Serve over ice cream with a drizzle of honey.

Have fun with your seasonal parings and don’t be afraid to try something new, or combine some new flavors. I find that eating seasonally allows me to be more creative in the kitchen, because I know I can rely on the flavors tasting good together. Plus these foods are only around for a few months, so you might as well make the most of it as you can!

Follow along!

Over the next few months I’ll be covering a variety of ways to be healthy on a budget. Keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!

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Source: mint.intuit.com