Budget Smarts: Eating Right for a healthy life




Having budget smarts doesn’t mean you have to have lots of money in the bank all it means is that you are doing whatever it takes to provide for yourself the best way you can while spending less than you earn along the way.

Whether you are wanting to lose, gain or maintain weight, increase your energy or simply just live a healthy life, making good choices when it comes to the foods you eat is important.

Healthy eating may be expensive so they say, but it doesn’t have to be.

Even though I love my vegetables, I have to admit that making healthy choices when it comes to food is something I have not always been the best at and if you ask my mom she will tell you (as she tells me often) that she thinks I don’t eat enough.

I sit down every night and have dinner with my kids but during the day when I am constantly on-the-go eating seems to sometimes be easily forgotten.

These last few months I have been doing some research trying to improve my eating habits as well as eating more often.

I thought I would share some of the healthy choices I am learning to incorporate into my life and how I’m doing it without paying a fortune.

I want to be healthy all around, not just for myself but also to make sure I am around as long as I can be for my kids and hopefully one day grandchildren. I know I am a still quite a few years away from that but it’s never too early or too late to think of the years ahead.


Skipping the convenience


As proven by many who follow the blog and post weekly in The Grocery Game Challenge, buying groceries and preparing your own food is much more cost-effective and healthier than eating out all the time.

I spend a lot of time in Wal-mart for my job and I walk past those golden arches every time I walk through the doors and believe me it’s enticing.

Most days I have enough work to do to not have enough time to sit and eat as I have to be home to get my son off the bus.

Too many times I have grabbed a burger from McDonald’s and quickly scarfed it down as I make my way back to what I was working on.

Eating fast food is too convenient and certainly not healthy so now I just keep on walking past. If my hunger strikes I just simply reach into my bag and grab an apple or sandwich which I have brought with me from home.


Simple food substitutions


Lots of people think that healthy foods do not taste good, though I will be honest and agree that this is sometimes true. You can make some simple substitutions in your meals to add some nutritional value without tasting it so much. The best part is that these substitutions don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg and can easily be stretched out. When you compare the cost to convenience foods, well there really is no comparison.




I like to use hummus instead of butter or margarine on a sandwich. Pre-made hummus isn’t too expensive to buy though making your own like Mr CBB’s Creamy Garlic Hummus can be cheaper and you can make it exactly how you like it. Hummus is high in iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and folate as well with chickpeas being a main ingredient it’s a source of dietary fibre.


Ch-ch-ch-chia seeds



Who remembers Chia Pets?

Really with that catchy jingle who could forget  I haven’t seen Chia Pets in years though I have recently been introduced to eating Chia seeds. 

The cost of buying Chia seeds can vary greatly depending on what brand you purchase, the bag of Mila touted “The Miracle Seed” (given to me for free) costs $45.00 per 16 oz. bag though some brands sell as low $10.00 a bag or container and can also be purchased in bulk.

Chia seeds require little or no preparation as they can be consumed hulled or with the seed coat on and still provide the same nutritional value.

Chia seeds really can be added into anything as they lack flavour. I like to add Chia seeds into our home-baked muffins, oatmeal, salads and yogurt.

Chia seeds can really be added into whatever you want as they are tasteless, you can even just mix them with water, not leaving them in water too long though as they will become very gelatin-like and the texture can be hard to swallow.

Chia seeds are high in healthy omega-3 fats and dietary fibre as well as a good source of calcium, manganese and phosphorus.


Coconut Oil


What is coconut oil?



Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of mature coconuts. Though previously thought to have been bad for our hearts, coconut oil has actually been proven to be exactly the opposite.


Health benefits of coconut oil


Coconut oil works as an anti-oxidant in our bodies, helping to prevent damage to healthy fats and tissues including our hearts. The regular use of coconut oil can greatly reduce or eliminate the need for the intake of other antioxidants.


Coconut oil uses


How to use Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil can be used to replace butter when cooking or in baking, added into oatmeal and as the jar in the picture suggests it is great over popcorn.

Though not food related, coconut oil can also be used as a moisturizer for your skin and hair. It contains a good amount of Vitamin E which our bodies use to protect and repair itself.

I was in a car accident when I was 15 years old and was left with some severe injuries to my face. I used Vitamin E on my face daily and was amazed how much my face healed in three weeks.

I wish I had known back then about coconut oil as it would have been a lot easier to apply than breaking open vitamin E capsules like I did.


Continuous improvement


Though I still have room to improve, especially with eating more, I have been getting a lot better in making healthier choices of what I do eat and finding ways to maximize the nutrition in my meals.

Eating healthy shouldn’t feel like work and if changing your diet to include better food seems overwhelming, gradually make changes and substitutions until healthy living becomes a way of life for you.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard or break your budget, what simple things do you do to make sure you are receiving adequate nutrition.

What healthy substitutions do you make to eat right for a healthy life without costing a fortune?



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  1. Changing your eating habits definitely affects your finances. ‘Skipping the Convenience’ is probably one of the most difficult, but it also helped me feel better to eat more wholesome foods. They should call it ‘inconvenience’ because it creates an inconvenient lifestyle that causes more problems. My latest change in diet is to basically cut out as much processed foods as I can (it sucks, and made me feel sick the first couple weeks since my body didn’t know how to handle the unprocessed foods…) I have been feeling much better lately because of it, but it stretched our budget thinner (probably also because we added 2 other mouths to our household.) I wish my parents had encouraged unprocessed foods more when we were kids. 🙁

  2. As you aptly point out Katrina, eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, there are cheaper or more wider use healthier alternatives if we are willing to look around.
    I should have a look at hummus and possibly learn to prepare mine at home, sounds like a healthy alternative I could possibly benefit from.

  3. I have mastered cheap breakfasts and lunches but I need to work on suppers. If I am going to rely on fast food I get a hamburger Happy Meal from McDonald’s. I get my fast food fix for under $5 and haven’t eaten an entire days worth of calories at one meal.

    I need to eat more vegetables. I love vegetables and I eat them if someone else prepares them but I am lazy by nature and most veg needs some sort of cooking.

  4. Another great article Katrina!!! I’m trying to get more healthy foods into hubby and the boys here, not always easy!!! Veggies in general are not eaten if there is a choice….so I try to remove the choice. Mix the veggies into anything and they get eaten, peas in mac and cheese, extra veggies in the shepherds pie,grated carrots in the spaghetti sauce, veggies in the rice, or those noodles mixes they like…it all works. I bought some chick peas and I want to cook them up for hummus using the slow cooker. I just need to figure out how I’m going to puree them as the immersion blender died on me!! My daughter and younger boy both love the stuff, I don’t think the older boy or hubby have tried it but they will be soon enough.I have been trying to buy the food here a little closer to how it was grown before it was over processed. The less processed the better, and I’m finding in a lot of cases it’s cheaper!!
    Hubby has not been well and has issues with mal-nutrition, as nutrients are not being absorbed properly. So I find I have to get him foods that are more nutrient-dense so he has a better chance of getting what he needs….. it’s an uphill battle some days as he doesn’t eat much. We have managed to hold his weight steady the last while so that is good. I try to get all of us eating healthier, some days are better than others but I keep trying……

  5. Good tips Katrina. I can’t say I’m with you on the coconut oil – there are lots of other inexpensive ways to incorporate healthy antioxidants into your diet – but I’m sure all about cooking from scratch and using lots of healthy fruit and veggies, whole grains, and several tasty meatless meals each week. It’s good for your health and for your budget!

  6. I use to go to McDonald’s all the time lol. But then I slowly changed my ways and developed a taste for the healthier alternatives like making my own sandwiches with whole wheat bread. I use coconut oil to substitute extra virgin olive oil when cooking. Some people say that coconut oil consumed regularly can even help to extend your life 🙂 It’s important to also remind ourselves that besides a proper diet, exercising is also really important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

  7. I use coconut oil in a homemade sugar scrub I make. I’ve yet to get on the chia seed bandwagon but I know there are great health benefits. I think I need to start adding them to my smoothies. Thanks for the tips!

  8. Hi Katrina, you are so right. Eating healthy has been cheaper for us. We eat the same breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. They are EASY to prepare and very healthy. Bananas, nuts or egg for breakfast, spinach, black bean, and brown rice salad for lunch with blueberries on the side, and hummus (homemade and very easy to prepare on Sunday nights for the entire week), kidney beans, and an apple for dinner. We eat out on the weekends and have found several inexpensive and healthy meals. We have never been in this kind of shape, and we’re in our 40s. Even when I think apples are overpriced, I still get them because they sure beat crap food!

  9. Thanks Katrina! My diabetes clinic doctors and dieticians said that long periods between meals should be avoided at all cost because it is hard on the pancreas and liver and leads to decreased insulin sensitivity and eventually diabetes. You don’t have to eat a lot, but do make sure to fuel your body every 4-5 hours and immediately upon rising in the morning. If you can avoid the disease, or at least prolong it’s onset, it’s definitely worth doing. I wish I had known this at your age. 🙁

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