7 Healthy AND Tasty Recipes For Living On A Budget

7 Healthy AND Tasty Recipes For Living On A Budget

Here’s the thing, part of adulting and living responsibly off of a budget means ditching the Ramen and Spaghetti O’s and eating somewhat healthy, which makes cooking for yourself even more of a challenge.
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Let me just start out by saying I am not a vegetarian. Not a vegan, pescatarian or any variant. Though, I do sympathize with the plight. I am also fortunate enough not to have food allergies. But I do have experience living off of a budget, I’ve even survived off of $4.75 a day.

It’s hard, but through a lot of research, trial/error and countless women hours spent in grocery stores staring at the calculator on my phone, I have come up with a decent recipe repertoire.

Here’s the thing, part of adulting and living responsibly off of a budget means ditching the Ramen and Spaghetti-O's and eating somewhat healthy, which makes cooking for yourself even more of a challenge. And you may not always be able to eat a balanced meal, so I suggest investing in vitamins as well.

Living on a budget and eating healthy requires mindfulness, which works really well if you make a meal schedule for the week. Even schedule snacks if you like to snack rather than have set meals.

Enough disclaimer, here are my recipes for a week's worth of eating healthy-ish on a budget:

1. Hamburger Helper

So many flavors, so little time. Make sure you have milk and one pound of ground beef handy. Though super high in sodium and whatnot, it has protein, which is hard to get on a budget, it’s filling, and it makes enough to last for a few meals. As long as you’re not eating it every day, it’s an easy filler meal.

2. Veggie Burgers

No, I am not a vegetarian, but I have to say MorningStar veggie burgers are bomb. Just pop them in the microwave and they’re good to go. You can put them on a whole wheat bun with hummus and avocados or chop them up in rice. These babies make a quick, versatile meal. Also an awesome source of protein!

3. Cauliflower Wings

Surprisingly, the less popular veggies like kale, eggplant and cauliflower are often on sale for really cheap because stores can’t move them the same way they can with more commonly eaten ones. Which is great because cauliflower is a good source of protein, vitamin K, B6 and C, fiber, potassium and the list goes on. It’s an underrated vegetable with a subtle flavor, and this recipe doesn’t require many ingredients!

4. Massaged Kale Salad

Kale, you either are obsessed with it or roll your eyes at the name of it, or you're like me and you like it occasionally because you know it’s crazy good for you. Plus, talk about bang for your buck! If you have ever purchased kale at a supermarket or farmer’s market, you know that you can’t buy it in small amounts, so plan some smoothies or make some kale chips for the week as well. This simple salad is subtle but delicious and filling, and it works well alone or as a side dish.

5. Breakfast Burritos


These burritos aren’t just for breakfast. They’re super easy to make! Just scramble some eggs, add black beans, peppers, preference of meat, roll it up in a whole wheat tortilla and top with salsa, avocado slices and a little hot sauce to flavor. Also, add peppers and onions according to your preference.

6. Chili

To make this dish a little healthier I use low sodium chili mix, but with one pound of hamburger, canned tomato chunks, kidney beans and onions to flavor. It makes a protein-rich, flavorful and filling meal that lasts a few days.

7. Rice and Beans

Unless the box says it’s low sodium, many of the premixed rice and beans kits are a little high in sodium, which detracts from the protein enriched classic. So easy to make and lasts a few meals

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:” Line Matters,

I want to start off by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can’t afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you’re just lazy and you “don’t feel like it”? Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you’re unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the US Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck.” stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:” line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can’t seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to ten people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!”

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the seventeen other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there’s a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 dollar bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of ten times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession - whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food, and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a forty dollar bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes - as if you’re better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you’ll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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My Experience As A Caregiver

I have respect for anyone who takes care of other people.

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Last summer I took up the onerous job of being a caregiver for a home healthcare service. Although I found a different job for this summer, one that aligns more closely with what I'm actually interested in, I would never take back the hard work and dedication that I put into being a caretaker last year because I learned so much and genuinely feel like I made in a difference in the lives of the people whom I helped. At least I know they made a difference in mine.

Being a caregiver helped me overcome simple fears that I've had for years. For instance, I've always hated driving in areas I'm unfamiliar with, but going to a different home every day in neighborhoods that could be up to 50 minutes away from my house made me much more comfortable navigating new places, especially during construction season. I also got over my fear of blood, or have at least learned how to cope with it, by taking the blood sugar of some of the people that I helped take care of.

I was taught lessons that I never would have imagined to learn from a summer job. For the first time in my life I had to cook and I didn't even get to enjoy the food I made. But cooking was just a simple skill I learned. I also realized the importance of patience, and working with ninety-year-olds helped me gain a better perspective on life.

But what last summer truly taught me was the value of the people who spend their time giving back to those who need hands-on help. Caretakers, nurses, moms, doctors, dads, counselors, you name it: they're all life savers and what they do isn't easy.

After working nine hour shifts, traveling to different houses throughout the day and helping people do the simplest tasks, by the time I got home I felt proud but exhausted. I rarely had the energy to take care of myself because I had been so focused on others all day. I also realized that a "bad day" couldn't exist for me because my job required diligence and compassion at every moment.

And my job was easy compared to doctors who go to school for years to work in the medical field or stay-at-home moms who spend every waking second watching their children. I'm so grateful for my experiences as a caretaker, but I accept the fact that that type of work isn't for me. Now more than ever I'm endlessly appreciative of those who spend every single day helping people. Not everyone can do the work that a caregiver does.


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