Category Archives for Healthy Living

Week 5 – $54.25


Caprese Penne with Prosciutto

Caprese Penne 010

Cherry Tomatoes - $2.19 @ TJ's

Basil - $2.99 @ TJ's

Fresh Mozzarella $3.99 @ Whole Foods

Prosciutto - $3.99 @ TJ's (optional ingredient)

Balsamic Vinegar (already had it, but you can get it for around $5-$6 and it will last a loooong time)

Penne - $1.29 @ TJ's (will use for the mushroom dish below too)


Herb Crusted Chicken - with Roasted Carrot Coucous Salad

herb chicken 025

Chicken Breast - 2 skinless breasts @ $3.53 on sale @ Roche Bro's

Rosemary & Thyme - already had these in the pantry, hopefully you do too!

Panko - $2.99 and will last you through several other dishes

Lemon Zest - $0.99 for 1 lemon

Dijon Mustard - $2.69 on sale @ Roche Bro's


Steak Fajita Quesadillas with Spicy Simmered Pinto Beans-

steak quesadillas 007

Beef - $3.19 for one lb of a really good cut of beef - I actually found this at Whole Foods.  It was on sale because of a fat line running down the middle of the cut, so they were basically giving it away.  Hint, hint:  this happens ALL THE TIME!

1 Onion - $0.69

1 Red Pepper - $1.19

Spices - already on hand

Cheese - already had on hand, but if you need to buy cheese, buy a block and shred it yourself.  You'll save on calories, fat, sodium and $$$

Tortillas - $1.99 @ TJ's

1 16oz can pinto beans - $0.99

1 jalapeno - $0.42

Chicken Broth - $0.99


Creamy Pesto Penne with Mushrooms & Spinach

creamy pesto penne 009

Mushrooms - $2.89 @ TJ's

Organic Spinach - $1.99 @ TJ's

Greek Yogurt - 6oz for $0.80 - see under snacks for pricing

1 onion - $0.69

Pesto (homemade can be pricey and time consuming, so this time I picked up a fresh pesto from the fridge section of Whole Foods for $4.99, which lasts 2-3 meals)


Nonfat Greek Yogurt, Plain - 5 for $4.00

2 peaches - $1.59 for both (on sale)

sliced almonds (already had them, but you can grab a bag from TJ's for $4.99)

Annies Organic Snack Mix - portioned out for each day of the week - on sale at Whole Foods for $3.99


Week 4 – $49.00 – Using Up What is Left in the Pantry First

I realize I've changed the format of each weeks meal plan numerous times.  I'm just working on ways to make it as easy as possible for you to follow and stay organized.  If there is a certain way you felt was best, let me know!

Now that it's August, it's a good time to load up on those fresh veggies and fruits that will soon be a thing of the past.


I'm using a few things up in my pantry this week to save a little here and there, and since I had some farro and marinara sauce left over I used it to make Turkey & Farro Stuffed Peppers.  You could use whatever rice you have left in your cabinets for this dish and if you have a different cheese in the fridge, go with it!

asian meatballs, ahi tuna, stuffed peppers 025

A quick vegetable frittata will also be made to use up a few extra veggies I had as well.  The frittata should make enough for one dinner for two plus lunch or a snack for two the next day, but if you gobble it up in one sitting... I also have one pizza crust left from last week, so I'll grab another mozz ball and make a pizza.

I was also given some tuna steaks freshly caught of the boat by a friend this week so I made some yummy burgers.  Obviously fresh tuna is $$$, so sub in ground beef or ground turkey and I promise it will still be yummy.

Grocery List for Dinners:

1 lb lean ground turkey ($3.99)

2 large green peppers ($0.89 each at TJ's)

1 onion- I already had this so the price is not added in to this

garlic cloves- I already had this so the price is not added in to this

Marinara Sauce - I already had this so the price is not added in to this

Farro / Rice - I already had this so the price is not added in to this

1 ball of mozzarella cheese ($3.99)

1/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice) ($2.19 for a block at TJ's)

eggs - 2 dozen (get them cheap at Trader Joes for $1.39 per dozen)

Veggies for your frittata - varies, I spent about $6.00 on my week's worth of veggies

1 lb ground beef, turkey or tuna fillets (about $4.99 for the beef or turkey or $12.99 for about 1 pound of tuna)

honey - I already had this so the price is not added in to this

Low Sodium Soy Sauce -I already had this so the price is not added in to this

Ginger -($0.39 per 1 inch cube)

Scallions - ($0.99 per bunch)

Greek Yogurt - $0.99 for 1 small container

Organic Whole Wheat Buns - $3.99 for six

Summer Vegetable Frittata with Hash Brown Crust

Turkey & Farro Stuffed Peppers

Spicy Tuna Burgers with Savory Sticky Sauce (or use beef or turkey)


I'm going to stick with my usual fried eggs over bread (this week I discovered Organic Whole Wheat English Muffins that I'm obsessed with).  I love the english muffins but since I'm using the Fiber One bread for a snack, I'll stick to that for breakfast too to save money and splurge on the muffins next week.   I've also always got Organic Steel Cut Oats on hand with sliced almonds for those mornings when I sleep in and just want to have a comforting breakfast on the couch.

Grocery List for Breakfast:

1/2 dozen eggs (you can use some of the eggs from the dinner list for this too, that's why it's only a half dozen)

Organic French Vanilla Half & Half - I already had this so the price is not added in to this

Coffee- I already had this so the price is not added in to this


I'm going with the salad thing again this week, only because the romaine-tomato-cucumber "base" is perfect for building whatever you want on it.  I generally just throw whatever was for dinner the night before over the salad and toss it with a simple vinaigrette, or you can cook up some chicken to use for the salads, your choice.

Grocery List for Lunches:

romaine lettuce ($2.99)

cherry tomatoes ($2.19)

cucumber ($0.99)


Word of warning about strawberries lately...they aren't good anymore :(.  I've noticed that the mold turns up only two days after purchase, so it's just not worth it.

Instead, I'll plan on a few banana's for some peanut butter & banana sandwiches for after my workouts this week.  I've been on a strength training kick for the last two weeks and have realized I need way more protein in the mornings, so the peanut butter will be great for that.

I also found Chobani 100-Calorie Greek yogurt on sale this week in a 4-pack for $3.99, so I'll have that with some sliced almonds I already had in the pantry and grab a pint of blueberries (also on sale, for $2.99 at Shaws).

Any other snacks will be from leftovers the night before, so I won't plan to purchase anything else.

Grocery List for Snacks:

Fiber One 100 Calorie Multigrain Bread ($2.99)

4 Banana's ($0.39-$0.69 depending on where you get them)

Peanut Butter - I already had this so the price is not added in to this

Sliced Almonds- I already had this so the price is not added in to this

Chobani 100-Calorie Greek Yogurt ($3.99 on sale at Shaw's)

Blueberries, 1 pint ($2.99 on sale at Shaw's)


Dark chocolate chips never fail, however I've just died and gone to heaven over something even better... Chocolate Fudge Brownie Crisps (found at Whole Foods in the cookie isle).  I'm forgetting the brand but they are goooooood!  They also come in cinnamon sugar crisps (like a snicker doodle) that are just as delish, and one serving is 5 cookies for 110 calories.  Yes, you did hear that right, 5 for 110. OMG.

Week 3 – Five Dinners for $60.61 (Plus Leftovers for Day’s)

There's a sale at Whole Foods for 3lbs bone-in chicken breasts for $2.99 a pound this week!!!

That means we can make a whole bunch of good things for super duper cheap!

I'm talking about Sesame Chicken with Broccoli and Rice and Slow Cooker Chicken & Vegetable Soup!

As I was waiting for the nice man behind the counter to de-bone and de-skin my chicken for me, I also came across pork butt for $4.99 per obviously I grabbed a 2 pounds of that to make pulled pork in the slow cooker this week.

Now that I have three meat meals, I needed something non-meat for a meatless Monday option and an easy and quick dinner for a busy night, so I grabbed an Organic White Cheddar Shells box and a small bag of frozen chopped mixed veggies along with an organic whole wheat thin crust pizza crust 2-pack ($4.99), some local mozzarella cheese (on sale for $4.00) and some Rao's marinara sauce (also on sale for $4.00) and off to the registers I went!

For portions, I tend to only use one chicken breast for the sesame chicken if making it for myself only - but if Ryan is joining me I use two and there's always leftovers so that can also be lunch the next day too.  For the soup, I use two regardless because you can make so much and have that as leftovers as well.

This week was all about serious flavor, easy preparation and nutritional benefits in every meal.  Since I splurged a little on my dinners, I planned to use as much out of my cabinets as possible for breakfast, lunch and snacks.  Luckily I already had oats to make oatmeal with some goodies to throw in like sliced almonds and honey, and I had all the basics to make a few salads for lunch using cans of tuna or having just plain veggie salads and having some leftovers from the night before with it.  Below is the breakdown along with prices...

To make the Sesame Chicken and Broccoli with Rice & Slow Cooker Chicken & Vegetable Soup:

3lbs chicken breasts (on sale at Whole Foods, $8.16 for 4 good size breasts)

2 broccoli crowns (on sale at Whole Foods for $1.89/lb, I bought two small crowns for $2.82)

1 bag organic brown rice ($3.99 at Whole Foods - there are 18 servings in a bag, so this will last and equals out to $0.22 per serving)

1 bag organic carrots ($0.69 at Trader Joes)

1 bag celery ($1.99 at Trader Joes)

2 2.5qt low sodium, organic chicken broth ($1.99 each at Trader Joes)

2 onions ($0.79 each at Trader Joes = $1.58)

TOTAL:  $21.22 for both the soup and the sesame chicken (so approximately $11 per meal, with leftovers)

In the pantry already:  Whole wheat flour, soy sauce, honey, eggs, minced garlic, sesame seeds, seasoning for soup

Get the recipes:

Healthy Sesame Chicken & Broccoli with Rice

Slow Cooker Chicken & Vegetable Soup (I modified the recipe this links to by only using celery, carrots and onions and cooked it in the slow cooker on low for 5-6 hours, however you could also follow the actual recipe)

To make the Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches (and the Cole Slaw):

2 lb pork butt ($4.99/lb at Whole Foods = $9.98)

1 jar TJ's BBQ Sauce ($3.49 at Trader Joes)

2 onions ($0.79 each at Trader Joes = $1.58)

4 organic whole wheat buns ($3.49 at Whole Foods)

1 bag broccoli-slaw mix ($1.99 at Trader Joes)

1 lemon ($0.69 at Trader Joes)

TOTAL:  $21.22 for 3-4 servings

In the pantry already: 1 16oz light ale beer, some Alexia's Organic French Fries in the freezer, olive oil, honey, apple cider vinegar

 Get the recipes:

The Easiest Slow Cooker Pulled Pork...Ever

Broccoli Coleslaw Minus the Mayo

To make the Pizza:

Find your favorite thin whole wheat pizza crust (Whole Foods has a great one otherwise just check the ingredients label for crazy ingredients and look for one with normal things in it!).  I like to use Rao's Marinara because it has a very authentic taste as if you made it yourself, with only ingredients you know and love in it, along with fresh mozzarella (because it melts way better than any pre-shredded kind of cheese and has way less sodium than pre-shredded cheeses as well).  Assemble the pizza and top with any veggies you might have lying around - this is your chance to get creative!

This meal for two pizza's cost me $12.99 total - less than the cost of one pizza from your local joint, with less fat, sodium and other junk - and you'll have leftovers to boot.

To make the Mac & Cheese:

I chose Annies Organics White Cheddar Shells and amped it up with frozen mixed vegetables - this increases the amount of food your making (think leftovers for lunch) while adding more nutrition.  I jazzed it up with some red pepper flakes, ground black pepper and garlic powder for more flavor.

Get the recipe:

Jazzed Up Organic White Cheddar Shells

This meal cost me $5.18 ($3.19 for the shells and $1.99 for the veggies) - I had the seasonings already.  This fed both Ryan and I with enough leftover for lunch the next day.

Below is the breakdown of the rest of the week and what to plan for.  I had these things in my pantry and fridge already so I didn't end up spending too much more this week (aside from a few fresh fruits)


Oatmeal with 1/2 mashed banana & sliced almonds (with blueberries optional)

1 egg, 2 egg whites, cooked to your liking on rye bread with 1 slice of black forest ham

coffee with organic french vanilla half and half (my new fave obsession!)


Leftovers from the dinner before

Romaine salad with cucumber, tomato and either shredded chicken or tuna with an olive oil & balsamic dressing


Apples with peanut butter

Greek yogurt with almonds and 1/2 banana


Tips to Reduce Stress Almost Instantly

Stress, although unfortunately very common these days, is such a dirty word.

It can lead to so many health concerns - problems sleeping, elevated blood pressure, weight gain or loss, digestive issues, zero energy and much more.  It can also effect the relationships your have with your friends, family and co-workers.

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Week 2 – $51.95

Since it's summer and all those lovely fruits and vegetables are in season, I can't help but stock up!

Blueberries, tomatoes, strawberries, peaches, cucumbers, squash, asparagus...all on sale!  For this whole week I have been enjoying fresh meals with lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats all for $51.95.  It's also important to note that I did all of my shopping at Trader Joes this week which offers unbelievable prices on just about everything.

I've done some research on them and they TJ's has extremely high standards for what they allow in their stores, so I feel confident in what I'm buying.

So here's the breakdown:

The Meals:


Oatmeal with half a mashed banana and sliced almonds

fried egg sandwiches with rye bread

coffee with organic french vanilla half and half (my new fave obsession!)


Romaine salad with cucumber, tomato, feta (I had some leftover from last week) and either shredded chicken or sauteed shrimp with an olive oil & balsamic dressing


Nonfat greek yogurt with sliced almonds, fresh blueberries and sliced strawberries

sliced peaches or banana

roasted veggies


Tequila & Lime Shrimp with Roasted Summer Vegetables

Savory Peanut Sesame Chicken with Roasted Vegetables and Rice

Chicken Quesadilla's with Green Chiles, Roasted Corn and Pepper Jack (I had these Wednesday night and Friday night).  In a saute pan, heat olive oil and cook sliced and trimmed chicken until cooked, seasoning with your favorite spices.  Add in about 1/2 cup roasted corn and 1 can green chiles and cook for 5 minutes.  Lay out a whole wheat tortilla and sprinkle some cheese over one half of the tortilla, then spoon some chicken mix over the cheese.  Fold the tortilla in half then place on an oiled and heated pan.  Turn the quesadilla over once the first side is browned and slightly crispy, then remove and eat when the other side is finished as well.

Chicken & Roasted Vegetable Pesto Penne (simply shredded chicken tossed with some roasted veggies, penne and pesto sauce - easy and quick, especially if you prepped ahead of time)

What I already had:




Olive Oil

Pesto Sauce



Peanut Butter


Soy Sauce

Sesame Oil


Shredded Cheese

Green Chiles

Sliced Almonds - if you don't have them already, you can find them for a great price at Trader Joes.

What I Bought:

Unfortunately it looks as though I misplaced the receipt from my shopping trip, but please be assured this whole list can be done at TJ's for $51.28 (maybe a little more or a little less depending on where you live)

16oz cherry tomatoes

1 bag romaine lettuce

1 large cucumber

1 red onion

1 bag frozen shrimp

3 boneless chicken breasts


Organic French Vanilla Half & Half (this was actually bought at Whole Foods)


nonfat greek yogurt

rye bread (this was actually bought at Whole Foods)


1 pint blueberries

4 bananas

2 peaches

1 bag frozen roasted corn

1 bag organic whole carrots

1 bag sweet mini peppers

1 lb asparagus

1 yellow squash

1 zucchini



The Real Food Challenge

Peanut Chicken and Rice 005 titleConvenience is so important to our society, however that shouldn't mean relying on foods that aren't really foods at all.  Just doing a little research can be so beneficial to your mind and body.  I want to show you just how easy it can be to live a healthy life, and see the beauty in real food.

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