Eating healthy on a tight budget

Welcome to my 1st of many articles talking about nutrition. One of my favorite topics! I love trying to eat healthy and finding the most nutritious ingredients I can find. I also love interviewing the experts on what they recommend. Here is my first piece on how to eat healthy on a budget.  Enjoy!

Jumping on the eating healthy bandwagon? Excellent, just don’t believe people when they say eating healthy is expensive. While buying organic and trendy health foods IS pricey, you can undoubtedly get a great healthy meal on the table without hurting your wallet. Try following  these few great tips for inspiration!.

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Franci Cohen

I asked Franci Cohen is a personal trainer, board certified nutritionist, owner and CEO of the specialty fitness center, Fuel Fitness in Brooklyn, New York and (catch your breath) mother of 4 kids for some eating healthy tips. She was kind enough to  take some time out of her super busy schedule to provide me with some great information.

According to Cohen, buying in season, coordinating meals and eating less expensive cuts of meat are some great ways to cut down on your food shopping bill.

Tip #1

“Buy fresh produce when it’s in season, and freeze it!” says Cohen.  When something like strawberries or corn are out of season, the price can skyrocket to exorbitant amounts of money!

“Buy your corn in the summer, your cherries in the spring, and all other produce when it is in season here in the U.S.. This will save you not hundreds but thousands each year,” she adds.

Tip #2

Cohen says to look for supermarket sales and coordinate your meals around them.

“For example, if you see in the daily circular that organic chicken breast will be 1/2 price on Friday, then plan your Friday night with chicken as the star focus! Carefully planning your menus around supermarket sales can allow you to get the healthy food you want at a fraction of the cost!” she adds.

Tip #3

A good piece of advice is to choose less expensive cuts of meat says Cohen. She says that most meats that are highly marbled are extremely costly (such as fillet mignon), and cuts that have a lot of tough connective tissue are generally very cheap. “No need to splurge on the expensive stuff! Instead, buy the inexpensive cuts and use moist media to prepare the meat. For example, don’t grill or pan sear it, but instead cook it in a stew or overnight in a slow cooker. This will yield the same soft and tender meat with less fat, and for a much lower price!”

Tip #4

Utilize extremely cheap beans and grains to add more bulk to your meals she says, thereby reducing the need for expensive fish or meat.

“Beans and grains are an extremely cheap way of adding both fiber and protein to your plate. Protein? Yep! That’s right. Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are stored in couplets in the body. While animal protein contain these already in couplet form, beans and grains that contain singles of these couplets can be mixed to create the couplet, and thereby the protein.”

An example of this says Cohen is rice and lentils, rice is not a protein and neither are lentils, but rice and lentils together are. “So stock up on barley, brown rice, quinoa, and other heart healthy grains. It’s an extremely cheap and versatile key element for your meal planning, she advises.

There you have it folks, awesome tips on how to eat healthy on a budget without resorting to expensive trendy foods, just focus on the basic food groups to keep yourself healthy physically AND financially!

Check out Franci at


Food and Finance

I would like to let everyone know that soon I will be posting more articles on a variety of topics in addition to personal financial pieces. In this new and updated version of Ace the Journey, I will write more about the nutritional aspect of our lives. We know how important a stable financial life can be to us, but we can’t forget about focusing on a healthy lifestyle right? How are we going to enjoy the stability we’ve created by diligently saving for our goals if we don’t feel good?
In the new series of articles I will talk about:

– Best ways to save at the supermarket

– What to ask your doctor about your nutrition and any nutritional deficiencies you may have.

– Best Nutrition books, podcasts and magazines

– What does clean eating really mean?

– How Mandalas can aide your healthy lifestyle…. and much, much more.

– So please keep posted. I enjoy bringing this information to you and hope you enjoy reading it!

Donating your car?

If you are looking for an efficient way to donate your car where it will go towards a good cause and also give you a tax deduction, I asked Morris Franco from Kars4Kids Car Donation Program to give me a bit of background on this non-profit that helps children through education and mentorship by getting funds through car donations.

What is the best way to donate your car?

As long as basic info has been submitted online or by phone, the donation will count for 2014 and donor will get the tax deduction for this year. Form can be filled out on our home page

How do I know the facility taking my donated car will actually use proceeds to help children?

The best way to tell is to see how much information they disclose online about where the funds are being allocated. After that you can check out their 990 tax forms from previous years which is usually available online.

What is the process like (from beginning to end result? What happens when I donate my car to your organization?

We actually have a web page that addresses how the process works from beginning to end, you can check that out here

Trouble with money?

Many of us at one point or another have been a bit tight with money. It’s common. Living expenses are high and depending on where we live, living expenses can range even higher. Take NYC for example, the “Capital of the World”. The cost of a meal at an inexpensive restaurant for one person averages $15. A three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two people averages $75. A regular cappuccino is $3.95. 1 pair of Levi’s 501 jeans averages $57. Renting a 1-bedroom apartment in the center of the city will cost you approximately $2,839.88 a month. Basic monthly utilities including electricity, heating water and garbage for a small apartment is $150.30 and Internet (6 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) is $49.18 .* Add to this the cost of childcare, transportation, preparing meals at home, entertainment, etc and it’s no wonder why we feel cash strapped.

What to do? The only thing we can do. Set up a budget to see where all our monthly expenses are going. On an excel spreadsheet, make a list of all the items you spend on monthly. For example, list your rental or mortgage costs, childcare costs such as babysitting and alimony, child support, clothes, movies, dining out, transportation, utilities, home costs such as curtains, bedspreads, furniture, TVs, kitchen gadgets, etc. Jot down everything you spend money on and by that I mean everything. Don’t leave anything out; otherwise you won’t see the complete picture. On the column next to this one write down your total income, subtract the expenses from your total income. What’s the difference? Do you have any money left or are you in a deficit? If you have some money left, great! Make sure some of this money is going towards saving for your emergency fund, retirement and college savings. If you are just scraping by, you need to whittle down your expenses. If you are spending more then you make, you have a lot more work to do.

That is the great thing about writing down everything you make and what you spend it on, you can see it. Seeing where your money actually goes every month makes you more receptive to your spending habits and much more aware of where your hard earned money is going.

Creating a budget sheet will help you cut down on unnecessary spending habits and help you save more. Of course, you can’t be a scrooge either. You can spend a little here and there on things that make you happy; this will promote your health and overall well-being but do it all moderately while also saving for a rainy day. Go ahead and try it.

*Cost of living expenses data obtained from

Where to find great budget forms

If you are looking for a great way to start a budget, you will find thousands of tips and forms on the web, but one of the best tools a fellow daily money manager suggested comes from the Dave Ramsey website.

Ramsey has several forms you can use, either print them out or use the online budget tool he has available.  The printouts he has include the Quick Start Budget and the Monthly Cash form. All the forms are easy to use and give step by step instructions on how to calculate each category. The forms help you budget for food, charity, saving, clothing, transportation, housing, utilities, and even medications and doctor bills. Plus Ramsey gives recommended percentages to keep you from budgeting too much for any particular category. For example, he recommends budgeting 5 to 10 percent for medical and health related expenses such as vitamins and medications and 2 to 7 percent for clothing. This helps the budgeter have a goal in mind and keeps the format nice and clear.

So if you want to check it out, take a look here: