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Pumpkin Hummus

Tips for Eating Healthy and Saving Money!

Many people believe that healthy eating costs too much to be sustainable. Quite the contrary in fact, by learning to become a conscientious shopper and focusing on whole, plant-based foods, you can keep your grocery bill low and your family healthy. Here are some helpful ways to accomplish both:

1. Start by cleaning out your pantry and refrigerator.
Instead of buying more groceries each week, plan the first week to use up what you have left in your kitchen. Use frozen foods and vegetables, cook whole grains and beans, and clean out the fridge and the pantry. You may have think more creatively than usual when meal planning, but it’s definitely worth it to save that grocery money for the week. It also ensures you’re using everything in a timely manner so nothing expires.

2. Tracking your spending habits honestly.
Set aside a specific dollar amount that you’re willing to spend on groceries for the week. Withdraw that amount in cash and store it in an envelope. Whether you are shopping for groceries or going out to eat, take only from the envelope (including morning coffee or lunch at the office). Once the money is gone, your spending on food for the week is complete. It’s a great way to monitor how much you really spend on food. I would recommend a test run. Write down exactly what you think you spend on food for a whole week, then create your budget around that number. Make it sure it’s reasonable in terms of your income and also your basic needs.

3. Shop local.
Explore your local farmer’s market or join a CSA. Organic foods will be less expensive when you buy them at a local market. Focus on foods that are in season and also take advantage of larger chains that are known to be less expensive such as Aldi.

4. Go vegetarian.
If you’re a meat eater, start by designating one or two days a week as meatless. Focus on vegetables, beans, whole grains, fruits, nuts and seeds. In addition to saving money, you’ll also notice health benefits that go along with eating more whole, plant-based foods.

5. Buy in bulk.
You can find bulk grains at your local farmer’s markets and natural foods stores, but even grocery store chain like Giant now have great deals on buying foods like grains, nuts, legumes and spices in bulk. Bulk items usually have no additives or preservatives, making them a healthful option. These foods also have a long shelf life, so stock up when you can and they will always be available for a quick, easy, inexpensive meal.

6. Buy frozen vegetables.
Don’t be afraid of the frozen food aisle, just stay away from the frozen dinners. People typically associate frozen foods with less nutrition, but if you focus on frozen produce, not only is it typically less expensive than fresh produce, it’s just as healthful as fresh fruits and vegetables.

7. Pay attention to sales.
Read the Sunday paper for local deals and coupons. Stock up when non-perishables such as vegetable stock, nut butters and canned beans when they are on sale so you have them on hand for later use. Herbs, fruits and vegetables often freeze well too. Packaged grains, nuts, beans and spices will last a long time in your pantry.

8. Eat leftovers.
Never throw food away! In our household, last night’s healthy dinner is today’s lunch more often than not. Not only will this cost you less money, but it’ll also save you time and keep you healthy.

9. Plan your meals.
Believe it or not, good time management skills come into play when planning meals for your family. Before you go to the grocery store, take time to think about your schedule for the week. By planning ahead, you’ll be able to make a list of what ingredients your going to need for each meal. By sticking to your list, you’re more likely to buy only the ingredients you need and not spend money on unnecessary impulse buys. Take stock of what you already have so you’re only buying what you need.

10. Cut back on restaurants and take out food.
Sure, it’s convenient, but eating out adds up. It may seem like a no-brainer, but the less you eat out, the more money you’ll save. Start by bringing leftovers for lunch and making coffee at home. Bring bulk snacks to work so you’re less likely to indulge when someone brings donuts to the office.

The best part about preparing your own meals is knowing exactly what is going into them. Remember, your kids eat what you buy, so modeling healthy habits will make it that much easier to help them commit to a healthy lifestyle too.

I love pumpkin spice in the fall. This is a really easy recipe that give’s your traditional hummus an autumn upgrade! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Hummus

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can of navy beans (or any white bean)
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
2 tbsp. tahini
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. all spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. maple syrup
juice of one lime
toasted pecans or pumpkin seeds for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. The secret to creamy hummus is to use both chickpeas and white beans. Toast the pecans by baking on parchment paper at 400 degrees for about 2 minutes. Be careful as nuts tend to burn quickly in a hot oven.

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