Tag Archives: budget

Frugal Fitness (Healthy Living on a Budget Part 2)

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In a world where decent running shoes can cost upwards of $100 and yoga classes can easily be $20 a pop, it’s easy to feel like staying fit must be a luxury reserved for the rich.

Thankfully there are other options for those of us who just can’t get our zen on when it feel like our money is being flushed down the drain…Here are some of my favorite free or cheap ways to be fit:

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Yoga: 

Yoga can cost over $100/ month for a membership at a yoga studio. If you have the money in your budget and find a studio you really love, then by all means do what makes you happy! But know that there are other ways…

1.) Doing yoga in the comfort of your own home can be a great way to start your day and a lot more relaxing than battling rush hour traffic first thing in the morning. Yoga dvds are great, but you can also find free yoga downloads at www.yogadownload.com for a wide variety of yoga styles. Myfreeyoga.comhas even longer yoga videos you can watch for free. For an experienced yogi or yogini, Dave

Headstand

Farmar does some challenging Power Yoga Podcasts that you can listen to for free. I

wouldn’t recommend them to beginners because it is difficult to do the poses without seeing them unless you know the names.

*When we get a new computer (please, IRS, send us our amended refund already!), I hope to share a yoga video of my own, but for now those sites should keep you busy!*

2.) For those who feel the yoga experience is best enjoyed socially, or those who need just need to get out of the house, there are options for you, too! First of all, if you haven’t already, sign up for daily deal sites such as Groupon and Living Social.  I recently bought a package of 20 yoga classes from a local studio for $20- originally $240 (gasp!)- from Living Social but I see similar packages on both sites.

Another good way to save cash while checking out different studios is to take advantage of the newcomer specials many studios offer. Core Power Yoga, which is a chain with studios in several states, allows new clients a free week of yoga, no strings attached. Many other studios will offer deals such as your first month unlimited for $30.  Some studios offer reduced priced or even donation only classes certain days of the week.

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Ditch the car:

Walking, biking and even taking public transport to your destination are all ways to add more physical activity to your day with spending money- in fact, you will certainly see savings in the gas money you would have spent!

1.) Biking: I have to admit I was afraid to start biking in Portland for a long time. Being forced to share a car between my husband and I forced me to give it a shot. I’m still getting used to it- my neighborhood is hilly! But it is getting easier and more enjoyable. I save about $5.50 in gas every time I ride my bike to work. It seemed like it was more timing consuming to bike at first, but I only have to leave about 15 minutes earlier than I would if I drove, and since my total transit time is about an hour round trip, I can count that hour long bike ride as my daily workout and cross that off my list! I also feel it energizes my to do this first thing in the morning and sets me on the right track.

2.) Walking: Are there places you could be walking to instead of driving? I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance of a beautiful park where I can go to read or draw, a post office, a library, a grocery store, and a whole array of shops, restaurants, and bars tucked into a cute little “neighborhood” nearby. Today I walked to the library (30 minutes round trip), and then to a beading shop and a consignment shop (60 minutes round trip). It sounds like a lot of walking, but I decided to consider it my cardio for the day, did a pilates video, and my workout quota was met! I traded in some old clothes at the consignment shop and got this pretty new workout top without having to pay anything!

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3.) Public Transit: To be honest, this is the form of transportation I use least. It’s often faster, cheaper, and a better workout just to ride my bike. I do enjoy taking the bus downtown though, mainly because then I don’t have to deal with parking! If your destination is farther, public transportation is a great way to get a little more walking in, save money, and reduce pollution. Just be sure to bring a book!

Running:

I used to hate running. Some days I still do… But one of the things I love about running is that it can be done almost anywhere! All you need is a good pair of running shoes (or not- barefoot running is becoming quite popular!) and a bit of space outdoors and you can get a great cardio workout. During the winter, I prefer to run indoors, but as long as it is nice out I much prefer to run outdoors. The fresh air and scenery can’t be beat and gives me a boost when I feel tired! Plus, I can run outside for 30 minutes when I’m pressed for time, whereas a trip to the gym would end up taking almost an hour with transit time.

For awhile I resisted signing up for races because of the cost, but I have found they actually give you so much in free samples, food, and booze (still puzzles me) that it is worth it for me to do every now and then. Plus races are a lot of fun and great for motivation! Some races will charge less for the participation fee if you do not get a t-shirt.

Lastly…

DVDs:

The tried and true… I can remember my mom working out to Buns of Steel with Greg Smithey when I was growing up. The headbands, the colorful leotards… this was the golden age of corny workout videos! Still, having a few “go-to” DVDs can be very helpful in sneaking in a workout when you are running late, don’t feel like going out, or want to try a new type of workout in the privacy of your own home. They only cost about $10-$20 and can be used over and over. I have a pilates DVD that features 5 different pilates workouts, so I don’t get bored and stay challenged.

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The most important thing about staying fit is doing things that you enjoy! If you want to spend a few bucks on a class or gym membership that really motivates you, go for it! But if you think cutting fitness costs out of your budget will hurt your routine, give one of these suggestions a try!

xo/Nikita

Healthy Living on a Budget Part 1

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This will be the first of a series of posts on living healthy for less! I will highlight a different food group in each post, featuring both information and a recipe or two featuring inexpensive and healthful ways to enjoy these foods.

Step inside your nearest Whole Foods and you will see that health food is a hot trend that people are willing to pay premium prices for. Even at an ordinary grocery store, you will notice organics cost much more than conventionally grown produce, not to mention eggs, dairy and meats. The thing that really irks me? Whole wheat flour costs more than white! Apparently despite the fact that it is less processed and therefore should take up less resources to create, it is being sold at a higher price because people think of it as a specialty item. Speaking of wheat… don’t even get me started on how over priced gluten-free goods can be!

Okay, I know my last two posts have featured pistachios and figs, rather indulgent ingredients to be fair. I like food and I like cooking. Some people buy lattes on a near daily basis.  I allow myself a few “gourmet” items every week. That being said, the bulk of my groceries are simply wholesome foods that are both cheap and nutrient dense. The star of the frugal vegetarian whole foods pantry?

A sampling of whats currently in my pantry

Legumes:

These are among the cheapest sources of protein and are also rich in fiber, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin e, thiamin, magnesium, and potassium. They are a lovely addition to soups, stews, and curries and can make a simple side dish into a substantial meal. They make excellent dips (hummus is a well known favorite and black beans make a tasty dip as well), and can even be snuck in to cookies or brownies sometimes to amp up the protein and fiber content. Some of my favorites:

*Lentils (brown, green, and red)

*Garbanzos (Chick Peas)

*Black Beans

*Pintos

*Cannellini Beans (white beans)

*Red Kidney Beans

*Green or yellow Split peas

I buy my legumes in the bulk bins of a local supermarket. This is the cheapest way I have found to get them. They range from about $0.50/ lb to $1.25/lb. I soak the beans 8-24 hours, to make them cook faster and easier to digest. If you have had trouble digesting beans, don’t skip this step- it helps remove some of the oligosaccharides- natural sugars which are not very digestible by the body and can cause… ahem… discomfort.

After soaking, I cook a big pot of beans once a week or so and portion the cooked beans into several containers, about 1 1/2 – 2 cups in each (the amount usually found in a standard can). I will use the beans at least once or twice in my meals that week and I will freeze the rest for later use. Beans freeze beautifully. Just thaw them completely before using in a recipe. I usually try to plan ahead and just move them from the freezer to the fridge a few days before I will be using them. You can let them sit out on the counter for a faster thaw, but don’t forget about them!

And now, Cumin Spiced Potato and White Bean Soup with Cilantro Pesto:

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As much as I love hummus, chili, mexican beans and rice, and other dishes that showcase beans, sometimes it is nice to find a fresh way of using beans. In this simple soup, white beans are pureed with potatoes (another dirt cheap ingredient!) to create a rich and creamy base without the use of cream or dairy of any kind. This method adds protein and body to a simple potato soup, without losing the creamy comfort of the traditional dish. I asked Andrew if he wanted to say anything about this soup. His response: “I wish there was more of it.”

Cumin Spiced Potato and White Bean Soup with Cilantro Pesto:

*1 tablespoon olive oil

* stalk celery, diced

*2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

*4 green onions or 1/4 cup diced yellow onion

*about 5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced ( roughly 4 cups)

*1 1/2 cups or 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

*2 teaspoons cumin

*1 teaspoon tumeric (optional- gives a golden hue and has anti-inflammatory properties)

*4 cups vegetable broth ( see note at bottom of page for how to make your own broth.)

*Cilantro Pesto for serving (recipe follows)

Directions: 

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot and add the celery, white parts of onions, and garlic. Saute over medium- high heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cubed potatoes, cumin, and tumeric and saute a minute more. Add vegetable broth and white beans, cover and simmer about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

2. Remove soup from heat. Using an immersion blender directly in the soup pot, or by transferring soup to a blender, puree soup. You can remove some potato chunks before doing this to stir back in if you want more texture- I kept about a cup of potato chunks to stir back in.

Serve with cilantro pesto and sliced green onions. Garnish with cheese if desired.

Cilantro Pesto:

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Cilantro is one of the cheapest herbs- a large bunch is usually only $0.30- $0.50 at my grocery store. Unfortunately it goes bad quickly, so making a pesto is a nice way to prolong its life as well as add a tasty zip to many foods.

* 2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro

*2-3 cloves garlic

*6 tablespoons cashews

*3/4 teaspoon sea salt

*1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or parmesan

*6 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

Combine everything but olive oil in food processor and pulse until finely minced. Scrape down sides if necessary and, with motor running, pour in the olive oil. Serve with soup or use as a sauce for pasta, tacos, enchiladas, or anything else you can imagine!

***Note: In my vegetarian home, we go through a lot of veggie scraps. I started making my own broth with some of the scraps, which is not only cost effective, but also green, as it saves things from becoming waste. I keep a medium sized container in the freezer to fill with scraps when I cook, because it might go bad before it gets full if I just have it in the fridge. Here’s what can go in the broth:

-onion ends and skins

-garlic ends and skins

-carrot peelings and pieces

-celery

-tomato

-bell peppers

-mushroom stems

-organic potato peelings

-aromatic herbs like parsley and bay leaves

Here’s what you should avoid putting in the broth:

-cabbage, broccoli, or any members of this family (they impart a distinct taste that does not go well with many other dishes)

-anything that is rotton, moldy, or dirty (you can put things in that look limp or past their prime, but remember you are still ingesting them!)

-Strong herbs like cilantro

-Beets will turn your broth bright pink- not a huge problem, but just a heads up!

To make broth:

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pan, saute the veggie scraps a few minutes, and cover with twice the amount of water as you used vegetables. Simmer over low heat for at least 1 hour. I also add peppercorns to my mixture. You can salt to taste or even use a couple tablespoons of soy sauce to add depth. Keeps up to one week in the fridge, or may be frozen several months.

Does anyone else have any good uses for beans or tips for living well on the cheap? I’d love to hear suggestions!

xo/Nikita