I know I talk about the awesomeness that is (never home)maker a lot, but I just can’t help it. If you aren’t familiar with Ashley’s blog, you are missing out. Her creativity in the kitchen boggles my mind, her photography is spot on, and her fitness tips/experiences are extremely helpful. She is just plain awesome, as is her huz, who makes a posting appearances every now + again. I’m in blog love <3
Hi. I’m Ashley from (never home)maker Edible Perspective is the first blog I read each and every morning, so the opportunity to guest post is, well, more than just a little exciting for me! Ashley’s recipes and photography continually astound me.
Gushing aside for just a moment (because I could seriously go on for days about this girl!) . . .
Earlier this year, my husband and I embarked on an adventure to lower our grocery bills. You see, we love food. In fact, we spend most of our weekends in the kitchen crafting new recipes and delicious twists on all our restaurant favorites. As a result, we were spending a mint at the store each week. Sometimes more than once a week.
Not only that—we weren’t necessarily investing in the right foods to fuel our active lifestyles. We both train for marathons and other endurance races throughout the year. Getting the best nutrition for our buck became a major priority as we leaned our grocery list. But as foodies, we certainly didn’t want to sacrifice flavor or fun in this challenge.
It took some hard work and thrifty thinking, but after a while, we were successful in cutting our spending habits. We used coupons. In-store sales. We cleaned out our cupboards. We started actually paying attention to the prices of all those avocados, mangoes, and other exotics. I’m not going to say it was easy, but it was undoubtedly eye-opening.
As a reader of Ashley’s blog, I’m thinking you’re all smitten with food, too. And we can all use a little extra cash in the bank, am I right? So, after all this hard work we did, my husband and I came up with a list. A vegetarian pantry list. On it are the top 20 ingredients that are both cost-effective and nutrition-packed. They also score points for versatility. No. We don’t buy all these ingredients every time we visit the store, but we know if we pick at least a few selections from this list, we’re snacking smart.
We’re saving, too. Because once you start planning to use the right ingredients in the right ways, you can more effectively and efficiently create healthy meals in a flash.
· Apples can be bought in large quantities and used for a multitude of purposes. From applesauce to pie . . . and even more savory dishes (I love apple with cheese, basil, and mustard atop a toasted bagel!), apples work hard for their worth. Plus, they’re a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber.
· Coconut Milk may seem pricey, but we’ve found learning how to make our own coconut curries has saved us a ton on going-out-to-eat costs. It’s great in baked goods and green smoothies, too. Just look for lower-fat versions if you’re worried about calories.
· Bananas, oh how we LOVE bananas. Even organic versions are low-cost, earning them a permanent spot on our grocery list. Use them in banana scramble, smoothies, and other breakfast favorites. Substitute them for eggs to make recipes vegan. Packed with potassium and uber-portable, they’re an athlete’s best friend.
· Onions/Green Onions/Etc. are low in calories and teeming with flavor. Onions are incredible in stir-fries, soups, and salads. Grilled or sautéed. They’re low in sodium—and with all that tastiness, you’ll want to skip added salt anyway—and high in vitamin C.
· Carrots are a nutritional gold mine. They have vitamins A, C, and K in abundance, and they are good raw, in salads, juiced, and in soups. Limitless possibilities. They also earn mad points for being affordable and available year-round.
· Eggs are easy to prepare. Versatile (think scrambled for breakfast, poached for lunch, and in quiche for dinner). They contain important stuff like choline and selenium. And if you’re worried about cholesterol, just keep watch: One egg each day is OK, but eating three or four may add too much fat to your diet.
· Raw Nuts earn their spot because they’re good for your (think Omega-3s in walnuts, for example) and easy to pack. Snack on them as part of trail mixes, roast them and grind into peanut butter, or simply eat them plain. To save, buy in your bulk section.
· Kale is probably our favorite item on this list. We buy several bags a week because the leafy green is known as good fuel for runners. With all those phytochemicals and beta-carotene, it’s no reason this superfood is so super.
· Canned Pumpkin is our favorite addition to pizza dough. In the fall and winter months, we use it to punch up soups. And in other baked goods, it add moisture and a certain sweetness. Plus, it’s another one of those foods packed with vitamins A and K.
· Garbanzo Beans. We always have them around. Dried or canned, they work beautifully in hummus or veggie burger recipes. Fried in falafel, on occasion. With all that protein, it’s no wonder we’re hooked.
· Quinoa is the new brown rice. There are several varieties, and our favorite is red. You may be interested to know that you don’t need to eat it plain. It can be baked into bread and stirred into soups. Quinoa is high in iron and magnesium, as well as protein. Buy in bulk and save!
· Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory. Athletes will like that. It is also great for sour stomachs. When I started drinking green smoothies, I added ginger to ease my pain. And it worked. Plus, it goes great in Thai and other exciting dishes. Keeps for a long time when refrigerated, too.
· Grainy Mustard is low in calories and full of flavor. We use it to substitute for mayonnaise in egg salad. Mix with vinegar in salad dressings. And to top veggies burgers. A little goes a long way, so this condiment is a keeper!
· Peppers are known for their high vitamin C content. And the heat they add to recipes is undeniable. We like our food hot, so the more betters the better. B6 is another nutrient in high supply here. Plus, with so many different kinds, you can go crazy with your creativity.
· Mushrooms have been used in history for their medicinal purposes. They add earthy flavor and texture to omelets and stir-fries—all while being heart healthy. Just one serving of mushrooms has more potassium than a banana. Shrooms also pack copper, a mineral that our hearts just love.
· Tomatoes are another great source of our favorite vitamins—A, C, and K. You can grind them into sauces, slice them atop sandwiches, and roast them. Lycopene is another key player here, which is essential to our diets, but not in a ton of fruits and veggies.
· Chocolate in any form is just good to have around. That is all.
· Sweet Potatoes are another one of those superfoods that rank high for their nutritional value. They’re also cheap and can be microwaved on-the-go for a healthy lunch option. We like to mix our up with some crispy kale or load with greek yogurt and chives.
· Peanut Butter is a beautiful ingredient. If I could be an ingredient, in fact, I’d most certainly choose to be peanut butter. Loaded with protein and good fats, it can be used to sweeten up frostings or make sauces and dressings. Of course, the lower sugar, sodium kinds are better for you. And read your labels to watch for PBs with hydrogenated oils.
· Oats can be cooked for breakfast or mixed into cookies. It can be ground into flour or made into granola. We love oats, which is why we always have some around. Even the store-brand kind (read it: SAVINGS) will do—just make sure you go for the rolled variety over instant. The less processing the better!
Phew—if you made it this far, we thank you for reading! We definitely have a passion for food, and we thank the ever-so lovely Ashley for the opportunity to share it with you all. I’m sure we’re leaving out a gazillion ingredients that are equally as healthy and flavorful—what are your favorites? If you’d like to read more from us, just visit our blog at http://www.neverhomemaker.com.
<3 Ashley M.
Thank you lovely lady!! This was SO appreciated :)
Our house is a disaster from packing and once again I’m covered in dirt from head to toe. Shower + True Blood + Bed!
<3 The other Ashley