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Eat Healthier on a Budget

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Author, her latest:100 Days of Real Food on a Budget, HarperCollins 2018

Blogger, 3.5 millions monthly page views and 1.6 million Facebook fans


2 daughters

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In 2010, Lisa watched a segment on the problems with the Standard American diet on Oprah. “I thought the foods we were eating were healthy,” says Lisa.  Once she saw the Oprah segment, Lisa knew she needed to make some serious changes as to what she was feeding her family, but had no idea where to begin.  “I literally lost sleep over what to feed my kids if goldfish and fruit snacks were no longer options,” says Lisa.  At the time her children were 3 and 5 years old.  She took the family to different grocery stores and stood in the aisles asking, “What foods can we eat in this aisle?” After extensive research and experimentation, Lisa finally started to learn how to food shop and cook for her family.  The changes were obvious and it was hard for her to keep it all to herself.  “I started filling in family and friends whenever I had the chance – secretly wishing they could jump on board with us!” she says.  Then one night she got the idea: what if her family took a pledge to go 100 straight days without eating any processed foods at all?  Her hope was that their family experiment would draw attention to how dependent Americans had become on processed food, show that a typical suburban family could survive and even thrive on real food, and convince as many other people as possible to join them.

Lisa shared their family pledge online with plenty of real-food recipes and tips.  “Little did I know how life-changing it would be,” says Lisa.  Slowly her blog grew from 50 readers to millions around the globe.  In 2014 she released her first cookbook which quickly became a national bestseller.  “My wish to spread this important message came true,” says Lisa.  

While most of her readers agreed that real, uprocessed food sounded great, many implied that it couldn’t be done without breaking the bank.  “So of course we had to prove all those skeptics wrong,” says Lisa.  She and her family took on a second pledge: to spend $125 a week for their family of four.  Note: on full food stamp benefits, they would have received $167 a week for groceries.  “The real food on a budget proved to be even more difficult than the first pledge,” says Lisa.  “But we successfully completed the challenge in January 2011.”

Lisa says her family learned a lot and got creative while taking on the second challenge of real food on a budget.  The most important thing they learned was to plan ahead.  “It’s so important to utlize cheap ingredients,” she says.  “That can really only be done with planning.”  She says it’s also important to know what inexpensive real foods are, such as bananas, beans and watermelon.  Another cost-saving tip is to eliminate the “nice-to-haves” and focus on the “need-to-haves.”  For instance, she says it is not critical to have meat at every meal.  “Meat is a real budget buster,” she says.  “It’s fine to have a few meatless dinners each week.”  

Each wallet-friendly recipe has a shopping list of every item that is needed to make the dish and shows the full cost of the ingredients per recipe.  “Of course, there will be leftover indredients you can use and the meal will be cheaper the next time you make it,” she says.  

She will show us:

  1. Breakfast Smoothie Bowl:  Pg 56. Like a smoothie, but heartier.  Be sure to peel the extra bananas and freeze them for later use. Total cost of ingredients: $13.84
  2. Chickpea Salad: Pg 99.  Perfect for packed lunches for kids or adults.  Helps with last-minute meals and holds up well.  Total cost of ingredients: $4.85
  3. Weeknight Tandoori Chicken: Pg 208. Use thighs instead of breasts for savings.  Quick, easy and tasty. Total cost of ingredients: $9.29
  4. Oatmeal Cookie Energy Bites: Pg 139.  Healthy and filling snack.  Use a bowl of water to dip your hands in to keep dough from sticking.  Total cost of ingredients: $6.95
Guest Name / Person Interviewed or Featured in Article or Video: 
Lisa Leake
Show Guest Bio: 
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