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The Daily Beet: Tips, Advice and Stories

Small town living and saving money.

Two of the the most common questions we get is “I live in a small town, how can I be plant-strong?” and “I can’t afford to be plant-strong!”

We have a few suggestions that we think will help people out looking for answers to both questions. A two-for-one answer!

1. Make a list of the things your local store does well with.
So for instance, most stores have a pretty good frozen vegetable section and frozen fruit. Believe it or not frozen can be even fresher than ‘fresh produce’! It is flash frozen in the field and so a lot more is perserved. So if there is a frozen vegetable/fruit section you are in luck! So even if you can’t get fresh produce, more than likely you are better off with the frozen for most of the year anyway.
*On that note- look around for some CSA’s – you might be able to find something good.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are also found in most stores. Potatoes are GREAT and an inexpensive base to any meal.
Brown rice – whole grain brown rice is another great one – the Uncle Ben’s quick boil or success rice are whole grain rices that are pretty inexpensive.
Beans – most stores stock low sodium canned beans. However you can also buy them dry and cook them in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Beans are a great thing to have on hand. You can even freeze them and use them later!
Corn tortillas – these are a great inexpensive thing to have on hand. You can make lots of things with them – from chips for nachos to wraps to tacos! We’ve even made “tortilla” pie – which is a lot of fun.
Whole grain pasta: Most stores have their own brand of whole grain pasta, generally another inexpensive thing.
Lentils – We  love lentils, they are inexpensive, and SO versatile! And they take no time to cook.
Canned tomatoes (low sodium) – another great thing to have on hand.
Oats! Oats are great – and you can make so much with them. Like this great apple crisp recipe: http://simplifiedfood.com/2011/08/03/apple-crisp/
Salt free spices/herbs.
Parchment paper – so you don’t have to buy cooking spray!
2. Use online sources.
We have an Amazon prime membership which costs 79 dollars a year,.. and we split that with 5 people because you can have 5 people on the account! This means we get free 2 day shipping on groceries! We order things like dry beans, POMI tomatoes, whole grain cereal, non-dairy milk, flax seed, nuts, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta. Pretty much anything dry you can think of can be found online! And it is usually a much better price than Whole Foods or other organic markets.
3. Check out Jeff Novick’s Fast Food DVD:
http://www.jeffnovick.com/RD/Fast_Food.html Jeff also has a fabulous collection of recipes online found here: http://t.co/wrryqMsb these are all made with ingredients found in any store – cost about 2-3 dollars per meal (makes A LOT) and only require a can opener,  scissors and a pot! And I think with exception of a couple of things – all of the recipes do not require ‘fresh’ produce.. And people see amazing health results all the same (and love the food!) Jeff is a great resource if you are online as well.
4. Keep things simple.
One of the best things you can do – is to simplify your food life a little. There are 100′s of fabulous taste combinations made with simple ingredients like:
  • Sweet potato, kale, white beans, brown rice.
  • White potato, black beans, tomatoes, corn, spinach.
  • Quinoa, mixed greens, red beans, cauliflower
  • Brown rice, chickpeas, peas, zucchini,  curry powder, turmeric
  • White beans, fingerling potatoes, brussel sprouts, garlic, kale.
  • Whole grain pasta, zucchini,  brocoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes
  • Lentils, collard greens, brown rice, artichoke
  • Potatoes, portobello mushrooms, green beans,  spinach, black beans
  • Whole grain  pasta, lentils, strained tomatoes (or tomato puree), garlic, brocoli
  • Whole grain bread with portobello mushrooms, grilled zucchini and oil free hummus.
  • Wild rice, onion, red lentils, greens
  • Brown rice, salsa, frozen southwestern veggie mix, black beans
  • Sweet potato, topped with black beans
  • Brown rice, black pepper, asian style veggie mix.
  • Cauliflower soup – cook cauliflower, blend add chickpeas.
  • Whole grain pasta cooked and chilled, cucumber, tomato, beans, balsamic vinegar
  • Mashed chickpeas, onion, garlic, chopped celery, cucumber served on whole grain bread
  • Lentils, chopped tomato, lettuce, spinach, salsa, served on lettuce or served in corn tortillas
  • Roasted vegetable mix & quinoa
  • Beans & brown rice
  • Spinach salad: strawberries, raisins, balsamic
  • Chop salad: chopped cucumber, celery, carrots, zucchini, tossed with quinoa.
  • Big salad: Whatever fresh vegetables you have on top of greens. (the whatever salad!)
  • *Salad is always a good option if you have fresh vegetables/greens laying around. You can use balsamic vinegar for a dressing, salsa or even just lemon.
  • Huge plate of steamed vegetables with spices.
  • Breakfast: oatmeal or quinoa with fruit and ground flaxseed
  • Breakfast: Rip’s big bowl (of course!)
  • Looking for an easy dressing? We use low sodium salsa, oil free hummus or balsamic vinegar.
Living in a small town and keeping costs down do not have to deter you from your plant-strong life. You may even find over time, that it is far easier than you thought.
Do you have tips on small town living and how to keep costs low? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

About the author

Engine 2 Team
The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!

5 Responses to “Small town living and saving money.”

  1. Kate says:

    As a small town gal, I’ve found these suggestions to be true. However, now that I only eat organic, it’s not quite as easy. Still there are many choices that help me eat plant-strong and organic inexpensively. Lentils and legumes, cabbage, spinach, kale, home grown micro-greens and sprouts, apples, bananas, oranges, onions, garlic, and canned tomatoes are all you need to make delicious, nutritious food.

  2. Mary says:

    What I have found that I think needs to be emphasized is that when you eat the RIGHT foods (organic plants) you do not find yourself needing or wanting to eat so much because you are actually nourishing your body. Cheap, poor quality food leaves you hungry even after large quantities, and you are soon hungry again because your body is starving for nutrients. This really needs to be included in every message, E2! You’ll buy less of better quality food and this way you do not spend more , unless you want to make elaborate and exotic meals! (which are way too much work for me!)

  3. Jennifer says:

    Its pretty inexpensive to buy dry grains and beans from bulk bins. It takes longer to cook the beans yourself, but in the end its cheaper and there is no added sodium like with canned beans.

    Grow Your Own: Since herbs and spices can be a little pricey (but absolutely necessary to keep the food interesting when you are not adding oils and sugars), you can grow your own – even in pots if you don’t have a yard. You can share a package of mint, thyme, or basil seeds (or whatever herbs you like) with a friend and get an endless supply of your own herbs. Mesclun greens and lettuces can also easily be grown in pots. There are seed exchanges online too.

    Free fruit! If you live in a climate where fruit trees grow in abundance, quite often parks and public areas have apple and other fruit trees where no one ever harvests the fruit! Help yourself. Or you could ask your neighbor to pick from their trees if they don’t bother to pick their own.

  4. Sheila says:

    Many small towns in rural areas still have U-Pick places open during the growing season. Fun family outing and you can freeze the excess for winter. Often it’s really inexpensive. For example, many apple orchards let you pick up the dropped apples at a great discount. These will not store well, but if you want to make applesauce and either can or freeze it, this is really inexpensive. I also slice up and dehydrate many of these apples for storage. Nothing better than chewing on them for a snack or putting them in oatmeal during the winter.

  5. Deb Trapp says:

    Can anyone out there tell me the web address for the amazon food chain? When I search for it my server brings up Amazon rainforest food chain.

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