The best budget-friendly healthy holiday eating tips


Holiday cookies

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The holiday season is in full swing, and everywhere you turn there are latkes and gingerbread and eggnog, oh my! Then there’s shopping for family, dashing through toy store aisles for the kids and dropping cash for Secret Santa gifts. With dwindling finances, an exhausting social schedule and delicious but not exactly nutritious food foisted upon you, it becomes super easy to neglect your health. Not this year!

Whether you are used to eating healthy or are just getting started, your body could rebel if you overload on junk. I’m not saying ditch the goodies at get-togethers or turn down that thoughtful tin of cookies from your neighbor — I sure wouldn’t! — but don’t let lack of time or a tight budget totally derail you.

There are some great resources that offer healthy recipes for delicious meals that will keep your nutrition on track while using everyday ingredients from the supermarket.


Full-bodied taste, skinny style

The holidays can be rough for those of you who may be on Weight Watchers or are just aiming to fit into your jeans come Jan. 1. This is the season for hearty comfort food that can feed a crowd. Give Skinnytaste a try! It is a treasure trove of easy recipes that call for ingredients available at most grocery stores, and Gina Homolka, Skinnytaste’s recipe wizard, provides nutritional information and Weight Watchers point totals. The wildly popular Skinny Taco Dip is sure to be a hit at a potluck. The Arroz con Pollo, Lightened Up uses flavorful and inexpensive chicken thighs and would make a great weeknight family meal, and the delicious vegetarian-friendly Spinach Lasagna Rolls are ridiculously easy to make. They taste so amazing I’ve gotten requests to make them for the family gatherings. Full disclosure: I refuse to use fat free cheese, so I go part-skim, but you do what feels best for you. Oh, and please make your own marinara sauce. Quick, easy, no gross additives and plenty left over to use on leftovers or freeze for future meals!

Lasagna Rolls


Cheap, Clean, Tasty!

I know, I know, I’m kind of a Blogilates fangirl, but hear me out! Pilates Princess Cassey Ho is on a mission to guide us all to tasty, healthy eating without breaking the bank. Cassey’s recipes on her video series, Cheap Clean Eats, and her blog are quickly becoming a staple in my kitchen. Her genius two-ingredient pancakes are a cinch to whip up. (Pro tip: thoroughly mash the banana to create a batter that isn’t going to taste like banana omelette, and throw in a bit of cinnamon and vanilla if you have it on hand for a little kick.) The divine Ultra Clean Meatballs are insanely flavorful and make a perfect accompaniment to spaghetti squash, which is in season and super affordable right now, polenta or whole wheat pasta.


Maximum Deliciousness

The Minimalist Baker is a fantastic site with healthy ideas that don’t have a bazillion hard-to-find ingredients. (Any of you have time to hunt for maca powder or mint chlorophyll? Be my guest. I’m broke and busy.) John and Dana, the married couple behind Minimalist Baker, understand the plight of the cheapo (AKA me) and make it easy to swap out fancy, less cost-effective ingredients. The Easy Whole Grain Vegan Pancakes, for instance, call for spelt flour, but who wants to spend money on that when you know you have a ginormous container of rolled oats you could use to make oat flour? (Oats, meet blender. Grind. You’re welcome.) Want a sweet treat that’s not a giant calorie bomb and gets some much-needed protein and fiber in your life? Make vegan, gluten free Black Bean Brownies, a delicious chocolate treat that uses good ole canned beans. I also appreciate that the site actually has a recipe for flax eggs and doesn’t rely on egg replacer. Flax is inexpensive, easy to find and can be used in smoothies, granola and more! Multitaskers are definitely welcome in the kitchen.



Fit and Frugal

Fitness enthusiast, DJ and all-around cool girl Hannah Bronfman has just started a new series on her website, HBfit.com. Frugal Fitgirl demystifies the staples of healthy eating with basic cooking techniques and tasty variations to maximize your kitchen arsenal and your cash. She reeled me in with her versatile rice bowl suggestions, which is the ultimate cheap, healthy meal and kept the momentum with a great take on winter squash. I’m excited to see what Hannah has in store for us next!

Bring some of these yummy dishes into your daily life, and your belly will thank you. Have a happy, healthy holiday season!