Yes, You Can Eat Healthily on a Budget—Here’s How

September 23, 2022

We’ve all been there: we start the week with a stocked fridge and the best intentions of cooking healthy meals all week…and then Monday happens. By the time dinner rolls around, we’re reaching for a takeout menu.

Here’s the thing—fast doesn’t have to mean unhealthy, and healthy doesn’t have to mean expensive. That’s the message Danielle Walker wants you to take away from her new cookbook, “Healthy in a Hurry.” “I focused on creating recipes that aren’t intimidating to the new home chef,” Walker told us. “[This book] is designed to help you spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your people.”

Walker is known for her no-fuss, family-friendly meals that embody her philosophy of food as medicine. True to form, the more than 150 recipes in “Healthy in a Hurry” are free of gluten, grains, and dairy. Thanks to a few of Walker’s tried-and-true tips (think make-ahead ingredient prep and store-bought shortcuts), they’re also quick to whip up and won’t break the bank. 

If that all sounds too good to be true, check out Walker’s top tips for healthy eating on a budget below, then try a cozy one-pot recipe from her new book.

Get a copy of Walker’s “Healthy in a Hurry” at Bookshop, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite local independent bookseller.

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

1. Choose between your time and your dollar

“Oftentimes, the cost of making condiments, sauces, bone broths, seasoning mixes, and even ghee is half the price of store-bought products, especially if you purchase your spices from the bulk bins at your market. But if you’re a busy person with little time and some extra income, purchasing that precooked bird or other pre-made items can be a sanity saver and free you up to do other things.”

2. Shop at a farmers’ market or local farm stand, or join your local CSA for affordable, seasonal, local produce

“The produce can be more affordable than buying organic items at your grocery store, which likely had to travel a ways to get there. If you shop toward the end of the market’s hours, you can usually find even lower costs. [At the regular grocery store,] choose frozen produce for a more economical option for fruits and vegetables currently out of season.” 

3. Buy organic when possible, but…

“Consult the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list to know when buying conventional is safe and economical. And when organic doesn’t fit into the budget at all, know that incorporating more vegetables and fruits into your diet and cutting out grains and refined oils and sugars are two big steps toward better health.”

4. Take an inventory of your fridge and pantry before you shop

“This will help you avoid buying duplicates. Avoid excessive purchasing, which can lead to waste.”

5. If grain-fed meat is the most affordable and accessible for you, buy lean cuts (and go meatless one day a week to save even more)

“The fat in conventional meats is what holds omega-6 fatty acids, which can be inflammatory. For grass-fed meats, look for cheap cuts (stew meat, roasts, and so on) and bone-in meats.  Any time meat is purchased boneless and/or skinless, the cost of labor to prep it has been added to the price.” 

6. Seek out the most affordable grocery stores

“You don’t have to purchase everything at a health foods or natural foods store. Thrive Market has the best prices on pantry and shelf-stable items.”

7. Minimize waste by planning your meals ahead of time

“Save your pan drippings from cooking bacon or chicken to use in future meals, and buy and use your fresh produce wisely so nothing goes bad before you eat it. When all else fails, make soup with all of the odds and ends in the vegetable crisper drawer of your fridge.”

8. Batch cook

“Whether you’re feeding a large family or a party of two, batch cooking can save so much time and money. Try doubling or even tripling your recipes, then use the leftovers in other dishes, repurpose the proteins into something completely different with a new sauce or added vegetables, or just freeze individual portions for later use.”

Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Shrimp Recipe from Danielle Walker’s “Healthy in a Hurry”

“This one-pot dish of creamy shrimp and sun-dried tomatoes is always a pleaser in my house. If you have family members who do not like shrimp, like my son Asher, cod, salmon, or chicken cutlets all work really well, too. My kids love this with gluten-free pasta, but I usually eat it with a simple salad or, if I’m feeling indulgent, a few slices of toasted grain-free bread to sop up the creamy sauce.” —Danielle Walker

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons ghee or extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
3⁄4 teaspoon Italian Seasoning (recipe follows, or use premade Italian seasoning)
6 ounces baby spinach, stemmed
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt*
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil–packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined with tails on
1⁄2 cup full-fat coconut cream
1⁄4 cup chicken bone broth
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast 
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil leaves

Instructions

In a large skillet, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and sauté for 1 minute, until the garlic is lightly golden. Add the spinach in batches, stirring for 10 to 15 seconds after each addition until the batch is wilted. Season with 1⁄4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper, then stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the shrimp are pink.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the coconut cream, broth, nutritional yeast, arrowroot, and lemon juice. When the shrimp are ready, pour the coconut cream mixture into the skillet and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until the liquid has thickened.

Season with the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and remove from the heat. Scatter the basil over the top and serve.

Tidbits: If using coconut cream scooped from the top of a can of coconut milk (rather than from a can of coconut cream), be sure to avoid the thin coconut liquid from the bottom of the can to ensure the sauce is luscious and creamy.

*If using a premade seasoning that contains salt, skip additional salt and season to taste.

Italian Seasoning Recipe

Yield: 1 ¼ cups

Ingredients

1⁄4 cup dried oregano
1⁄4 cup dried basil
2 tablespoons dried marjoram
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried sage
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Instructions

In a bowl, stir together all of the ingredients, mixing well. Store in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 6 months.

Tips adapted from Danielle Walker’s “Healthy in a Hurry.” Copyright ©2022 Danielle Walker. Used with permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House.

Recipe reprinted from “Danielle Walker’s Healthy in a Hurry” by Danielle Walker. Copyright ©2022 by Simple Writing Holdings, LLC. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Photographs copyright ©2022 by Aubrie Pick.

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Kirby Stirland

Kirby Stirland is a writer, editor, and New York transplant living in Los Angeles.

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