How to tame your food budget

Food is the most important thing you can buy with your money.

Well, that was dramatic, wasn’t it? But it’s true. Besides oxygen and water, food is the most basic survival need. Now, most of us are blessed in that we don’t wonder where our next meal is coming from or if we can afford it.

In fact, we may be a little too blessed if you know what I mean. Yes, as Americans we are the richest 1% of people in the HISTORY of the world. Yay!


Girl, I hear you. We’re feeling broke because money is flying out the window faster that we can make it. One of the best ways to get control of your money is the zero-based budget I teach in my coaching and online community Budget Bootcamp.

Once we get that going we can quickly start to make progress by taming the food budget. Your food budget is typically one of your largest expenses, and rightfully so. But! My my philosophy is that you should be:

Saving money & saving calories

You know fitness and nutrition are one of my top passions, so that is something I say nearly EVERY coaching session. Here are 5 ways that you can save money and save calories


Please don’t get me started. You know that fast food is no longer fast nor cheap. You know that it’s WAY overpriced and WAY over calories. Maybe you don’t know that family dinners are correlated with kiddos eating healthier–not only as a child but as when they leave home too. They’re less likely to be obese now and in the future. Maybe you don’t know that even a salad (dressing) is typically loaded with calories and preservatives that will stall any efforts you are making toward weight loss by PRESERVING water and fat in your body. So, if you can stop eating out you will save 1. time 2. money 3. calories 4. clothing costs. Here are some of my healthy eating staples.


Okay, this one is pretty obvious too, right? Well, I’ve been preaching it so long that I feel like it is. But it may not be. What I mean here is plan EVERY MEAL that your family will eat. Then plan what items you’ll need to make those meals happen. Then make a list and ONLY buy that stuff. Likewise, figure out what household things you need each month and buy only those things. For example, we need 2 dishwasher soaps and 1 shaving cream a month. We need shampoo and laundry soap every 2 months. Once you’ve figured out what you need, take the time to see where the shopping is the cheapest. Pick your top 10 items and check each store for prices. Which store wins? Shop there!


This one will be the most unpopular of all. Stop buying junk food. Completely and totally. Yep. You don’t need it and neither does your family. You don’t need it because it’s obviously bad for you but it’s also a HUGE grocery budget buster. If your family wants ice cream, budget to go out as a family once a month. If you want to have family pizza night, we can talk about that. But the overall chips, crackers, cookies, sodas and whatever else. GONE. The truth is no one is going to go without. There are parties and lunches and cookouts and football games. JUNK ABOUNDS. Therefore, you don’t need to bring it in your home. Again, this will save you time (less time in the store!), calories and money. WINNING. This is especially true because junk food doesn’t provide nutrition so you have to replace those calories anyway.


This one isn’t going to be hard if you follow #3. Closing the kitchen means we don’t eat all day. We eat at meal times and maybe a snack here or there. Do you know what NOT having junk food does? It makes people suddenly less hungry, like this:

  • Kid: Mom, I’m hungry.
  • Mom: You can have carrots or almonds.
  • Kid: Nevermind.

You KNOW that’s not how the conversation goes if you or the kids have chips, ice cream or whatever else available. Closing the kitchen means you’re not always a human vending machine. It also means dishes can be done and the kitchen clean sometimes. It means digestive systems get a break and folks might actually eat their veggies at dinner because they were HUNGRY. Not wasting food / being a good steward of food is a great way to save money on your groceries.


Okay, I’m going to be totally honest with you. I buy my bulk of groceries on the 1st of the month and then pull out the remainder of my cash to put in a food envelope for the rest of the month. That usually amounts to $40 a week or so because we do eat quite a lot of fresh produce. When you go into a store with only a $20 bill you think differently, you think strategically. Not having the swipe back up forces you to be serious. Studies have show you also spend 12-18% more when you swipe instead of pull out cash.


How can you systemize? What can make your grocery life easier and stress-free? My entire food/household goods life comes and goes each month in 3 stages:

  1. My meat comes from a monthly co-op because I am fortunate to be able to afford that. Because of that I can 100% expect to have the meat I need each month without thinking. Before I’d get all of my meat on the first of the month shopping, looking for discounts and deals.
  2. At the first of the month I order everything we’re going to need at Walmart. I’ve tried finding folks that are cheaper but I can’t. And the convenience is 100% worth it for me. I have a set spreadsheet that shows me what I need to order each month as far as peanut butter and ketchup and laundry soap and hair gel. I order it, pick it up on the 1st and don’t look back. Check out this video for a walkthrough of exactly how I do it.
  3. Each week after church my husband drops me off at the front door of the grocery store and I take my $20 or $40 and grab fresh produce, dairy, eggs or whatever I need to supplement our food. It takes about 20 minutes.

That’s it! I don’t go to the store several times a week. I will say it takes a bit to get used to. But then it’s amazing because I always, ALWAYS have what I need because it was planned that way. So, what sort of system can you set up so that things are automated and the grocery store no longer rules your life?


Sometimes your best intentions and even your best plans may NOT happen. That’s where a back up plan comes in. A back up plan helps us when things get crazy. It helps us stick to our budget with food because we don’t have to rely on fast food. At any given time, I have items on hand to make our “back up meals.” You need to determine your back up meals and make sure you buy for them each month.

Here are 2 example back up plans in case dinner just escaped you:

  • No cook salad. Yes, it’s boring, but it’s doable! Part of your monthly shopping should ALWAYS include things like EVOO, dijon honey, olives, avocado/cheese, the best deli meat you can afford and fresh veggies like lettuce and tomatoes. So fast! (Here’s a from scratch salad dressing recipe) You can put it in a wrap to make it different. And, if you have some turkey bacon on hand, swap a slice or two of deli meat for it!
  • Breakfast for dinner. Again, you’ll have these ingredients on hand because you make it a priority to get ingredients for breakfast on your monthly shopping trip. And breakfast is usually pretty healthy. For example, if I’m really in a dinner bind, I throw a few eggs, spinach and tomatoes in the skillet. Tada! The kids might get the same with some pancakes added in! Fast & cheap & easy. Almost like fast food. 😉

So, what back up plans would work for you & your family?


My kids decide what they want their lunches to be each week. They eat a healthy version of a lunchable so they get to write out their choice for fruit, veggie, protein, fat & carb. Because they PICK, they are really good at eating it all not complaining. Likewise, they have a few nights a week they pick dinner like Pizza movie night and pasta night. =D My husband also chooses some of the meals. Getting buy in means folks will actually eat the food you buy and make. THAT is what is going to save money. So, ask them for their input. Let them help you make a plan that way you’re all more likely to stick to it.


Each Sunday my kiddos make their lunches and my husband grills our dinner + the meat for his lunches (I have shake for lunch, even though I hate that it sounds like a Slimfast commercial–It’s just how I get my vitamins). I’m not going to belabor this point because as a certified personal trainer wit my nutrition specialization, I’ve been belaboring it for years. Here is a link for help. And another one. And another one. And one about the kids. See what I mean?

Okay, but honestly I don’t expect you to get all of this on your own. It’s hard. And like any new skill, you could use a coach to get better. I’m your huckleberry. Fill out the form together and let’s work together for a session, two or more.

Here’s to saving money and saving calories!

5 strategies to win the holiday food wars

Are you sitting there reading this slightly stressed over upcoming holiday eating opportunities?

I want to offer you two things today. First, four strategies to use at your next party and one other post-holiday season strategy.

Before we begin, I want you to do a small little exercise. Imagine you at your ideal weight. You’re happy, you’re content, you laugh when you pass fast food restaurants. What would that version of you do be thinking when it comes to holiday eating opportunities? Think about that for a moment. She’s content, she’s happy. What do these parties do to her brain?

Maybe the answer is nothing. Maybe food doesn’t control her life anymore. Maybe her life isn’t centered around food anymore. Maybe she doesn’t try to control it and it doesn’t try to control her.

Why not practice being that person now? Why not try on those thoughts? “Food doesn’t control me.” “I have more important, exciting things going on in my life other than food.” Just an idea.

On to our strategies.

  1. Half veggies. I’m starting super simple and practical here. When you go up to the buffet or when you sit around the table filling your plate you have one guideline: fill it halfway with veggies first. Then put whatever fun things on there you’d like. Firstly veggies, mostly veggies. Then added fun.
  2. One and done. What if you just accept that you get to put whatever things make your heart skip a beat on your plate? But only once. Yes, you can fill your plate once. With whatever you fancy. Just make the commitment to yourself that you’re only going to do one plate. Just one. This will be a favor to yourself. You and I both know that if you go back for that second plate, you’re just going to regret it. You’re going to be way too full and your stomach is going to be talking to you all day. You’re going to get a carb coma. So, limit it to one plate. One plate is indulgence, but not too much! *Bonus points if you combine strategy 1 & 2!
  3. Before and after. Before your holiday party, fill up on as much water as you can. Seriously, chug it if you have to. I want you to go into your event with your daily intake (half your body weight in ounces) of water already down the gullet. Plus, I want you to eat clean (as in all whole, God-made foods–lots of veggies!). That’s your before. The next day, you’re going to do the same thing. Then I recommend you add in a tough workout the day after. The way I like to think about it is I was like Michael Phelps at the holiday party. Carb loading, ingesting those extra calories because I had a KILLER workout to get fueled up for. Totally sense making.
  4. Change it up. Here’s an idea! What if you had an apple cider party instead of a whole potluck? What if you and your family went to feed the homeless instead of only gathering around the dinner table? You could start a tradition of your
    family having its own turkey trot the morning of Thanksgiving or a walk after eating, maybe during halftime? Add in more games and activities at get togethers so there’s less focus around eating and drinking and more focus on fun and memories!

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Okay, here’s your 5th strategy! I will be hosting an online health & fitness group starting in 2019. Join me! If you know you’re going to hit it hard beginning in the new year, that will ease some of the anxiety for the season. I can help you get results and reset the nutrition and workouts so you can get back on track! Just fill the form out below!

Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! And the most awesome New Year ever!

How to eat like a human

For some of us, learning to feed ourselves well is like learning a foreign language. First, you have to get rid of what you think you know. Then you have to completely relearn about food, nutrition and habits.

Eat food God made. Don’t eat food humans made.

My philosophy on eating well comes from the idea that you should eat what God made, what nature provides. You should not eat what humans made. Humans can’t improve on nature when it comes to health and nutrition. Sure, we can improve on an oreo by deep frying it (or so I’m told). But when it comes to the basics of fueling our human bodies, nature’s got us beat.

For example, nature provides the whole grain. But by the time it gets to us in the form of oatmeal, we’ve lost the most nutritious parts in processing. They cut it up and heat it so we lose the bran and germ most of the time. That means we lose most of the nutrition too! That’s just the way we humans do things, in this case with flour, oatmeal, bread and other grains.


Natural food comes with instruction manuals for your body (digestive enzymes, etc) on exactly how to break the food down, what to use, how to use and and how to get rid of the excess. Man made food is usually devoid of all of that, therefore making it really hard on your body.

That’s why I say stay away from foods made by humans as much as possible. We can’t improve nutritionally on nature. I’m not saying we can’t make it taste better by making it really unhealthy. But then we also get to be really unhealthy.

grapes are like skittles without diabetes.

Eat when you’re hungry.

So much of the time we eat because it’s time to eat. Or we eat because food is around. But our human bodies were made to give us clues about when we should eat. Those stomach growls tell you when to eat. So listen for them. The catch is, when we eat crap food the digestion system goes into panic mode trying to figure out what to do with all that junk. How to break it down, how to process it, how to eliminate it. That’s a bit of havoc for your tummy so hunger signals might not process like normal. Stick to natural foods (most of the time) and that takes care of the issue. Eat when you’re hungry because you want to and because you enjoy eating. But don’t let food become the sole focus of the say or conversation. We humans have even better things to do. 😉

Don’t eat food made for three humans.

Portion sizes are a big problem as we all know. When you go out to eat or even when you eat things proportioned for you, odds are they’re going to be way over your particular caloric needs. Overeating isn’t the way to eat like a human. If we can get really in touch with our bodies, we’ll notice how it makes us feel unwell. Eat the right portions and you’ll be eating like a human!

Eating like a human is simpler.

Here’s the main reason I think we know that eating real food is the way to go is it really is more simple. I remember when I was trying to learn how to cook I’d look at all of these recipes and think, “Wow this is complicated.” The steps were many and the ingredients were too. These days, I chop up fruits and veggies. I grill, roast or saute them with EVOO, garlic, salt & pepper. The recipes are three steps entirely, and that’s with one step being heating the oven up.

Eating like a human is just a matter of having lots of real, whole foods available and around. A salad doesn’t even require cooking! You can simplify your budget, your palate, your pantry and your life by eating like a human.

Don’t eat food you hate.

God made food to be colorful, interesting and to smell good. Don’t settle for boring food you hate. Instead, what I have my clients do is go through this food list and choose their favorite foods. What natural foods do you most enjoy, which would you look forward to eating every week or every day? We make that list, then we make sure to stock the pantry and fridge with those foods so they’re always available. By choosing our favorite healthy foods, we don’t have to feel like we’re depriving ourselves.


No diet needed.

When we start eating the amount and the type of foods we’re naturally supposed to be eating (with a few fun treats here and there), you’ll find you don’t need to diet. The natural human condition is to be a healthy weight. If we focus on eating like a human, your body will naturally shed the excess because it can function properly and it recognizes it’s getting what it needs.

I coach my clients on nutrition using the 21 Day Fix. If you’d like help, message me and we can work together.

11 late night snacks to avoid wrecking your progress.

Going to bed hungry when you’re trying to get fit is not a good plan. It will sabotage your progress and your sleep. If you’re feeling that you’re either going to go to bed hungry like a misbehaved child or run the risk of binging hardcore, opt for these late night snacks instead. Note that they are fat-heavy because fat helps you feel fuller longer and signals to your body no one is starving around here.


1. Peanut butter. Fat = feel full. It also feels a little bit indulgent.


2. Almonds. Just a handful of almonds helps the junk food stay away!


3. Tea w/ honey. Having something warm makes your soul feel happy and honey has tryptophan, the same thing found in turkey that makes you sleepy!


4.Carrots & hummus. Crunch factor, check. Fat-makes-you-feel-full factor, check.


5. Hard boiled eggs. It’ll fill you up with protein and fat. Winning.


6. Banana & PB ice cream. Indulgent and delish. “Recipe” here.


7. 1/4 Avocado w. Lime & Salt. Hey, avocado obsession is a thing. You can spice it up and make it guacamole and eat it with sweet peppers if you want. We do what we have to do people.


8. 1 oz cheese. Need I say more? It’ll be a party in your mouth, keep you full but not wreck your goals.


9. Banana. The banana gets a bad wrap. But it’s a nice, full, awesome fruit.


10. Turkey roll ups. Turkey slices, romaine lettuce crisp, mustard. YES. Protein for the win.


11. Sunflower seeds. You get the fat, plus the annoying time lag between stuffing your face. Winning.

It all comes together and just works!!!

Reflecting on our Sunday check-ins. ONE week in (we’ll except that rockstar at the top left, that’s been a commitment to healthy habits) and people are feeling better and getting results!!! THAT’S why I love this program! I was telling my girl Ashley on our call this morning…the reason I love this program is we aren’t just taking a hodpoding a goo idea from here, or a workout from there, or trying the latest eating plan or pill! We are combining meticulously planned & programmed nutrition 🥑 with meticulously planned and programmed exercise 💪🏻 and meticulously planned and programmed supplementation. And it all comes together and WORKS! It reduces the noise, gives us a plan and it just WORKS. 

#21dayfix #21dayfixresults #healthyhabits #shakeology

Unstuffed egg rolls


Makes 5 servings. Each serving is 1 red, 1 green.


What you need:

  • 2 lb of lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken (I use beef)
  • 1 head of cabbage (on the smaller side)
  • You can also add bok choy (optional)
  • 3-4 medium carrots
  • 1/4 onion chopped finely
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 heaping tsp of fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 TBS oil (sesame or vegetable)
  • 4-5 TBS low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 TBS rice vinegar
  • 4tsp raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  1. First, shred cabbage with a serrated knife. It is important to cut the cabbage with a serrated knife because it will shred the cabbage. Or chop bok choy. Then place cabbage and bok choy in a large mixing bowl. Shred the carrots with a vegetable peeler and toss well.
  2. Then brown your ground meat with finely diced onions and minced garlic. Drain grease from meat if needed.
  3. Fill the pan full of cabbage, bok choy and carrots. Then add fresh grated ginger, oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic powder and ground black pepper (or crushed red pepper).
  4. If you have to split the mixture because you do not have a large sauté pan or wok, half the cabbage mixture, ground meat, ginger, oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic powder, and black pepper between batches.
  5. Once you have everything in the pan toss with tongs until coated evenly. Cover and cook over medium heat until cabbage has wilted, toss occasionally!


Beachbody All Access On Demand Challenge Pack

This is so cool!!!

I purchased my first challenge pack for $140 a few years ago. 

I got Shakeology, 21 Day Fix DVDs and the entire meal plan/containers for the 21 Day Fix!
That was awesome and such a game changer for my entire life! Buuuut…after doing the 21 Day Fix workouts for a while I was ready for something new. The problem was I didn’t want to buy EVERY program. I want to try Hammer and Chisel, Body Beast, ChaLEAN & Core de force. These are all such AMAZING well designed programs that would not only challenge me but keep me from getting bored. And they are cool programs Chris and I can do together. 

Now came the solution. Instead of paying $50 or so for each new program I’ve got this program where I can try a new fitness program each month to keep my body challenged and my boredom at bay. 

For me, it’s $99 for the upgrade. For new customers it’s $199 for EVERY WORKOUT PROGRAM they’ve got, 30 days Shakeology & the portion control containers/plan. And you can hang with me & my accountability groups/coaching.  

Why NOT give it a chance? Yes, it’s an investment. But you’re worth it. Your health is worth it. You self confidence is worth it. I will help you. I will coach you. You CAN do this. This could be your year. Let’s dooooo it!!!

What do you get?

  • 1 Year Membership to Beachbody On Demand (BOD) with all content included, plus future releases.
  • Shakeology (choice of 30-day supply on home direct)
  • Portion Fix (includes 7 piece portion control container system, eating guide, large blue container and shaker cup)
  • Business Starter Kit Waived if you choose the coach enrollment option.
  • You get all of this for $199 for the entire year (12 months) and there is no monthly fee.

Click here to sign upppppppp!!! 📝

Breakfast 21 Day Fix style!

21 Day Fix breakfast can be done lots of different ways! 

Miss Melanie here has fruit & whole grain cereal or waffles every morning. Sometimes she adds eggs and almond milk. 

That’s a 💜fruit, 💛carb & ❤️protein to start her day! 

Ayla loves her 21 Day Fix style breakfast too! 

She INSISTS on her Shakeology and then she follows it up with Steve cut oats and as much fruit as I’m willing to give her! 

❤️Protein/shakeo 💛Carb/oats 💜Fruit/berries for a growing little girl!! 

Zach eats the same thing every weekday morning, just like his mama!! The only difference is I give him some chocolate chips rather than berries! I’ve also been known to throw some Shakeology in there! 💛oats/carbs 💜banana/fruit ❤️eggs/shakeo/protein

Oatmeal muffins are easy & quick & nutritious& delicious!

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana 
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1 & 3/4 cup water
  • Berries on top!

Cook for 20-25 minutes at 350. I pop them in the microwave for like 45 seconds and viola!

As for the adults! Eggs & spinach with hot sauce is our go to!! Chris varies between Kashi cereal with almond milk and Steve cut oats with a bit of fruit & honey. If I’m going to have a heavy workload I MAKE SURE to have my oats. 

❤️eggs/protein 💛oats/carbs 

💚spinach/veggies 💜berries/fruit