Cheap + Healthy Meals: Cabbage, Sausage and Potato Soup

Homemade soups generally top my list of easy, cheap meals, and this cabbage, sausage and potato soup from Gimme Some Oven is now on the list! Its flavorful, filling and so good on a freezing cold day. Much like chili, it tasted even better the next day! Cabbage is one of those ingredients I love, but kind of alway forget that I love it? Does that make sense? Anyway, on New Years Day we went to my mom’s house and had corned beef and cabbage (tradition!) and it reminded me how good cabbage is. I realize now that my first Cheap + Healthy post featured cabbage as well, so if you hate cabbage, this post is not for you.

Anyway, this soup was easy to whip up, and took me less than 15 minutes to prep and was ready to eat in about 30 minutes. Keep in mind that I never follow a recipe to the letter. I used onion instead of leek because it’s what I had. You could add any herbs you like if Italian seasoning isn’t your thing, and you could use any sausage, ground meat or even chicken breast or stew meat if you wanted. I do think the kielbasa gave it a nice flavor (and it was on sale at the store!) You could also do this in the crockpot if you’ve got to head to work for the day and don’t want to cook when you get home!

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The recipe says it makes 8 servings, but we’ve already gobbled up 5 servings and I feel like what’s left will feed more than 3. For the sake of the math though, I’ve calculated the cost per serving based on 8 servings.

Ingredients

(Items marked with an * were purchased organic)

  • one head of cabbage: $.91
  • *2 stalks of celery: $.41
  • 1lb potatoes: $.39
  • *2 medium carrots: $.39
  • 1 medium onion: $.31
  • 1lb kielbasa sausage: $2.50
  • *32oz beef stock: $1.99
  • *1 bay leaf $.35
  • 3 cloves garlic $.15
  • *2T olive oil: $.18
  • *1T Italian seasoning: $.36

Grand total price for this meal was $7.94. Divide that by 8 servings, and you’re looking at $.99 per serving!

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A note about potatoes: The are not the enemy. Sure, if you fry them, mash them with butter and cream, or bake them and top with butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon, then they’re an enemy to healthy eating. But if you eat them boiled in a broth based soup with other veggies and a protein source, I’m not worried one bit about it (leave the skin on for more fiber and nutrients!).

What are you cooking in the kitchen this week! I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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Weekly Meal Planning

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In my opinion, meal planning is ESSENTIAL for healthy eating and staying on track. I sit down every weekend and write out the meals we are going to have for the week. I plan what I’m going to eat each day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It may seem a bit neurotic, but having the list helps me manage my anxiety because I have a plan and all I have to do is look at the list to tell me what to eat and it helps me stay on track with healthy choices. Having a meal plan posted is also helpful for nights when mu husband is home before me so that he knows what we’re having and can start prepping for dinner. I also find that meal planning helps us create less food waste. I try to make sure we will eat leftovers for lunch or another night for dinner so they don’t go to waste.

I grocery shop every week because we eat a lot of produce, but my trips are short and sweet these days because I meal plan and strategize. There’s not necessarily any right or wrong way to meal plan, but here are a few of my tips for making it efficient and effective:

  • Start with what you already have in the kitchen. Do you have a ton of canned beans that can be used or some meat in the freezer? Or maybe some leftover produce from last week? I try to plan most of my meals around things I already have in the kitchen, which cuts down on the grocery bill for sure. If I’m not feeling very inspired, I’ll head over to Pinterest and type in whatever ingredient I have a lot of to see if I can find new ways to cook with it.
  • Keep it simple. I am not the type of person who wants to be cooking a new meal every single night. If that’s you, kudos! But if it’s not, read on. I usually have eggs or a protein smoothie for breakfast, a salad or leftovers for lunch, and I plan to make around 3-4 different dinners per week. I plan fewer dinners than days in the week because sometimes we have something from the freezer that’s been meal prepped, sometimes we make last minute plans with friends or family and go out, and sometimes I underestimate how much a recipe makes and we need to eat up what’s left.
  • Make a list. I’m sure you’ll be totally surprised to hear that I’m neurotic about how I make my grocery list too. I divide it up by section of the store, so I’m not wandering all over the place trying to remember what I needed. I also really try to stick to the list and not add unnecessary things to the cart. One exception is if something we use regularly is on sale, like olive oil, grass-fed beef, chicken breast, or frozen fruit. Anytime our grocery has grass-fed ground beef on manager’s special, I buy as much of it as my budget allows (last time I got it on sale for $4.99/lb and I bought 6 to store in the freezer!) Before I was grain free, I bought a ton of Udi’s gluten-free bread for $2 each and froze it all (because that stuff is expensive).
  • Shop bulk bins. I try to buy our beans, nuts, seeds and grains (rice and popcorn) from the bulk bins. It’s way cheaper and its a great way to avoid additional packaging (I bring my reusable produce bags with me for produce and bulk goods). I also try to purchase larger bottles, jars and boxes of items when our budget allows. The cost per ounce is almost always lower (sometimes less than half!) so I’m not only saving money in the long run, but also saving multiple boxes or bottles from going in the trash.
  • Prep what you can ahead of time. Meal prepping has become wildly popular, and for good reason. When I come home from the store, I try to prep as much of our food as I can. I chop veggies to be sautéed or steamed, I brown ground meat for tacos or burrito bowls, I make soups or chili to store in the fridge or freezer, and I cut up fruit for easy mixed fruit bowls. If I don’t prep my food when I get home, I almost always get busy and never get around to it, which equals food waste (I’m looking at your pineapple- has anyone else ever wasted a whole pineapple because you forgot to cut it up? No, just me? Okay great.) Meal prepping means minimal cooking when it’s time for dinner, and that’s something I can get on board with!

Here’s a weekly meal plan I drew up a few weeks ago. I created a template that I use each week and print to put on the fridge (I’m linking below so you can download a copy to use for yourself). I like to keep my meal planner clean and simple. You can find all kinds of fun ideas on Pinterest for something more jazzy if that’s your jam, but I prefer simplicity and functionality. You’ll notice I have a spot on my meal plans to make notes, which I use to note when I’m working and any other activities going on for the week that may effect meals:

Weekly Meal Plan

For the Weekly Meal Plan Template PDF, click here.

I like to list out snack options too because snacks are a tough one for me. If I’m hungry between meals, I tend to wander into the kitchen and take bites of a ton of different things while trying to decide what snack to have. Having a list makes it easier; I just look at the list and make a choice. Easy peasy.

In the future, I’m going to try and share my meal plans with you all, along with links to recipes and downloadable shopping lists. Let me know in the comments if you think you’d find value in that!

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The Importance of Self-Care

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Let’s talk about self-care. What’s self-care you ask? Literally, it means taking care of yourself, making time for yourself, and making your own needs a priority. And let me tell you, it’s hard as hell to practice self-care sometimes. But you guys, self-care is SO important. Because really, if you’re not feeling your best, you can’t really be your best for anyone else, amiright? It’s like when you’re on a plane, and they tell you to put your oxygen mask on before assisting others. You can’t help people if you pass out from lack of oxygen. Just sayin’.

We live in a world that’s so fast paced, and so much is expected of us. So many work countless hours at a job away from home, then come home and have to maintain a house, cook, clean, care for children, visit with family and friends, run errands, etc. Society makes us feel like we have to be great at everything and we’re pulled in a million directions. Social media tells us we should look better, work harder, have more. It’s maddening. And all the while, we often feel stressed, sick, and overwhelmed.

I spent 10 years working retail management, working nights, weekends and holidays, eating a less than healthy diet, and generally not taking care of myself. When I started seeing a new doctor who focused on functional medicine and holistic health, I realized that if I kept up the same pace and didn’t take some time to work on ME, things were going to get really bad. I have a type-A personality, I like to be busy, I work well under pressure, and I have a hard time sitting down or relaxing. But being diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), adrenal fatigue, gut and immune issues, and borderline diabetes, I’ve realized that I can’t afford to NOT practice self-care. I mean, who was I benefitting really, with all of those health issues in addition to the anxiety I experienced daily? I didn’t even feel like myself most days, but I pushed through because I didn’t quite know what else to do. After a lot of thought, I quit my retail job, took a huge pay cut and leap of faith, and started working on ME. I started a new job I loved, but took on bigger roles in that job very quickly because I was passionate about it. A year later, I realized I was back where I’d started. Last fall, I spoke to my boss about only working one day per week, in an effort to give myself the time to rest more and focus on my health.

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I’m happy to report that I feel like I’m really on track this time. I’ve lost 16lbs since Thanksgiving and all I’ve focused on is diet. I eat as much as I want, but I eat clean foods. I sleep a solid 9-10 hours every night. I say no to events and get togethers if I already have too much going on that week. I know that I need a day of rest after I work a day or after I have a full day of errands. I nourish my body with the right foods and supplements. I take the time to stretch before bed every night and practice deep breathing. I drink a green juice or a cup of bone broth most days. If my body says it’s time to rest, I rest. I get my eyelash extensions done every three weeks because it makes ME happy. I blog, I take naps, I get my hair done. I do things that improve my health, and I do things just because I like them. A lot of people feel selfish if they do things for themselves, or spend money on themselves. I figure, if I’m happier and healthier, I’m able to be a better wife, sister, daughter, and friend. So really, me taking care of myself benefits everyone I come into contact with. See, it’s guilt free.

It hasn’t been easy, and I have set backs. My most recent happened around the holidays. I had started the ambitious task of making a quilt for my Mamaw for Christmas, and even though I kept telling myself to stick to my deadlines, sure enough, I was still sewing the day before Christmas Eve. I also waited until the last minute to get a ton of other things done before my cousin and her fiancé came to stay with us for Christmas, and ended up super run down and got the flu. Not only did I have a hard time enjoying Christmas, but I also battled the flu for the next few weeks. I also recently had a day where I knew I had afternoon plans, but I still spent the morning painting a room in the house, shampooing the rug and couch in the living room and doing laundry and dishes. Come dinner time, I almost had a full-on meltdown because I was so exhausted. Disaster. It happens. But I got a good night’s sleep and had a relaxing day the next day to get back on track.

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So do whatever fills you up. Get the manicure, massage, facial, or whatever. Go do something fun solo, like hiking, biking, do some yoga or just walking around Target (always more fun solo, somehow). Take a bath, have lunch with a friend, buy special chocolate that you won’t let your kids eat. Meal plan and prep to nourish your body. Apply a face mask and dance around your house. Whatever it is, DO IT. Because you’re worth it! In our office, we preach to our clients that self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity! It improves your mental health and boosts your energy.

What are some of the things you do to practice self-care? Let me know in the comments!

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