Tips for Staying Healthy on a Budget – recipe for fish tacos too!

by Jen Wanous

Eating healthy on a dime, let alone 50 dimes, is not so easy these days. With a few simple tips, you can save money while at the same time main a healthy diet. Here are some simple ways to stay healthy on a budget.

Prioritize Your Organics

The price of organic foods is daunting. The good news is that not all food needs to be organic. Some foods are exposed to more harmful pesticides than others and you can save money by prioritizing organic food where it really counts. The “dirty dozen” list below outlines the most important items you’ll want to shell out for organic.

1. Meat

2. Milk

3. Oil

4. Coffee

5. Peaches

6. Apples

7. Sweet bell peppers

8. Celery

9. Strawberries

10. Lettuce

11. Grapes

12. Potatoes

Buy in Bulk

Dried goods in bulk at your local natural market are a treasure trove of money saving ingredients. The beauty of buying bulk is that you can get exactly how much you need. If you’re cooking for one or two, this can really help save money.

You can save dollars per pound compared to the canned or boxed versions. (Plus it’s a lot less sodium.) And the silver lining is that there is no silver lining! Canned food is almost always coated with BPA which is a harmful endocrine disruptor linked to a higher risk in diabetes, prostate cancer, and heart disease. Steer clear of this and save money too by buying in bulk.

Penny-Pinch Proteins

Anyone who has perused the meat case lately can tell you that grass-fed beef is worth a pretty penny, sometimes up to $8 a pound for ground beef. One way to save money is to re-think what the star of the plate is. With bold flavors and creative portioning, you can have the protein in the meal make up 25% with vegetables at 50% and a grain at 25%. This will help keep your heart healthy too.

You can also select cuts of meat that are less expensive. I like to use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. This saves me money and I enjoy the flavor more. When making fish, talapia or catfish can be substitutes for cod or the more expensive mahi-mahi. Both Tilapia and catfish are rated as “best choice” on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Food Watch website.

Using selective organic ingredients, bulk dried goods, and more economical proteins, you can create menus that are gentle on your bank account and good for your health too.


Here is a menu for fish tacos. It shows you how to utilize an inexpensive piece of fish, talapia, and also works with an inexpensive vegetable, cabbage making a vibrant tart slaw. There is also a recipe for a simple pot of black beans. They are easy to make with some forethought and a bit of slow cooking. There are many accompaniments to add and a must of course, are the corn tortillas. As a bonus, this meal is a great gluten free option for you and your guests.

Serves 4

Fish for Fish Tacos

2 limes, zested and juiced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder, try chipotle if you have it

2 gloves garlic, pressed or chopped very fine

1 teaspoon salt (less if desired)

1 pound Tilapia

1-2 tablespoons cooking oil


1. In a baking dish, combine lime, cumin, chili powder, garlic, and salt. If the fish is frozen, first defrost it in its packaging under cold running water for about a half hour until thawed. Add the pieces of fish making sure all sides are coated in the marinade. Leave out to marinate for 15 minutes.

2. In the meantime make the slaw (recipe below). Warm a slated grill pan or regular skillet over medium- high heat. Add oil, wait a few minutes for the oil to warm, then place the pieces of fish down. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side until the fish is cooked through. You can tell the fish is ready by sticking a fork in the thickest partt, it should be completely opaque (white and not shiny) and should flake off easily. Break fish into small pieces and place on a serving platter.

Purple Slaw

2 cups purple cabbage, shredded

2 limes, zested and juiced

2 green onions, sliced thin

½ cup cilantro, chopped

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt (less if desired)


1. Combine all ingredients and serve on top of tacos.

Black Beans

– 2 cups black beans, pick over and soaked

– 8 cups water

– 1 onion, quartered (any variety of onion will do)

– 3 cloves garlic, smashed

– 1 tablespoon salt (optional)

– 1 bay leaf


1. Pick over dried beans to make sure there are no pebbles. I like to spread out my beans on a rimmed baking sheet. Then, in a large pot, cover the beans with at least two inches of water and soak overnight or for 8 hours.

2. Rinse the soaked beans in a colander. Cover with water, add all other ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-4 hours. Taste the beans as they cook. You’ll want a firm but easily yielding bean. Alternately, you can put the soaked beans and other ingredients in a slow cooker to cook while you’re away. Simply add the soaked beans and all other ingredients to cook on low for 8 hours. Remove bay leaf and onion before serving. Keep any leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.

Accompaniments for the Tacos

– Corn tortillas, warm on a flat skillet and hold in a clean dishtowel until ready to serve

– Sour cream, as a garnish (optional)

– Slices of avocado, as a garnish (optional)

– Slices of lime, as a garnish (optional)

– Hot sauce, as a garnish (optional)

2 Comments to “Tips for Staying Healthy on a Budget – recipe for fish tacos too!”

  1. Good tips! Are you restarting more blogging? I hope so. Also when are you going to make me fish tacos?

    Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2013 16:29:18 +0000 To:

  2. great. we have to follow above tips.these organic foods are really helpful for our body

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