Back to School: How to Get the Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet for Your Family on a Budget [Episode #816]
This week’s topic is: Back to School: How to Get the Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet for Your Family on a Budget
This title can be interpreted in a very broad way. Your family could be you and your roommate, you and your pet, you and yourself, you and your children, you and a partner or spouse, whatever it is. We want to make healthy eating accessible. It is so important that we nourish ourselves properly from a dietary perspective, which then allows us to feel the nourishment of energy, which then fuels our creative endeavors.
It makes us more peaceful, it makes us more happy and more joyful. It makes us feel more connected to other people and the world around us and we want to be smart about doing it so that budget doesn’t become a prohibiting factor.
Today we’re going to get into many tips as well as research around this topic. And I want to say that this is something that I have personal experience around when I came back from backpacking. I was on a very small budget and I found a way to be plant-based to eat healthy foods. And I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I will happily share with you today.
Kimberly, I eat plant based and want my family to as well, but I don’t know if we can afford to. Can you give me tips for feeding my family tasty plant based meals and school lunches for the kids on a limited budget.
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Kimberly: 00:00 Namaste loves and welcome back to our Thursday q and a show where our topic today is Back to School: How to Get the Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet for Your Family on a Budget. So I want to say that this title can be interpreted in a very broad way. Your family could be you and your roommate, or you and your pet, or you and yourself or you and your children, you and a partner or spouse, whatever it is. We want to make healthy eating accessible. It is so important that we nourish ourselves properly from a dietary perspective, which then allows us to feel the nourishment of energy, which then fuels our creative endeavors. It makes us more peaceful, it makes us more happy, it makes us more joyful. It makes us feel more connected to other people and the world around us. So we want to be smart about doing it so that budget doesn’t become a prohibiting factor.
01:09 Today we’re going to get into many tips as well as research around this topic. And I want to say that this is something that I have personal experience around when I came back from backpacking, as I’ve shared with some of you that have been longtime listeners of the podcast, I was very on a very, very small budget and I found a way to be plant-based to eat healthy foods. And I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I will happily share with you today. I also want to say that I am speaking to you from the forest here in Hawaii on our farm from my riding cabin. So you may hear some of the rain outside that’s coming and going this evening. You may hear some rooster friends saying hello. You may hear the bullfrog starting to come around. So I invite you to enjoy some of this really sacred energy that is directly from nature that is infused into our show today.
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03:21 That’s mysolluna.com/askkimberly/ and our Monday interview podcasts. So subscription is just a really practical way to administer self-care to yourself without having to make yet another decision. So I encourage that as well as checking out our show notes firstname.lastname@example.org where we will link to more shows. I think you would enjoy more interviews, articles, recipes, meditations and more. I also want to mention that as we transition back into fall and things start to feel a bit more hectic, a bit more busy, a bit more full, it is a wonderful time to try our three day holistic waterfall cleanse, which is about creating clarity across your life. It’s about deep bloating your body and preparing for the time ahead. So there’s a lot of Pitta energy that can build up in the summertime, a lot of fire, a lot of heat.
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Q&A: Back to School: How to Get the Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet for Your Family on a Budget
Alright, let’s get into our show today about back to school or shall we say back to fall, back to life, back to a normal schedule after summer of how to get the health-based benefits of eating plant-based for you and your family on a budget.
Question around the topic of: Back to School: How to Get the Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet for Your Family on a Budget: Kimberly, I eat plant based and want my family to as well, but I don’t know if we can afford to. Can you give me tips for feeding my family tasty plant based meals and school lunches for the kids on a limited budget.
So our question today comes from Linda who lives in Seattle, Washington. Hello, Linda. Sending you lots of love out there to the northwest. Hope you’re doing wonderfully, my fellow friend in beautiful trees. I can feel the energy of the forests there as I’m sitting in the forest here and the incredible nature that is in the Pacific Northwest.
05:36 So sending you so much love. Thank you so much for being part of our community. And your question is, Kimberly, I eat plant-based and I want my family to as well, but I don’t know if we can afford to. Can you give me tips for feeding my family tasty plant-based meals and school lunches for the kids on a limited budget? So Linda, thank you so much for your practical question. This is one that we want to address for people and families everywhere, as I mentioned at the top of our show, so that we’re able to nourish ourselves and our families in the best way and on any budget. We never want that to be a limiting factor. We all deserve wonderful nutrition and nourishment. So let’s dive right in.
Research and Studies
First, a little bit of motivation. I want to share a little bit of research about how eating a plant-based diet or following a plant-based diet is wonderful for the family.
06:39 I will also say on a personal note that I am plant-based. My children who are three and seven are both plant-based and they have been plant-based since conception. They’re both exceptionally healthy, happy, joyful children who knock on wood have only been to the doctor for routine checkups. They have incredible levels of energy and immunity and so on. So it’s something that I highly recommend. I think that it’s an amazing way to raise children that are not only healthy but tend to be more peaceful and calm has been my personal experience. And so some formal research I want to point out. The first published in the JAMA Internal Medicine in 2013 investigated the association between vegetarian eating and mortality. And they found that vegetarians had a lower risk of overall mortality compared to non-vegetarians. So we want our children and our families to live long happy lives. And you can rest assured that eating nature is bounty, which is really the focus of a plant-based diet allows for a whole mix of antioxidants and vitamins and minerals and nutrients, fiber and all these incredible nutrients which are found again from fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, whole grains and legumes.
08:15 Another, I mean there’s so much research here, I’m just going to sort of pick over some of these points here. But the American Heart Association published a study in 2017 which found that those that adhered to a plant-based diet had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and experiencing cardiovascularly related deaths. We know that heart health is primary and we care so much about our loved ones. We want them to be healthy. And so in this particular area, there is much research around the benefits of eating plant-based for the whole family. Now, let’s shift a little bit to the research published in nutrients in 2019, which found that plant-based diets were associated with greater weight loss and improvements in body composition compared to omnivorous diets. So our weight is not just for appearance, although we do all care about how we look, of course that’s natural, but it indicates particularly in a healthy body composition, which means that there isn’t an excess of weight distributed on your belly, abdomen region, which would put you at certain health risks. It just means that we are able to carry less weight through life, and so our bodies are healthier, there’s more circulation, and also we feel lighter in our minds. A family that is closer to their natural healthy body weight is going to feel healthier and in my experience, more peaceful and more harmonious together, which is one of the real gifts of life to be in close connection with your loved ones and those around you.
10:15 Another study published in gastroenterology in 2020 found that plant-based dietary pattern was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. Remember as well that only plant foods contain fiber, which has this ability to not only move our food through our systems more efficiently and make sure that we metabolize more efficiently, but it allows us to modulate our health, modulate and create a healthy microbiome. Fiber helps to feed the short chain fatty acids found in our guts, which then in turn reduce overall inflammation and just keep our bodies healthy and cancer free. So of course cancer is multifactorial. There’s many things going on that include potentially our genetics and other lifestyle factors and our stress levels and so on and so forth. But we can only do the best that we can. And knowing that a plant-based diet is helpful is really good information for all of us to have. What’s interesting, sometimes we hear that, oh, a plant-based diet will make me weak or I won’t be able to perform or my children won’t be able to perform as well. In sports that is addressed in research published in the National Library of Medicine from 2019, they found that a plant-based diet had benefits for cardiovascular health and athletic performance, particularly in endurance sports.
Kimberly: 11:53 You’ll see a trend in certain sports today like basketball and golf and tennis and even football where more athletes are becoming plant-based because there is a faster recovery time and other benefits as it mentioned here in the research endurance. Our bodies become more efficient. They become like efficient machines when we are able to uptake nutrients from plants in ways that are more efficient and there’s less work in metabolizing and breaking down and excreting plant foods than animal products. So because of all these reasons that extra energy can go to fuel your body, it can give you energy in your sports and other activities, and it’s really a energy efficient way to eat, to live, to approach your diet.
12:51 It goes on and on. There is a lot of research supporting eating a plant-based diet for diabetes and helping to manage and prevent diabetes as well. This was published in diabetic medicine in 2013 and also other research I’ll publish around a whole variety of topics such as coronary artery disease and pretty much every other disease and ailment that you can think of, many of them at least we can say have been been shown to be supported by a plant-based diet. This is a natural diet. This is in accordance with nature. This is also a diet recommended by the great yoga masters of ancient India, which we’re the masters of energy and not just looking at food in terms of calories and losing weight and looking a certain way, but also how do we feel in our lives? Do we feel fulfilled and energetic and full of vitality or do we want to feel temasek and slothful and slower and not as motivated or do we want to feel overly anxious?
Back to School: How to Get the Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet for Your Family on a Budget: Holistic Approach
14:08 What’s known as stic and very stressed? So it’s really about the energy in which we want to live our lives day to day, moment to moment every day counts. So let’s talk about, that’s the research. I hope after hearing all that you feel motivated and also assured if you are thinking about, again, it’s not all or nothing, but feeding your family plant-based, a plant-based diet or at least more plant-based dinners and meals in general and plant-based lunches. So we want to see this in a holistic way. We want to see how it fits in practically as well as with our own budgets.
So one of the things that’s going to make this really practical is to plan ahead When we’re in a rush, when we’re up against the clock and we have to make lunch tomorrow and we have to run to the one store and there’s only certain options, that is when we tend to have to spend more money.
Affordable Staples and Buying in Bulk
15:09 If we plan meals in advance, it allows us to buy in bulk to even stores that are world or not worldwide necessarily, but nationwide. Like Costco, our family has a membership there. You can get organic quinoa in a fairly like a pound of quinoa for $6. You can get beans in bulk, you can get organic produce. So if you plan ahead and try to go shopping at least once or twice a week, you have a better chance of preparing food that is going to cost less per meal.
And so that starts to become really important, especially for your staples. Seeds, nuts, I get organic chia seeds online or at Costco. Same thing with nuts. We eat a lot of nuts in our family. We also make nut milk. So you can get all sorts of things like hazelnuts and cashews and almonds and more at places like Costco or other bulk places or online.
Freeze and Preserve
16:19 So then you can start to also think about the meals. Things like organic, whole grain oatmeal for instance, are things that you can buy in bulk. As I mentioned, chia seeds, we have a lot of chia putting in our family. It starts to reduce the cost with just a little bit more future planning and also keeping a close eye on your pantry and your freezer to make sure that they are always stocked. So we can’t always perfectly stock our produce, right? Sometimes we run out, sometimes there’s little gaps and we can’t buy too far in advance because obviously the produce goes bad. But what we can do is use our, let’s start with the freezer for emergency situations. So in our freezer we always have frozen fruit strawberries. I make my kids a lot of strawberry shakes. For dessert, we have frozen bananas. Sometimes there’s frozen G Ss for emergencies, the glow and green smoothie, we have frozen acai, we have even frozen veggie burgers for quick meals.
17:30 Sometimes I have frozen sourdough bread, frozen wraps, things that are staples that can be frozen and can be called upon. And then in bulk and mid-sized bulk in the fridge. I’m just going through my fridge in my mind right now. We have vegan cheese, we have Tempe and organic tofu and things that can be stored for a little bit longer, let’s say a week or two of the Tempe in packages longer than that. And then in our cabinets, we always had always quinoa, rice of different kinds of rices. And then we have lentil pasta and we have beans, cartons of beans, and also raw beans that in bulk I’ll cook as well. It’s nice to have a pressure cooker. And when you buy these things in bulk or ahead, again, I buy my packages of lentil pasta and packages of six online on Amazon or wherever it’s convenient for you, you do get a better deal.
Shop Seasonally and Locally
18:46 So I think it’s planning a little bit, having on hand here are some great ideas for meals and dinners. I know the focus of our podcast today was also lunches. I’ll get to that in a moment. But it’s nice to have all of these things sort of in a little bit of a flow in his system. And also in terms of saving money, buying seasonally and locally is a great way to save money for the items that you can’t stock up on all the time. You can visit your farmer’s market, you can be sure to try out a C SS a, which is a community supported agricultural program so that you can get organic produce at a cheaper price. And these are wonderful ways to not have to go to the store, which is also paying rent and also has a lot of workers. And so therefore the prices will be higher.
Cook at Home
19:44 It’s a great idea to cook at home and our family eats out very little. I prefer to touch my own food. I prefer to handle my own food. That’s a personal thing for me. And so we eat out sometimes, but not that often. And of course this is a wonderful way to save money because eating out sometimes to celebrate is fine and wonderful, but it’s not something that you want to do too often on a budget because then it squeezes the budget for the daily lunches and other meals when it comes to eating on a budget. We also don’t want to feel pressure to buy all these fancy packaged foods because those are more expensive and those aren’t necessarily necessary. We can, my kids snack on carrot sticks. I just put out celery, carrot sticks, hummus this morning. We made guacamole together that they eat plain or they dip things in.
20:45 And so your kids enjoy making things with you. And I find with my kids, they enjoy really simple things. I also eat simply right? So it starts with the parents, the head of the household, and then it sort of washes over the family. So there may be a transition time where maybe your family was eating out more or eating more packaged foods, and so you have to transition over, but that’s not a problem. It just takes a little bit of time and guidance and loving explanation and allowing the treats or the regular food, the foods they were used to before to come back in. I find with kids, cold Turkey doesn’t always work. Sometimes we have a little bit of a transition, excuse me, but then it starts to really just be the new way.
21:45 Excuse me. It starts to be the new way around which we eat, we eat. And so I explain that to my kids. This is what’s here. This is what’s your friends may eat that for dessert, but we have strawberries and straw shakes, and as I mentioned, my older son, Bobby Emerson is his real name. We love to make shakes together and he loves to pick out the ingredients and then he loves to eat the shakes. So involving your kids and making the foods can be really fun and keep it simple and full of ingredients that aren’t necessarily expensive but are whole and really healthy. So I just want to emphasize again, healthy does not have to mean expensive. Buy it in bulk. We go to the farmer’s market, we keep it really simple. We cook at home. These are the ways in which we navigate eating in a way that’s accessible, healthy, and for any budget.
Stay Hydrated Economically:
22:46 Now, I also want to say that beverages, I want to get to this and I want to get to lunches. It’s a wonderful idea to invest in a one-time water filter. And we just put a pretty good five step water filter in our home here in Hawaii, and it was $300, which is pretty pricey. You can get ones that are less expensive and ones that are way more expensive, but then it saves you a lot of money in terms of not having to buy bottled water or we just don’t have drinks for the kids. It’s water. Sometimes on the plains I’ll let them have orange juice, but we’re not buying packaged juices and packaged drinks, which do add up in cost. The money goes towards the food. And so I fill up my kids’ water bottles with the water filter and pretty much it. Sometimes we drink coconut water, but it’s very, very simple.
23:50 So let’s talk about lunch. A lot of what we talked about can be funneled and applied to school lunches as well. For me, there’s always a veggie component raw. So my son loves because only one of my kids is in school. He loves carrots. You get to know our pediatrician, Dr. Jay Gordon said this really great tip. He said, cut up 10 different kinds of veggies and leave them on the table when your kid comes home from school without saying, oh, what do you want here? Or forcing them. Just notice as they get home from school and they’re sort of unpacking and getting assimilated back to the home environment, notice which veggies they’re naturally drawn towards because kids all like different veggies and then it makes it easier for you to pack their lunches and for you to not have to fight about veggies. And of course it will expand over time.
24:49 But I noticed that I discovered that E was really into cauliflower, whereas Moses is really into, well, he loves carrots as well. He loves celery, he loves red peppers, so they have some differences. So I give ee cut up raw veggies for lunch, and then he loves sourdough bread, which is in more easily digestible type of bread where you can get fresh sourdough. You can bake your own sourdough if you’re on a budget. There’s some really great YouTube videos out there. My friend Dr. B puts out some videos about sourdough bread as well. He’s a plant-based vegan gastroenterologist. He’s been on the podcast a couple of times. We will also link to some of his shows. So I make humma sandwiches for EE or sometimes there is quinoa. Sometimes we use the vegan cheese. We love the mi yoko’s cheese and he loves mustard. And I’ll put lettuce and tomato. Sometimes I’ll make a B L T type wrap with Tempe and ese. We use the ese that’s made with the avocado oil, which is a plant-based mayonnaise, which is really great to keep on hand for your kids’ lunches as well as sprouts and tomatoes. And then I also always put fruit, so he loves mangoes. Sometimes there’s apples and mandarin oranges are also really popular.
26:33 There’s also a snack that we have to pack at our kids’ school, so that’s often seaweed, snacks, and then different type of healthier granola energy bars. That’s a whole other conversation. I’ve explored many different ones. There’s the greens plus bars that are really great and nowadays I encourage you to check out. Of course, there’s all these different allergy free ones. There’s so many different varieties of food bars, we’ll include that as well. Our kids’ school does not limit almond butters and things like that. So sometimes I also make almond butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. As I mentioned, sometimes there’s quinoa. Sometimes I pack a thermos of hot soup. He loves veggie soup bean veggie soup. So sometimes that will be the main component of his lunch. And sometimes I’ll make a flatbread, sort of like a cold pizza ish veggie situation with red sauce.
27:34 And I’ll make it on the kind of bread that I use for wraps. It’s either made with TAF or brown rice and I’ll toast it and there’ll be red sauce on it and different veggies or sometimes some of the vegan cheddar cheese shreds put on it as well. So again, if you think about the hummus and the almond butter and some of the things I’ve talked about here, and we also make our own trail mix with raisins and cashews and goji berries and all these things can be bought in bulk. So it’s very simple. We’re not buying school lunches. It’s not even offered at our child’s school. It’s pretty small school, but school lunches can add up and it’s not very healthy at times. So if you look at, you can buy the sourdough bread, organic sourdough bread at Costco or bake it yourself. And all the other things that I mentioned are fairly inexpensive.
28:35 And so if you buy in season, if you’re able to get strawberries or blueberries, we have apple trees at our home in California as we’re very fortunate. So I picked the apples for his lunch. Growing your own food is a great way to, in the long run, save some money as well. You can get a little tomato plants and grow a lot of your own tomatoes and things like that. You can do exchanges. Our neighbors, we exchange honey for avocados and we just all kind of support each other with the different things that we grow and produce here on the lands in Hawaii. So I’ll also emphasize that my third book, my second book, Beauty Detox Foods and my Fifth Book, recipes for Your Perfectly Imperfect Life have a lot of simple recipes. There’s a whole kids section in recipes for your perfectly imperfect life.
29:31 If you want to check out some recipes for kids that are kid friendly, kid approved, and delicious for your children, once again, please do go the show notes over at mysolluna.com where we will link to amazing plant-based recipes for your kids and the whole family, which are inexpensive and accessible for you to make and nourishing properly, food combined wonderfully healthy, tick all the boxes. So I hope this gives you a lot of motivation and inspiration to know that yes, you can keep plant-based fun and healthy and delicious for you and the entire family. Please check out all these resources and we’ll be back here next Monday as usual for our interview podcast to then take amazing care of your unique, wonderful self. I send you so much love and I look forward to connecting with you more. And remember, you can always ask me questions over there on the website for me to answer on this very show. And you can also find me on social at under Kimberly Snyder. Sending you much love and much aloha. Namaste.