Sunday, August 29, 2010

No starch diet on a budget!

My mom is a frugal gal. When she goes shopping she's a coupon clipping, discount hunting woman on a mission. My dad, on the other hand, is more of an impulse buyer. He enjoys giving big gifts, and when he sees something he wants, he usually buys it. Somehow I ended up being a mix of the two: I'm a compulsive discount shopper, which usually means I end up with a lot of cheap crap. I enjoy my Citizen jeans as much as the next girl, I just buy three pairs from Buffalo Exchange or Nordstrom Rack instead of one full priced pair from Nordstrom. I enjoy a good rummage through the Goodwill, love shopping at Target, and definitely indulge in plenty of retail therapy. Despite the fact that I usually buy items on sale, I still am not very good at actually saving money. I've tried to turn this around during the last year, and for the first time in my life, I'm attempting being on a budget.

My grocery budget is $50 per week. As with managing this diet, some weeks are much better than others. When I was first put on the no starch diet I went way over my budget because I was trying to figure out what and how to eat. Here's the facts about this diet: packaged stuff made without starch usually isn't that cheap. Regardless of what your personal beliefs are about the Farm Bill, high fructose corn syrup, etc, the fact of the matter is that farmers are paid to overproduce corn, which means that modified food starch, corn starch, and high fructose corn syrup end up being the cheap additives that find their way into nearly everything. If you shop at natural foods stores, sugar still finds it's way into products via "evaporated cane juice" or agave nectar, and the starch is frequently tapioca or potato based, but it's still there. This makes searching for anything pre-made without sweetener and/or modified food starch a giant pain in the neck.

Because of the frustration over trying to find anything pre-made that I could eat and also because I enjoy cooking, I've spent more time trying to make food at home. However, I am a woman on the go and sometimes a girl's gotta find something quick to eat. As a result of my ongoing quest for convenience foods I can eat, I wrote a blog a while back entitled "No Starch Diet Staples." See this for some items I've found and enjoy:

Here's some basics that usually find their way onto my grocery list:
Produce: apples, frozen berries, avocados, spinach, mushrooms, garlic, onions, bell peppers, cilantro, salsa/pico de gallo
Baking: vanilla bean or good quality vanilla extract, Truvia packets, Stevia in the Raw, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, unsweetened coconut, unsweetened chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, peanut flour, xanthan gum
Meat: frozen chicken breasts/tenders, sausage (without added sugar, of course), skirt steak
Dairy/Eggs: 1% milk, heavy whipping cream, butter, buttermilk, eggs, cheese, string cheese
Other: peanut butter, nuts, canned diced tomatoes, Biggest Loser protein powder, mustard, The Ojai Cooks Lemonaise, coffee, Talking Rain sparkling water, applesauce, fruit leather

The trick for maintaing this diet and your budget simultaneously lies is being creative. For example, I didn't use to be someone who enjoyed leftovers. Now I rely on them. I also have figured out how to use the same product in a variety of different ways.

At a recent trip to Winco I bought the following:
Coconut milk, eggs, frozen blueberries, limes, bell peppers, tomatoes, avocados, Alfresco brand spinach and feta sausage, diced green chiles, skirt steak, spinach, Bolthouse Farms vanilla latte protein drink, and Talking Rain. I spent $30. With some creativity and using some ingredients I already had at home, I created several different meals from these basic ingredients.

Breakfast Ideas:
Some days for breakfast I eat some string cheese and a handful of nuts, or I drink some Bolthouse Farms protein drink and eat some berries. Other days I feel creative and make something.

Mushroom and Sausage Scramble: saute 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms and 1 diced sausage link in 1 tablespoon butter. Mushrooms and sausage should be lightly browned on both sides. Add 1 egg and 1/2 ounce cheese. Scramble together. Top with 1/2 avocado, diced.

Smoothie: Combine in blender: 1 cup milk, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 avocado, 2 scoops protein powder, 1 packet Truvia

Lunch/Dinner Ideas:

Sometimes I will heat up a sausage link and top it with some shredded cheese and salsa, or I will make egg salad at home and eat it plain or on top of some spinach. When I make something for lunch/dinner, I usually make something for dinner that I can serve atop greens later as a salad or eat as leftovers for lunch.

Mexican Steak Saute/Salad: Cut 4oz of skirt steak into thin strips. Marinade steak in the juice and zest of 1 fresh lime, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste, 1 small can of diced green chiles, drained, and 1/2 cup salsa/pico de gallo. Saute steak with diced bell peppers. Top with shredded cheese, diced tomato, and avocado. Eat as is, or serve atop spinach.

Italian Sausage Stir-fry: Dice 1 bell pepper, 1/2 onion, and 1 crown of broccoli (optional). Saute in olive oil, until the veggies start to soften. Add 2 chopped sausage links, 1/4 cup diced sundried tomatoes, 1/2 jar diced artichoke hearts, drained (optional), and 1/2 can diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes, until liquid is mostly evaporated and the mixture is thick.
Serve topped with shredded parmesan cheese. I enjoyed mine with a a No Starch Lemon Drop (mix 1 shot vodka with diet lemonade)

Enjoy! More creative recipes to come!


  1. Crystal - I love your thrifty, creative food choices! I'm gonna have to try some of your recipes. We (or you) should write a cookbook! I just say we cuz I would LOVE to write one I'm just not sure where to start.

    <3 Dana

  2. Dana,
    I would love to write a cookbook! I think I need to accumulate a few more recipes first though. :) We should chat about this sometime.

  3. Love it! and it gives us a reason to get together more often :) which by the way we need to do soon...we should plan coffee or a meal soon!

  4. Hey lady. I really loved reading this blog! Your recipes are awesome and I love that you are figuring out how to eat healthy on a budget. Its hard to make the two intersect.
    I wanna read more!
    You are rad!

  5. As far as I know peanuts and avocado have starch in them
    some recipes might be low-starch, but by no means non-starch.