Whew! It’s been a few years since I posted to this blog. I’ve decided recently to begin blogging my food intake for a couple of reasons.
One, to keep myself accountable. I’ve gained a tiny bit of weight I’d like to shed. (Helllooooo, perimenopause!) Two, to show how one can eat THM style without the book or buying specialty foods from the THM store.
These muffins are SO good, 2 are quite filling due to the egg whites and collagen providing protein, and I’m proud of myself for actually using up that bag of cranberries that’s been lingering in my freezer since last year!
Why is it an “E” meal? Because it’s fueled with healthy “slow” carbs instead of fats. I used maybe 1 T half and half in my Nespresso shot, which is 2.5 grams of fat, keeping this meal under 5 g.
This was leftover from last night’s dinner. Why is it an “E” meal? Because it has low-fat ground turkey for the protein source, along with beans and brown rice for healthy carbs.
This recipe gets rave reviews from hubby, and I love how frugal it is. If I can get all the ingredients from Aldi, I’m a happy girl!
If you didn’t know, I literally wrote a book on the topic.
Snack: Coffee with half and half, Aldi brand protein yogurt (identical to Oikos 000, just cheaper!) with a spoonful of all-natural, sugar-free peanut butter and Lily’s chocolate chips. Fuel: S
Who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter?! Why is it an “S” snack? Because peanut butter and chocolate chips contain fat, and there is no substantial carbohydrate in this snack. The low-fat yogurt is a good source of protein.
Remember that with Trim Healthy Mama, all meals and snacks are anchored with protein to stabilize blood sugar.
Dinner: Pork Chops with Apple and Fennel, Green Beans Nicoise, Brown Rice.Fuel: E
The green beans had a bit of olive tapenade on them, but the entire recipe only used a couple of tablespoons so the fat fuel was still under 5g. That makes this meal an E for “energizing” (carbohydrate fuel), due to the apples and brown rice.
Also happy to have used up the leftover fennel I had in the freezer from my last Trader Joe’s trip. I love fennel. It’s great for digestion and the gut in general, and it’s delicious!
I tend to eat too few carbs when I’m doing THM, which can lead to fatigue and cravings. I think this is a common problem, judging by the posts in the THM Facebook group. The “S” meals are so yummy and satisfying.
So I’m proud of myself for eating more E meals today. Carbs are important for thyroid health. When we aren’t getting enough carbs, it can cause that late night craving for cookies. No bueno!
Looking for a Trim Healthy Mama Budget Menu to help keep your food costs down? Read on.
I’ll be honest here and admit something. Since I started Trim Healthy Mama, my grocery spending has gone up. I’m not gonna lie. It’s worth it. The sustainable weight loss I’ve experienced and the non-scale victories are totally worth it! I know that long-term, spending a little more on a better diet will cost less than the chronic disease that results from a standard (crappy) American diet.
Recently I’ve begun thinking more about how to lower my monthly bills. Since I have 7 kids, grocery spending is our biggest expense after housing. Therefore, spending less on the food budget has a quick impact.
When we think about creating a budget menu for Trim Healthy Mama, sometimes our first thought is, “How can I spend less on the food I’m buying?”. Truly, however, that’s backwards. What we should be asking is, “Which foods are inexpensive to start with and are on-plan?” Do you see the difference? The first approach will have you scouring for sales, coupons and coupon codes. The second is far less stressful.
Trim Healthy Mama Budget Menu: Start with Protein
Since Trim Healthy Mama meals are anchored with protein, let’s start with that. Which protein sources are least expensive?
A Google search turned up the following information on quite a few pages (most of them about bodybuilding, lol!). Budget sources of protein include:
Whey protein (this surprised me – maybe bodybuilders are using cheap whey protein. The THM whey protein is around .89 a scoop, hardly cheap – so instead, use cottage cheese or half a scoop instead. The Trimmy drinks only call for a teaspoon of whey protein powder.)
Frozen chicken breast
(You know what’s NOT on the list that should be? Gelatin! A tablespoon of gelatin has 11 grams protein. (A can of Great Lakes gelatin has 38 servings, making it around .50 a serving. The Trim Healthy Mama gelatin is a little cheaper. )
See anything cool here? These are all on plan! Try forming the bulk of your meals around these protein foods. Canned tuna is especially cheap and it’s a Fuel Pull. I love it with hot sauce sprinkled on. You can make it an S food by mixing it with mayo. A half can of tuna along with sides will fill you up for hours. Around here, eggs have been around a buck a dozen. That’s a dime for almost a complete meal!
Cottage cheese is also cheap. I love it with sweet potatoes instead of meat. (If you mash it into a hot sweet potato, it sort of melts and gets gooey!)
Trim Healthy Mama Budget Menu: Now for the sides
What about produce? We THM types like to eat a lot of non-starchy vegetables. Check out this list of the cheapest vegetables by month. Because there’s no way I’m going to remember this list when I’m at the store, I simply have a price per pound in my head that I’m willing to pay for fresh fruits and vegetables, and I don’t go over it. That price dictates what I buy. For fruit, it’s .99 a pound. That means I buy apples and bananas more than anything else unless something’s on sale.
Do the same for meat. Vow to never spend over .99 a pound except for special occasions. If you shop loss leaders, you can accomplish this easily. You might not have as much variety, but who needs a different type of meat each day of the week to be happy?
Frozen! Frozen veggies and fruits are almost always cheaper than fresh in my area.
Don’t forget your E meals and snacks. Since they’re fueled with carbs, and carbs are inexpensive foods, E meals and snacks help the THM food budget. See how to get enough E meals and snacks here. Oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, fruit: all cheap!
Ease up on the fats. Since fats are the most expensive, ounce for ounce, of any foods we buy (nuts are more expensive than steak), try eating more Light S meals. Avocados, nuts, cheese are all delicious, but they’re easy to overdo and can cause weight loss plateaus or stalls (which is why they’re not on the Fuel Cycle plan!).
Bulk it up. If you eat a lot of a particular food, say brown rice or oats, price that food in bulk quantities. I get my oats, brown rice and beans in 25-50 pound buckets. This is a bit of an investment up-front, but the price per pound is better than what I can get at the cheapest grocery store. I get my bulk stuff from Amazon. Two good brands are Augason Farms and Honeyville.
I haven’t investigated warehouse clubs. Many frugal bloggers love them though, so it’s worth checking their prices.
Go NSI. No Special Ingredients – these recipes are marked in the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook because they contain no special, fancy ingredients (just an on-plan sweetener in the case of desserts).
Shop your local Scratch ‘n Dent. I don’t have one nearby, but I do have a Bargain Hunt, and I find THM-safe food there every time I go! I’ve bought flavorings, teas, canned food, protein bars and other things, all at a discount.
Shop at ALDI if you have one nearby. ALDI prices just plain beat everyone’s. If you have to drive a long way to get to an ALDI, it might be worth it to stock up once a month. They have awesome prices on unsweetened almond milk, 0% Greek yogurt, eggs, shredded cheese, produce and meat. Here is a free ALDI shopping list for THM. See all the pages tagged “ALDI“.
Eliminate Convenience. Anytime a human or a machine does something to process your food, you’ll pay. So romaine hearts are cheaper than bagged salads. Whole fruit is cheaper than cut. Blocks of cheese are cheaper than shredded (though not always – check prices per pound!). Riced cauliflower is more expensive than whole. Salad dressing can be whipped up in a minute and is cheaper and healthier than store bought. A large jar of Slim Belly Jelly is a fraction of the cost of all-fruit jelly. When eggs are cheap, it’s less expensive to separate them yourself rather than using boxed egg whites. Etc.
Learn to love pure stevia. THM pure stevia powder is the most budget-friendly sweetener they offer. It’s fine to start with Gentle Sweet if you begin THM as a sugar addict, but slowly acclimate your taste buds. Put your big girl panties on!
Stock up when the Trim Healthy Mama store offers a sale. Guess who ordered 3 bags of Baking Blend when it went on sale for 3 for 16.99 even when she already had two bags in her pantry? Yeahme. If you’ve ordered from the girls before, you’re on their list and they’ll email you when a sale hits. Take advantage!!
Eat smaller portions. Yeah, I went there! Just because we’re on Trim Healthy Mama and have food freedom doesn’t mean we need to eat on plates the size of a small parking space. Look at your grandma’s plates from the 50’s. They were probably 9″ in diameter, whereas modern plates are up to 15″! This is insanity. SIZE MATTERS. French women don’t get fat, and neither did our grandmothers – because small portions! Keep in mind that a portion of protein should be the size of a deck of cards. A portion of cheese? Two dice. Etc. Here’s a nice visual using your hand to help you remember this.
Fill your plate with non-starchy vegetables! The THM authors don’t just tell us this because it helps us stay thin. It also costs less!
Start a price book and use it to guide purchases and meal planning. This can be as simple as keeping grocery receipts for a few weeks. Write in a notebook or computer document the items you buy most often and the price you pay. You’ll start to see patterns – what’s a good deal (stock up!), and what’s not (eat something else).
Sample Trim Healthy Mama Budget Menu
Budget THM Breakfasts
Oats with berries and 0% Greek yogurt or cottage cheese for protein (I like to blend my cottage cheese with a dash of vanilla extract and stevia to make it extra-creamy, almost like cheesecake!). E fuel.
2 scrambled or fried eggs with sauteed vegetables or greens – hold the expensive cheese! Enjoy your eggs Deep S.
1 large ground turkey patty with stewed apples (cook them in a very small amount of butter and a bit of water, add cinnamon and stevia). E fuel.
Leftover brown rice, warmed with a dash vanilla, cinnamon, almond milk and stevia for Hot Breakfast Rice. (Add a protein source like a Trimmy with collagen and whey protein, or put egg whites in the brown rice while you’re warming it.) E fuel.
Any of the smoothie recipes (sub 1/3 cup cottage cheese for whey protein)
Trim Healthy Mama E pancakes (made with oats, egg whites and cottage cheese)
Budget THM Lunches
Waldorf Salad from the cookbook
Any of the single serving soups from the cookbook
Tuna prepared how you like it, with a side salad and homemade dressing
Sweetie on steroids (cottage cheese, cooked chicken or ground turkey for protein)
Cajun-style rice and beans (with ground turkey or low-fat chicken sausage for protein)
Creamless Creamy Chicken (over cabbage)
Egg Roll in a Bowl – especially if you buy your cabbage whole and cut it yourself! Cabbage is super cheap.
Budget THM Snacks
Glucomannan, since only a tiny amount is required, is quite cheap. Therefore, recipes that call for it are usually inexpensive. Gluccie Pudding is an example. – FP
Apple slices with peanut flour/0% Greek yogurt dip – E fuel
Popcorn is totally fine on THM in an “E” setting. Just don’t eat more than 4-5 cups, and don’t drizzle it with butter (unless you’re ok with a crossover, otherwise, keep the butter to under a teaspoon to stay in “E” mode).
If you love all things peanut butter, how about Peanut Butter Popcorn? Just spray your popcorn with cooking spray, add a couple teaspoons peanut flour along with a bit of Gentle Sweet and mix well.
Mexican Chocolate Popcorn: Sprinkle on cinnamon, a dash of cayenne and a teaspoon each cocoa powder and Gentle Sweet.
Maple Popcorn – Use maple flavoring for this one to keep it sugar-free! Mix a tsp maple flavor with your popcorn along with Gentle Sweet and mix well.
Curry Popcorn – spray your popcorn with coconut oil spray, thensprinkle on your favorite Curry powder and a bit of powdered ginger. If you really love Indian spices, try sprinkling on garam masala, turmeric and red pepper flakes.
Spicy Cowboy Popcorn – wouldn’t this be fun to eat while you watch your next Western? Just sprinkle garlic powder, cumin and cayenne (or, chili powder) on top of air-popped popcorn. I hear popcorn tastes amazing dipped in salsa. Haven’t tried it yet.
Sriracha Popcorn – This spicy sauce, I hear, is delicious on top of popcorn. Add a bit of salt first, then sprinkle away.
Apple Pie Popcorn anyone? Careful, this recipe is a crossover, but I imagine it would be just as tasty if you cut that coconut oil down to make it an E.
Do the same for Pumpkin Spice Popcorn – spray with coconut oil or butter spray, sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and Gentle Sweet.
Wasabi Popcorn – love the taste of sushi? How about a tiny dab of powdered wasabi and a sprinkle of soy sauce on your popcorn?
Ranch Popcorn – Sprinkle mineral salt, garlic powder, parsley, pepper and onion powder on your popcorn for a Ranch flavor with no fat.
Love this idea to make your own Skinny Pop – you’ll need to buy a $1 spray bottle, but you’ll be able to enjoy butter on your popcorn! (Just keep it to under 1 tsp per serving)
Dorito popcorn – oooh, I cannot wait to try this one! Sounds delicious. All the flavor, none of the crap and guilt.
Microwave popcorn is filled with yucky ingredients and is wildly overpriced. Popcorn kernels are cheap, making popcorn a budget snack. There’s no reason to buy it when homemade microwave popcorn is so easy to make!
You simply put 1/4 cup of kernels in a paper bag, fold the top over twice, and microwave on high for about two minutes or so, until you hear the popping slowing way down.
I prefer to make my popcorn on the stove.
How to Make Stove Top Popcorn
I put 2 Tablespoons coconut oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan on medium, and add 3 popcorn kernels. Put a lid on the pan. When the first kernel pops, add 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and put the lid back on. Shake gently. The popcorn will start popping. Listen carefully and remove from heat when the kernels almost stop popping. Add mineral salt and enjoy!
This recipe makes enough for a family, about 8-10 cups. Eat 2 cups and you’ll stay in E fuel mode.
Need an air-popper? Air poppers allow you to make popcorn with no fat at all!
p.s. Popcorn is a great snack and a healthy complex carbohydrate. It’s high in fiber. One cup of air-popped corn contains 30 calories and practically no fat. Go ahead and enjoy popcorn on THM – 4-5 cups at a time, with less than a teaspoon added fat and all the extra flavorings your imagination can come up with! Popcorn is another way to make sure you’re getting enough E meals and snacks.
This year, my husband and I are buying a house. Because this home was babied by the current owners (we close in a few weeks, then we’ll be the current owners!), I feel highly motivated to take care of this place.
I’m thankful to TrimHealthyMama for teaching me how to take care of my body and to eat “clean” every single day.
When it comes to my home, though, I’m challenged – I have 7 kids and we homeschool; that’s a lot of bodies inhabiting a place all day long.
I wrote on my other blog how I plan on tackling this and doing better with cleaning this year. And I shared a company and an awesome freebie that helps me in that endeavor and that you might love too!
I hope you had a wonderful year and met your weight loss goals with the help of TrimHealthyMama. I thought it would be fun to share the most popular posts on this blog for 2016. If you’re new here, you might have missed one of these.
(And if you’re new here, be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter by entering your email address to the right. You’ll get instant access to a free ALDI meal plan and other exclusive content to help you in your THM lifestyle.)
Are you wondering how to fill up when eating Trim Healthy Mama E Meals? That’s one of the challenges for people new to the plan. It was certainly the case with me.
Eating healthy, moderate carbohydrates (“E” fuel) is important for the metabolism and energy levels. This is what makes TrimHealthyMama different from low-carb diets. Low carb diets often cause fatigue because they can mess with thyroid function. This happened to me, which caused me to drop low-carb, thankfully I found THM! Eating low-carb for even a few days causes me to have debilitating fatigue. And no, it’s not “low carb flu”. It never goes away.
Eating carbohydrates in your E meals and snacks prevents this. But some THMers struggle with E fuels, either because they find that E meals don’t fill them up, or because fattier meals (our “S”, or satisfying fuels) are more delicious! But eating too many S meals can cause a weight loss plateau and even mood changes (you need healthy carbs for brain health, it’s the abuse of cheap carbs that cause problems).
Getting enough “E” meals and snacks also helps you stay in your budget, since E foods (rice, fruit, on-plan breads, sweet potatoes) are inexpensive.
Here are a few tips.
Trim Healthy Mama E Meals: how to fit E meals into your THM diet
Devote one meal or snack per day as your “E” fuel.
I love having cream in my morning coffee, so I eat an S fuel breakfast every day so as to avoid a crossover. Because of that, I chose my lunch as my E fuel, since in the middle of the day is when I need the most energy for taking care of and homeschooling my kids.
Yours may be different. Maybe a lighter E breakfast works for you (you can enjoy a Trimmy beverage with your breakfast if you like a hot caffeinated drink in the AM).
On-plan granola recipes, oats, egg white omelets with fruit on the side or fruity smoothies are all E fuels. Or try a brown rice pudding – cooked brown rice topped with a little almond milk, vanilla extract and a bit of stevia is delicious for breakfast, especially in cold weather.
I also love having E suppers occasionally since for me, supper usually is a lighter meal. (I prefer to eat most of my calories early in the day and have a light evening meal.)
Lately, I’ve been making a lot of pork chops or pork tenderloin with a fruity glaze. For example, yesterday I cooked pork chops in a pan with a little chopped pineapple and soy sauce for flavor, served over brown rice with half a small sweet potato. It was so delicious!
Pork tenderloin is also low in fat, quick and easy to cook, and perfect as a protein source with E meals. Last week I made “caramelized” pork tenderloin by glazing it with soy sauce, garlic and a bit of stevia and baking it. So yummy and easy with vegetables.
Trim Healthy Mama E Meals: How to fill up
Get enough protein with your E meals and snacks
Protein is the missing link in making sure your Trim Healthy Mama E meals sustain you!
If you have oatmeal for breakfast, try serving it with Cottage Berry Whip. Or have a Trimmy beverage (FP) with collagen and/or whey protein with your E snack. Have a serving of 0% Greek yogurt after your E lunch, with a dab of stevia and freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice as a light dessert.
For lunch, try tuna with hot sauce or lemon juice as your protein, or a fish fillet pan-fried in a skillet with just cooking spray.
Keep gummy snacks made with gelatin on hand for dessert after an E meal. They’re usually Fuel Pulls so add few calories, but provide protein to fill you up.
Chicken tenderloins are handy for easy, fast “E” lunches and dinners. These can be purchased inexpensively frozen in large bags. They’re easy to season (use any spice you like; from Cajun to Herbes de Provence to lemon-pepper, or make a simple mustard sauce with a little white wine) and cook fast.
Cook low-fat ground turkey (browned, then rinsed) and store in portion-sized containers for quick and easy protein for meals. Just add brown rice, beans or a sweet potato and you’re all set.
And don’t forget cottage cheese, one of my favorite super frugal proteins. I like to whip mine in the blender so it has a creamy mouth feel.
Brown rice (don’t forget this tip to cook brown rice in half the time, I always cook extra to reheat for the next day) with dinner, with a low-fat meat (pork chops, pork tenderloin, shrimp, chicken breast)
*Quinoa Goes Cajun
*Egg Roll in a Bowl (made with ground turkey, cooked and rinsed, served atop brown rice)
White Chicken Chili with beans
*Orange Creamsicle Shake (I loved this in summer especially, so refreshing!)
Apple slices dipped in *peanut junky butter
An orange for dessert (or a *Creamsicle shake)
Tacos with low-fat ground turkey and beans
Chili prepared with low-fat ground turkey
Vegetable soup with chicken breast and garbanzo beans or other white beans (such as a Minestrone soup)
Popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast
Stir-fried shrimp and veggies on brown rice
Brown rice for breakfast: warm it and add vanilla, stevia, almond milk, and egg whites for protein. It’s a THM-safe rice pudding.
4) Don’t forget your non-starchies when you eat E meals!
Eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables with your Trim Healthy Mama E meals is also key to filling your belly and not getting hungry again before 3 hours is up.
To make things easier, I keep frozen bags of veggies on hand. I often can’t take the time to wash and chop veggies, and I find that the convenience of pre-chopped frozen produce means I eat far more vegetables, which is a good thing!
Stocking “seasoning blend”, which is onion/bell pepper/celery, as well as “fajita blend” (onion and bell peppers) makes things easier and faster. I also like Asian mix (for stir fries), and Cali mix (carrots, cauli, broccoli) and Normandy mix (cauli, broccoli, carrots, squash). Bagged, pre-washed salads are also super easy and convenient.
With lunch, I often chop up cucumbers and tomatoes to eat with tuna (tuna is an E fuel as long as it’s not packed in oil, and I mix it with Tabasco instead of mayo). Bubbie’s pickles are my favorite to have with tuna or low-fat turkey (on a *Swiss bread sandwich), and they are probiotic foods. I love them, as they’re real pickles, made with a natural fermentation process instead of with vinegar.
What are your favorite E meals and snacks? How do you make sure you get enough E meals on THM?
This banana “cream” oatmeal is a clean E in TrimHealthyMama parlance. If you are in weight loss mode, you can choose to leave the banana out, adding flavor with banana extract. But if you’re in maintenance mode (or if bananas don’t cause you to gain), go ahead and add the banana!
I have always loved oatmeal, but it didn’t like me. After eating it, I would be ravenous within half an hour. With TrimHealthyMama, this is no longer the case. I can now enjoy oatmeal without my blood sugar crashing. The key, of course, is protein!
Banana “Cream” Oatmeal Recipe – THM “E”
Cook 1/2 cup (dry) oatmeal with 1 cup water, a dash of salt and 1/2 teaspoon butter or coconut oil.
While it’s cooking, put 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese and 1/4 banana into a blender (or, skip the banana and just use banana extract). Add 1/2 tsp gluccomannan and stevia to taste, a dash of banana and/or vanilla extract.
This recipe keeps me full until I can eat again 3 hours later. Enjoy it with your favorite Trimmy beverage.
Again, if you’re still losing and want to avoid bananas, leave it out entirely and just add the banana extract. Also, you can leave out the butter or coconut oil and instead add up to 1 Tablespoon chopped nuts.
How do you like your oatmeal a la TrimHealthyMama?
Note: You can get banana extract at WalMart and some other large grocery stores. I prefer to order my extracts from OliveNation because they have great prices on organic (with no propylene glycol!) flavorings. And to save money, I buy oats in bulk, shown below, from Amazon. This works out to be half the price of buying it even at the cheapest grocery store, per pound. Since my large family uses oatmeal every day, this is a smart move for us.
Today I want to share a video with you of some great deals I got on TrimHealthyMama-safe foods at BargainHunt. If you aren’t familiar with BargainHunt, you may want to watch this video first: Why I Love BargainHunt. It’s only 5 minutes long, and in it I share how the pricing system works and how to get great deals (and some of the super-cheap items I snagged!).
In this video, I share my TrimHealthyMama food haul. Mentioned in the video:
Organic Cacao Nibs – these are actually priced at $26, higher than I said in the video! I got this large bag for $3 at BargainHunt.
Grove is back with another one of their amazing deals. Grove offers non-toxic cleaning and personal care products, and I love this company! Their prices beat Amazon Prime, they offer free shipping to VIP customers, and are constantly offering free bonuses.
And for me, the biggest benefit of all: ordering my toothpaste, deodorant, cleaning products, lip balm, all-natural hand sanitizer (flu season is upon us – I keep one of these in my car and another large one in my kitchen) and organic skin care products online KEEPS ME OUT OF THE STORES this busy season.
Staying out of stores means I spend less money, I don’t have to schlep my 7 kids around who would rather stay home and play, and it eliminates those budget-busting impulse buys. Give Grove a try. You’ll love it.
I ordered my kit last week. And when I smelled the Orange Clove scent (and experienced an overwhelming desire to lick my countertops), I immediately went back to the site and ordered more!
This is their Mrs. Meyer’s seasonal scents special, and here’s what you get if you’re a new customer:
Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Hand Soap
Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Dish Soap
Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Multi-Surface Spray
Grove Collaborative Bubble Up
Shipping & VIP Trial
… a $35 value ?
Existing customers will still receive the Grove Bubble Up at 50% off. The kit is for a limited time and they have a limited number available, so don’t dilly-dally ok?
(I know this post doesn’t have anything to do with TrimHealthyMama, but hey – we THM types spend a lot of time in our kitchens washing dishes and cooking, no? Might as well make the experience a little more fun with some lovely-smelling cleaning products!)