Monday, March 31, 2014

Eating Real Food on a Shoestring Budget

Doing A Lot with A Little

Rewind for a few moments back to September of last year, I sat next to the Director of Counseling Services of Cerro Coso Community College at our community's Veterans' Stand Down event. She was intrigued about my deliverance of teaching the importance of eating antioxidants (through real food) to those that visited my L.E.A.N. table. She asked me if I'd consider talking about nutrition at her event in the Spring. So, here I am getting prepared for the nutrition talk where I will share the foundation of L.E.A.N. (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition) and I will cover several topics then end it with my signature green smoothie. The event will be held the first Friday in April. 

In thinking about this group of students I wanted to share Real Food Recipes using every day ingredients that small towns, food deserts, and fixed and low-income families have access to. Some recipes have substitution options if a particular ingredient isn't accessible or affordable where you reside. This is a collection of recipes I've gathered with written permission to share. 

I must mention that some of the recipes (namely condiments) below you can buy at the store already made. However, if you're wanting to make wholesome foods from scratch (with ease), you'll find that making them will cost about the same (sometimes less) albeit sometimes more but you get to decide if it's the direction you want to take. With that said, making your own can yield more food and it will almost always taste better! Many of the foods we buy at the store that is already made for us includes additional ingredients, primarily preservatives, that aren't really good for us. So when we can we ought to opt for homemade

Stocks & Condiments

2 Ingredient Chicken Broth via 20 Something Allergies 
Creamy White Sauce (secret ingredient) via Raia's Recipes

Chicken Broth (from scraps + a frugal recipe) via How To Just About Anything

Crockpot Chicken Broth via All Done Monkey

Homemade Barbecue Sauce via Raia's Recipes
Homemade Chocolate via Economies of Kale
Homemade Ranch-ish Dressing via Raia's Recipes
Homemade Rice / Coconut Milks via Raia's Recipes

Homemade Tomato Sauce via Economies of Kale 
Tomato Paste in 2 Easy Steps via A Happy Health Nut

Smoothies & Snacks

Blueberry Pie Smoothie (you can sub vanilla extract) via Good Girl Gone Green
Chocolate Covered Bananas via Conveying Awareness
Garbanzo Bean Poppers via Conveying Awareness
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie via Raia's Recipes

Pumpkin Smoothie (using canned or pumpkin leftovers) via The Provision Room
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus via Raia's Recipes
Spinach & Applesauce Smoothie via Raia's Recipes


Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie via Raia's Recipes

Banana Pancakes (can be made without gelatin) via Paleo Gone Sassy

Crustless Veggie Quiche (sausage can be omitted) via Conveying Awareness
Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce via Economies of Kale
Egg "Muffins" via Conveying Awareness

Egg Scramble (Paleo) via Paleo Gone Sassy
Fabulous Frittata via Lil Suburban Homestead

Meal Planning

Real Food Meal Planning via Don't Waste the Crumbs
Frugal Meal Plan (Family of 4; 3 meals/day; 1-week = $80) via We Got Real
How to Meal Plan with Tara via We Got Real
Meal Planning When Broke via We Got Real

Lunch or Dinner  

30-Minute Tamale Pie via the Real Food Girl: Unmodified
(This is a very budget friendly dish and all the food can be found in a food dessert (they can use canned and boxed versions of the beans and veggies in the dish OR organic fresh if they have access. You can also substitute butter in place of ghee.)
Brazilian Cheese Bread via Inculture Parent
Cheesey Mexi-Lentil Macaroni via Don't Waste the Crumbs

Chicken, Pasta & Veggies in under 20 minutes via Conveying Awareness
Classic Vegetable Lasagna via Family Gone Healthy

Crockpot Chicken for fast weekday meals via Raising Generation Nourished

Easy Lentils & Rice via Family Gone Healthy 

Frittata (can omit kelp and use regular milk) via Real Food RN
Hearty Lentil Soup via The Organic Kitchen 

Kid-Friendly Vegetable Soup via Raising Generation Nourished
Nourishing Cabbage Soup via Busy Mama 911

One Pot Spicy Chicken Corn Chowder via the Real Food Girl: Unmodified (Recipe can be made without chicken to make it more affordable.)
Savory Collard Greens via Real Food Carolyn 

Spaghetti with Collard Greens via Conveying Awareness
Taco Soup via Conveying Awareness

Nutrition Tips

Avoiding HFCS via Conveying Awareness 
Dear Mom Who Can't Afford Organic Food via The Humbled Homemaker
Eating Well on a Budget {Guest Post} via The Good Long Road

Healthy Food at the Dollar Store via Don't Waste the Crumbs
How to Eat on Less than $4.50 a day {Guest Post} via Conveying Awareness
March on with Nutrition via Conveying Awareness
Organic Food on a Budget (buying & preparing) via Homemaking with Heart

Portion Control the L.E.A.N. Way via Conveying Awareness
What is a Brainy Breakfast via Conveying Awareness

Ridgecrest (CA) Resources

Abundant Harvest Organics (delivers in-season produce 2x/week at a fee)

Resources for Meals (& Other Great Finds) in Ridgecrest, CA
As of May 2014
Compiled by Jessica David of Conveying Awareness

Community Garden 
This garden is ran by volunteers which provide organic and non-GMO vegetables to local families in need. Contact We Love Ridgecrest on Facebook. If you know of a family in need that can use fresh vegetables from the garden, message the administrators on the Facebook page with the name and phone number with permission to contact. If you're looking for an opportunity to volunteer your time, contact them on Facebook. They are in need of more helping hands. 

Community Nutrition Program – “Meals on Wheels”
Delivers Prepared Lunches Mondays through Fridays.
Prescription is required from your doctor. 
Contact: Tracy - 760-375-5438

Desert Christian Center
Offers Free Meals at Love Unplugged (April – October) at Leroy Jackson Park usually on the 2nd & 4th Sundays of the month. Times may vary depending on season (5p and later in the peak of the summer season). This is a family event. 
Contact: Mary – 760-375-9954
Additional Information:
Food is given away on the 4th Sundays (non-perishables). "Every time people come, they'll be fed." ~ D.C.C.

Grace Lutheran Church
Food Pantry (non-perishables) M-F; 8a-5p
Contact: Amy or Nicole – 760-375-9768

IWV Family Resource Center
Clinica Sierra Vista
825 N. Norma St. 
Contact: Kandi Smith, Michele Guemes 760-375-4357 
M-F 8:30-5:30 
The center does not provide food; however, they are able to assist 1-2x per year (if they have the items available) with emergency diapers, personal hygiene supplies, cleaning supplies and in some cases Kern Regional Bus Pass to Bakersfield with proof of a doctor's appointment there (bus pass is 1x per year only). They also have a list of resources that they refer people to access resources.
Additional Information:

Their program representative for the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is Jenelle Frey from UCCE, Kern County. She is her phone number is 760-499-4743 and her email is She is out of the office a great deal of time so email may be her best contact method.

Mystique, Patrice Johnson, Chef
You may subscribe via email and a sample menu will be sent to you weekly. (If you do not have email access, you may call her and she will deliver the menu.) The meals are prepared in advance and can be reheated for enjoyment. The deliveries are made on Wednesdays or Thursdays weekly. An electronic invoice will be sent to you prior to delivery. The food containers are reused and will be picked up at a later time. There is not a requirement to order weekly. You can order one meal or as many as you'd like.

Ridgecrest Regional Hospital 
Provides Hot Dinners Mondays through Sundays
Special Diets are Accommodated; $3 per meal. 
Contact: Marcy (Secretary) – 760-375-3783
Contact: Amy Fuller (R.D.) – 760-375-3781
Additional Information: 
Amy Fuller, RD is covered by insurance if diabetic. If no insurance, the following fees are reduced by 25% - Initial visit is $128 and subsequent visits are $62. These rates may increase by 3% every February. 
RRH Wellness Resource Center: Contact: Tera Moorhead at 760-499-3825.
This is a free service to the community. They offer nutrition education to adults and children and can go into the classroom and do nutrition/health lessons as well as speak at meetings/gatherings. The Wellness Resource Center has brochures on health and wellness and a library of educational books for checking out. They also provide the community with the healthy LOOKout publication, the annual RRH health fair and free seminars called Life Lessons. They are located in the North Medical Plaza at RRH. 

Ridgecrest United Methodist Church 
Offers Free Hot Meal Every Friday from 5p-6p; 639 N. Norma St.
Contact: Tara – 760-375-7434
Additional Information:
Offers Food Baskets 2x a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Salvation Army
Commodities Program - Third Thursday of every month from 8a-11a. (Bring picture ID.) 
Contact: 760-371-7575
Additional Information: 
Emergency Food Service (Allowed: 3x a year) 
Monday through Thursday 9a-11a.  
If funds are available, they can help with utilities (1-2x a year).

Sanderson’s Health Services
Offers meal preparation at your home (and other private care services). 
Contact: Michelle – 760-375-4511
Additional Information:
A 4-hour minimum is required. Personal attendance services is at $22 per hour. CNA services are $23.95 per hour. Every July, the rates will increase by a couple dollars per hour. 

Senior Services of the IWV
Contact:  Barbara or any of the three staff
They provide in-home care (transportation, housekeeping) for seniors 55+ and the disabled (any age). Service fees are based on monthly household income. They offer a support group for 24-hour caregivers on the first Tuesday of each month at 11a. They provide referral information; help with taxes during tax season. They also have an equipment loan program for up to 3 months. 

Seventh-day Adventist
555 Las Flores Ave, Ridgecrest
(Potluck after service every Saturday. Call for details.)

Sierra View Home Care
Offers meal preparation at your home (and other private care services). 
Contact: Kathy – 760-446-8800
Additional Information:
A 4-hour minimum is required at $20 per hour. $23 an hour for two people.

St. Ann’s Church 
Food Bank (non-perishable foods; sometimes fresh foods like salads, breads, and meats); offered M-F from 9a-11a.
Contact: 760-375-2110 
Individuals can come in once a week. 
Additional Information:
Contact: Jessica Fine (9a-11a on Flex Fridays) 
They are gathering resources from members at the church and in the community to assist with: utilities, medical, food, finance, employment, education, law, community programs, transportation, prayer, and more. Contact the church office and leave a message. They will get back to you at the next open flex Friday. 

Other Helpful Resources

10 [More] Supermarket Products You Can Make at Home via Attainable-Sustainable 

As always, start with one food item that you'd like to make from scratch. At one time, I thought that making homemade foods was 1) from a box from the store (I made it at home!) or 2) too difficult! The initial successes lie in looking for a recipe that has ingredients you have on hand or have seen in the store and are within your budget. Build from there and after awhile you may surprise yourself with the foods that you can make at home and from scratch!

Choose, eat, and live well! =)


  1. This is a great post full of all kinds of wonderful ideas! I am always looking for ways to save on my grocery bill. Thank you for including my Nourishing Cabbage Soup in your post. i am pinning this post!

    1. Thanks Amanda! I am glad that you could submit something so deliciously simple - I like cabbage a lot. Be well! =)

  2. Awesome ideas! I'm going to share this with one of my clients...we were talking earlier this week about eating on a budget and how hard it can be!

    1. Thanks for sharing. Small steps, when meaningful, will create everlasting change in our wellness journeys!

  3. this is a great list of real food! thanks for sharing!!