I met Meg Wolff while recruiting Maine bloggers for The Ellsworth American. She lives in the Portland area and has beaten cancer twice. She has done this by completely changing her lifestyle and outlook with a macrobiotic diet. What makes Meg wonderful besides the fact that she is a intelligent, articulate, and upbeat is the fact that she doesn’t push the macrobiotic lifestyle in an aggressive way. She is an advocate but believes that everyone is capable of making healthy meaningful changes to their lives. I asked her a few questions about eating healthy on a budget. If you want to read more about Meg, you can check out her website and also her blog.

How much is your grocery bill? Was this more or less than before you went macrobiotic?
My grocery bill? Well, let’s just say that it is the my most important investment! That said, grocery bill isn’t a whole lot more than when I ate a standard American diet, but what I buy now has paid out with long-term benefits. The best way to keep the cost down is to stay with the whole grains, beans and veggies, fruit and cut out junk and processed foods or limit them. A summer garden for veggies can be very economical.

Meg_home I live in a remote location where it’s hard to get fresh food, especially fresh organic food. What foods are easy to stock up on (and freeze or can)? What should I be able to find most places?
By local fruits and vegetables in season. Though not organic family farm usually use less pesticides than agribusinesses. Buy and freeze local blueberries.

What are five food items you think every kitchen should have in its pantry?
Five pantry items? That’s easy … brown rice, any kind of dried bean, good quality sea salt, tea (I like twig tea), some kind of a good quality pickle. Of course I could add more.

Of course, there is not only making bad choices on what to eat but how it’s prepared (example: french fries). What’s one bad food preparation habit that really gets your goat?
Not too many habits that get my goat as I ignore things like French fries, but it does bug me all the marketing of junk and fatty foods with the epidemic of childhood obesity, diabetes and cancer rates soaring.

What are some ways you sneak in nutrients into meals and snacks?
I don’t sneak in nutrients anymore. Everyone in my family now love nutritious whole foods, but I recently saw Jessica Seinfeld on Oprah and she has a book out that looks great if you want to take this approach with kids. Her book is called deceptively delicious. Personally I think the key is limiting the “junk” brought into the house. If it isn’t available, you don’t eat it. That’s what I’ve found.

What’s your favorite recipe that’s filling, nutritious, delicious, and cheap (preferably something with five or less ingredients)?
Please see the recipe below … I think it fits the bill! But, you might serve it on brown rice instead of polenta (corn) to keep economical!

2 cups dry kidney beans, soaked overnight or all day (Forget to soak them? Fresh is best, but occasionally canned is OK.)
Spring or filtered tap water IMG_0122
1/3 cup apple butter (I use Eden brand which contains only apples & apple concentrate, no added sugar)
1/4 cup grain mustard (I use Annie’s Organic brand, which is gluten-free)
1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
A postage size piece of kombu

Wash and soak two cups of kidney beans overnight (or at least 6-8 hours). Discard soaking water and refill to cover beans by approximately one inch. Add the kombu. Bring the pot to a boil on a high flame, turn to low flame, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

If adding optional onion, add it at to the pot this time. Add sea salt, apple butter and mustard. Simmer for 10 more minutes.

Garnish with parsley or cilantro. Serves 4-6.

Optional: Cut 1 onion into quarters and added to beans while cooking, or … for a bit of added oil … saute in 1 tablespoon of olive oil before adding to beans.

You can read more great healthy eating ideas at Meg’s blog.

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