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Shopping on a Budget: Healthy Living Market Spring Challenge

April 20, 2015

Remember a couple posts back I mentioned that Healthy Living Market had announced they’ll be cutting down their prices to be more competitive with other local grocery stores?

Soon after I received that press release, I was invited to participate in a little challenge they were working on to help spread the word about their lower prices.

The challenge? Well.. it was to purchase the ingredients to feed a dinner party of four for under $30.

Here’s how it worked:

  • We were given $30 dollars to spend on anything in the store, excluding seasonings or condiments (typical pantry staples that most of us have already at home).
  • We had 15 minutes to run around the store to pick up our ingredients.
  • Our goal was to purchase the ingredients for a spring inspired meal that would feed four people.

As soon as I got the invite, I was sucked in. I knew that I could easily make this happen, with a unique recipe that uses really different ingredients.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

At first, I thought maybe I should make a roasted chicken with spring vegetables. But then I thought, that’s really not very original, and anyone can come up with a chicken recipe on the fly.

So instead I did some research, and I came across an awesome looking spring roasted vegetable taco with quinoa and guacamole.

Before I get into the recipe, it’s important to note that the list of ingredients relied heavily on the bulk section of Healthy Living Market, as well as their fresh produce. In fact, there was really only one item that I didn’t purchase from those two areas.

If you haven’t explored the bulk section of Healthy Living Market before, you certainly should soon. I’ve been obsessed with it since they first opened, because you can control the quantities in which you’re purchasing. Don’t need an entire bag of flour? No problem. Don’t want to buy a tub of oatmeal? They’ve got that too. And what about those dried fruits? The organic dried mango they have legit rocks my world. It’s a must try!

Okay so back to this challenge.

My list of ingredients went a little something like this:

  • 3/4 cup of quinoa
  • green onions
  • asparagus
  • fennel
  • avocado
  • lime
  • green onion
  • dill
  • radishes
  • tortillas (corn or flour)

In 15 minutes time, I was able to get all of these ingredients, PLUS a quarter of a watermelon, two tomatoes, and an organic basil plant to make an appetizer for my meal as well.

Healthy Living Market Spring Challenge

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

Yes, I know, I’m a boss.

Guess how much I spent for all that food? $29.99.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

I STILL had a penny to spare after buying all of this:

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

The great thing is, most meals are not THIS heavy on produce, which is where a lot of my costs went. There are also other opportunities to save on little things, for example I could have gotten pre-made guacamole from HLM that would have been less expensive than buying two avocados and the ingredients for guacamole.

The moral of the story is, it is possible to buy healthy ingredients for not a lot of money, especially at Healthy Living Market.

So now that you’ve gotten the low down on the competition, it’s time to check out the complete ingredients and recipes:

Tomato and Watermelon Salad:


2 tomatoes
1/4-1/2 of a watermelon
6 basil leaves


Dice the tomatoes and watermelon and combine in large bowl. Take three basil leaves and do a rough chop to mix them in the salad. Once combined, top with three remaining basil leaves for a sweet presentation (shown below). Sprinkle with kosher salt:

Watermelon Salad

Spring Vegetable Tacos (Recipe by Laura Wright)


3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed

for roasted veg
1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 bulb of fennel, cored + cut into 2 inch lengths
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper

for the guac
1 ripe avocado, peeled + pitted
juice of 1 lime
1 green onion, sliced
3 sprigs of dill, leaves chopped

for assembly
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
12 small corn tortillas, warmed
hot sauce to serve


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

Place the rinsed quinoa, a pinch of salt and 1 1/2 cups of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer until all of the liquid is gone, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the asparagus and fennel pieces on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables to coat and slide the tray into the oven. Roast until the vegetables are just soft, about 12-13 minutes.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

While vegetables are roasting, mash the avocado in a small bowl with the lime juice, sliced green onion and some salt and pepper. Once you have a chunky puree, check it for seasoning. Adjust accordingly and mash in the chopped dill. Set aside.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

Start assembling tacos: lay a warm tortilla down and top it with 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa. Top the quinoa with a small handful of the roasted vegetables and a tablespoon or two of the guacamole. Finish with a few radish slices and hot sauce if you like. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Healthy Living Spring Challenge

Roasted vegetables tacos

Roasted Veggie Tacos

Roasted vegetable tacos

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  • Reply RogerK April 20, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    That sounds great, Ashley, but I was waiting for the competition to then ask you to go to your choice of a competing market and try to purchase the identical items for less. Now THAT would have been another press release!

  • Reply Tom L April 21, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Great work! And the best part is the produce you purchased most likely came from the surrounding areas vs. shipped in from California, Central and South America, etc. Keeping the $$$ in the community!

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