IMG_8894I am SO excited to share with you that I was chosen to be one of Lisa Leake’s ambassadors for her newest cookbook that launches Tuesday, August 14th. It’s called “100 Days of Real Food on a budget” and it was the perfect place to start in my family’s pursuit of consuming real foods. One of my best friends has been following Lisa’s blog for YEARS and saw the callout for the ambassadors on Instagram and told me I should go for it. I was over the moon to actually be one of those chosen!

I’m going to start my review by giving you my background in the kitchen. I am an extremely novice cook and experience a lot of anxiety when trying new recipes. I typically have to invest a lot to gather all the necessary ingredients because my pantry is not well stocked so I worry that I’m essentially flushing cash if I mess it up. This left little room for error and added even more stress to my cooking.

My husband travels a lot for work and expressed to me earlier this year that he really wanted to start eating healthier home cooked meals when at all possible. I had recently stopped working so I thought now was as good of a time as any to sharpen my skills and gain some confidence in the kitchen.

We used a meal delivery service for months as a stepping stone to help me bridge the gap in making meals from scratch. It was super helpful by forcing me to try new foods and adapting to the new evening schedule cooking needs.

During this time I learned I actually love to cook. My kids were happier because they received more quality play time with their dad during the week, time they normally would be forced to be quiet while waiting for dinner at a restaurant.  An additional unforeseen perk, I’m an introvert so I loved having a few minutes to myself to chop vegetables, cook and clean up the dishes all while listening to Norah Jones.

Honestly, it became my happy place, which probably makes every feminist roll their eyes, but it’s truly how I felt. After almost 8 months I felt ready to spread my wings and start meal planning on my own but I didn’t have any idea where to begin.

Enter Lisa’s new book. It honestly couldn’t have had better timing for us. Andy and I had just refocused on exercising more and wanting to eat foods that actually make us feel good. We also wanted to find a sustainable meal plan that wasn’t a diet but a lifestyle change. I’m not sure we’ll ever be 100% whole foods but we will at least be closer to 95% rather than 40%!

I am a creative and a mom, so my mind jumps from task to task a million times a day without ever finishing a complete thought. Imagine your open tabs in Safari, it’s basically an inside look at all the things running through my brain at any given time. The planning process required for weekly meal planning felt completely daunting and unattainable for me. I basically break down at just the thought of taking on something so organized.

“100 Days of Real Food on a Budget” has a different weekly meal plan for each season and even includes the shopping list with the total price of all the ingredients. Lisa shared in her book that the response to her first books was overwhelming. People from all over the world wanted to cut out processed foods but had no idea how! But in the end they also shared they loved her ideas but it was just too expensive.

In her new book, Lisa made a huge effort to figure out how to cut down on the cost and create meal plans that are healthy but also extremely budget friendly. I decided to do an experiment and buy all the ingredients for her weekly summer meal plan. This meant I also had to add in the price of stocking my pantry with some basics.

I will be the first to admit the experience was a little frightening for me. During my time at my usual grocery store, I learned that I do not know my way around the produce section once I get past the fruit. It was pretty eye opening and further demonstrated our need to make this change. Once I filled up my cart I was nervous about how much the total cost would be and felt myself starting to sweat. What had I gotten myself into?!

I couldn’t believe it but the total for my purchase at my local Harris Teeter was only $123!! I did not buy the dairy products referenced in her shopping guide, I will have to make substitutions for those recipes because our family is dairy free but even with the necessary pantry items it did not blow our weekly budget. Huge win! She also did the comparison shop for you, I just wanted to test out the prices at the grocery store closest to my home.

If time is a concern for you, I’d order your groceries online. Harris Teeter offers this service for only $5 and it saves SO MUCH time. If you plan to use the same meal guide the whole summer, you’d only have to create the online shopping list once and then just hit repurchase every week. It could seriously be that easy.

Tonight we tried her recipe for Lettuce Chicken Wraps. On the recipe page she writes, “The first time I got my kids to eat lettuce was by wrapping some good stuff inside and serving it as a small wrap. I told them if they wanted the filling they had to eat the lettuce on the outside as well, and it worked!”  

I accidentally read this part out loud while my 5 year old, who previously has turned up her nose to lettuce/salad, and she responded, “Ok Mom, I’ll try it!” And she did! She loved both the filling and the lettuce and ended up eating 4 more pieces of lettuce afterwards. My jaw might have hit the floor.

If your family is looking for a way to make healthier lifestyle choices on a budget, I highly encourage you to give Lisa’s new book a shot. The meal planning guide is SO helpful and as she promised, it truly won’t break the bank. It almost sounds too good to be true but it’s not. Pick up your copy of “100 Days of Real Food on a Budget” at your local bookstore or pre-order it on Amazon today. Consider it a $24 investment in your family’s health, something you’ll never regret!

I will post more recipes as I go along but I will leave you with this goody as an easy snack for you and your kids. I was hoping to make them today too but realized I’m not actually Wonder Woman, try as I might, and ran out of time.






P.S. I almost forgot to mention, Lisa is a local mom who lives in Charlotte, NC! I first saw her featured in Spring 2018 issue of a little publication called The Magnolia Journal and my friend quickly told me I had to start following Lisa, ASAP. I figured Doherty was probably right because if Joanna loves her, I probably should too. Am I right?  But seriously, to find more incredible resources from Lisa, check out her other books,  blog or go join her large following on Instagram and Facebook.  

Happy Eating!




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