Eat Healthy, Cheap!
Get Your Vegetables on a Budget!
I've uttered these words myself, "It is too expensive to eat healthy." It's a good excuse for eating off of the value menu at my favorite fast food joint. No one wants to survive off of a head of lettuce, which, though cheap, has very little nutritional value. That being said, there are many things you can eat that are good for you while staying within budget. Here are a few things to try.
1. Canned Pumpkin ($1.79 per 15 oz can) - You might be thinking, "What on earth am I going to make with this?" Well, you'd be surprised. You can make all kinds of things with canned pumpkin. I've even made chili with it. Believe me, I was skeptical, but you can't taste the pumpkin. Just don't buy pumpkin pie in a can; it's the puree you want. Search for healthy recipes with pumpkin puree and you'll find about a million. Research shows that women who eat orange vegetables have a lower risk of breast cancer. They contain beta-carotine, and vitamins A and C. Not only are these great for your health, but they're good for your skin, too.
2. Beans ($1 to $1.29 per 15 oz can) - Beans, beans they're good for your heart....ahem...well, they are really good for you. Stick with kidney, black, pinto and navy beans. They have fiber, antioxidants and they keep your stomach full. They are also easy to add to virtually any recipe. Find them with lower sodium, or rinse them and you'll cut back on sodium by about 30%.
3. Whole Grain Pasta ($1 to $1.50 per 13 oz box) - It's better for you than regular pasta and has about six grams of fiber per serving. Don't cook it too long or you might end up with a mushy texture. Some people find it to be an acquired taste, but stick with it and add sauce, vegetables and lean meat to help with flavor.
4. Greek Yogurt ($1 to $1.29 per six oz container) - The best thing about this stuff as compared to other yogurts is the protein. It has about double the protein and it will keep you fuller longer. Plain Greek yogurt is best because of the lower sugar content. You can add a little honey, fresh fruit or maybe some nuts for a healthy snack.
5. Canned Fish (Price varies, but usually under $3 per can) - Yes, canned fish is just about as good as fresh. Fresh can be so expensive. Tuna, sardines and salmon are all packed with Omega-3's and a study found that eating three servings a week can reduce the chance of heart attacks. Choose canned fish packed in water, not oil, and try recipes that leave out frying it or smothering it with mayo. Sodium can be reduced by rinsing the fish as well.
6. Miscellaneous Vegetables and Fruit, in a Can - Gasp! (Varies in price) - I know fresh is best, but fresh can get very expensive. Some people just can't afford it. What is better? Eating it from a can or not eating it at all? Canned tomatoes actually might be better than fresh tomatoes. Double gasp! Apparently, canned tomatoes contain more lycopene which has been shown to lower cancer risk and protect the heart. Fresh, green vegetables that are stored for a week or more are also more susceptible to vitamin C loss than canned vegetables. Of course, don't choose fruit packed in sugary syrup or you are missing the point. Also, rinse them well to reduce salt intake.
7. Steel Cut Oats ($3.50 per box) - The price depends on brand and size, but it is comparable to a box of 10 packs of instant oatmeal. Steel cut oats are not as processed as rolled oats and therefore contain about two additional grams of fiber and more nutritional value in general than rolled oats. The downside is that you'll need to allow for extra cooking time. There are crock pot oatmeal recipes that can help with this issue. Set it before bed and wake up to instant breakfast!
8. Baked Sweet Potatoes ($2 per steam in the bag) - The first time I saw these (in the produce section) you would have thought I'd won the lottery. I hate to bake potatoes in the oven because they take so long and they taste funny out of the microwave. The steam in the bag sweet potatoes are petite, and come about five to a bag. They cook just right in about eight minutes and they're so convenient. I think $2 for this nutritious side dish is a steal.
In addition to these tips, try frozen vegetables if you can't afford fresh. Many times you can procure frozen veggies for under a dollar a bag. Or, try the paper which sometimes has coupons that will cut the price by 50 cents to a dollar as opposed to the fresh vegetables which have no coupons and must be bought by the pound. Of course, I like fresh veggies and fruits, and I buy them when they're on sale or I can afford them, just like everyone else!