You may believe that eating healthy, nutritious foods is impossible on a tight budget. In actuality, eating well while maintaining a budget is quite possible! While you may be tempted to resort to spending money on cheap not-as-nutritious items, this can backfire on your health. Over time, a steady diet of chips, soda, and highly processed convenience foods can pack on the pounds, raise cholesterol and blood pressure, and could earn you a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
It actually makes the most sense to maximize your budget food by spending your money on the best nutritious AND affordable foods. When this dynamic combination is used, not only is your food dollars spent wisely but it’s a win-win for your overall well-being.
Here are 8 examples of foods as you start you on your journey of eating well on a budget:
This is actually one of the most economical food purchases you can make. Rich in heart-healthy fats and several vitamins and minerals, peanut butter is always a winner. A 2-tablespoon serving contains up to 8 grams of protein and 2 to 3 grams of fiber.
Meal ideas: Besides the obvious of peanut butter sandwiches, this spread can be used in many other ways. Add to smoothies, pancake batter, in cookies, or as a delicious fruit dip. You can even ladle it into a soup to add sweetness and body.
READ: Peanut Butter Crazy!
Beans and lentils
Be sure to buy beans and lentils – one of the most economical and nutritious foods at your grocery store. Buying them dry is cheaper than canned but either way, is still easy on your wallet. Beans and lentils are an excellent high fiber and plant protein source containing important minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, and zinc. They are also a rich source of folic acid, thiamine, niacin, and B6.
Canned beans can be high in sodium. To fix that, dump canned beans in a colander rinsing them with cold running water up to a minute to wash away quite a bit of the sodium content.
Meal ideas: The versatility of beans and lentils is endless when thinking about eating well. Use them in soups, salads, salsa or bean dips, chilis, tacos, casseroles, brownies, or add to hamburger to add bulk really making your food dollar work.
Meal ideas: Cook them as is, or add them to soups or stews, casseroles, into a vegetable omelet, or into stir-fry recipes.
A hearty, wholesome food, oats are not only economical but also boost your heart health. Studies have shown whole oats help lower blood cholesterol levels plus their fiber content helps slow glucose absorption helping those with diabetes manage blood glucose better.
Meal ideas: Oatmeal is always a perennial favorite but also consider using oats in cookies, bars, bread, or in a homemade granola recipe.
One of nature’s most ideal foods, eggs are healthy, filling, and full of nutrients. High in muscle-building protein, lutein for eye health, choline for brain health, and one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D, eggs do it all. The price of eggs can fluctuate due to the range of eggs available – cage-free, organic, conventional. The best thing to know is you purchase what fits your budget without any guilt as all eggs sold are nutritious.
Thanks to its fiber content, here’s an inexpensive food filling you up by slowing down digestion. For anyone with celiac disease or needing to avoid gluten, rice is a great option. Plus it’s a good source of magnesium and manganese. Quick to make, rice spreads your food dollar since it goes with just about any meal and is often a family favorite.
Meal ideas: Goes great with ground hamburger with frozen vegetables thrown in, burritos, tacos, as a side dish, or even as brown rice pudding.
Known for their extraordinary versatility, potatoes provide a bigger nutritional bang for your buck than you may think. High in vitamin C offering 45 percent of the recommended daily value, 18 percent of fiber, and 18 percent of potassium, potatoes are also fat free. What makes the calorie and fat content spike is when they are fried.
Meal ideas: Potatoes can be prepared using healthier methods – roasted, mashed, baked or used in various soups and stews.
Bananas and Apples
Meal ideas: Both taste great as is but creativity is always fun – Sliced bananas or chopped apples go well with oatmeal, added to yogurt, or in a pancake batter. Bananas are a perfect smoothie addition while apples can be baked or made into a healthy crisp.