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Once in a while, there’s nothing wrong with splurging on some tasty outside meals.
The real challenge comes in when you try and stick to a budget specifically for healthy foods.
As you read about the healthy foods on this post, you’ll realize that even the healthiest ones don’t cost as much as you thought.
When doing your grocery, it’s possible to save money with the right apps and a comprehensive list of frugal foods to buy.
Without further ado, here is a comprehensive list of some of the tastiest nutritional foods you can stock up on without worrying about costs:
Beans are probably the most common leguminous foods in the world.
Not only are they tasty, but they’re also quite affordable.
There are several types of beans in the market to choose from. The most common types include the great northern beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and black beans. These four bean types make up the majority of bean recipes.
If you were to compare bean protein to that of meat, one thing that stands out is the price. Beans cost way less per pound.
Beans can either be sold dried or canned. Canned beans are easy to incorporate into any meal in your diet, are cheap and are also very tasty.
Beans like pinto beans cost less ($0.34 per serving) while others like cranberry beans may cost a little more ($3.99 for 1 lb). It all depends on your financial capability. They’re all still affordable, but some are higher priced than others.
However cheap they may be, people shun the idea of having a meal with beans because, supposedly, they cause gas. It’s true that beans bring about abdominal reactions but only if you take in more than what’s required.
Beans, when taken in small amounts (typically half a cup) are excellent protein sources. Adding beans gradually to your diet should help get rid of its effects on the stomach.
Beans are highly versatile. They work splendidly as a complex carbohydrate as well as the main dish. You can also mix them with side dishes such as soups or salads for that extra nutritional punch.
As far as using beans in recipes goes, refried black bean tostadas are by far the tastiest combination. You could eat the dish five days in a row and still want more.
With an average cost of $1.64 per head, broccoli is an affordable vegetable that bursts with almost every nutrient that’s essential to the human body.
Broccoli is known to boost the immune system, considering it’s mostly rich in vitamin C. By taking one cup a day, you’re supplementing your body with 135% of antioxidants.
Most people don’t know that the stem is edible. As a result, they wastefully throw them away and cook the flowerets instead. Broccoli stems work great, especially when used for Broccoli Soup.
As you eat the flowerets, just make sure you keep the stems safely stored up until you have just the right amount to make soup.
How does one tell which broccoli is just right? Simply select the ones with compact heads. The stalks should also be young, firm and tender. If the leaves are still on the stem, they should be firm and dark green.
To save money on broccoli, you should be able to keep them fresh for longer without having to buy them every other day. You should either use them up before they go bad or purchase the Reynolds sealer for only ten bucks.
Also, if you have a kitchen garden, don’t limit yourself to growing broccoli. And even if you don’t have one, you can get them at great deals at your local grocery store when it’s in season.
3. Sweet Potatoes
When you walk past the produce department at the grocery store, you’ve most likely walked right past the sweet potato section. Big mistake.
Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest and most affordable foods you can find at the store. They retail for approximately ninety-two cents a pound. Around the Thanksgiving season, sweet potatoes become more accessible than ever – up to 0.30 per pound.
Large sweet potatoes can be purchased at a discounted price to make room for fresh ones.
Sweet potatoes can be paired with just about any dish you have in mind. The best part is that they’re relatively easy to prepare; cook them for long periods by either roasting, baking or roasting.
You’ll know they’re ready when the skin starts to appear crinkly, and they’re incredibly soft.
To the nutritious aspect, sweet potatoes are high in fiber, copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin B3, niacin and pantothenic acid. When cooked, they have a modest amount of protein – each cup contains about four grams.
Sweet potatoes also have a dietary pattern that’s antioxidant rich. In Okinawa, Japan, locals can live up to a hundred years since sweet potatoes are a significant part of their diet.
When shopping for sweet potatoes, make sure it’s 100% fresh and store them in a cool and dry area. Be sure to use them within a one to two weeks of purchase.
Oatmeal is a wholesome, inexpensive grain that’s rich in carbohydrates, fibers and a whole load of other body-efficient nutrients. Oatmeal is a great staple for baking or breakfast.
Did you know that it’s more affordable to buy oats rather than oatmeal? Gather up hulled oat pieces, soak them overnight, then blend them with some water. Compared to rolled oats, hulled oats are fresher, tastier and more abundant in soluble fiber.
Depending on where you shop for oats, prices will most likely vary based on the kind of oats you settle for (instant, rolled or steel-cut). On Amazon, you can purchase a box of Quaker Oats oatmeal for about twenty bucks.
If you prefer instant oatmeal, on the other hand, be sure to check out store brands. They have a better taste and are easy on the pocket. There are tons of recipes to make your own instant oatmeal.
When you make your own oatmeal at home, you stand a chance of saving even more money. There are basically two ways of preparing oatmeal; the one you settle for will depend on how much time you wish to spend.
The first method involves making instant oatmeal using regular oats. This will give you the best savings along with the option of choosing to process a bag of oats at a time or a week’s supply of oatmeal.
Using the second method, you can make instant oatmeal in one minute or less. In the long run, using either of these methods is a legit way to save cash. Also, you won’t have to worry about harmful additives or preservatives.
Be sure to store your oats in air-tight containers to keep them safe from critters and moisture.
5. Brown Rice
Brown rice is easy to make and can be mixed with just about any meal. It’s particularly rich in fiber and contains essential minerals like manganese and magnesium.
If you or anyone you know has celiac disease, brown rice is one of the best non-gluten options out there.
It assists with out-of-control appetites thanks to the rich fiber content. Brown rice may also lower excessive cholesterol levels.
People have often wondered what sets apart brown rice from its white counterpart. While they both contain the same amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and energy, brown rice has higher vitamin and mineral amounts.
It’s also twice as rich in iron and five times in fiber. Nutritional value aside, brown rice has a relatively lower GI (Glycaemic Index) value. The higher the GI it has, the faster the blood glucose levels are absorbed into the bloodstream.
Owing to these and more benefits, there has been an increase in the demand for brown rice. This has led to a reduction in prices, thus making it easy on the pocket.
Brown rice wasn’t always as affordable as it is right now. Initially, it was viewed as a premium product that only the rich could afford. Nowadays, the cost of processing and transportation has dropped considerably, thereby making it accessible to the consumer.
There are three types of brown rice: long grain, medium and short. If you prefer a fluffy and light bowl of rice, opt for the long grain type. The short and medium types are just right for tender and chewy rice.
If you want to buy it in bulk, be sure to store it at room temperature. It can stay fresh for as long as six months.
Aside from beans, dried lentils are some of the cheapest legume protein sources. They’re easily distinguishable especially at the bulk section of a grocery store. They’re mostly grown in Canada, easy to prepare and best of all, inexpensive.
Half a cup of lentils goes for a meager $0.12. When buying in bulk, each pound will cost you only $1.50.
Lentils are easier to cook than dried beans mostly because of their size and the fact that you don’t need to soak them before cooking. You do, however, need to sift through and rinse them to get rid of debris and stones.
Despite lentils being a money-saving pantry gem, not many people know what to do with them. The following are some of the ways you can incorporate dried or homegrown lentils into your meals:
- Make a tasty stew. Any leftover meat like bacon, ham, spinach, etc., can all be put in one pot with lentils. The stew can be delicious even with limited ingredients.
- Lentil sprouts are an excellent way to add an extra round of freshness to your meals. Add a few lentil pieces to your salads or simply eat them with lemon juice and olive oil.
- Mix them with retail or homemade tomato sauce. When having a frugal meal such as pasta, pop it up with a tinge of protein from the tomato sauce and lentil combination.
- Goes great with salads. All salads, warm or cold, can be tastier with a much-needed addition of lentils. Any veg-based delicacy is incomplete without this budget-friendly vegetable.
- Have it as a side dish when serving your burritos or tacos. Lentils also mix well with any last-minute meal that you want to spice up.
A single bag of lentils can take you for the longest time – depending on how often you cook them. The best part is that there’s a wide variety to choose from – Brown lentils, red lentils, yellow ones, etc.- they’re all ideal for any soup or stew.
Is it possible to incorporate seafood into your diet when living on a tight budget? Of course, it is. Seafood has a variety of health benefits that you can’t afford to miss out on. Fitting it into your budget is not a hard task as most people think.
Start by figuring how much you spend every day on food. To put your spending in perspective, subtract the amount you spend on bulk items such as grains, oils, etc. Take the remaining amount and divide it by weeks, then days.
That simple trick will enable you to spend most, if not all, of your day’s budget on dinner. When you have a day’s budget all for lunch, you can easily ‘splurge’ on seafood with no second thoughts.
An ethical philosophy about seafood is that some of it is better than none at all. At the same time, there’s no point in having large portions for a single night. A typical seafood serving size is approximately 3 ounces – which is substantial.
Seafood is best served with hearty dishes. Every seafood meal should be filling and satisfying, regardless of whether everyone gets a large portion of salmon or not.
Common dishes to have seafood with include pasta, salads, soups (the best) and even sandwiches (goes well especially with tuna salad). When shopping for seafood, be sure to shop at stores where you’re sure to find the best steals.
Most items in stores are significantly cheaper, including seafood. Most of them are tagged with the names of the fish along with whether it’s farmed or wild.
Stay away from the higher priced seafood e.g. wild salmon, and go for the more affordable ones e.g. fresh oysters, clams or mussels.
Cabbage bears a striking resemblance to the iceberg lettuce, doesn’t it? Much as they share the same likeness, the humble cabbage is on its own boat as far as nutritional value is concerned.
Cabbage is a perfect source of almost 100%DV Vitamin K and 50%DV of Vitamin C. It’s also rich in fiber and full of antioxidants that lasts up to three to four days after consumption.
Red cabbage has also been known to fight Alzheimer’s among older consumers.
Another good thing about cabbage, perhaps the best, is that one pound of it retails for well under one dollar. The same amount of lettuce goes for up to $5. The non-organic head of Romaine goes for $1.29/lb.
Even when lettuce is in season and its prices drop to $0.99/pound, cabbage still has the upper hand considering it can go for as low as $0.59/lb. Take that time to stock up and buy as many as you can – just be sure to keep it refrigerated.
Cabbage can make an excellent salad and delicious soup when cooked with ground beef. Spread the latter over some brown long grain rice and you have a healthy meal that’s truly worth your buck.
Did you know that you can ferment it as well? Traditional ferments such as kimchi or sauerkraut rely on cabbage as the base. When fermented, cabbage doubles up on its vitamin C and lasts even longer.
Without the fermentation, cabbage can go a whopping two weeks (or more) without going bad. All through those two weeks, you’ll still be eating raw, fresh salads each night. Lettuce can get slimy and sticky within a week.
A ‘healthy food’ list without the mention of a single fruit is incomplete in so many ways. It’s the equivalent of a shopper who steps into a grocery store, purchases everything else except for fruit.
When you think of it, it’s somewhat fun hunting for the most affordable prices on frozen, organic and fresh organic produce. If you shop at select stores, you’ll most likely be of a contrary opinion.
On that note, here are some of the fruits you can stock up on or buy every day and enjoy their benefits without breaking the bank:
At no point should your fridge be void of a bunch of one of the cheapest fruits on the planet. They’re high in probiotic fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6.
Berries are rich in antioxidants and fiber. Frozen berries of all types – strawberries, blackberries, raspberries or blueberries – are cheaper compared to their fresh counterparts.
Like cabbage, apples are known to stay fresh for long. They’re good sources fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. If there’s a well-priced bunch of apples where you shop, don’t hesitate to put it in your cart regardless of the variety.
While some pineapples have an irritatingly bitter taste, most are simply exquisite. They make a perfect breakfast, salad or snack.
For only $2 or less, you can enjoy approximately four cups of juice. That’s quarter the price of the pre-cut varieties.
Other fruits worth considering include watermelon, oranges, pears, honeydew, plums, limes, kiwi and honeydew melons.
If any (or all) of these mouth-watering treats are present in your local grocery store, you have no reason whatsoever to skip your daily dose of vitamin C.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on organic groceries. Go grocery shopping at local everyday supermarkets that put a decent price tag on high-quality organic produce.
This can come as a double shocker, but yes, meat is quite healthy food, and it can be quite affordable.
If you’ve been eating all your life, then you understand how inexpensive it can be. To save money on meat, there are quite a few strategies you can try out. The best way is to make use of coupons.
A few times a year, stock up on some fresh meat and keep it refrigerated. If your local store runs meat coupons on their social media pages, print off a few of those coupons. Use them to get as much as you can.
Based on your store’s sale cycles, plan your week’s menu and grocery trips well ahead of time. Plan your meals in sync with when meat will be on sale to purchase at the best prices.
There are times when grocery stores mark down their meat. Most of them will do this at around 8 am. When they do, they place big black stickers at the front of the packages with impressive discounts.
That discounted meat should be sold within that same day or shelved into the freezer to be sold in the course of the next few weeks.
The meat packs may contain ground beef, chicken, pork, steak or pork. Take advantage of the discounted prices by giving your local store a call and do the necessary inquiries. You get a discount for each item you buy separately.
Alternatively, you can try more affordable cuts of meat. It’s a fact that most shoppers are intimidated at the thought of cheap meat since they’re not used to preparing it. With the right ingredients and recipe, cheap meat can be really amazing.
Where do you buy fresh meat? If there’s a grocery store nearby offering reasonable prices and you want to save big on quality meat and produce, stop by and get value for your money. It’s possible to make more than one meal from a single purchase.
They have whole chickens that go for $0.88 per pound. Buy the biggest one for $6.50 and enjoy up to three meals. One pot of soup, a chicken salad sandwich, and a roasted chicken meal and chicken.
From what has been discussed in this post, all that’s left to do is to stock up on any of these foods and your pocketbook and well being will be forever grateful.