A common excuse for not eating right is COST. Sure, organic produce can set you back and specialty health foods can cost a pretty penny, but eating on a budget DOESN’T mean your options are limited to the dollar menu. Next time you head to your local supermarket, consider stocking up on some of these healthy choices to incorporate some vital nutrients into your diet and also keep that bank account balance up!
1. Legumes – Lentils, black beans, garbanzos, and kidney beans all bought fresh and uncooked (not canned) are a fantastic option that will keep you feeling full due to their high fiber content. Great as a hot meal or mixed with leafy greens as a salad, legumes are a tasty option and offer a variety of different meals high in iron and other essential vitamins and minerals.
Try this: Black beans mixed with chopped raw kale, ½ chopped red onion, ½ tsp of olive oil, 1 tsp of red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Legumes can be cooked in batches and eaten throughout the week as salads or sides and are delicious as a breakfast, lunch, or dinner option.
2. Bananas – Know for being rich in potassium, bananas are a cheap and effective snack that are delicious raw, cooked, and frozen. Also high in fiber, bananas will keep you feeling full and help control your blood pressure. Literally grab this fruit and go as a great “in a rush” option, or try this:
1 cup almond, soy, or skim milk, 1 banana, handful of ice, handful of raw spinach, juice of 1/2 orange, and a small handful of strawberries – blend and enjoy for breakfast or as a mid morning snack. Also does wonders as a pre-workout smoothie! (*you can also substitute the milk for 1 cup of Greek yogurt then add water for your liquid base.)
3. Canned Salmon and Tuna – The benefits of seafood, especially salmon, are endless. High in Omega 3 fatty acids, salmon’s heart-healthy properties aid in lowering inflammation and reducing the risk of heart-related illnesses and some cancers. Salmon is also rich in vitamin D, so your bones will thank you as well. Tuna fish has the same benefits and is also high in antioxidants, but tends to be high in mercury so its recommended to only consume roughly about 3 cans per week.( As a side note, cilantro helps rid your body of mercury, so consider chopping some up for salads, pasta, pesto, or over grilled chicken with some lemon.)
Try this: 2 cans of salmon or tuna, 1 egg, 1 cup ground whole wheat breadcrumbs, ½ chopped green pepper, ½ yellow onion minced, fresh dill, salt and pepper – mix all ingredients then form into patties the size of your palm. Line on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and bake for about 30-35 minutes at 400-425°F. Flip once halfway through. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon over a bed of chopped greens and/or on whole wheat toast with a slice of tomato. These taste delicious with a touch of Dijon mustard too.
4. Eggs – Great as a source of protein, eggs are inexpensive and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Eggs, high in Vitamin D, also contain the vitamins selenium, B6 and B12, and the minerals zinc, iron, and copper. Again, protein will keep you feeling full throughout the day and is great to consume after a workout.
Try this: hard boil a bunch and save as a snack or for a great addition to salads/meals. Try slicing two and munching on them with ½ an avocado and a pinch of salt and pepper.
5. Tofu–High in protein and low in fat and carbohydrates, tofu is made from soybeans and is an excellent source of iron, vitamins, and minerals. This plant protein will reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease, will lower cholesterol, will balance your hormone levels and will ease the symptoms of menopause. Tofu is also said to help fight against hair loss, so dig in!!
Try this: Tofu is tasteless and absorbs any flavor you add to it, so it’s basically a blank canvas. Begin by layering paper towels under and on top of your extra firm block and sit a heavy pot on top so the excess water drains. After about 1-3 hours, marinade your tofu in the juice of 1 orange, some low sodium soy sauce and a splash of teriyaki sauce. After it marinades for 20 minutes-1 hour, cut into cubes and sauté in olive oil, ginger, and garlic with fresh chopped broccoli and then serve over brown rice. Finish off your dish with some sesame seeds and enjoy your healthy, homemade Asian-inspired dish.
More tips and helpful hints from your Personal 1 Fitness Experts:
Always buy fruits and veggies that are in season, which will keep your costs low and will always give you great tasting food.
Scout around for local Farmer’s Markets, because fresh is best!
Try setting aside time to cook foods in bulk, then reuse them for the next few days to save on buying pre-made meals.
Read up on your grocery stores’ weekly sales and plan your meals according to what is discounted that week. Yes, PLAN your meals. Write out a menu for the week so you can plan exactly what to spend your money on! This will help you not over buy and hopefully not waste food. This is a great activity to involve kids in too.
Make your food from scratch. If you are blessed with some extra time, look up some foods you can make on your own. It will be healthier for you and your family and in many cases, cheaper too. Some easy foods to try are pesto, peanut butter, granola, tomato sauce, and whole wheat pizza dough.
When in doubt, always choose foods that are NOT packaged. If you can eat more natural, whole foods that don’t come in a box or can, you will be doing your body and wallet a favor. Happy eating!