Many people want to have healthier lifestyles, which means eating healthier and more nutritious meals. This also usually means cooking more at home and eating out less. At first, you may be very excited to embark on this new journey. You make a grocery list, and you probably decide to buy everything organic. Organic means healthy, right? You go to the grocery store, load your cart with organic veggies, fruits, meat, maybe even those fancy granola bars because you need a healthy snack. Then comes the sticker shock at the register. We agree that eating healthy can be very expensive, but that shouldn’t stop you. Here are some tips to healthy eating when you’re on a budget
One of the best ways to make your dollar stretch is to buy food that fills you up so you’re not hungry all the time. Protein is one of the best sources to make you feel fuller longer.
At the grocery store, fill your cart with protein sources like eggs and canned fish. These items are relatively inexpensive and versatile. Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods, and are perfect in an omelet for breakfast. They can also be added to any dish, including sauteed vegetables and rice and beans. Canned fish, like tuna and salmon, run about $2 – $5 per can, and are excellent sources omega 3 fatty acids. For lunch, throw some in a salad and drizzle olive oil and lemon juice on top. For a delicious dinner, make salmon or tuna burgers by combining the fish, some olive oil or mayonnaise, bread crumbs, and seasonings in a food processor. Form into patties and pan sear on both sides until golden brown.
Fruit and Veg
Buying all organic fruits and vegetables is highly commendable, but is not practical if you are on a budget. Instead, buy certain produce organic, also known as the “dirty dozen”.
This includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas, and potatoes. Healthy eaters on a budget should also buy avocados, which don’t need to be bought organic. Avocados are great because they contain healthy fats and protein, and even have more potassium than a banana. A recent study shows that eating one avocado a day may help lower bad cholesterol (LDL). If you can’t buy fresh produce, frozen produce is actually quite healthy because it is processed shortly after it’s picked, so it retains most of its nutrients. You can use frozen fruit in smoothies, and frozen veggies are great in pasta dishes like pasta primavera.
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t buy fun food. You just have to make sure you choose the right food that is versatile and if you can buy it in bulk, it will last longer and save you even more money. One example is salsa.
The fuller you are, the less likely you will need to snack, which means you won’t need to waste your money on pre-packaged foods like cookies, crackers, or even those fancy granola bars. Even the ones that have extra protein are usually full of sugar making them glorified candy bars. A jar of salsa costs between $2.50 – $6, and is filled with antioxidants, vitamins, phytochemicals, and potassium. Obviously, you can use your salsa to dip your chips, but you can also use it as a dip for cut veggies, add it to your morning eggs, or use it as a topping for grilled chicken. You may not consider sweet potatoes “fun food”, but there is so much you can do with them and because of their distinct, sweet flavor, you might even feel like you’re having dessert. For one, you can make sweet potato fries by slicing a couple sweet potatoes in one inch strips, tossing them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin, and roasting them in a 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Who doesn’t love fries? You can also bake a small sweet potato in the oven and then top with butter and brown sugar for a sweet but healthy treat.
Just because you’re broke or on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthy. We should all be able to enjoy healthy, nutritious food without breaking the bank. Arm yourself with this list when you go grocery shopping and you will never have to subsist on ramen noodles again.
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