6 Healthy Foods That Are Easy on Your Wallet

These days, it seems like we're all trying to stretch our dollars, either by necessity or because we're becoming savvier about the benefits of saving more and spending less. If you've been looking for ways to stretch your grocery budget without filling up on cheap, empty calories, read on. It's a myth that the healthiest foods are the most expensive. With a list and a plan, it's possible—and surprisingly simple—to eat healthily without blowing your budget or sacrificing those hard-earned P90X® or INSANITY® results. If you want to keep your wallet fat and your waistline trim, try to put more of these food items in your shopping cart the next time you're at the grocery store.

  1.     Sweet Potatoes. Also marketed as yams (which are actually a variety of sweet potato), this versatile food is as nutritious as it is economical. Sweet potatoes are used in everything from baby food to main dishes to desserts.Why they're good for you: At about 140 calories each, sweet potatoes are filling, easy to cook, and loaded with vitamins A and C, iron, and thiamine. They also contain beta-carotene, which may help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Sweet potatoes are also low in sodium and a good source of fiber

    Best way to enjoy: Scrub and pierce the sweet potatoes, then bake them, microwave them, or cook them in boiling water. Use them in recipes that call specifically for sweet potatoes, or to make things interesting, try using them in place of white potatoes. For a special treat (and an instant kid-pleaser), add a small amount of butter and brown sugar

  2. Beans Beans. Long regarded as one of the ultimate frugal foods, beans are as versatile as they are nutritious, with a plethora of flavors, colors, and varieties to choose from. Stock up on the dried (and cheapest!) kind, as well as still-a-bargain canned beans. You'll have tons of cheap, healthy meal possibilities.Why they're good for you: Beans are one of the best sources of dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Beans are also high in amino acids, and when combined with grains (like the brown rice mentioned below), they make an excellent source of animal-free complete protein.

    Best way to enjoy: Beans can be incorporated into almost any recipe, or just eaten by themselves. Try replacing beef with black beans in chili, soup, or your favorite Mexican recipes. Eat beans hot or cold, alone, in salads, or with rice, for a high-protein, high-fiber meal.

  3. Brown rice. One 2-pound bag of brown rice can provide as many as 20 servings. You can combine brown rice with an assortment of other ingredients, or simply enjoy it with a few simple seasonings. Bonus? Brown rice has more flavor and nutrients than instant white rice.Why it's good for you: Brown rice is a great source of fiber, vitamin B, iron, manganese, and selenium, nutrients that are essential for keeping the immune system strong and healthy, lowering cholesterol, and reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

    Best way to enjoy: Cook brown rice with water on the stovetop, in the microwave, or in a rice cooker, then either enjoy it as a side dish or add it to soups, salads, and your favorite main dish recipes.

  4. Brown Eggs. At about 75 calories each and often less than $2 per dozen, eggs contain more than a dozen essential nutrients, which make them a healthy bargain. And there's no need to avoid eating eggs for fear of consuming too much cholesterol. Research has shown that egg consumption, when limited to 1 or 2 a day, contributes less than 1 percent to the risk of heart disease when other factors are considered.Why it's good for you: Eggs have a high proportion of nutrients to calories, which means that they help you stay feeling full and energized while they help you maintain a healthy weight. Eggs are also an excellent source of folate, protein, lutein (which promotes eye health), and choline (which helps brain function).

    Best way to enjoy: Eat eggs for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Try them baked, hard-boiled, scrambled, poached, in frittatas, in omelettes, or in any recipe you choose.

  5. Whole-grain pasta. Tasty, filling, and always an economical way to feed a crowd, what's not to love about pasta?Why it's good for you: Whole-grain pasta is low in sodium and fat and high in complex carbohydrates, which helps you maintain a consistent energy level. Unlike its refined white flour–based brethren, whole-grain pasta is also a good source of fiber.

    Best way to enjoy: Whole-grain pasta is easy to combine with other foods, including vegetables, meats, and your favorite sauces. For a healthier dish, toss cooked pasta with olive oil or a marinara sauce instead of a high-calorie Alfredo sauce.

  6. Frozen Vegetables. While fresh, raw vegetables (and fruits, for that matter) that are in season should always be a first choice, having a supply of frozen vegetables on hand is an inexpensive, nutritious, and versatile backup plan.Why they're good for you: Frozen vegetables retain almost all of their nutritional value, since they're picked and frozen while at their peak flavor. When the perishables in your refrigerator have, well, perished, it's easy to reach for a bag of frozen vegetables and add them to any meal.

    Best way to enjoy: Frozen vegetables have a high nutritional value. Keep them in the freezer and pull them out any time to toss in soups, stews, lasagna, or stir-frys. They also make great side dishes. But always read the ingredients before buying a bag—some food companies add preservatives and sodium to their frozen produce.

By Suzy Buglewicz

There are no comments yet. Be the first and leave a response!

Leave a Reply