The Most Budget-Friendly Healthy Foods
Many nutrient-dense foods are quite expensive, which is why some people opt for cheap junk foods instead. However, there are many inexpensive foods you can purchase that are healthy and easy to add to your diet. This article takes a look at 12 cheap, nutritious foods and their health benefits.
Onions are a popular vegetable with many health benefits, and they tend to be fairly low in price. At most stores, they can be purchased for about $1 a pound (.45 kg). They are well known for being rich in certain antioxidants that may protect against heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Additionally, onions provide small amounts of several nutrients, including vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6, and potassium. A small portion of onions can go a long way, and their versatility and flavor make them a great addition to any dish.
Average price: $0.57 per pound, $0.29 per cup. Bananas are known for being full of potassium, but they are also a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. According to a recent study, bananas can reduce the risk of stroke in post-menopausal women. Considered a great trail snack, bananas are also one of the best natural sweeteners for smoothies, yogurt, and other concoctions. Here are 28 of the best banana recipes from banana bread to sandwiches.
03. Sweet Potatoes
Average price: $0.92 per pound, $0.50 per cup. One of the best reasons to eat sweet potatoes is for the vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene may help prevent cancer, and it protects your skin from the sun. Sweet potatoes are rich in countless other vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and vitamin C. Simple baked sweet potatoes make an excellent side dish. If you want to get more creative, try these seven sweet potato recipes to make for your morning meal.
04. Canned Salmon
The health benefits of eating omega-3-rich fish like wild salmon are clear, but the price of fresh fish can be hard to swallow, especially if you’re feeding an entire family. Canned wild (Alaskan) salmon is a much more economical way to get your weekly fish quota. If you’re willing to spend just a few extra minutes removing the bones and skin yourself (rather than buying the boneless, skinless variety), you can save yourself even more money. Canned salmon is perfect for cold salmon salad and warm salmon melts, and it makes great salmon cakes when mixed with egg, milk, and whole oats. Kids will love its mild flavor, too. Of course, canned salmon provides a hefty dose of sodium, so you’ll want to take that into consideration if you’re watching your salt intake.
05. Dried Lentils
You can buy a 16-ounce bag for $1.29. Each 16-ounce bag makes about 13 servings of lentils (if 1/4 cup dry is a serving). That small bag of lentils is deceiving because the lentils are dried, but once cooked, you will see the value. Dried Lentils are great for casseroles, salads, soups and stews, and more. Lentils are the most user-friendly of the beans because they cook quickly without pre-soaking. Generally, you just need to cover 1 cup of lentils with 3 cups of water or broth and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Nutritional value (per serving): 120 calories, 10 grams protein, and 11 grams fiber.
06. Fresh Bagged Spinach
Price per serving: 66 cents for a 4-cup serving; 33 cents for a 2-cup serving. A bag (9 ounces) of washed spinach leaves sells for about $1.99. Spinach is Great for quick salads, egg dishes, casseroles, soups, and stews. If you use it for a main-dish salad, about 4 cups make a serving. If you sauté it and add to an omelet, or use it for a side salad, about 2 cups is a serving. Nutritional value (per serving): 4-cup serving contains 20 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 160% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, 40% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, 8% of the Daily Value for calcium, and 40% of the Daily Value for folic acid.
Oatmeal is another nutrient-dense whole grain that is typically affordable at about $2 a pound. It contains an impressive amount of nutrients, including B vitamins, iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium. Additionally, it’s rich in fiber with 4 grams per cup (234 grams). Fiber promotes fullness and may help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The combination of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in oatmeal may have the potential to reduce the risk of several diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
In general, oats are enjoyed as a breakfast food. You can combine them with fruit, milk, yogurt and several other ingredients for a healthy and delicious meal.
Oranges are very healthy and cheap, typically sold for about $1 a pound. They are prized for their vitamin C content. Just one orange provides 116% of your daily need for this immune-boosting vitamin. They also provide fiber, antioxidants, and lots of other nutrients, including B vitamins, calcium, and potassium. Consuming oranges and other fruits on a regular basis has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, thus lowering the risk of several conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It is simple to add oranges to your diet. They are fairly convenient and can be enjoyed as a snack on their own or mixed with yogurt, salads, and smoothies.
Average price: $1.02 per pound, $0.59 per cup. Beets are filled with betalains, a type of antioxidant that may aid in preventing cancer and other degenerative diseases. This root vegetable also boasts high levels of folate, fiber, and numerous vitamins and minerals. Another naturally sweet food, beets are as versatile as they are nutritious. Beets can be served in salads, smoothies, or as a side. You can also make your own beet kvass, a vitamin-rich fermented beverage useful for digestion. The magnesium-rich beet greens are extra healthy when combined with chickpeas, providing a natural mood boost.
There’s a reason eggs are usually a staple among those seriously strength training: eggs are a simple yet nutritionally dense source of protein. Toss hard boiled eggs in a salad, scrambled eggs in a stir-fry, or prepare a regular breakfast staple, eggs are usually too cheap to pass up.
One of the keys to making healthy food taste delicious is flavoring it well with herbs and spices. Turmeric is a great spice to choose because it is colorful and flavorful, but it is also really good for you. Often found in Asian cuisine, turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin, which is also found in the spice cumin but at lower levels. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties, which is great because internal inflammation is increasingly connected to obesity, depression and several other conditions. Not only that, but it may have anti-cancer and heart-related benefits, according to some animal trials, though more research is needed to know whether this is true in humans as well.
33 cents per head (3 cents per serving). Ditch the bottled and powdered stuff if you want to reap more of the myriad of health benefits. Pungent and tasty, garlic can help lower cholesterol and blood clots, plus it can have a small effect on high blood pressure. Crush or chop it to release more of the antioxidants.