On a budget? You might think running through the drive thru for the $1 menu is your best bet. While forking out a couple dollars for burger and fry might deem necessary in a crunch, it is taking a gamble on your health when in reality, eating cheap and healthy can coexist. Find out which cheap health foods and spices you should put on your next grocery list!
How to Eat Healthy and Cheap
Oats are one small, yet mighty cheap superfood estimating to be $0.12 per serving! They high in fiber, offer some plant-based protein, and can lower cholesterol and improve digestive health. Oats also contain compounds known as avenanthramides, which have shown to offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Oats:
Oats can be enjoyed warm and cold, sweet or savory, and at the breakfast table or on-the-go. They can also be prepared overnight and take on numerous flavors, including blueberry almond, peanut butter, apple pie, banana split, and pumpkin!
2. Canned Tuna
Canned tuna is a convenient and inexpensive protein and healthy fat source that costs about $1.50 per can. Tuna and other fatty fish supply omega-3 fatty acids, a type of “good fat” that fights off inflammation and supports heart, skin, and brain health.
If possible, select tuna soaked in water, rather than oil, to reduce unwanted fat calories. Also look for the blue Certified Sustainable food label, BPA-free indication on packaging labels, and “light” or “white” tuna products that are naturally low in mercury.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Tuna:
Enjoy tuna straight from the can or prepare a healthy tuna salad: Simply mix a 5-ounce can of wild albacore tuna with a small avocado, diced carrots and celery, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Complement with a fiber-filled carb source for a light meal or snack, including whole grain crackers, sliced bell peppers and cucumbers, or carrot sticks.
Whether dried or canned, beans are a high-fiber, plant-based protein source that often cost less than $1.00 per can, which approximates to $0.25 per serving. Beans also supply a healthy dose of magnesium, iron, and phosphorus.
Pro tip: Rinse canned beans prior to use to rid the sodium content.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Beans:
Add black, pinto, red, kidney, and other bean varieties to omelets, soups, salads, dips, wraps, burrito bowls, and casseroles.
Similar to beans, lentils are a cheap health food that offer a bang for your buck, as they are nutritionally dense for a low monetary cost. Lentils are packed with protein, fiber, and other nutrients, including potassium, folate, iron, phosphorus, manganese, thiamin, and vitamin B6.
They support digestive health thanks to their prebiotic content, or fiber that flourishes and nourishes the housed “good” bacteria in the gut, also known as prebiotics.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Lentils:
Lentils can top salads, be tossed into soups, and accompany chicken feta meatballs.
5. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is one of America’s favorite, most versatile spreads appraising for about $0.20 per delicious serving and officiating itself as the cheapest sandwich you can make. It delivers many of the same nutrients as more expensive tree nuts at a fraction of the cost, including protein, heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium and vitamins B3, B6, and E.
It is important, though, to look for natural peanut butter to avoid partially hydrogenated oils and sugar – really, peanut butter ingredients should only be peanuts and perhaps a little salt. Also enjoy in modest amounts, as peanut butter might be nutritious, but also dense in calories.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Peanut Butter:
Peanut butter can be spread to bread, added to smoothies, topped onto oats, smeared onto bananas or celery sticks, blended into a spicy peanut dipping sauce, made into homemade Reese’s peanut butter cups, and baked into sweet potato brownies.
An apple a day… Costs about $0.40, as a pound of apples tends to be under $2.00, and supplies numerous health benefits to the body. Apples are a healthful fruit loaded with both soluble and insoluble fiber to support digestive health. The apple skin also contains anthocyanins, the pigment gifting its luscious red color, which can reduce inflammatory responses.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Apples:
Pair with a tablespoon of peanut butter for a satisfying, budget-friendly snack, top onto oats, or give these naturally-sweetened applesauce recipes a go.
Get your entire day’s worth of vitamin C in a single orange for about $0.25! Vitamin C acts dually as an antioxidant, in which the vitamin has shown to protect from inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease, and skin damage. Its collagen-building properties also shape and maintain the structure of bone, tendon, skin, cartilage and all other connective tissue.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Oranges:
Thanks to its self-packaging, oranges are a quick, on-the-go fruit for a nutritious snack or lunch-pairing. To be extra thrifty, zest the peel and juice the orange to to enhance the flavor of numerous recipes, including this maple cranberry orange yogurt parfait!
As if there was just another reason to eat your broccoli… The cruciferous veggie supplies potent is packed with fiber and antioxidants such as indoles and isothiocyanates. The properties these phytochemicals offer have shown to fight inflammation and protect against cancer.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Broccoli:
In addition to simply washing and dipping, broccoli makes a great addition to salads, omelets, pizzas, casseroles, and this beef stir-fry!
Like broccoli, cabbage is also one nutrient-dense cruciferous veggie while being minimal in both calories and price. The veggie is also rich in fiber, vitamins C and K, sulfur compounds, and anthocyanins. There is also evidence supporting the chemical properties found in cruciferous veggies may protect against cancer.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Cabbage:
Cabbage offers bulk to a number of dishes, including salads and. But its prominent role in culinary use lies in that notorious side dish: Slaw! For your next summer grill out, mix up this purple cabbage and apple slaw recipe that complements BBQ pulled pork oh so nicely!
Eggs are one of the most inexpensive, all-natural, nutrient-dense foods available. In fact, at an approximate 17 cents per serving, eggs are considered the least inexpensive source of high-quality protein.
In addition to containing the highest quality of protein you can buy, the yolks are one of the very few food sources naturally supplying vitamin D. They are also a valuable source of choline, selenium, phosphorus, and some B vitamins. Eggs also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that help neutralize inflammation in the body.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Eggs:
Scrambled, sunny side-up, poached, hard-boiled, soft-boiled… There are numerous ways to enjoy eggs. Pair with a couple eggs with a slice of whole grain toast, scramble with peppers and onions and assemble into a breakfast burrito, or whisk up this breakfast frittata.
Speaking of eggs… Chicken is also one quality protein and cheap health food to include in the diet. And not to mention, chicken offers rich nutrients, including iron, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, K, B6 and B12.
But opt out of the fried variety, as the high-fat content can be difficult on the digestive system.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Chicken:
Get the most out of your chicken and bake the entire thing! Doing so is simple, so learn how to roast a whole chicken and relish on 10 inexpensive recipes!
Also known as Curcuma longa, turmeric is a spice that comes from the turmeric plant. It displays a bright orange-yellow color and has extensive health benefits primarily related to its curcumin content. Curcumin, the chemical providing the vibrant color of turmeric, is suggested to reduce inflammation and combat against infection, along with treating a number of ailments such as headaches and arthritis.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Turmeric:
Turmeric is well-known for its warm, bitter taste in curry dishes, though it also spices up this ginger and turmeric latte.
13. Black Pepper
If not residing there already, black pepper is a cheap spice to add to your spice cabinet! It bares some pretty impressive properties, including its antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, gastro-protective, and antidepressant properties.
Black pepper has shown to improve cognitive function, digestive health, and the absorption of nutrients. In fact, the addition of pepper in the ginger and turmeric latte recipe above helps with the absorption of turmeric.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Black Pepper:
In addition to adding black pepper to the ginger and turmeric latte, black pepper really is quite timeless in culinary use, including added to soups, stocks, sauces, marinades, red meats, fish, and poultry.
The savory and sweet cinnamon spice has numerous health benefits, with research suggesting cinnamon can be used to manage weight and treat muscle spasms, high cholesterol, the common cold, vomiting and diarrhea, and loss of appetite. And according to WebMD, Cassia cinnamon contains certain chemicals that seem to improve insulin sensitivity and increase blood sugar intake.
Eating Cheap and Healthy with Cinnamon:
Add cinnamon into coffee, teas, and these nutritious cinnamon-spiced mashed sweet potatoes and cinnamon apple pancakes.
Water is essential to life and, well, essentially free of charge in my places. Water supports healthy metabolic processes and digestion, as it forms saliva and digests foods to dissolve and utilize nutrients.
Eating Drinking Cheap and Healthy with Water:
Freely drink from the tap or keep the body hydrated with these 13 ways to make your water taste better, including by adding fresh herbs, berries, cucumber slices, and lemon.