Many people who shop for groceries on a budget unintentionally short change their health by getting low-cost, processed canned meat, white bread, and other fat and sugar-filled refined products. Frozen dinner entrees for a buck may seem like such a good deal, but these food items really don’t save you money because just one of them is rarely satiating.
Make no mistake, healthy, balanced diets cost less to maintain than you think!
Because of the relative affordability of produce, there really is no excuse for not eating healthy foods. Most grocery stores these days feature how much items cost per unit, whether it be per pound, ounce or single unit to help you compare prices and shop smarter.
Some of the healthiest food you can buy actually cost about the same or less than the junk food! Common types of candy bars are anywhere from 59 cents to 3 or 4 dollars, depending on the quality of ingredients you are looking for. The candy bar is gone in one sitting, whereas a large head of greens for around the same price can make a couple of large salad meals. Obviously from a nutrition and economic perspective the greens win.
This is not to say that you can never enjoy the guilty pleasures again to be healthy, but you don’t have to write off healthy eating habits due to a low grocery budget! Here are 5 great food choices that will help keep your stomach lean and your wallet fat:
1. Whole grains and oatmeal
You can enjoy these satisfying, B-vitamin rich foods for just a few cents per meal. A 16 ounce box of whole grain pasta is about $2 to $3 or less and yields about 8 servings. Grocery stores have sales frequently on regular wheat pastas, and if you are doing gluten-free you can find good deals on brown rice pastas.
Oatmeal is another economical food that delivers health-beneficial properties such as cholesterol-reducing soluble dietary fiber. Numerous medical trials and case-studies have proven how both whole grains and oatmeal bolster efforts to manage weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. A 42 ounce canister of old fashioned oats can be purchased for around $4, which amounts to less than 10 cents per ounce, or you can get store brands for less.
Nature’s candy not only satisfies your sweet tooth, but offers valuable dietary fiber and the benefit of the slow-release complex carbohydrates to keep you going, plus they contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Creamy bananas, luscious berries, snappy apples and voluptuous peaches are smart and tasty items to add to your shopping cart. Most common fruit varieties are very affordable, but for exotic varieties you may have to dig a little deeper.
Eggs are the most economical source of animal protein. One egg will provide you with 6 grams of protein, choline for healthy cell membranes and mental functioning, selenium for your immune system, and vitamins A, B and E for food to energy conversion, good night vision and healthy skin, and antioxidant action respectively. The downside is eggs are also high in cholesterol, and just one has 210 mg out of the 300mg daily recommendation. Because of the way your body handles the cholesterol in eggs, one per day should be fine.
Vegetables really only cost pennies on the dollar. You truly get your money’s worth in nutritional value out of a dollar and a half head of crisp romaine lettuce! It is a source of plant protein with 9 essential amino acids, calcium for your bones, omega 3’s and iron. Baby carrots are also inexpensive and make a sweet and crunchy low-calorie snack. Potatoes are packed with potassium for good heart functioning, plus they are filling and won’t break the bank.
5. Sunflower seeds and peanuts
Most nuts are quite pricey, but you can find sunflower seeds for about $2 to $3 a pound. Toss a few over salads or just have a handful to snack on for a boost. Peanuts are another good low-cost source of protein. Both types of nuts have the healthy poly and monounsaturated fats that help boost your beneficial HDL cholesterol type.
Clearly, there are many thrifty alternatives to highly refined “economy” foods. Invest in the best fuel for your body and it will thank you later!