Many of us can’t afford to spend wild quantities of money on fine wines and prime rib. That much is true. However, eating healthy becomes an issue when simply adding a single nutrient, like potassium, can add almost 10% to the average American’s food bill, as a study from researchers at the University of Washington showed. However, chefs like Anthony Bourdain make a good point that, “It is without doubt that the greatest, most beloved and iconic dishes in the pantheon of gastronomy in any of the world’s mother cuisines — French, Italian, or Chinese — originated with poor, hard-pressed, hard-working farmers and laborers with no time, little money, and no refrigeration.” Bourdain continues by saying, “The notion that hard-working, hard-pressed families with little time and slim budgets have to eat crappy, processed food…is nonsense.” Truthfully, there is hope for those of us who are on a budget. Pick healthy foods that are inexpensive too and you could have a fridge full of nutritious treats for much less than a fast food meal.
$2 Items That Should Be on Every Budget Grocery List
Picking items that are both healthy and cheap can be a challenge at times. Check out these nutritious and delicious grocery store items that can help you make meals and snacks on a budget:
- Bananas: Loaded with potassium, digestible carbohydrates, and fiber, bananas can be eaten raw, saved for banana bread, or chopped up and dehydrated to make banana chips. In fact, you can get a week’s worth of bananas for well under $1.
- Celery: Celery costs about a dollar a pound, making it an extremely affordable treat. About 95% water, celery keeps your skin looking supple and hydrated, gives you a nice dose of fiber, and has very little calories. Eat celery with some peanut butter or almond butter for a delicious snack.
- Brown Rice: Just two cents more than the alternative, brown rice rings in at about 18 cents per serving, $1.75 per pound. Serve brown rice with beans, chicken, or just about any other main course for a wonderful, and nutritious, dinner.
- Broccoli: Containing cancer-fighting phytonutrients, calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and fiber, broccoli is an inexpensive superfood that should be on everyone’s weekly grocery list. Add it to salads and stir fries, lightly sauté or steam it and serve with a low-fat dip.
- Peanut butter: Versatile, yummy, and full of protein, peanut butter is a wonderful treat that’s only about 20 cents per serving. While peanut butter is high in calories, it’s mostly monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to lower “bad” cholesterol. Spread onto whole grain bread with a banana for a protein-packed meal, or use it to make sauce for an Asian stir fry.
- Old-Fashioned oats: Oats are the ultimate healthy, inexpensive meal, at about 13 cents per serving. Each serving only contains about 150 calories, but packs in 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Make oatmeal in the winter or bake oats with brown sugar, honey, and raisins or dried fruit for homemade granola or a granola bar treat.
- Fresh bagged spinach: With vitamin C, huge amounts of vitamin A, calcium, and folic acid, spinach is an amazingly versatile and healthy food that costs about 33 cents for a 2-cup serving (about the size of a side salad).
- Canned beans: Canned refried beans have 7 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, calcium and iron at only about 34 cents per serving. These beans are great for dips, enchiladas, nachos, burritos, as a side or with many other Mexican-style dishes.
Maybe Anthony Bourdain was right: you can eat healthy for less! All it takes is knowing the right ingredients to work with. Use these ingredients to keep your grocery budget on track and eat healthy, too.