10 Budget-Friendly Health Foods A Dietitian Loves
After the holidays and the year coming to a close, it’s natural to want a new start. I don’t know about you but I have no interest in spending tons of cash on the latest “popular” diet. I’d rather stick to getting lots of vegetables, fruits, and other tried and true healthy foods. These are just some of the foods I’ll be restocking on and the ones I always want in my kitchen as a dietitian on a budget.
These foods make wonderful go-to’s for healthy dinners and lunches. Not only are they affordable and nutritious, but many can be kept at room temperature.
I use oats more than I use oatmeal. Apple-Cinnamon Oats are especially a staple in my kitchen. I use them to add fiber to Chocolate Chip Cookies and to make breakfast bowls by adding sausage and tomato. I sometimes even use a food processor to grind up oats to use them in place of breadcrumbs. And don’t forget, making homemade oatmeal is much cheaper than pre-made cereals.
2. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is always a great addition to any kitchen (excluding allergies). You can use it as dip for apple slices, spread it onto toast, add it to oatmeal for a protein, fiber and healthy fat combo. Peanut butter is much more than just Peanut Butter Cookies. For example, Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque and Thai Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce. Both are delicious. And best of all, this stuff is dirt cheap. Making it one of the most nutritious and cheap foods available.
3. Canned Fish
Canned fish is great in all shapes and forms. From salmon and tuna to sardines and anchovies. But I know that many folks are not that in love with canned seafood. Too bad, because they pack some serious nutrition, like omega-3s and protein. So they certainly have a spot in any healthy pantry. Plus, canned fish is much cheaper than fresh fish, at only $0.70 per ounce.
4. Diced Tomatoes
I wish I had a plentiful supply of fresh tomatoes to use in my kitchen, but that’s not the case. Instead, I go for cans of no-salt-added diced tomatoes for a cheap and simple vegetable addition to dinner. Sure, they can be used for pastas like Pasta Puttanesca with Beef and One-Pot Tomato Basil Pasta. But don’t forget to try them in things like American Goulash or Middle Easter Chicken & Chickpea Stew. Combining tomatoes with eggs and veggies will always be a great quick meal.
Sweet and white potatoes are both delicious and have some impressive health benefits. White potatoes are full of fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium. Sweet potatoes have calcium, fiber, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin A. They are cheap too! With a pound costing around $0.78. Plus, is there anything better than melting Potatoes or Sweet Potato Carbonara with Kale?
Beans are almost at the top of my favorite foods. They come in many sizes, shapes and flavors, but they are all very affordable and loaded with nutrition. For example, they all have protein, fiber, potassium, folate and calcium. Some experts even claim they are the key to living longer. I sometimes swap them in for the meat in Roasted Vegetable & Black Bean Tacos or add them to Tuscan White Bean Soup.
Rice is among the most easily used foods in this list. You could have it at anytime in the day. Morning or night. It may not be the first thing in your mind when you think of health food, but it pairs nicely with vegetables to create a simple and balanced meal. It’s also very cheap compared to other grains such as amaranth or quinoa. Go for brown rice to get a boost of protein, fiber and potassium. And even better, it lasts up to six months in your cupboard. So you know it will be there when you need it.
Eggs are among the most affordable proteins available, so they should always be in your cart. They are packed with vitamin B12, choline and protein and cook fast to finish off a balanced meal in no time. Take them further with Egg Drop Soup with Instant Noodles, Spinach & Scallions or Spinach, Feta & Rice Casserole. Shakshuka is one of my favorite halthy meals when I’m short on time.
9. Garlic & Onions
Garlic and onions are widely used in many recipes. This dynamic duo makes almost every recipe tastier. And what’s more, they are full of very healthy sulfide compounds which can lower your risk of certain types of cancer. Having these foods in your pantry makes cooking things like One-Pot Lemon-Broccoli Pasta with Parmesan and Easy Eggplant Stir Fry easy.
10. Frozen Berries
Berries are nutritious and delicious, but they can be costly if you buy them fresh. And they have a short life in your fridge, so you risk them going bad and going to waste. One way to win is to buy frozen berries for a much cheaper price. These frozen berries will actually stay good in your freezer for up to 10 months. And boy are they great for cobblers, jam and of course smoothies.
What It Comes Down To
In 2021, you might be wanting to get back on track with eating healthy after the holidays. Luckily, by using the foods on this list, you can do that without going broke. These are the 10 foods I use in my own budget-friendly grocery list. They have helped me time and time again make healthy meals whenever I want. This year, try adding them to your shopping list to help you start your year off with healthy habits.