Practical ways to live better on less.
Check out my top 10 list of the most budget friendly healthy foods to always have on hand in your cabinet. All of these choices are economical, multifunctional, and delicious. Shop for these items each week to cut down on some of your grocery expenses. Which of these foods have you incorporated into your diet? What are your favorite budget foods?
1. Sweet Potatoes – I usually buy a bag of them each week. At first, I didn’t care for the taste much, however, I am now addicted! Sweet potatoes are healthier than regular potatoes and also more filling. For lunch, I frequently bake a sweet potato and toss some red onions on top, along with a side of green beans. What a delicious, budget friendly lunch! Another great cheap snack: baked sweet potato fries. Just dice them up, coat lightly with olive oil, season, and bake according to desired crispiness.
2. Brown Rice – Brown rice is nutritious, cheap, and filling. It can be eaten as a main dish, side dish, or used as part of a recipe. This is the perfect dinner for those short on time. I like to stir fry vegetables with olive oil for a tasty rice and vegetable dish. I always keep a big bag of brown rice in my cabinet at all times. You can buy your rice in bulk and save even more money. If eating organic, the 365 brand at Whole Foods is very affordable.
3. Potatoes – I buy a large 5lb bag of potatoes each week. It costs only a few bucks and you can use them all week. Potatoes are one of the cheapest, most nutrient dense foods. You have endless options with potatoes. Make a side of diced potatoes with scrambled eggs in the morning for a filling, cheap breakfast. Have a baked potato for lunch. Make mashed potatoes as a dinner side or a put together a fun baked potato bar as the main course. You will never run out of meal options with potatoes. A $3 bag of potatoes leaves you with numerous options for the week!
4. Broccoli – Broccoli is convenient because it can be added to any dish. Throw it in a salad. Sprinkle on top of eggs or baked potatoes. Use it in a spaghetti or rice dish. Light steam it and eat it as a filling afternoon snack. A bunch of broccoli costs only a few dollars and will never go to waste. There are endless opportunities for adding healthy broccoli to accompany any dish.
5. Black Beans – I purchase a bag of dried black beans each week at Whole Foods. Beans are cheap even in organic form. A bag at Whole Foods runs $2-3 and lasts me at least a week. I prefer to use dried beans, which are healthier and cheaper than canned. Black beans contain protein and healthy antioxidants. They can be eaten alone, as a side dish, used as part of a homemade burrito recipe, thrown in a salad, and more. The options are endless!
6. Whole grain spaghetti – The perfect affordable “no time” meal. Whole grain pasta has a good combination of protein/carbs. It makes for a satisfying meal that is easy on your wallet. If eating gluten-free, there are plenty of options made out of brown rice and quinoa. I buy the Quinoa pasta from Trader Joe’s (just a little over $2 a bag). Find a cheap marinara recipe online; there are thousands of free recipes to test out. Check out my favorite homemade creation: Spicy Spaghetti Mix Up. You don’t even need sauce – just mix the pasta with olive oil and seasoning and you are good to go!
7. Popcorn – A bowl of air popped popcorn is the perfect low calorie, high fiber, healthy snack. Skip the microwaved popcorn – buying whole kernels is both cheaper and healthier. Most microwave brands are loaded with artificial colors and flavors. I keep a big bag of kernels in my cabinet at all times, whether for a quick, cheap snack or a fun movie night.
8. Apples – I always keep a supply of fresh apples on hand. I like that they do not get rotten as fast as some other fruits, so if I don’t get to them right away they will still be fresh. Apples are the perfect, on-the-go healthy, budget, friendly breakfast. Often, I don’t have time to cook a full breakfast. An apple is an easy and healthy start to the day, and a great filling midday snack.
9. Avocados – I always keep a supply of avocados in my fridge. Avocados are another versatile item which can be used on almost anything: salads, sandwiches, tacos. I love guacamole so much that I could easily eat it everyday. Making guacamole is pretty simple and provides a filling snack loaded with vitamins, healthy fats, and antioxidants.
10. Lentils – In addition to black beans, lentils are another one of my staples in the bean aisle. I purchase a bag at Trader Joe’s each week for about 3 bucks. Lentils are very versatile as they can be added to almost anything. I enjoy eating them on their own for the delicious natural flavor, and sometimes as a side dish to main meal. One of the best ways to use lentils is part of a delicious lentil soup recipe.
Do you regularly consume any of the foods on my list? What are your go-to healthy budget foods?