are climbing, and some might be looking to fast foods and packaged
foods for their cheap bites. But low cost doesn’t have to mean
low quality. In fact, some of the most inexpensive things you can
buy are the best things for you. At the grocery store, getting the
most nutrition for the least amount of money means hanging out on
the peripheries – near the fruits and veggies, the meat and dairy,
and the bulk grains – while avoiding the expensive packaged interior.
By doing so, not only will your kitchen be stocked with excellent
foods, your wallet won’t be empty.
High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have also been shown
to lower cholesterol. And they sure are cheap – a dollar will
buy you more than a week’s worth of hearty breakfasts.
suggestions: Sprinkle with nuts and fruit in the morning, make
cookies for dessert.
You can get about a half dozen of eggs for a dollar, making them
one of the cheapest and most versatile sources of protein. They
are also a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin,
which may ward off age-related eye problems.
rancheros for breakfast, egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and
frittatas for dinner.
This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and
calcium. Like most greens, it is usually a dollar a bunch.
Because we often see potatoes at their unhealthiest – as fries
or chips – we don’t think of them as nutritious, but they
definitely are. Eaten with the skin on, potatoes contain almost
half a day’s worth of Vitamin C, and are a good source of potassium.
If you opt for sweet potatoes or yams, you’ll also get a good
wallop of beta carotene. Plus, they’re dirt cheap and have
almost endless culinary possibilities.
suggestions: In the a.m., try Easy
Breakfast Potatoes; for lunch, make potato salad; for dinner,
have them with sour cream and chives.
I’m fond of apples because they’re inexpensive, easy to
find, come in portion-controlled packaging, and taste good. They
are a good source of pectin – a fiber that may help reduce cholesterol – and
they have the antioxidant Vitamin C, which keeps your blood vessels
suggestions: Plain; as applesauce; or in baked goods like Pumpkin-Apple
Though nuts have a high fat content, they’re packed with the
good-for-you fats – unsaturated and monounsaturated. They’re
also good sources of essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, and protein.
And because they’re so nutrient-dense, you only need to eat
a little to get the nutritional benefits. Although some nuts, like
pecans and macadamias, can be costly, peanuts, walnuts, and almonds,
especially when bought in the shell, are low in cost.
suggestions: Raw; roasted and salted; sprinkled in salads.
At a local Trader Joe’s, I found bananas for about 19¢
apiece; a dollar gets you a banana a day for the workweek. High
in potassium and fiber (9 grams for one), bananas are a no-brainer
when it comes to eating your five a day quotient of fruits and veggies.
suggestions: In smoothies, by themselves, in cereal and yogurt.
With beans, you’re getting your money’s worth and then
some. Not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but
’bonzos are also high in fiber, iron, folate, and manganese,
and may help reduce cholesterol levels. And if you don’t like
one type, try another – black, lima, lentils … the varieties
are endless. Though they require soaking and cooking, the most inexpensive
way to purchase these beans is in dried form; a precooked can will
still only run you around a buck.
suggestions: In salads, curries, and Orange
Broccoli contains tons of nice nutrients – calcium, vitamins
A and C, potassium, folate, and fiber. As if that isn’t enough,
broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may
help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Plus,
it’s low in calories and cost.
suggestions: Throw it in salads, stir fries, or served as an
accompaniment to meat in this Steamed
Ginger Chicken with Asian Greens recipe.