If eating could be cheap, convenient, and really good for you, wouldn't you take that route?
Fortunately, eating healthy and nutritious foods is completely doable, but many of us have totally avoided doing so after many failed attempts at trying to eat healthy foods and stay on a budget.
There's all this confusion about organic foods as far as produce goes, so we're going to clear up a few things. You do not need to buy 100% organic, especially if you don't have much to spend on food.
We're also be going over non-produce items to buy that is both satisfying and filling.
Also, I'd like to mention that when you eat healthy foods, you're putting an investment on your health. If you could prevent certain illnesses and diseases, wouldn't you want to? Plus, when we eat nutritious foods, we feel good, have abundant energy, our skin radiates, and we're generally happier people.
Below is a list of foods, also known as the “Dirty Dozen”, that have the highest amount of pesticide residue on the food.
DDT is found in many of these foods, which is a neurotoxic insecticide that is banned in the U.S. Pesticides are both harmful and toxic, particularly to children or with individuals who have health issues.
Dirty Dozen List (foods that you should try to buy organic)
- hot peppers
- sweet bell peppers
Foods that you don't necessarily need to buy organic:
- sweet corn
- frozen peas
1. In Season Produce
In season produce will be a lot cheaper since farmers are mass producing these foods. In season produce is also fresher, sweeter, and generally more nutritious. Also, months next to each other will usually be in-season as well, but I'll be typing them out again anyway.
Tip: Use Ibotta to save money on healthy foods at the store. Get $10 just for signing up here.
And if you don't care to remember this list, at least remember that bananas and potatoes are always in-season and full of nutrition.
January: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, rutabagas (my fav!), and tangerines.
February: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips.
March: Artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnips, pineapples, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips.
April: Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, honeydew, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, pineapples, radishes, and spring peas.
May: apricots, artichokes, asparagus, cherries, green beans, honeydew, lettuce, mangoes, okra, pineapples, radishes, spring peas, strawberries, swiss chard, and zucchini.
June: Apricots, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, corn, kiwi, lettuce, mangoes, peaches, strawberries, swiss chard, watermelon, and zucchini.
July: Apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, green beans, kiwi, lettuce, mangoes, peaches, peppers, plums, raspberries, strawberries, summer squash, tomatoes, watermelon, and zucchini.
August: Apples, apricots, blueberries, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, figs, green beans, kiwi, lettuce, mangoes, peaches, peppers, plums, raspberries, strawberries, summer squash, swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelon, winter squash, and zucchini.
September: Acorn squash, apples, beets, butternut squash, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, figs, grapes, green beans, lettuce, mangoes, mushrooms, peppers, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, and tomatoes.
October: Acorn squash, apples, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, cauliflower, cranberries, grapes, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnips, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, rutabagas, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, turnips, and winter squash.
November: Beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cranberries (surprised? LOL), leeks, mushrooms, oranges, parsnips, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, rutabagas, spinach, sweet potatoes, tangerines, turnips, and winter squash.
December: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, mushrooms, oranges, papayas, parsnips, pears, pomegranates, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, tangerines, and turnips.
Tip: Stay away from prepackaged fruit at all costs. It's overpriced and marked up simply for the convenience of being sliced.
Related: The Ultimate Weight Loss Guide
2. Whole Grains
Whole grains are a satisfying, filling, and cheap way to eat healthy foods and stay on a budget.
You can pair whole grains with many types of foods, including vegetables, your protein choice (for me, it is tofu or tempeh), or beans.
The most affordable grains are:
- wild rice
I love cooking oatmeal for breakfast because it fills me up for a few hours and tastes like a dessert without the unhealthy calories. A simple and quick recipe would be mixing together oatmeal, banana, cinnamon, and drops of Hazelnut. Hazelnut drops (or drops in general) are a great way to sweeten oatmeal without adding calories and sugar.
For lunch, I often mix rice, corn, beans, and half an avocado together for a filling meal. I eat this daily!
You can get 1 pound of veggie pasta for under $1.50, tomato sauce for under $3, and add mushrooms, spinach, and other vegetables to create a cheap meal that is both fillings and has a lot of nutrients. Making pasta is one of my favorite meals to make because it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, and only a handful of ingredients.
Potatoes are often overlooked in the health and nutrition world when they are in fact one of the healthiest foods in the world.
They're also in-season all year long. Potatoes are both low in sodium, fat-free and filled with numerous vitamins, minerals, and a ton of fiber to keep you full. You can use the spiralizer to make fries (no oil necessary!), make baked potatoes, mix them into stir-fry's, and do a million other things with them.
Carbs are not bad for you.
Seriously. There is a huge difference between good and bad carbs. If you're still afraid of potatoes and carbs, I recommend reading The Starch Solution.
Nuts such as peanuts are very cheap, and although peanut butter is pretty inexpensive as it is, it's also not a bad idea to make your own peanut butter.
I'd stay away from more expensive nuts, like almonds and cashews. All you have to do is dump a good amount of peanuts into a food processor and blend it. Take breaks between blending and stir the mixture and blend again.
Tip: Do not buy peanut butter with high fructose corn syrup.
Beans are cheap in the can, but even cheaper when they're dry. You can cook beans in large batches to save a ton of money, or you can opt out to buy them canned (low sodium or no salt added).
Beans are packed with fiber, protein, potassium, and other vitamins that are essential in the everyday diet. You can mix them into tacos, burritos, stir-fry's, and many other recipes to create satisfying and nutritious meals.
Healthiest beans to eat are:
- black beans
- garbanzo beans
- red kidney beans
A simple recipe for me includes: 1 cup black beans | 1 cup corn | handful of spinach | half avocado | salsa | hot sauce | 1 tortilla
Related: 9 Easy Ways To Lose A Pound A Week
7. Vegetable Stir Fry
Stir Fry is one of the easiest, quickest, and tastiest meals you can make at home if you're on a budget.
Mix in vegetables, rice, tofu, and add in amino acids (or soy sauce) and sriracha. This is another one of my go-to meals! If you're in a time crunch, mix in frozen pre-cut vegetables.
Play around with sauces of your choice, but keep in mind that there is often a lot of sugar, sodium, and processed ingredients in sauces, so be sure to take a look at the nutrition label.
Tip: A spiralizer is a great way to eat more veggies and create healthier meals. Making healthy pasta at home is easier than ever.
8. Nutritional Yeast
If you're trying to cut out cheese, nutritional yeast is the way to go.
It's packed with B12, and is great for soups, sandwiches, popcorn, pasta, rice, and everything! Seriously, I have yet to meet someone who isn't a fan of nutritional yeast.
See? That wasn't so bad. Eating healthy and nutritious foods can be both convenient, easy, good for you, and exciting. You'll get to conjure up new recipes in the kitchen and even gain new skills that will give you confidence, and maybe even a new career path! Bring your kids into the kitchen and show them how fun cooking is, and they'll get even more excited to eat the healthy foods you're preparing.
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- Healthiest Foods For A Tight Budget
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What other foods are inexpensive and healthy?