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 of 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 are 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.
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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 anyways. 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. The Atkins Diet is not to be trusted! Seriously. There is a huge difference in good and bad carbs. If you’re still afraid of fries, I recommend reading The Starch Solution.
Tip: Use Ibotta to save money on healthy foods at the store. Get $10 just for signing up here.
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. There are a lot of fun to use!
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 on 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.
If you’re a newbie here, let me fill you in. FITnancials is all about saving and making money. Here is a list of my favorite ways to save and make money.
- Start blogging. Blogging can be difficult because you can’t go to college for it, but you can enroll in courses that tell you everything you need to know. I personally went through and recommend The Blogging Blueprint, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, Pinterest Traffic Avalanche, and Six Figure Blogger. You can check out full details here of all of the courses. You can also read my monthly income report here.
- Answer surveys. I use the following surveys, and my readers use these too: Pinecone Research, Survey Voices, Click Perks and isurvey World.
- Keep track of your credit score. Using Credit Sesame to get your credit score information won’t impact your score. They’ll also tell you in detail what to do to increase your credit score, which gives you a better interest rate when you purchase a car, house, credit card, or any loan.
- Save money on glasses. Use GlassesShop.com to save on prescription glasses and sunglasses, as well as regular frames. I’ve gotten 3 pairs from this store. Each prescription + frame is usually less than $70. All you need to do is type in your prescription, which is super easy to do. GlassesShop.com also gave me this code for my readers for 50% off: GSHOT50
- Save on food, especially fruits and veggies. Ibotta is a super user-friendly app. All you have to do is choose the items you want to get cash back on, buy them at the store, and then take a photo of your receipt on the Ibotta app. (You get $10 for signing up through my link here). $5 Meal Plan is a $5 monthly meal plan (2 first weeks are free) that sends you meal plans and shopping lists to your email. Every single meal costs an average of $2 to make, and sometimes less.
- Save on travel. I use and recommend Couchsurfing for free accommodations, Airbnb (get $40 when you use my link here) when I prefer to have my own place for an affordable price, and always make sure to bring my Discount Travel Card that gives me access to over 160,000 discounts around the world.
- Save money at college. Scholarships are crucial when saving money in college. Using Scholarship Owl will apply to hundreds of scholarships for you with just one registration.
- Save on books. Use Scribd to get 3 books and 1 audiobook a month for $8.99 from a huge library. Read for free for 30 days by clicking here.
- If you’re an online shopper, get cash back with Ebates just for shopping like you regularly do. Ebates is free, and you get $10 when you sign up through my link.
- Do you have pets? Getting your furry friends on pet insurance sooner than later ensures they get an affordable premium, as well as as save a lot of money on vet bills. Embrace Pet Insurance is highly reviewed and rated. We also use Rover for our dog sitting needs, as well as making money on the side. I made an average of $25 per 30 minute walk. Get $25 toward your first walk here.
- Interested in learning a second language? Use italki. The classes range from $5-$40 per hour (my Korean class costs $12 per session). If you enjoy teaching languages, you can also use italki to use as a teaching platform.
- Are you a freelancer? Use Fiverr to display your services.
- Want to exercise at home and ditch the costly gym membership? Use Beachbody on Demand and get unlimited access to workout programs like P90X, Insanity, T25, 21 Day Fix, and more. I also use my Fitbit to track my daily steps. The challenges in the Fitbit app help me keep my steps up, especially since I work at home.
- If you buy protein powder, vitamins, etc., I recommend using Vitamin Shoppe. I’ve been buying my products through them since 2011 because they’re the most affordable, and always have a sale going on. If you buy “health” food often, use Thrive Market since their products are significantly cheaper since they cut out the middle man (supermarket or store).
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