Although a study done in 2014 proved that it is cheaper to eat badly than it is to eat only healthy food, that does not mean that a healthy diet has to be expensive. And though actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow recently stirred up controversy by taking what she called the "food stamp challenge" in an attempt to shed light on what food stamps might provide, there is something interesting about this issue. While we won't contemplate how to eat only healthy foods on less than $30 per week (which is what food stamps provide), we can consider some of the best foods to add to your repertoire without breaking the bank. Before we start to look at those foods, though, let's figure out a few things that ensure we are going to find them at their lowest price.
- Buy in bulk - If you can purchase such foods as nuts, spices, and grains in bulk you will see their prices drop substantially. You don't have to purchase warehouse sized containers either and can often find stores that sell by the ounce.
- Don't buy canned - If you are going to add foods like vegetables and beans to the diet, avoid canned. Though canned fish like tuna and salmon can be surprisingly frugal choices, when you buy something like beans in a can you are paying for water and getting far less bang for the buck than if you bought them dried, soaked them, and then cooked them at home.
- Do consider frozen - While a crisp kale or spinach salad is delicious, it can be costly. If you want to add affordable greens to the diet, you really cannot beat a bag of frozen greens. Supermarkets now stock affordably priced spinach, collards, and kale. You may also want to scout out the store brands, as these too are often remarkably less expensive.
- Scout out the discount rack - Most grocery stores have areas where produce that is good but not perfect is available. This is an amazing resource for fruits and vegetables that you can often eat that day or put to use in soups, stews, purees, baked goods, or simply freeze and use in other recipes later.
- Go vegetarian one day (or more) per week - While lean protein is great for you (such as what you find in poultry and fish), it is very pricey. If you can opt to eat meat as the exception rather than the rule, you will cut down on grocery costs immensely.
- Look at the unexpected spots - Apart from dollar stores, the "job lot" stores are often a treasure trove for gourmet foodstuffs at bargain basement prices. From packages of buckwheat soba noodles to gourmet grains and mixes, you can usually find amazingly good deals on healthy and delicious foods in such unexpected outlets.
So, now that you have some tips stretching out your shopping dollars on healthy foods, let's consider which foods cost you around a dollar or less per serving.
Foods that Cost $1 (or Less) Per Serving
You might say that you can head to the famous "golden arches" to enjoy a few items from the dollar menu, the point here is to avoid eating such processed and unhealthy foods if at all possible. This means finding foods that you can enjoy for less than a dollar per serving. There is a surprisingly long list of such foods, and when you combine them you often find that the entire meal comes in at under a few dollars in total. Which foods cost so little and yet come with lots of nutrition and healthful benefits? They are: Dried beans - Usually less than $.50 per serving, they are fiber and nutrient dense. They can make a perfect protein if you partner them with rice or another grain, and when you buy them dried and cook them at home, it is thought to provide you with more antioxidants. Eggs - Experts are still unsure about the actual number of eggs we can safely consume each week, but at less than $.25 each, eggs are a dream food. Packed with protein, they are filling and satisfying - especially when cooked with vegetables and rice. Nuts - Whether it is peanuts or almonds, you will find that a serving of nuts tends to cost no more than $.70. Full of nutrients and fiber, they can also help with such issues as high cholesterol. Oats - High in fiber and low in fat, it cuts cholesterol and can be used in baked goods, as breadcrumbs and as a tasty breakfast…and it costs less than $.13 per serving. Lentils - A whopping $.15 per serving, they have more protein than many meat sources, are extremely filling, and just downright delicious. Canned fish - Tuna and salmon are packed with Omega 3 oils, come in at less than $1 per serving and can be used in a diversity of recipes. Yogurt - You can enjoy this for about $1 per serving OR make your own and continue to enjoy it for under $.25 per serving! Whole grains - Ranging from $.18 to $.60 per serving, they are a good source of fiber, nutrition, and extremely filling. This is just a short list of the cheap eats that won't break the bank. Don't overlook affordable produce too - and start tracking what your meals cost. You'll be surprised at how affordable a truly healthy diet can be.
greatist.com/health/44-healthy-foods-under-1 www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/eating-healthy-vs unhealthy_n_4383633.html