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Healthy Foods on a Skinny Budget

by Mackenzie M. October 27th, 2011 | Nutrition
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It is a fact of life in urban America that to shop at health food stores, such as Whole Foods, or to attempt to eat only fresh foods, will be expensive. This affects people on lower incomes, the elderly on social security, and college students. I am a good example of the college student who attempts to buy weekly groceries at the local Whole Foods, but who simply cannot sustain it financially. Yes, the in-store coupons offered by these stores are great, but it is still out of reach.

So how do you eat healthy, get your vitamins and minerals, and remain on budget? Well, I have compiled a list of foods that can be found at either your local supermarket, your local health food store, or, God forbid, even Walmart, that are nutritious, taste good, and are enticingly cheap.

Oats/Oatmeal. Although cast off by many as the breakfast of boring people, oatmeal is very versatile, and above all else, cheap. In my house, my roommates and I go through a container of oats every couple of weeks. Not only can oatmeal boost your immune system, stabilize blood sugar, lower your risk of diabetes, and prevent cancer, it can actually lower your cholesterol. Although oatmeal is bland by itself, try adding a dash of vanilla, the fruit of your choice, and brown sugar to make it a little more flavorful. Oatmeal can be found for under $4 for a large container.

Pasta and Sauce. This is my go-to meal during the busiest of days of the semester. Pasta is easily cooked, and a sauce is also easily prepared, especially if you find a good deal on a pre-made jar. Simply boil the noodles, drain, and then add the sauce of your choice. It is a full meal in about 15 minutes. I am always on the hunt for good deals on pasta and sauce. For example, my local Target had a box of pasta for only about $2, and a name-brand sauce was on sale for $2 as well. When choosing a pasta, for the highest amount of nutrition, choose whole wheat and unbleached. For the sauce, avoid the alfredo, and choose one that contains tomatoes. Pasta is full of fiber and can prevent Alzheimer’s. Tomato sauce is full of lycopene which has been known to prevent cancer, as well as repair damaged cells in the body.

Chicken Breasts. A boneless, skinless chicken breast is not only absolutely affordable, it is surprisingly healthy. Chicken breasts are known for being at the top of the list of lean proteins for fat loss, and may even reduce your risk for many types of cancer due to the 60% of niacin that is found in it. Some easy serving suggestions include cooking it with bell peppers and onions, making fajitas, adding it to rice or pasta, or even just using seasoning and baking it. Cook two in the oven, and use one breast later (cold) in a salad!

What is your go-to healthy, yet inexpensive meal?

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.