Friday, August 31, 2012

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Having been (and am still) strapped for cash, I know how difficult it is to try to figure out what to eat when money is in short supply. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables just seem way to expensive. Pasta and rice are so cheap and provide so many necessary calories it is easy to fall back on these less healthy choices. Recently, I was creating some food lists for my own personal use, divided up by nutrient family, and I noticed something important. Every group has some items that are often reasonably priced, even during winter. I thought I'd share a few of my findings.

Red cabbage is somewhat of a super food. It is high in both identified micro-nutrients such as anthocyanins and sulfur. If eaten raw, it is also an excellent source of vitamin C. Red cabbage is widely available year round and is low cost. (We can often get it in the middle of the winter for 29 cents a pound!)

Apples and yellow onions can be bought year round by the bag full. Apple skins and regular yellow cooking onions are high in the micro-nutrient quercetin and onions are a rich source of sulfur. Both can be used in many ways and are inexpensive.

Carrots and sweet potatoes are high in carotenoids and are available every season.

Frozen and canned spinach are healthy and low cost, providing your body with lutein, zeaxanthin, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, folate, betaine, and some omega-3 fatty acids. Stock up on the spinach, and you can add some health to every meal without much expense.

Canned tomato paste and tomato sauce are rich sources of lycopene.

Canned beets supply betalains.

If you can't find red cabbage, regular cabbage is still high in sulfur and vitamin C and provides an summery crisp fresh taste in the middle of the winter. Frozen one pound bags of broccoli and cauliflower are available for about 99 cents and provide lots of vitamins and minerals for your health. Canned mushrooms and jarred chopped garlic are some other good choices for sulfur and B vitamins.

Canola oil and canned tuna can get you some omega-3 fatty acids with no need to bankrupt yourself on fresh fish.

Iodine and calcium are in abundance in yogurt. Large quart size containers of fat free yogurt are available at most grocery stores at discount prices. Dried beans are also budget friendly and provide too many nutrients for me to list!

Hope this helps those of you who feel you can't afford healthy food.

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