7 Budget-Friendly Healthy Foods

7 Budget-Friendly Healthy Foods

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Although there are ways to eat healthy on a budget, there’s no denying that buying fresh, whole—even frozen—foods is pricier than processed, packaged foods and fast food.

In the last decade alone, the cost of food has increased by 26 percent and the average grocery bill for a family of 4 is anywhere between $129 and $285 per week, according to the USDA.

The good news is that your family can eat healthy and save money without sacrificing nutrition or taste.

Here are 7 budget-friendly healthy foods to fill up your grocery cart with each week.


1. Bananas


A great source of potassium and vitamin B6, bananas are also a good source of fiber: 1 small banana has 2.6 grams.

Since they’re not considered part of the dirty dozen, you can buy conventional  bananas which are more affordable.

In our home, we go through at least two bunches of bananas a week. I add bananas to oatmeal, overnight oats, green smoothies, and use them as a replacement for oil in bread, muffin and baking recipes.

When the bananas start to over-ripen, throw them in the freezer and whip up a frozen, non-dairy faux ice cream to stretch your food dollars even more.

 

2. Eggs


Eggs are often dubbed “a perfect food” and for good reason.

An excellent source of protein, eggs are also high in lutein, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

Eggs make the list of budget friendly healthy foods because they’re so versatile.

Hard-boiled eggs can be served for breakfast, added to salads, transformed into egg salad or packed for snacks when you’re on the go.

My kids eat eggs almost every day whether it’s scrambled, in a frittata or a quiche, or incorporated into an egg “fried” rice.

Pasture-raised eggs and organic eggs are ideal because they’re raised humanely, treated without antibiotics or arsenic, and their nutritional profile is better than white eggs.

Although they’re more expensive, I’ve noticed prices come way down in recent months.

Something I also discovered at my local grocery store is that organic eggs are found in two areas of the store: the organic/natural section where they’re more expensive and the regular eggs section which are more affordable.


3. Broccoli


Since they’re high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, green leafy vegetables are some of the best vegetables to feed your kids

Broccoli in particular, is high in vitamins C, K, and folate.

It’s also quite affordable and can be served cooked or raw, and for meals or snacks.

Add broccoli to stews, casseroles and salads, as well as egg, pasta and rice dishes. 

Or use your blender or Vitamix to blend the florets and the stems into a healthy, delicious soup.


4. Rolled oats


Rolled oats are low in sugar and a good source of whole grains and filling fiber, iron, selenium and manganese.

I use rolled oats practically every day in oatmeal, overnight oats, energy bites, cookies, breads, pancakes and muffins.


5. Frozen peas


With 5 grams of fiber and protein per 1/2 cup, peas are also a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, K, folate and magnesium.

While fresh peas are in season in the spring, you can stock up on frozen peas all year long.

Peas not only make for a great first food for baby, but they can be added to practically every dish including soups, stews, rice dishes, pastas and salads.


6. Sweet potatoes


An excellent source of vitamins A and C, and fiber, sweet potatoes are not only healthy, but a food most kids like and one that can stretch your food budget.

I love roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon and sea salt but you can also pop them in the microwave when you’re tight on time or grate them into a hash and serve them with eggs.


7. Beans and lentils


Beans and lentils are high in both protein and fiber and excellent sources of iron. Also, since you can buy beans in bulk, a little goes a long way.

Add beans to rice and pasta dishes, incorporate them into soups, stews and chilis or serve them as an appetizer that your kids can munch on while you’re cooking dinner.

6 Tips For a Healthy Vegetarian Pregnancy  A vegetarian diet can be a heathy way to eat during pregnancy, but you'll want to make sure it's designed to support your baby's growth and development.

6 Tips For a Healthy Vegetarian Pregnancy

A vegetarian diet can be a heathy way to eat during pregnancy, but you'll want to make sure it's designed to support your baby's growth and development.

A vegetarian diet—one that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds—can be a healthy way to eat, even during pregnancy.

According to a 2016 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ position paper, a well planned vegetarian or vegan diet during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is appropriate. What’s more, a 2015 review in the journal BJOG suggests following a vegetarian or vegan diet during pregnancy is safe and not associated with adverse outcomes or birth defects.

Being a junk-food vegetarian and filling up on meatless foods like breads, pastas and processed foods alone however, isn’t a healthy way to eat and can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Add to that nausea and morning sickness, and you could be missing out on the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.

The key therefore, is to make sure your vegetarian diet is well designed and includes all of the nutrients you and your baby need.

Here are some things to consider when planning a vegetarian diet during pregnancy.

1. Fill up on folate

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends all women of childbearing age take between 400 and 800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida that can occur during the early weeks of pregnancy.

During pregnancy, you should take a prenatal vitamin with 600 mcg of folic acid to support your baby’s development.

Although folic acid is better absorbed than folate-rich foods, getting foods like spinach, black-eyed peas, asparagus and Brussels sprouts is ideal.

2. Pick protein

Getting enough protein during pregnancy is important for cell growth, both for you and your baby.

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein is 46 grams per day during the first trimester and 71 grams per day during the second and third trimesters.

On a vegetarian diet, beans and legumes are excellent sources of protein and can easily be swapped in for meat in most dishes. Beans and legumes are also healthy choices because they contain fiber which balance blood sugar, help you feel satiated and prevent pregnancy constipation.

Other sources of protein include eggs, nuts and seeds, tofu, tempeh and edamame.

3. Up your intake of iron

Iron helps your baby and the placenta develop, allows red blood cells in your body to deliver oxygen to your baby, and maintains your body’s blood volume which doubles during pregnancy. Not only can iron-deficiency anemia cause fatigue, it can lead to preterm labor as well.

During pregnancy, you need 27 milligrams of iron but your iron needs may be higher because plant-based iron may not be as readily absorbed as the iron in animal products.

To improve absorbency, you can soak and cook beans, legumes and nuts or pair them with vitamin-C rich foods. Vitamin C rich foods include strawberries, honeydew, broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, Brussel sprouts and tomatoes. Other iron-rich foods include eggs, spinach, raisins, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, and fortified cereals.

4. Eat calcium-rich foods

Calcium is an important nutrient during pregnancy because it helps your baby build strong teeth and bones, and it’s important for his cardiovascular function.

Dairy products are a rich source of calcium, vitamin D and protein as well as vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 supports brain and nervous system development and is necessary to absorb folate and choline. B12 is primarily found in animal sources but you can also get it in fortified foods like cereals, meat substitutes, nondairy milks, and nutritional yeast.

If you’re avoiding dairy products, be sure to include non-dairy calcium sources such as green leafy vegetables, figs, and chia seeds.

5. Get healthy fats

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, are vital for baby’s brain, eyes and nervous system development. Be sure to include fatty fish like salmon as well as eggs, nuts and seeds.

If you don’t eat fish or eggs however, you’ll want to pay attention to the ration of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids for optimal conversion of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to DHA and EPA. I suggest you speak with a registered dietitian nutrition who specializes in pregnancy nutrition and can design a healthy plan for you.

6. Eat complex carbohydrates

Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. They support your baby’s neurological development and overall health, and give you steady energy throughout the day.

Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include foods like fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, sweet potatoes, oatmeal and brown rice.

7. Take a prenatal vitamin

A good prenatal vitamin shouldn’t replace whole-food sources of nutrients but if you’re battling morning sickness or find it difficult to get what you need, it can help fill in the nutritional gaps.