You don’t have to sacrifice nutrition if you are on a tight budget. Actually, some of these dollar foods are better than the more expensive ones according to dietitians and nutritionists. You should consider these seven foods when the belt is not that loose.
The Magic Beans
A dollar per pound sounds reasonable, but you’ll be thrilled to know how much it’ll expand when cooked. A pound can swell to three times their actual volume, and that means three times the fun. These humble legumes may save you from starvation while, at the same time, giving you nourishment, says Carol Wasserman, who is a legitimate holistic health practitioner in Manhattan.
And it doesn’t end there. Beans are flexible enough to complement any spice or herb of your liking.
“We have to kind of shift our thinking from having the meat be the center of the plate and be more creative with other dishes such as rice and beans,” says Los Angeles plant–based dietitian and talk show host Julieanna Hever.
Beans are a good source of fiber and are considered protein substitute. They are also low in fat and sodium. Beans also pack a number of minerals like iron, copper, potassium, magnesium, and zinc along with a couple of vitamins namely niacin, thiamine, folic acid, and B6.
Whole Grain Brown Rice
The high fiber content it carries is not the only thing good about brown rice, it also contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which decrease digestion rate and thus fills you up for a prolonged duration.
Food and nutrition consultant Rachel Begun states, “Fiber is one of the best (nutritional component) that helps with satiety or the feeling of fullness. They also help to spread the food dollar because they’re a component of meals that can help you make a fulfilling dish.”
Frozen vegetables have the same amount of nutrients as fresh ones, says Begun. In fact, they’re even better-tasting than their fresh counterparts. That’s because fresh veggies are harvested before they are fully ripe, which may omit nutrition and taste. It needs to reach a certain level of maturity for optimum nutrition.
Broccoli, kale, and spinach have anti-inflammatory effects and can fend off diseases according to Hever. She adds, all green leafy vegetables have a lot of nutrition packed inside them. Although some types of lettuce can be enticing to the taste buds because of their bitterness, you can do away with it by mixing it with sweet vegetables such as carrots and beets.
Hever says, “People aren’t really used to it. It’s kind of a taste bud transition that some people have to get used to.”
For salad dressings, instead of buying expensive bottles, you can substitute it with a mixture of a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and lemon or lime juice, says Wasserman.
Rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, aside from its yummy taste, are just some of the benefits you get from peanut butter. Sharon Palmer, a food and nutrition writer, says peanuts contain the antioxidant resveratrol, which can also be found in red wine.
Potatoes are versatile and nutritious vegetables that can go along with any dish, Begun emphasizes. These tuberous crops carry 45 percent of the recommended daily nutrition intake of Vitamin C, 18 percent of fiber, and 18 percent of potassium that regulates blood pressure. They are considered an economical source of potassium.
Ordinary potatoes are free from fat but have high water and fiber content, which makes it an ideal weight-loss food. An average baked potato has 200 calories. However, frying increases the fat content to 8 grams from 0.
Unsuspecting Protein Bars
They may not look much, but protein bars are also good source of protein and are only sold at $2 each. A couple in Baltimore have been on a protein bar diet for quite some time now. Ross and his wife eat one protein bar every three hours after waking up and before going to sleep and have allegedly lost 78 pounds as of the moment.
The couple also consumes Power Pak pudding once a day. A can of pudding has less than 200 calories but contains 30 grams of protein, while protein bars have almost the same amount of calories with 20 grams of protein. They spend not more than $400 a month on food and drinks because they buy bulks during occasional sales.
The best way to approach your financial dilemma without compromising your health is simply to go fresh. Fast-food chains may advertise that their foods are cheaper, but you’ll be surprised with what you can buy with the same amount in the grocery stores. Wasserman says that people fail to think out of the box.
Yes, fast food is quicker than making your meal from scratch, but the nutritional value, cost efficiency, and taste of a homemade dish is way better than processed ones.