If this pandemic has you stretching every dollar, this article is for you. Groceries, we have to have them but before you stock up on ramen, try these healthy options while you're on a tight budget. We don't have to skimp on nutrients when times are tough, this is when we need to be making the healthiest choices possible. These 10 grocery items are readily available at most grocery stores and are almost always very inexpensive.
1. Beans- Loaded with fiber, protein and dozens of key nutrients, beans are one of the top picks when you're trying to eat healthy on a tight budge. You can get a one pound bag of almost any type of beans for a dollar or less. You can also find canned beans, many times organic, at most grocery stores for around a dollar. There are so many options so you don't get bored. There's pinto, black, kidney, canelli, lima, butter beans and chickpeas for example. A personal favorite of mine is split peas which I never have paid more than a dollar for a pound and I have even gotten organic for that cheap!
2. Frozen Vegetables- Vegetables are a no brainer when it comes to consumption of nutrients. Most grocery stores have 10 oz packs of vegetables in their freezer section for under a dollar. Many times frozen vegetables are more nutritious than fresh because they are picked and frozen at their peak leaving most of the nutrients intact. Stores like Walmart also have huge bags of mixed vegetables that are more hearty than the typical mixed vegetable. A bag of their mixed vegetable is so big that it's way worth the money and trip to Walmart. Stores like Aldi have been stepping up their organic game and still maintaining low prices.
3. Frozen Fruit- Much like frozen vegetables, frozen fruits are also picked at their peak and packaged retaining many of the original nutrients. Frozen fruit often comes in 10 oz bags for around a dollar. They can be used in smoothies or oatmeal and some are nice to munch on right out of the freezer. I've even used frozen fruit as ice for my water and then eat it as I drink my water throughout the day. Frozen blueberries do really well in muffins if you're into making muffins. Cranberries also freeze well and are a fun choice to throw into sparkling water. They are usually only a dollar a bag especially around the holidays.
4. Canned Fruit- Being leery of canned goods is always smart but we shouldn't disregard them altogether. When it comes to canned fruit you simply need to avoid ones with added sugar. Most companies have turned to canning them in fruit juice which is much healthier and costs the same as the sugared varieties at most grocery stores. I've gotten cans of fruit for as low as 2 cans for $1. Pears and peaches go great with cottage cheese. Target is great about making fruit in fruit juice available in their line of store brand foods and it's affordable.
5. Rice- This staple is essential for individuals and families alike. Whether it's white or brown there are several trace minerals like manganese for example in rice. It's gluten free and you can get it in many different styles. Beans and rice are one of the most simple, affordable, filling and nutritious meals you can have when on a tight budget. I regularly find huge bags of rice up to 5 lbs for less than $4.
6. Pasta- Pasta is briming with nutrients and it is not your enemy contrary to popular belief. Unless of coure you are allergic to gluten, even then there are gluten free options. Pasta is high fiber and they're even making versions with extra protein in them for the same price. You can also expect to get a healthy dose of micronutrients. If you're lacking adequate iron levels, go for enriched pasta because they add iron and b vitamins which help absorb the iron.
7. Fresh Vegetables- I have to admit that fresh vegetables at times can be ridiculously expensive but there are almost always affordable options. Greens, lettuce, tomatoes, avocadoes, celery, mushrooms, carrotts, summer squash, zucchini, onions, potatoes and herbs are almost always reasonably priced. Don't shy away from the packaged fresh vegetables. Many times stores like King Soopers will have significant mark downs and they do it on a daily basis. I once got around twenty bottles of organic green juice for .29 cents each. I've also gotten prepackaged greens for .99 cents for a huge bag. Huge tubs of organic spring mix or spinach for $1.99.
8. Fresh Fruit- Like vegetables, fruit can be expensive but not all are out of reach. Apples, oranges, grapes, pineapple, pears, bananas, berries and grapefruit almost always are affordable. There are some stores that charge a ridiculous amount for fresh fruit but there are stores like Sprouts that have really good sales on produce each week. I've personally bought avocadoes 5 for $1 there as well as grapefruit for the same price. Always check all of your local grocery adds because many times they will have at least a few fresh produce options on sale. King Soopers and Kroger are known for having apples 3 for $1. Explore, you'll be surprised what you can find for reasonable prices.
9. Eggs- Eggs are such a versitile food and very inexpensive if you buy in bulk. Target for example has a 30 count carton of eggs for less than $4. You can have them scrambled, fried, poached or hard boiled. You can also add hard boiled eggs to salad. With the produce mentioned above you can easily have at least one if not two salads per day for very cheap. You can make quiche with some of the affordable vegetables mentioned above like spinach, mushrooms and onions. Add a little fresh garlic for a powerhouse food that helps keep you free from illness. You can make egg salad sandwiches and throw hard boiled eggs into potato salad. Potato salad is one of the yummiest dishes you can make on a tight budget.
10. Hot Cereal- I'm talking grits, malt-o-meal, oatmeal, cream of wheat; you name it they have it and they have it cheap! Oatmeal is a powerhouse of fiber and other nutrients that help keep you full for hours. I personally love sliced bananas in my oatmeal. A bowl of oatmeal with a banana costs around .25 cents. You can't beat that for a healthy breakfast. Malt-o-meal may be a pain to prepare but it stretches a long way and it's very hearty and fulfilling. When you eat it with a little sugar it's delicious and you feel like you ate something good for you. Grits are amazing with butter, cheese and pepper, all of which are super affordable if you shop around and pay attention to your local grocery store ads.
I hope you have a newfound hope in being able to eat healthy food even while we struggle through this pandemic and economic crisis. It may not be fancy and super tasty but I guarantee that a two pound $1 bag of carrots has way more nutrients and health benefits than a $1 bag of chips. It's possible to eat healthy during this time of anxiety, uncertainty and fear. It's actually very important to our mental health as well as our physical health. Don't assume it's too expensive to eat healthy. Search store apps, including stores like Dollar General, you can find very vauable coupons to help cut costs during this pandemic. Be empowered with the knowledge that the foods you do have access to with your budget will nourish your body and mind.