The common misconception is that it costs a fortune to eat healthy foods. On the contrary, many nutrient-dense foods are very affordable and great alternatives to unhealthy foods that cost a lot more. The resistance to buy healthier foods is more about the fact that eating healthy can be difficult. Price is sometimes a factor, especially if you eat out a lot, but shopping for plant-based foods at the store will not break the bank.
When you buy healthier plant-based foods, it’s always best to buy in bulk. For instance, you can make a lot of smoothies when you buy a large bag of frozen fruit. A carton of oats goes a long way and beans and lentils are your best friends. You can’t forget about the vegetables, though! See how easy it is to eat healthy on a budget when you read about the affordable, nutrient-dense foods below.
A simple 10-ounce bag of spinach shouldn’t cost more than two dollars. You can add spinach to smoothies, soups, salads, and even sauces. Spinach is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, and manganese, iron, folate, and magnesium. Like other leafy greens, spinach contains chlorophyll and other plant compounds that help to improve cellular health and reduce inflammation.
This isn’t a main course, but adding garlic to your food is like adding a superfood bomb to your meals. The flavor and aroma are enchanting, but garlic is really known for it’s medicinal and healing properties. The antioxidants give garlic its potent anti-fungal, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic is packed with copper, iron, selenium, calcium, B-vitamins, and vitamin C. You can get several garlic bulbs for two dollars and you can add it to almost every dish.
Depending on where you buy your produce, broccoli should only cost between one to two dollars per pound. Most people are unaware that broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C. One cup of broccoli satisfies 135% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C. Studies have shown that the antioxidants in broccoli may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Enjoy broccoli cooked, raw, in salads, soups, stir-fries, and more.
Oats are simple to make and very affordable. Try to opt for old-fashioned rolled oats when possible, or you can spend a little extra on steel cut oats. Oats are naturally rich in fiber, B-vitamins, magnesium, iron, and complex carbohydrates. A bowl of oatmeal in the morning helps to increase energy levels and improve your mood.
Beans, beans they’re good for your heart…and your wallet. From garbanzo and black beans to lima beans and kidney beans, legumes are rich in protein, fiber, zinc, folate, magnesium, and potassium. Beans are honestly the most affordable sources of protein and they contain essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Add them to stews, stuffed sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, soups, or salads.
#6: Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can cost more at times, but they are often under one dollar per pound. These root vegetables are rich in both vitamins A and E, in addition to potassium, B-vitamins, manganese, and complex carbohydrates. Studies have shown that sweet potatoes help to regulate blood sugar levels, stress levels, and blood pressure levels. You can make mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato fries, sweet potato juice, or add them to soups or roasted vegetable medleys.
Just like garlic, onions are not the main course, but they add wonderful flavor to your meals. From stir-fries and soups to sauces and roasted vegetable medleys, onions always complement other ingredients. Onions are fairly low in price and they are excellent sources of antioxidants, some of which may prevent against diabetes and certain types of cancer. Click here to learn more about onions.
While tomatoes technically fall into the fruit category, most people associate them with vegetables. They are available year round and are very easy on the wallet. The average tomato is rich in vitamins C, E, and lycopene, which is the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their signature color. Both vitamins C & E help to support collagen production, which benefits the skin. Add tomatoes to salads, sauces, soups, or risotto.