Healthy and organic foods have a nasty reputation for being expensive, but luckily you can ignore the gossip mills. While it's true that grocery bills can add up fast at the natural market, there are plenty of options that fit into any budget (gotta leave room for nights on the town, right?). The following nutrient dense and versatile foods give you major bang for your buck. In fact, if you consumed all of these items in one sitting it would total less than $5!
If you want a healthy yet cheap source of protein that's ready to eat in 15 minutes, quinoa is the answer. But the nutrition content doesn't stop there - it's also jam packed with manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and iron.
- Cost: between $1.50 and $3.50 per pound and one cup dry yields a whopping four cups cooked!
- Ideas: Delicious when cooked with veggie broth then tossed with olive oil and herbs, or get a little more creative with this lemony recipe or pilaf.
Brown rice really needs no introduction - it has been a staple of the healthy diet for centuries because it's filling and pairs well with vegetables and legumes. Nutritionally speaking, it's an excellent source of manganese and fiber and contains important minerals like selenium and magnesium.
- Cost: ranges from $1.50 - $3 per pound
- Ideas: The possibilities are endless with rice. Top it with your favorites veggies, wrap it up in a tortilla or nori sheet, whip up a rissoto, and turn it into a dairy-free milk.
A plate with grains and vegetables is incomplete without legumes. They add a big protein punch and are an inexpensive way to feed your hunger. There are many varieties - black beans and lentils among the most popular - which contain high amounts of potassium, fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc, folate and manganese.
- Cost: around $.99 per pound on average
- Ideas: They can be used in many, many dishes from soups, chili, salads, dips... the list goes on and on. But, before it ends, this black bean burger recipe must be included.
Kale is the queen of green vegetables and belongs on a throne in your refrigerator at all times. It has a dense nutritional value of vitamins B, C and K and calcium.
- Cost: approximately $1-2 a bunch
- Ideas: It can sub in for lettuce in almost any dish, like sandwiches and salads, and is fantastic on it's own. You've got to try making your own kale chips! Also try adding it to your juices.
Bananas provide a natural energy boost due to their sugar and potassium content, and are therefore a great caffeine alternative when you need a little extra oomph in your day. Plus, they're high in vitamin C. So, if you're tired of oranges, you know where to turn!
- Cost: $.79 - $.99 lbs
- Ideas: Can be used to sweeten many recipes, from breakfasts to desserts to drinks (including frappuccinos!). Check out 10 Things to Do with a Banana (get your mind out of the gutter!)
As for other items on your shopping list, here are some more tips to eating healthy without emptying out your wallet:
- Stock up on dry or freezable goods when they're on sale or you have a coupon
- Buy organic produce at farmers markets or CSAs whenever your schedule allows
- Avoid packaged foods and buy in bulk whenever possible.
- The ultimate best deal is growing your own!
- Check out this article on shopping on a budget for organic food