Eating clean does NOT mean cleaning out your wallet!
Below is a list of 10 healthy and budget friendly foods.
Oats are one of the cheapest clean eating options! As a member of the whole-grain family, they’re loaded with nutrients. One serving of oatmeal contains 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, and only costs about 30 cents.
Buy plain, dry oats in the big canisters (I actually buy quick cooking oats) rather than the individual packets, which are way more costly. This way, you are in control of the added ingredients, sugars, and total calories. Great mix-ins include fresh fruit (such as diced apple, sliced banana, berries, or raisins), peanut butter, chopped nuts, or protein powder!
Not only are eggs delicious but they are also easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and a great source of high quality protein and vitamins. Raw eggs can last about three weeks in the shell, so stock up when they’re on sale. Use eggs to whip up cost-effective entrees like omelets, low-fat quiches, and egg sandwiches. Or, hard boil the eggs for ready to eat snacks on the go! Replace some of the whole eggs in these recipes with egg whites to lower the calories, fat, and cholesterol.
3) Fresh Fruit
Bananas, apples, and oranges are extremely affordable fruits. Select green, relatively unripe bananas at the store so they last all week. Don’t worry about them going to waste either; if they start to turn brown and squishy, toss them into a plastic storage bag and freeze for later. Use frozen bananas in healthy fruit smoothies, or mash them up and mix into oatmeal, low-fat muffins, or pancakes.
An easy way to save on fruits and vegetables is to buy what's in season! Plus, it's fresh!
4) Frozen Vegetables
Bagged frozen vegetables are one of the greatest values in the grocery store (generic versions are typically cheaper). And because mixed-vegetable blends contain several different vegetables in one bag, they are an incredibly easy and cost-effective way to incorporate a variety of healthy produce into your diet. You’d spend significantly more if you bought all those veggies individually in their fresh form and would be much more likely to have the extras go to waste.
Frozen vegetables really are just as nutritious as fresh. They’re picked at their peak and flash-frozen, locking in all their healthful nutrients. Use frozen veggies just as you would fresh — in soups, chilies, casseroles, pasta sauces, omelets, stir-fries, and side dishes. Just make sure you don’t select blends that contain sauces, salt, sugar, or other unhealthy additives.
Beans and lentils are packed with protein, making them an economical alternative to meat, poultry, and seafood. Plus, they’re healthy — loaded with fiber, which, among other things, maintains digestive health, reduces cholesterol levels, and keeps blood sugars under control.
Stockpile these pantry staples when they go on sale; dried beans will keep for up to a year, and canned beans last twice as long. If you choose canned beans, buy low-sodium whenever possible and be sure to rinse well before using to remove excess salt from the canning liquids.
Substitute beans for ground meat in chilies, tacos, soups, or burgers, or add them to cold salads.
Low in calories yet high in protein and healthy omega-3s, canned tuna can be used for sandwiches, casseroles, salads and more. The best deal is usually with chunk light in water for around 85 cents per 6-ounce can.
7) Brown Rice
A 1-pound bag of brown rice sells for about $1.75 and yields about 10 side servings -- that's just 18 cents a serving! Use it for stir-fries, make a rice salad or stuff peppers or zucchini with a combination of brown rice, diced tomato, chopped onion and a small amount of cheese. Once they're stuffed, bake them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees F.
8) Fat Free Greek Yogurt
An easy protein and calcium-rich snack or breakfast option is fat-free yogurt. Consider buying the large 32-ounce tubs instead of the pricier individual cartons and scoop out an individual serving into a plastic container or bowl. Keep plenty of fun add-ins such as fresh fruit, raisins, and nuts to add variety!
9) Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a concentrated source of protein, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and B vitamins. Of course, it’s also a concentrated source of calories, so make sure you limit yourself to no more than two tablespoons per serving (two level tablespoons are 195 calories).
Your money will be better spent if you choose natural peanut butters without added sugars or other additives. For a thrifty, wholesome breakfast, enjoy peanut butter spread on whole-wheat toast. Or have a “grown-up PB&J” for lunch — a real comfort food — by substituting sliced fresh fruit (apples or bananas work best with the bonus of being among the cheapest fruits) for jelly on your sandwich.
10) Sweet Potato
Our list of cheap eats would not be complete without the sweet potato. Like white potatoes, they are one of the richest sources of potassium, but ounce for ounce, sweet potatoes deliver more fiber, vitamin C, and beta-carotene than their pale cousins. Turn sweet potatoes into everyday favorites: Use them to prepare oven fries, mashed potatoes, and stews. Or, for a super-easy side, pierce a whole sweet potato with a fork, wrap in a damp paper towel, and microwave for four to five minutes. Top with cinnamon, nonfat Greek yogurt, or salsa for a little kick! One medium-sized sweet potato provides about 200 calories.
Lean ground meats -
Personally, I enjoy the lean ground meats as they’re relatively low in calories, often on sale, and very easy to cook.
Rotisserie chicken -
It’s ready to eat, relatively inexpensive, and tasty!
It’s ridiculously easy to cook, very low in calories, provides numerous health benefits, and is, in my opinion, delicious.
Cottage cheese -
It’s tasty, filling, and with a little imagination can easily be transformed into a sweet dessert.
*Short on money? Try shopping at your local BJ’s, Costco, Walmart and/or immediately check for the items on sale in your local grocery store.
*Eating out at restaurants will be a huge drain on your wallet. Shopping in bulk and preparing your own meals will significantly reduce your monthly spending.
*Invest in spices/seasonings such as salt, pepper, oregano, turmeric, paprika, etc. They’re simple, zero-calorie ways to add flavor to your meals.
*Invest in a cheap water bottle and fill it up prior to heading out. This can save you a lot of money in the long-run.