5 Healthy and Frugal Super Foods

by tdomf_91172 on April 7, 2010

A very important word from Maryann of Raise Healthy Eaters

Erin does an excellent job of showing you how to save money without compromising nutrition. Yet there are many people who still believe eating healthy has to put a huge dent in their wallets.

To prove that there are many inexpensive and nutritious options available, I’ve come up with my top five favorites:

1. Beans – One of the healthiest and least expensive foods around is beans. Whether you buy them canned or dried, they are very inexpensive and versatile to cook with. Try black, kidney, pinto, white beans or lentils.

Why are beans so great? They are packed with protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron and are low in fat. Plus, with plenty of soluble fiber they’ll fill your family up while keeping cholesterol levels at bay. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend Americans consume 3 cups of beans weekly.

Try this tasty recipe for Beef and Black Bean Burritos.

2. Brown rice – Switching from white to brown rice is an easy change to make, both in terms of money and health. Even though brown rice cost almost the same as white, it contains more fiber and nutrients because it’s a whole grain (the bran and germ has not been removed).

For a super frugal example, see Erin’s Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole recipe.

3. Canned fish – Most health organizations recommend Americans eat fish twice a week, yet you might get squeamish when seeing the salmon at 10 dollars a pound. But canned versions of both tuna and salmon are much cheaper and provide the same essential omega-3 fats kids and adults need (DHA & EPA).

Not only does light canned tuna contain less mercury than albacore, it’s less expensive. And you can use canned salmon in everything from crab cakes to toppings for a salad.

For inspiration, see Erin’s Tuna Melt Recipe.

4. Eggs – There’s no easier-to-make complete protein than an egg. At less than 2 dollars per dozen, they are a steal. Eggs not only contain quality protein, but also a variety of nutrients including selenium and riboflavin.

5. Fruits and veggies – Everyone knows fruits and veggies are healthy but they are often associated with high cost. Save money by buying what’s in season, growing your own garden, looking for deals (frozen and fresh) and stocking up and checking the local farmer’s market.

What are some of your most favorite healthy (and inexpensive) foods?

Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD is a registered dietitian, mother of two and creator of Raise Healthy Eaters, a blog dedicated to providing parents with credible nutrition advice. To get started on her site, see her Nutrition for Children section.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather April 7, 2010 at 8:09 am

I really struggle with how to cook beans.
It’s not something I grew up eating or seeing cooked much.
My husband did, but all his family does is always cook it with a hambone or bacon (which we can’t always afford).

Do you have recipes for cooking them without the meat? Any without cumin (which my husband doesn’t like)?

Any recipes for ways to use for picky kids or as substitutes for the meat?
I know they’re healthy (and affordable) and want to use them more for my family, but I feel so lost when I try.

Reply

Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom April 7, 2010 at 8:56 am

@Heather,

Here is my “how to” on cooking dried beans.

http://www.5dollardinners.com/2009/10/how-to-cook-dried-beans.html

I cook them “plain” so that I can use them differently in different recipes. You can also look here for some “bean-y” ideas!

http://www.5dollardinners.com/category/beans

Reply

Christina April 7, 2010 at 9:11 am

@ Heather
Beans are a staple in vegetarian dishes, especially Mexican ones. I’d substitute brown or black beans wherever you’d see something like ground turkey. Things like burritos and quesadillas are great with black beans!

Reply

Candi April 7, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I think she nailed it on the head, those are all healthy and frugal foods. Everyone has access to them. We grew up on beans, but over the last two years I’ve been really incorporating dried beans into our weekly meals.

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Evelyn Cox April 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I agree, beans are a big one in our house. I also love wheat. You can make so many fun things with it!

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Larissa April 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I know it’s not as cost effective but most of the beans I use are from a can and rinsed…much faster/convenient for those quick meals. I do love homemade split pea soup and you can make any number of basic versions without the ham. Very quick, cheap and healthy. Yum! I am blessed to have a veggie loving 4 year old and a somewhat accepting spouse…even if he doesn’t love it…he’ll eat it…for at least the first recipe/batch.

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joy April 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm

black beans (I use canned for convience) vvith chunks of pineapple, a splash of lime juice, can use red but I prefer green onion, and cilantro! YUM you can also bump it up by adding corn either canned or thavved. My kids love this. I serve room temperature and if there are leftovers straight from the fridge.

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