Today I'd like to share with you an article on great staple foods to keep on hand that are cost effective for those on a tight budget. If you do not like most of these, remember you may have to make an effort to change your "likes". Your body will always crave what you've put in it for years and for most of us, that's unhealthy things. Our tastes change in different stages of our lives, so keep this list handy for your next shopping trip and be adventurous. Remember the old saying: "Try it, you might like it!"
Top 10 Budget-Friendly Foods (Healthy Ones!)
Tightening your belt these days? You don't have to cut back on healthy foods as you're trimming your family food budget! Here are 10 top picks for economical and delicious healthy foods.
By Joy Bauer
With the economy suffering and food prices rising, your family’s grocery bill might be in need of a few budget cuts. Unfortunately, because of the misperception that healthy foods always cost more, nutritious foods like fresh produce are often the first to get bumped from grocery carts. But there are plenty of ways to save money without sacrificing the quality of your diet. Here are 10 of my top picks for healthy foods that won’t break the bank.
Oats are one of the cheapest healthy breakfast options around, and, as a member of the whole-grain family, they’re loaded with healthful nutrients. One serving of oatmeal (made from a half-cup dry oats) doles out five grams of protein and four grams of fiber, while setting you back only about 30 cents (and 150 calories).
Buy plain, dry oats in the big canisters rather than the (often presweetened) individual packets, which are way more costly. This way, you’re also in control of the added ingredients, sugars, and total calories in your breakfast. Great mix-ins include fresh or dried fruit (such as diced apple, sliced banana, berries, or raisins), peanut butter, chopped nuts, or a few teaspoons of preserves.
2. Healthy Frozen Mixed-Vegetable Blends
Bagged frozen vegetables are one of the greatest values in the grocery store (generic versions are typically cheaper than the popular name brands, unless there’s a sale). And because mixed-vegetable blends (such as stir-fry or California-style varieties) contain up to seven different vegetables in one bag, they are an incredibly easy and cost-effective way to incorporate a colorful 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.
3. Fresh Fruit: Bananas, Apples, and Oranges
Refilling your fruit bowl every week can cost an arm and a leg… but it doesn’t have to! Make affordable fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges your weekly staples, and save more costly options like pineapple, pomegranates, melons, and papayas for special treats.
Bananas in particular are a bargain hunter’s dream. 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 black 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.
Don’t forget about those oranges and apples — they’re kid-friendly, easy to tote, and stay fresh longer than most fruits.
Lentils really are the king of legumes. They’ve got it all: fiber, protein, folate, iron, potassium, and a host of other trace minerals. Plus, they’re super-affordable and surprisingly easy to prepare. Unlike dried beans, they don’t require presoaking and they cook up quickly. Simmer lentils with diced tomatoes and seasonings for a hearty side dish, or add dry lentils to soups or stews to increase protein without relying on expensive meats.
5. Beans (Canned or Dried)
You can’t go wrong with these little guys. Like lentils, beans 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 thoroughly rinse 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. Pureed beans can even be used as a healthy, low-fat alternative to butter or oil in baked goods.
6. 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 squirrel away the cash you’d normally shell out for an expensive deli sandwich and 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.
7. Canned Salmon
The healthy benefits of eating omega-3-rich fish like wild salmon are clear, but the price of fresh fish can be hard to swallow, especially if you’re feeding an entire family. Canned wild (Alaskan) salmon is a much more economical way to get your weekly fish quota. If you’re willing to spend just a few extra minutes removing the bones and skin yourself (rather than buying the boneless, skinless variety), you can save yourself even more money.
Canned salmon is perfect for cold salmon salad and warm salmon melts, and it makes great salmon cakes when mixed with egg, milk, and whole oats. Kids will love its mild flavor, too. Of course, canned salmon provides a hefty dose of sodium, so you’ll want to take that into consideration if you’re watching your salt intake.
8. Fat-Free Yogurt
An easy protein- and calcium-rich snack or breakfast option is fat-free yogurt. If your family members are big fans of this dairy favorite, consider buying the large 32-ounce tubs instead of the pricier individual cartons. Purchasing yogurt in portable six-ounce containers is convenient, but your wallet will be rewarded (you’ll save at least 20 percent) by taking a few extra seconds to scoop out an individual serving into a plastic container or bowl. Since the 32-ounce containers come in only a limited number of flavors, keep plenty of fun add-ins such as fresh fruit, raisins, and flavored extracts on hand to add some variety.
Eggs are another low-cost, high-quality protein source. When stored properly in the fridge, raw eggs last about three weeks in the shell, so stock up when they’re on sale. Also consider buying one of the trays of 18 or two dozen that are available in some grocery and club stores to save a few more pennies. Use eggs to whip up cost-effective, meatless dinner entrées like omelets, frittatas, low-fat quiches, and egg sandwiches. Replace some of the whole eggs in these recipes with egg whites to lower the calories, fat, and cholesterol.
10. Sweet Potatoes
Our list of cheap eats would not be complete without the humble potato. For an added boost of nutrition, try replacing your regular old white potatoes with sweet potatoes. 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. These nutritional powerhouses don’t have to be limited to Thanksgiving dinner, either. 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 nonfat Greek yogurt… or salsa for a little kick! One medium-sized sweet potato provides about 200 calories.
For more diet and nutrition advice, visit Joy Bauer's site.
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Blogging Without Obligation
After coming across what seemed to be the 4000th or so post on someone’s blog starting with “I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile.” I decided it is time to rethink what makes a good blog and the expectations that have come to be part of it. I am thinking that no one should utter those words again . . .and with that thought I give you Blogging Without Obligation. •Because you shouldn’t have to look at your blog like it is a treadmill. •Because its okay to just say what you have to say. If that makes for a long post, fine. Short post, fine. Frequent post, fine. Infrequent post, fine. •Because its okay to not always be enthralled with the sound of your own typing. •Because sometimes less is more. •Because only blogging when you feel truly inspired keeps up the integrity of your blog. •Because they are probably not going to inscribe your stat, link and comment numbers on your tombstone. •Because for most of us blogging is just a hobby. A way to express yourself and connect with others. You should not have to apologize for lapses in posts. Just take a step back and enjoy life, not everything you do has to be “bloggable”. •Because if you blog without obligation you will naturally keep your blog around longer, because it won’t be a chore. Plus, just think you will be doing your part to eradicate post pollution. One post at a time. . .
You'll find some great and quick snacks to have on hand at this site. Though it refers to kids, they are great for anyone. After all, we're all humans! Run HERE to see them.
Meals for Energy
Click HERE to get some great meals for pre race day and post race.