HEALTHY BUDGET

Here are 10 cheap, healthy and convenient items to keep on your grocery list:

Whole Grain Brown Rice

Cheap

A 14-ounce box of minute brown rice only costs around $1.75.

Convenient

Make dinner in a flash with brown rice. It only takes minutes to whip up some brown rice with very little effort. Once you have rice on hand, you can mix it into just about anything for a complete filling meal.

Healthy

During processing, white rice removes the hull and bran. The hull and bran naturally contain fiber, protein, thiamine, calcium, magnesium, potassium and more. White rice has to add synthetic vitamins and minerals back into the grain to replace those lost during processing.

Brown rice also contains natural oils, is rich in antioxidants, high in fiber and is a slow release carbohydrate which makes brown rice a great choice for healthy skin, a healthy heart and a healthy weight.

Dietitian Tip

When switching from processed refined white grains to whole grains, it may take time for your taste buds to adjust. It’s a good idea to mix the two together and slowly increase the ratio of the whole grain to the processed refined variety over time to adjust to the flavor.

Flavor-boosting Recipe: Baked Cheesy Rice and Green Chiles

Serves: 6 or more
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice (from about 1 1/2 cups raw)
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (or Greek yogurt plain)
  • 1 to 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced, or one to two 4-ounce cans chopped mild green chilies
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook rice according to package directions.
3. Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and sauté over low heat until lightly browned.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the onion with the rice and all the remaining ingredients. Stir together thoroughly.
5. Pour the mixture into a lightly oiled, 1 1/2-quart baking casserole dish. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Let stand for five minutes or so, then scoop individual portions out of the casserole to serve.

Whole Wheat Pasta

Cheap

A 12-ounce box of whole wheat pasta spirals only costs around $1.25.

Convenient

Cooking pasta couldn’t be any easier. All you need is a stove, a pot, water and noodles. Pasta is great reheated and can be served cold or hot.

Healthy

The same principles apply to all whole wheat grains, including rice, pasta, crackers or bread. The whole grain variety has more natural nutrients and boasts many health benefits. Having just three servings a day can reduce the risk of chronic health conditions like cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, cancer and digestive issues.

Dietitian Quick Meal Idea

Make extra spiral pasta for a cold pasta salad lunch. Start with a cup of pasta, add five cheese cubes, five cherry tomatoes, ¼ cup of a crunchy vegetable (shredded carrots, diced bell peppers, diced cucumbers, etc.), and two tbsp of Italian dressing to the pasta. Mix well. Refrigerate and enjoy!


Whole Wheat Bread

Cheap

A loaf of whole wheat bread can be found as low as $1.99. On average, this is at least 20 slices – that’s 10 healthier sandwiches!

Convenient

No cooking required and it’s already sliced for you. Enough said.

Healthy

Bread, milk and eggs are found at the top of the grocery list for most Americans. Out of all of the whole grains, bread is the hardest to switch from the processed white version over to the whole grain variety. While it’s true that whole grain bread tastes very different from white bread, we can learn to love whole grain bread for what it is and what it does for us. However, if that doesn’t sound like you, don’t fret. Just move on to another different area of health and give it your best shot.


Yogurt

Cheap

A six-ounce container of yogurt sells for around $0.50. Purchasing a large container isn’t always the cheaper way to go. Make sure you read the serving sizes and do the math.

Convenient

All you need is a spoon!

Healthy

Only the plain variety offers the best in nutrition. Yogurt contains live cultures that help our immune system, but when sugar is added the benefits diminish.
This is yet another item that requires a change in taste buds. With all the sugar in our diet, our taste buds have been accustomed to the sweet flavor. Try using the plain variety and adding just a bit of honey to sweeten and slowly reduce the amount. Add berries for an additional bit of natural sweetness.


Old Fashioned Oats

Cheap

A 42-ounce container of rolled oats are only $2.35.

Convenient

Oats can be used for more than just oatmeal. They can even be consumed raw. You can add them to your smoothie, thicken sauces and soups, use as breadcrumbs, use as pancake flour, use in cookies and use to make your own homemade granola.

Healthy

Oats lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugars, lowers cancer risk, reduce high blood pressure, keep digestive system healthy, help with weight loss and may even help you sleep better.


Beans

Cheap

A can of beans will cost you around $0.49.

Convenient

Pop open a can, heat and serve.

Healthy

Beans are truly magical. They lower cholesterol and triglycerides, move your digestive system and help balance blood sugar. They are slowly metabolized so you feel fuller longer, which helps with weight loss. Plus, they contain a powerhouse of nutrients.


Canned Tuna

Cheap

A five-ounce can of tuna can be found on sale for lower than $1.00.

Convenient

Open the can and enjoy – no cooking required.

Healthy

Tuna is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that help to reduce cholesterol in the arteries and blood vessels. It’s also a great very lean protein choice.


Head of Lettuce

Cheap

A head of lettuce can be found for $1.99.

Convenient

All you need is a knife, cutting board and a bowl. Chop away or forgo the knife and get the kids involved having them tear the leaves apart.

Healthy

Lettuce is very low in calories and is packed full of vitamin A, vitamin K, folates, vitamin C, minerals and zeaxanthin. Including salads regularly in your diet may prevent osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anemia, and may protect from cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

Dietitian Tip

Mix up honey, mustard and olive oil for a cheap, convenient and healthy salad dressing.


Salsa

Cheap

A jar of salsa costs around $1.69.

Convenient

Open the jar and enjoy – no cooking required!

Healthy

Salsa is low calorie, but full of flavor. Choose spicy salsa for capsaicin that can open up blood vessels and help with sinus congestion. Salsa is also loaded with lycopene, vitamin C and vitamin A.


Marinara

Cheap

A jar of marinara sauce can be found for as little as $1.00.

Convenient

Open the jar, heat and serve.

Healthy

Marinara is full of the antioxidant lycopene that helps protect your cells from damage. Watch out for salt and sodium that can be added in large amounts. Make sure sugar accounts for less than 9 grams per serving and sodium is less than 450 mg per serving.