Is your budget at odds with your desire to eat healthy? Seafood, lean cuts of meat and fresh produce can be pricey, but there are many foods that let you stretch your shopping dollars.
At about 15 cents each, protein-rich eggs are a great buy. Scrambled for breakfast, baked into a frittata for dinner and hard boiled as a snack on the run, eggs can fit into any meal. If watching calories, eat twice the number of whites as yolks.
For pennies a serving, plain oatmeal, especially the steel-cut variety, offers a wealth of benefits. It's high in the type of soluble fiber that helps remove cholesterol from your bloodstream, lowers your risk for heart disease and keeps you regular.
When it comes to canned veggies, whole tomatoes top the list. Because they're cooked, they have more of the antioxidant lycopene. They can be quickly heated with herbs for a side dish or pureed into a sauce. Look for whole peeled tomatoes, often less processed during canning, and chop them yourself. Just avoid brands with a lot of added salt.
Compared to beef, chicken is a great protein value, especially if you buy on sale, whether whole or parts. While skinless and boneless breasts are convenient, they're more expensive. You can easily pull the skin off whole chicken breasts before cooking. And using bone-in pieces for recipes yields more flavorful dishes. Organic, pasture-raised chicken may have healthier meat -- stock up whenever it goes on sale.
At under a dollar a pound, bananas deliver an assortment of vitamins and minerals, notably potassium, plus sterols, which are natural substances that may help reduce blood cholesterol. They also contain both kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Best of all, there's no prep work needed to enjoy them. You can also slice and freeze chunks for a tasty treat.
Keep in mind that many varieties of fresh produce can be affordable as well as delicious, depending on where and when you shop. Join a CSA (community supported agriculture) group or start a cooperative buying club with neighbors to get seasonal food from local farmers.
Learn more about the CSA movement and find local farmers at LocalHarvest.org.