Top 4 Healthy Budget Foods (And What To Do With Them!)
With a downward turning economy, many are seeking financial refuge in preservative-packed ready meals, and fatty, artificial fast foods. It's unfortunate that some of the worst things for us - fat, salt, preservatives, sugar, and artificial colors and flavorings - are often what economy foods are made from. However, you do have healthier economy food options. Preparing meals at home can not only save you money, but can boost your health as well - potentially saving you thousands from avoiding the ill health effects of bad foods.
Here are some healthy (and cheap!) foods to add to your grocery list, along with recipes to clip and save.
#1. BROWN RICE: Brown Rice Salad (Makes 6 Servings)
Unlike white rice, brown rice contains fiber, magnesium and zinc and has a pleasant, nutty flavor. At only 10 cents per 2/3 cup serving, it's a healthy and filling addition to any meal. Add as a side dish, top with stir fry, or try this recipe for a delicious rice salad.
- 2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice, Cooled
- 16 oz Kidney Beans, Rinsed and Drained (buy dried for greater savings - just soak overnight prior to use)
- 2 Celery Ribs with Leaves, Chopped
- 1 Medium Red Onion, chopped (buy onions in bulk for greater savings)
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 4 1/2 tsp Fresh Minced Parsley OR 1 1/2 tsp Dried Parsley
- 1/4 tsp each Salt and Pepper
- 1/2 cup Fat-Free Italian Dressing
- Optional: Any chopped veggies you have on hand!
In a large bowl, mix everything except dressing, then once properly mixed, add dressing, toss to coat, then cover and refrigerate until chilled.
#2. BEANS: Simple Black Bean Hummus
Bean are good for your heart, full of fiber and protein, a good source of dietary fat, and are low on the glycemic index (keeping you full and satisfied longer). When bought dry and in bulk, beans are also extremely economical. Even canned, they ring in at a measly 50 cents per serving! Beans can be added to almost anything - think soups, salads, and chili. Here's a recipe for a delicious homemade hummus.
- 15 oz Chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or buy dry and soak overnight before use)
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 2 Tsp Cumin
- 2 Tbsp Fresh Minced Parsley or 1 Tbsp Dried Parsley
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
Add all ingredients in to a food processor and blend until smooth. Try serving as a dip with whole pita bread, or smear some on a tortilla along with your favorite veggies and sprinkling of cheese for a delicious and healthy homemade wrap.
#3. EGGS: Crustless Spinach Quiche ( Makes 8 Servings)
Though eggs have gotten bad press in the past, doctors say eggs are great addition to your diet. Studies have even shown that those who ate eggs for breakfast lost twice as much weight as those who ate a bagel instead, despite equal calorie intake! Just one egg will provide you with 11% of your daily protein requirements, with only 68 calories. Standard eggs generally run about $1.50 for a dozen, but look for healthier farm-fresh varieties that are well worth the extra cost. If you eat dairy, you'll love this recipe for a healthy quiche.
- 3 oz Light Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 cup Fat-Free Milk
- 4 Eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 12 oz. Shredded Reduced-Fat Cheddar Cheese
- 12 oz. Frozen Chopped Spinach, Thawed and Squeezed Dry
- 1 cup Frozen Chopped Broccoli, Thawed and Drained
- 1 Small Onion, Finely Chopped (buy onions in bulk for greater savings)
- 5 fresh mushrooms, sliced
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese. Add milk, eggs and pepper; beat until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Transfer to a 10-in. quiche pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
#4. SWEET POTATOES: Roasted Root Veggies
They're not just for Thanksgiving: sweet potatoes are good year round at super affordable prices. At an average of 95 calories per potato, you can get calcium, fiber, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and tons of antioxidants when you eat it with the skin. Sweet potatoes can do everything your average white potato can, and more. Try this fun, healthy, and colorful twist on traditional fries.
- 1 Large Sweet Potato, cut in to thin strips
- 1 Carrot, cut in to thin strips
- 1 Parsnip, cut into thin strips
- 1 Beet, cut in to thin strips
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
- 2 Tsp Dried Thyme
- 1 Tsp Dried Rosemary
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
Preheat oven to 425 Degrees F, rub baking sheets with oil. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat. Spread veggies evenly on baking sheet (use two sheets if necessary). Roast until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally for about an hour.