Healthy Eating on a Budget – top 10 staples

I read an article on MSN Health & Fitness this morning on  Healthy Eating on $7 a Day:  Top Staples.  Here is their top 10 list and my comments:

1. Whole wheat pasta – I actually prefer whole wheat pasta to white pasta now.  It has a heartier texture and reheats wonderfully – no mushy leftover pasta.  My favorite brand is Barilla Plus.  When it is on sale I can get it for $1.50 a box, otherwise it runs around $1.75. It is also a local brand so I feel good about buying it. I don’t really think of pasta as being healthy even though I am eating the whole wheat version.  The problem is not the pasta it is all the crap I put on it.  Tomato sauce with ground beef.  Melted valveeda cheese for quick mac and cheese (hey, I use the low fat version, does that make it healthy?). 

2.  Eggs – We really don’t eat eggs as often as we should since they are super-cheap.  When we do cook eggs they kind of lose their health value – omlettes with lots of cheese and ham, breakfast burittos with sausage and cheese, egg casseroles.  We have been eating hard-boiled eggs this week that are left over from Easter, but I wouldn’t say this is my favorite way to eat an egg. 

3.  Nuts and Seeds – I am really not much of a nut person.  I like the super salty roasted peanuts or even honey roasted peanuts.  I also have a problem in quantity control when I eat snacks like this.  I would not be able to stop at a few – it is just like potato chips. I did add a few almonds to my green beans I served at Easter – I guess that is a start.  I really don’t see nuts as being cheap either.    

4.  Potatoes – Potatoes are cheap, but I never thought potatoes were a healthy vegetable with a lot of nutrients.  My favorite way to eat potatoes is roasted in the oven.  I cut up the potatoes and place them in a zip lock bag or a bowl.  I toss them with a little olive oil and seasoning salt.  Roast in the oven at 400 until brown and slightly crispy.  We actually had these for our Easter dinner instead of mashed potatoes. 

5.  Canned tomato sauce – We do eat a lot of canned tomato products at our house but mostly in the form of diced tomatoes and spagetti sauce. 

6.  Brown Rice – I want to start eating more rice, but i really don’t know what to do with it.  I am used to those package rice mixes with the seasonings (very bad in sodium).  If I buy a bag of rice, what the heck do I do with it to make it taste decent?

7.  Beans and Tofu – I love beans.  We mostly eat the canned variety because the dried beans take too long.  Black beans are probably my favorite – I use them in black bean soup, chili, mixed in salsa and black bean salad.  We are also big fans of Bush’s Baked Beans – I bet we eat them once a week. I have never tried tofu and to be honest, I don’t think it would fly in my household.

8.  Oatmeal – As I have said before, I eat oatmeal nearly every weekday morning.  Not only does it keep me full most of the morning I am pretty sure it is also keeping me regular (was that TMI???).  I use a variety of toppings to mix things up a little – raisins, brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, berries and milk. 

9.  Cornmeal – I was a little suprised by this item on the list.  Sure, it is cheap, but I have never considered it healthy since I only use it in cornbread.  The article talks about eating it as a replacement to oatmeal for breakfast…I think I will pass on this one.

10.  Green Veggies – Every time I buy green veggies they seem to go to waste at our house.  I like eating salads, I just don’t take the time to make them.  Also – when I want a salad I want all kinds of vegetables on it which makes the cost of the salad go very high. 

The article made me think about my diet and goals and how I could improve.  My grocery bill is always the first that gets cut when I am running low on funds.  I would have like to seen more information in this article.  Sample menus for $7 a day?  or maybe a few recipes? 

Other items I would add to the list:
Whole Wheat Bread – I purchase bread at a bread outlet it town. I can get Sara Lee Heart Healthy whole wheat bread there for a buck. It is a little out of my way so I stock up and freeze the extra loaves. 

Frozen Berries-  OK…Frozen fruit isn’t really cheap food, but it is a lot cheaper than the fresh berries when they are out of season.  I buy a big bag of frozen mixed berries at Sam’s Club for under $8.  The bag usually lasts me several weeks and I add the berries to oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes (homemade mix with whole wheat flour), smoothies and as a topping for ice cream or angel food cake (ok, the last two items are not healthy).  My girls like to eat them partially frozen (very messy).   

Bananas – Bananas have to be one of the best buys in the procuce isle. At the store I go to they usually go between .25 and .50 per lb.  They are also available year round.  My kids love them which is another plus!

Yogurt – I purchase the big tubs of plain lowfat yogurt.  This allows me to control what goes in it.  I like to mix it with a little lemon juice and a tablespoon of powered sugar.  Then I add my frozen berries and top it with grape nuts.  I also use the yogurt in smoothies.  I don’t really love the taste of yogurt so I generally don’t buy it very often. 

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4 Responses to “Healthy Eating on a Budget – top 10 staples”

  1. Stacie Says:

    Definitely agree with their top 10 list. As for rice, we often buy a jar of Indian curry mix to spice up our rice (my husband loves Indian food). Or, cook the rice in low sodium chicken/beef broth (Swanson makes a low sodium variety) to also add flavor. What about mixing in mixed veggies (great way to get the kids to eat veggies) with the rice for variety–cheap and healthy!

  2. thedietpulpit Says:

    This is a great post — I would like to invite you to be a guest writer on The Diet Pulpit if you are interested in submitting this post you can read about how to submit on the blog. (Guest Writers get a permanent link and review as a thankyou) I really enjoy your blog! Lady Rose

  3. Joann Says:

    I’d have added the bananas in too, or two servings of fruit in some fashion. Although it would be difficult to remain at $7 a day, this list translates easily into a Organic Whole Foods list and a Vegetarian List. Other grainy foods are also available in bulk in the healthfood store, like Bulgar Wheat, or Flax Seeds.
    Sweet! (If only I could follow it as well as I’d like. I’m working on it.)

  4. Joann Says:

    Regarding the salads: I’ve learned to enjoy a “poor person’s salad: Shredded Romaine Lettuce spritzed with Olive Oil and any type of vinegar you like, (apple cider, white, garlic-flavored, balsamic.) and fresh ground pepper. I don’t know the exact cost, but I don’t think one or two of these along with a hard=boiled egg can come to alot of money. Fancier salads can be had as major meals on Friday or Sat. eves. when there is generally more time to fix and enjoy. Less waste.

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