Frugal Foods: Spend Less — Get More

One topic everyone is talking about is higher food prices. So it’s become even more important to find ways to make the most of your grocery budget. Building meals based on the cheapest and healthiest foods is one way to cut costs while providing good nutrition for our families. Let’s take a look at some of these so-called “frugal foods.”

The following foods are some of the cheapest, tastiest, and healthiest foods. They deliver great taste while packing a nutritious punch. Try them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Apples and bananas. They are an ideal on-the-go snack. Both are satisfying and a sweet nutritional powerhouse, which can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways. Eat one on its own or add it to salads, desserts and baked goods.

Beans. Beans offer dietary fiber, protein, and antioxidants that help fight disease. Canned beans cost around 30-35 cents per serving (maybe more now). Dried varieties that you cook yourself cost even less. Serve them as a main dish or as a healthy addition to a soup or salad. Keep them handy for packing in brown bags and for preparing quick meals.

Brown rice. With a slight nutty flavor, brown rice is a fiber-rich whole grain that is more nutritious than white rice. Brown rice can be served with cinnamon and milk for breakfast, used to complement a variety of entrees, and as a flavorful addition to soups, stews, casseroles, and salads.

Canned tomatoes. Canned tomatoes make an excellent base for countless main dishes, dips, sauces, soups, stews and chilies. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and lycopene (two healthy antioxidants). Buy them without added salt if possible.

Canned tuna. Tuna offers high protein content at low cost. The versatile fish is a source of vitamin D, low in calories and fat, and lends itself to sandwich fillings, salads, and main course casseroles. Tuna is also a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Eggs. Eggs are a relatively inexpensive high-protein food. Boiled, fried or scrambled, eggs cook quickly. They are perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For variety, try the French toast, huevos rancheros or egg salad.

Skimmed milk. A natural convenience food, fat-free milk offers a healthy dose of vitamin D, calcium, protein and potassium. Milk is important for building and maintaining healthy bones. Serve skim milk as a drink with meals and snacks, and use it in soups, smoothies and desserts.

Kale. Kale is one of the cheapest green vegetables you will find. Kale is easy to serve sautéed with a small amount of vegetable oil and garlic, lightly steamed, or as a colorful addition to salads. Kale is even good used as a topping on homemade pizza or in green smoothies.

Potatoes. White potatoes and sweet potatoes are satisfying and rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C and potassium. They can be baked, grilled, steamed, mashed, pan-fried or oven-fried, roasted or added to soups, stews and casseroles.

Oatmeal. At just a few cents per cup, rolled oats are a heart-healthy whole grain with four grams of dietary fiber. Oatmeal also offers complex carbohydrates that break down slowly to provide long-lasting energy and stave off mid-morning hunger. A hot-cooked perennial grain, oats can also be included in foods such as breakfast bars, breads, rolls, cakes, cookies, meatloaf and more.

Need to get the most out of your food dollars? Building meals and snacks around these “frugal foods” helps ensure good nutrition for your family while allowing you to spend less on your grocery trip.

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