By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., TheBestLife.com lead nutritionist
Feeling like you’re about to go off your own fiscal cliff after all that holiday spending? No need to settle for cheap junk food to help pay down your credit card bills. The truth is, some of the least expensive foods are also the healthiest.
Here’s my core budget-but-healthy shopping list. (Check out my blog for more lower-cost items.)
Canned beans – dried are even less expensive, but require you to plan ahead
Canned tomatoes – no salt added (the store brand is cheapest)
Canned wild salmon and canned light “chunk” tuna
Dried herbs – whatever is on sale
Fresh fruit – whatever is on sale
Fresh vegetables – whatever is on sale
Oatmeal or steel-cut oats – large carton of plain oats (the store brand is usually cheapest)
Tofu – for cooking pointers, click here.
The following meals use some of the items listed above. All three of these dollar-stretching dishes are also seriously nutritious. I calculated the cost of each meal using prices at my local Giant supermarket in Washington D.C.; prices may vary in your area.
Oatmeal with Banana and Milk
Cost: $ 0.77
How to: Cook ½ cup oatmeal according to package directions. Add a sliced banana, either during or after cooking. Serve with a cup of fat-free milk (or turn the milk into a latte).
Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich with Milk
Cost: $ 1.11
How to: Spread 2 slices of whole-wheat bread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter per slice. Top 1 slice with banana slices and cover with the other slice. Have the rest of the banana separately, along with a glass of fat-free milk.
Chickpea and Tomato Curry
Cost: $1.29 per serving
How to: You’ll have this vegetarian curry recipe ready to enjoy in just 30 minutes, thanks to the simple recipe linked above. Use canned chickpeas and fresh flavor agents like ginger, garlic, and onion with curry powder for a big, bold, affordable meal.