Eating Healthy on the Cheap

There’s this lie out there…it drives me crazy.  It keeps people stuck.  Believing they can’t change their circumstances when it comes to eating healthy.  The lie is that you can’t afford it.  I’m here to tell you that’s just not true!  With minimal cooking equipment and pretty basic skills, most people (and I realize there ARE exceptions, but most people) can eat healthy on the cheap.  BUT…you have to cook.   I love Dave Ramsey’s encouragement about eating beans and rice, rice and beans, when you’re struggling financially.  You know why?  Because beans and rice are wonderfully nutritious!  There are a ton of foods that are nutritious, truly health building, that are also inexpensive.  Here are my top 10 (not in order):



  1. Dried Beans & Peas – Dried black beans make amazing beans and rice or soup, chickpeas make hummus, and lentils are awesome for dal or salads.
  2. Brown Rice – More expensive than white, but still a deal – awesome for adding to soups, eating with beans, and even for making rice pudding for dessert.
  3. Canned Tomatoes – Add flavor to everything – beans and rice, soups, and the base for homemade spaghetti sauce and salsa!
  4. Peanut Butter – Perfect for a quick noodle sauce, sandwiches, smoothies, and for pancakes, PB adds protein and 30 nutrients for meals and snacks.
  5. Canned Pumpkin – Packed with vitamin A, this makes its way into oatmeal, pancakes, soups and smoothies.
  6. Frozen Vegetables (not just corn and peas!) – Dressed up as sides, essential for soups, and casseroles, I use cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and mixed veg regularly.
  7. Raisins – For snacking, in oatmeal, and in Indian rice dishes, raisins add fiber and iron – and natural sweetness.
  8. Eggs – Super versatile and super nutritious, eggs go a long way toward providing excellent nutrition on a tight budget via casseroles, french toast (for dinner OR breakfast), boiled on salads, and on sandwiches.
  9. Bananas (and other seasonal fruit) – Loaded with potassium, fiber, and (depending on what’s on sale) naturally sweet, bananas make their way onto sandwiches (with peanut butter, of course), pancakes, and dess

    erts (plus snacks!) at our house.

  10. Whole Rolled Oats – Powerful nutrition for breakfast (hot or cold), homemade granola bars or energy bites, and to stretch meat for things like meatloaf and meatballs, all while adding fiber and B vitamins.

This list is a powerful list of affordable foods that provide a variety of nutrients, protein, fiber, and deliciousness.  I keep these foods stocked in my house ALL. THE. TIME.  And we eat them every week.

For ideas on how to use these (and other affordable nutritious) foods, check out this awesome e-cookbook that is FREE.  Good And Cheap: Eat well on $4 a day by Leanne Brown is a book that was specifically developed to help low-income folks stretch their food budget, but I think they’re great recipes for anyone!  BTW, you should definitely visit her website and check out her other book From Scratch – available in print or via PDF.

I can think of 10 more affordable nutritious foods I could also add to this list.  What would you add ?

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