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Top Ten Budget-Friendly Foods

Written by Rakhee Maloo, BA  | Article Reviewed by The Medindia Medical Review Team on Jan 22, 2015
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What are Budget-Friendly Foods?

Planning nutritious meals on a budget is a challenge for most families. But it is not always impossible. All you need is a bit of planning that won’t stretch your budget, take efforts to cook home meals and you can ensure healthy meals for you and your family.

Top 10 budget-friendly foods are:

Banana, the inexpensive fruit is an excellent source of many vital nutrients such as magnesium, sodium, potassium, selenium, calcium, folate, B vitamins and protein. Banana can be used to make many healthy breakfast and dessert recipes. It is also quite stomach filling and when consumed can keep hunger pangs at bay.

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Egg a versatile food is budget-friendly and packed with essential nutrients. Eggs are excellent source of protein, sodium, potassium, vitamin D, calcium, easy to cook and can be used to make meals for anytime of the day.

Peanuts are a good source of iron, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and protein. This healthy legume can be used in recipes and can also be consumed as a healthy snack. You can steam or roast them or use them in other forms.

Pumpkin is an inexpensive vegetable and an excellent source of vitamin A. It also provides vitamins C and B6, magnesium, calcium and iron in healthy amounts. Pumpkin can be used to make soups, salads, pancakes and several baked dishes.

Cucumber doesn’t cost a lot and can be used to make cool soups, salads and healthy yogurt dips. Also, it is a good source of vitamins K, C and B1, potassium, copper, biotin, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese.

Corn, the super-grain is a good source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamin B6. Corn can be used in many ways to prepare budget-friendly meals. You can use corn kernels to make salads, soups and baked dishes.

Guava is a healthy source of fiber, vitamins A, C and B6 and also provides iron, magnesium, sodium and calcium in moderate amounts. Guava can be used as a healthy snack for those evening hunger pangs.

Sweet Potato the budget-friendly food source, is packed with important nutrients like vitamins A, C and B6, iron, potassium, sodium, magnesium and fiber. You can roast them as a side dish for dinner or use them in many recipes.

Spinach is not only inexpensive but also a good source of vitamins A, C, B6, calcium, iron, sodium and many more essential nutrients. Spinach fills you up well and gives good nutrition with few calories.

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Carrot is packed with beta carotene and is also a good source of fiber and other nutrients. Carrots can be used to make salads, soups, low-fat dips and baked dishes.

Puffed corn is also one of the best budget-friendly healthy foods.

Cheap healthy meals can be prepared with oatmeal, rice and whole grains. For the protein in the meal lentils, beans and legumes can be used to make budget-friendly meals. Most citrus fruits, watermelon and papaya are also healthy inexpensive foods. Potatoes can be used in a variety of ways to make budget-friendly family meals. Chicken meat is inexpensive than red meat and most meat products. You can also buy salmon, cod or tuna on a budget. Low-fat dairy products can also be consumed quite often, as these are not very expensive.

Budget-Friendly Recipes

  • Fresh vegetable salad: In a salad bowl grate carrot and pumpkin, add chopped cucumber, steamed peanuts, fresh spinach, coriander leaves, salt and lime juice. Enjoy a good salad to relish made with budget-friendly healthy foods.
  • Carrot and pumpkin soup: Boil these healthy inexpensive foods to make a delicious and easy budget-friendly meal. Blend the boiled carrot and pumpkin, sieve them through a strainer for a smooth consistency. Add salt, black pepper powder and coconut cream to it.
  • Corn and spinach salad: In a mixing bowl, add some grated corn, chopped spinach, boiled red kidney beans, boiled potato cubes, steamed sweet potato, finely-sliced carrots, grated ginger, lemon juice, salt and some herbs of your choice. This dish makes a good dinner accompaniment.
  • Make sandwiches for your kids with whole grain bread toasted with egg, vegetable fillings. You can also use low-fat cottage cheese and other cheese for these budget-friendly healthy meals.
  • If your kids crave for something sweet, then you can use banana and peanut butter to make a healthy sandwich filling for your kids.
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Make a budget-friendly breakfast smoothie for your kids using low-fat yogurt or milk, banana and peanut butter.

Tips to Make Simple Healthy Meals

  • Buy and use fresh food products to make your regular meals. Restrict the use of canned foods, frozen foods, refined foods and processed foods.
  • Buy staples in bulk during discount schemes. This will enable you to make healthy budget-friendly meals all year round. These staples can be peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, flours, mustard sauce, vinegar, and various dried herbs like cumin, thyme, fennel, bay leaves, spices and other condiments.
  • For kid-friendly meals, be creative with presentations so that your young ones are excited about eating their food.
  • If you are low on time but want to make budget-friendly healthy meals, make lentil and bean dishes, sauces, casseroles, soups, sandwich fillings and stews in bulk to last for a few days.
  • You can combine few inexpensive foods with other ingredients that are a bit costly to balance the meals as well as your food expenses.
  • Make healthy desserts using low-fat yogurt, honey, dates, raisins and other sweet dried fruits.
  • Bake low sugar cookies at home with whole grains. Fortify them with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, dried herbs and dried fruits.
  • Use fruit pulps to make frozen treats for your kids. These can also be added to ice cream or puddings for some healthy and budget-friendly dessert options.
  • Eat raw vegetables and fruits with herbs and spices to make them more interesting. Sprinkle some salt and dry mint over sliced cucumbers or some rock salt over sliced guava. These can be eaten prior to your lunch or dinner as salad substitutes or as mid-day snacks.

Spinach, raw

The nutritional values of "Spinach, raw" per 100 grams are:
Nutrition Summary
Total Calories 23
Protein 2.9 g
Fat 0.4 g
Carbohydrate 3.6 g
NutrientsAmount%Daily Value
Calcium, Ca 99 mg 9.9 %
Copper, Cu 0.13 mg 6.5 %
Iron, Fe 2.71  mg 15.06 %
Magnesium, Mg 79 mg 19.75 %
Manganese, Mn 0.9 mg 44.85 %
Phosphorus, P 49 mg 4.9 %
Potassium, K 558  mg 15.94 %
Selenium, Se 1 mcg 1.43 %
Sodium, Na 79 mg 3.29 %
Zinc, Zn 0.53 mg 3.53 %
Vitamin A 9377  IU 187.54 %
Vitamin C 28.1 mg 46.83 %
Vitamin B6 0.2 mg 9.75 %
Vitamin E 2.03 mg 6.77 %
Vitamin K 482.9  mcg 603.62 %
Riboflavin 0.19  mg 11.12 %
Thiamin 0.08 mg 5.2 %
Folate, DFE 194  mcg 48.5 %
Niacin 0.72  mg 3.62 %
Sugars 0.42 g
Fiber 2.2  g 8.8 %
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Water 91.4 g
Carotene, alpha 0 mcg
Carotene, beta 5626  mcg
Choline 19.3 mg
Lycopene 0  mcg
View all +
Data source: USDA Nutrient Database, R25
*Percent Daily Values (%DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.

Reference:

  1. Healthy Eating - (http://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/eating-well-on-the-cheap.htm)

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