I’ll never forget the first Kale Chicken Caesar salad I made. I was in school, studying nutrition, and wasting time looking at recipes on Pinterest instead of finishing my latest assignment. I found the recipe, wrote down the ingredients and ran to the store to pick them up.
It was so exciting to hunt the aisles for all the new, healthy ingredients. What wasn’t as exciting was the total on my receipt.
I spent $45 on ingredients for a single recipe.
Yikes! How could I possibly afford to eat healthy on a budget? How could anyone afford this lifestyle?
I became determined to find foods that have huge nutrient value per dollar spent. Turns out, it’s actually possible to eat very well without spending your life’s savings at the checkout.
Whether you’re on a student budget, saving for a house, or just want to be smarter with your dollars, here are the foods that provide some of the best nutrition per dollar spent.
Sprouts top the list because you can grow them at home yourself. A bag of sprouting seeds costs just a few dollars and grows a ton of sprouts. The amazing thing about sprouts is that they contain all the powerful nutrients of the full-grown vegetable. Just ¼ cup of broccoli sprouts contains the same amount of sulforaphane (the anti-cancer nutrient that makes broccoli so healthy) as almost 7 cups of the fully-grown vegetable!
Soak them for a few hours then place them in a mason jar with a screen top, tilted in a bowl to catch runoff. Rinse twice a day and watch your sprouts grow in less than a week!
Add them to salads, sandwiches, wraps and even smoothies for a significant nutrition boost.
#2. Beans & Lentils
Animal-based protein tends to make your grocery bill add up fast. To save money, rotate between plant and animal proteins. Beans and lentils not only cost less, but they also contain unique nutrients that animal proteins do not. You can buy them pre-cooked in the can, or cook dry beans yourself if you have some extra time. Throw them into soups, salads, blend into hummus, or roast and enjoy as a snack.
#3. Red Cabbage
Fresh veggies can be pricey, but an entire head of cabbage only costs about $2 and goes a long way. Cabbage contains more antioxidants per dollar than anything else in the produce aisle.
#4. Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
Buying frozen fruits and veggies usually costs less than buying fresh, especially for out-of-season items. Nutritionally, they are just as healthy thanks to being picked when ripe, and frozen right away. Things like frozen berries and leafy greens are particularly high in nutrients and help to minimize food waste since they don’t go bad as quickly.
#5. Frozen Meat & Fish
When it comes to animal protein, quality matters. But buying organic meat and wild seafood can be extremely expensive. Luckily, you can usually grab a bag of wild salmon fillets from the freezer for about $2.50 per portion. Frozen organic chicken breast isn’t much more expensive than fresh conventional chicken, so you can get a better quality protein for a similar cost. It's also smart to buy fish and meat when it is on sale, and freeze it for use later on.
What are your favourite affordable health foods? Let us know in the comments below!