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Published on January 05, 2021

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10 Budget and Health Friendly Foods

Job changes because of COVID-19 or overspending at the holidays, whatever the reason: you don’t have to sacrifice health to save money at the grocery store.

Load up on these 10 extremely healthy-but-affordable foods -- they make some great recipes -- and you'll be in good shape:

Beans

Black, garbanzo, kidney, pinto or others – they’re all great. Loaded with fiber for heart and digestive health, rich in iron and magnesium and all are great sources of antioxidants. Try adding drained and rinsed black beans after browning and crumbling ground beef for tacos, taverns or a casserole. Roasted garbanzo beans make a wonderful snack.

Lentils

They offer nutrition benefits similar to beans, but with extra protein and an added boost of calcium. Although more typically seen in soups and stews, cooked lentils are a nice addition to salads, and they can be transformed into delicious vegetarian entrees.

Sweet Potatoes

The calorie, protein and carbohydrate content of sweet potatoes is very similar to that of a white russet potato, but they do add a little extra vitamin A and C to the diet. The trick is being careful what you add to them; try cubing and roasting in olive oil, mashing with a small amount of plain yogurt or pureeing them into a warm winter soup. Avoid too much of the maple syrup, brown sugar or marshmallows.

Eggs

One of the most inexpensive complete proteins, and ready in minutes; eggs are hard to beat. Although they have been controversial (due to cholesterol) in the past, research has demonstrated that they can easily be a regular part of a healthy diet.

Peanut Butter

Although peanut butter can be a beneficial tool in a healthy diet, it’s high in calories and fat, so it should be used in moderation. Peanut butter can be an ideal food at snack time to fill you up quickly without adding too many carbohydrates to your diet.

Canned Tuna

Loaded with heart healthy omega-3 fats, tuna is an ideal protein. A can or pouch of tuna can be added to a salad for a quick and easy lunch.

Oats

An incredibly nutritious and well balanced whole grain. High in soluble fiber, oats are very good at lowering cholesterol and helping us feel fuller longer. At 30 servings for under $2.50, it is definitely an inexpensive option.

Brown Rice

It's higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals, but often the same price as white rice, so it is definitely worth the extra 30 minutes of cook time. Both brown and white rice are high in carbohydrates, so portion size is important.

Frozen or Canned Fruits

As an essential part of the diet, fruit provides tons of vitamins and minerals, but they can get expensive this time of year. Switch to frozen or canned when needed. If choosing canned, look for options packed in water or 100% juice, or drain and rinse before eating.

Frozen or Canned Vegetables

Another must-have in our diets, veggies fill us up without adding many calories. But their price tag often goes up this time of year as well. Frozen is equally nutritious as fresh. Canned can be a great option as well, especially if you drain and rinse before eating.

If you’d like to learn more about healthy diet choices, contact the Avera Heart Hospital Dietitian Team.

Lauren Cornay, RD, LN, is a registered dietitian at Avera Heart Hospital.

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