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Five Cheap And Wholesome Foods From The Budget Health Foodie

Grace Y. Lim |
February 5, 2013 | 7:11 p.m. PST

Contributing Food Writer

Plain yogurt is a healthy and versatile ingredient that should be in every budget health foodie's basket. (roboppy on Flickr)
Plain yogurt is a healthy and versatile ingredient that should be in every budget health foodie's basket. (roboppy on Flickr)
Welcome to the inaugural Budget Health Foodie column!

This is Budget Health Foodie, and I’m here to educate the financially-strapped health-conscious readers out there on how to eat nutritiously on a budget.

It’s an often-quoted excuse that eating healthy is too expensive, but that’s just a bunch of bad-for-you-baloney. As a graduate student living in Los Angeles on a lean wallet, I’ve done a lot of research and learned from experience, that it’s totally possible to eat cheap but also wholesome. Look forward to weekly tips, how-tos, recipes and lists that’ll help you be a Budget Health Foodie too.


Five Cheap and Wholesome Foods

Most people who’ve gone through the American public school system know about the five major food groups recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy.

Using those major food groups as guidelines, here is a list of one item per food group that the Budget Health Foodie recommends for cheap and healthy eats:


Fruit: Bananas

At Trader Joe’s, you can get one banana for 19 cents. Eating a banana a day, you can get a filling snack, or supplement to your morning cereal or oatmeal, for $1.33 per week.


Vegetable: Baby spinach

Just like Popeye, you can get a boost of protein, iron and fiber from this miracle food, spinach. One of the most versatile vegetables out there, you can use it as a base for a salad, thrown in an omelette, or sautéed in olive oil as a side. Get a large prewashed bag for about $3.99, and even with daily use, it’ll last you at least a week, if not more.


Protein: Eggs

Eggs are an oft-overlooked and underrated source of pure protein, and it’s the cheapest. A dozen eggs costs about $1.69, or 14 cents an egg. A choline-rich powerhouse, a 50 gram egg can have 17 grams of protein in it. Fry it, poach it, bake it, flip it, dunk it, do whatever you want with it. Eggs are good for you, and good for your wallet.


Grain: Oatmeal

The fiber and whole-grain goodness of this must-have doubles its worthiness to be on this list. An oldie but goodie, try making your own granola mix by toasting oatmeal with some nuts and seeds in an oven, then stirring in a handful of dried fruit in the end.


Dairy: Plain Yogurt

Try reimagining a simple ingredient into doing double duty to maximize its cost-effectiveness. Use plain yogurt as a replacement for sour cream or mayonnaise in lots of recipes, including salad dressings or taco toppings. Or for a sweet treat mix in a bit of honey, fruit preserves, or vanilla extract and a sprinkle of cinnamon.


It’s not so hard to eat healthy, even with only a few dollars per week. It just takes some pre-planning, some creative recipe-thinking, and the Budget Health Foodie to guide you along the way.



Reach Contributing Food Writer Grace Lim here, and follow her on Twitter.


Disclaimer: I am not a licensed dietitian or nutritionist. This column is not intended to be a replacement for medical advice. Before following any of the nutrition tips in this column or anywhere else, please consult your physician to make sure any of the advice given is appropriate to your needs.



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