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Top 7 Budget Foods

written by: Stephanie Michael • edited by: Rhonda Callow • updated: 6/27/2011

Everyone is concerned with saving money and a great way to do that is by changing your shopping habits at the grocery store. When you’re tightening your budget it’s important to buy nutrient rich foods that are inexpensive and filling. Why waste your money on empty calories?

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    Staying healthy and on a budget doesn’t mean you have to eat the same bland and boring foods every day. By incorporating these top budget foods into your shopping list, you’ll be able stay healthy and on budget at the same time.

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    1. Non-Fat Dairy

    This category includes nonfat plain yogurt and cottage cheese. I say plain because they won’t include any added sugar and you can use the yogurt or cottage cheese in so many ways. Mix either the yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh fruit and raw nuts and a teaspoon of brown sugar to make a sweet treat to replace ice cream. Add non fat yogurt to balsamic vinegar to make a creamy Italian dressing. You can also use non fat yogurt and frozen fruit to create a smoothie to create a delicious and nutritious breakfast or snack.

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    2. Fresh and Frozen Vegetables

    Fresh vegetables like carrots, cucumbers and celery are inexpensive and easy to snack on. Enjoy them plain, with non fat ranch dressing, or in a salad. Frozen vegetables, the kind with no added sauces, are a quick and easy way to make fresh steamed vegetables on a budget.

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    3. Lean Lunch Meats and Eggs

    You need protein, even when you are on a budget. Try keeping lean lunchmeats on hand as a great way to get protein while saving money in your budget. Stay away from processed meats like baloney and look for more natural variations. Meats with little to no fat, like turkey and lean ham, are best. Eggs are another great source of protein and are easy to cook and eat. Prepare hardboiled eggs for quick and easy snacking.

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    4. Make a Homemade Tomato Sauce

    For the same cost of one jar of processed and prepackaged tomato sauce you can get homemade sauce and it’s not as hard as you think. Buy 2-3 cans of crushed tomato ($3), and a bulb of garlic ($.33). Using a cheese grater, grate 2-3 cloves of garlic, next add garlic salt, pepper, and one teaspoon of sugar or sugar substitute to a pan and heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly. Next add your crushed tomatoes. That’s it, you’re done. Tomatoes are packed with nutrients and antioxidants and the fresh garlic detoxifies your system and helps your body function properly. Experiment by adding other vegetables such as onions, mushrooms and peppers.

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    5. Oranges, Apples, Bananas

    These inexpensive fruits are packed full of nutrients and are a great to replace overly processed snack foods and stay on budget. You can eat them as a snack or make a fruit salad using nonfat yogurt or serve them sliced as a side dish. The best part is that these fruits are easily transported in a purse or backpack for easy on the go snacking.

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    6. Frozen Unsweetened Berries

    Having frozen berries on hand are a great budget friendly way to add flavor to almost anything. Use them with your non fat yogurt or cottage cheese, toss defrosted berries in a salad or use them in a smoothie to create delicious snacks and meals.

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    7. Legumes, Sweet Potatoes, and Rice

    Legumes such as beans and lentils, sweet potatoes, and wild or brown rice are budget friendly foods that can be purchased in bulk and eaten in a variety of ways. Use these healthy alternatives to replace processed side dishes like Rice-a-roni and Mac and Cheese. Make chili or cold bean salad or use sweet potatoes and wild rice as nutritious side dishes that will keep you healthy and feeling full.