With food prices continuing to rise, consumers are constantly looking for ways to get more nutrition for their food dollars.
Building meals based around the most low-cost, health-promoting foods is one way to cut costs at the same time you boost nutrition according to Mary Meck Higgins, Kansas State University Research and Extension nutrition specialist. Higgins and KSU dietetics student, Erin Henry, worked together to research and form the following list of the most inexpensive health-promoting foods.
These top ten frugal foods offer great taste while packing a nutritious punch. Try them for breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks.
Apples and Bananas. They are a perfect on-the-go snack. Both are satisfying and a sweet nutritional powerhouse which can be eaten either raw or cooked in a variety of ways. Eat one alone or add to salads, desserts and baked goods.
Beans. Beans offer dietary fiber, protein and antioxidants that help fight disease. Canned beans cost about 23 cents per serving. Dry varieties that you cook yourself cost even less. Serve them as a main dish, side dish or healthy addition to a soup or salad. Keep them on hand to pack into brown bag lunches and to make quick suppers.
Brown Rice. With a slightly nutty taste, brown rice is a fiber-rich whole grain that is more nutritious than white rice. Brown rice can be served with cinnamon and milk for breakfast, used to complement a variety of entrees, and as a flavorful addition to soups, stews, casseroles and salads.
Canned Tomatoes. Canned tomatoes make a great base for countless main dishes, dips, sauces, soups, stews and chili. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and lycopene (two healthful antioxidants). Buy them without added salt if possible.
Canned Tuna. Tuna offers high protein at a low cost. The versatile fish is a source of vitamin D, low in calories and fat, and lends itself to sandwich fillings, salads and main-dish casseroles.
Eggs. Often costing less than $2 for a dozen, eggs are high in protein. Boiled, fried, or scrambled – eggs cook quickly. They are perfect for breakfast, lunch or supper. For variety, try French toast, huevos rancheros or egg salad.
Fat-free Milk. A natural convenience food, fat-free milk offers a healthy dose of vitamin D, calcium, protein and potassium. Milk is important in building and maintaining healthy bones. Serve fat-free milk as a beverage with meals and snacks, and use in soups, smoothies and desserts.
Kale. At about a dollar a bunch, kale is one of the least costly green vegetables you’ll find. Kale is easy to serve stir-fried with a small amount of vegetable oil and garlic, lightly steamed, or as a colorful addition to salads. Kale is even good used as a topping on home-made pizza, or in green smoothies.
Page 2 of 2 - Potatoes. White potatoes and sweet potatoes are satisfying and are high in dietary fiber, vitamin C and potassium. They can be baked, boiled, steamed, mashed, pan or oven-fried, roasted, or added to soups, stews, and casseroles.
Rolled Oats. At just a few cents per cup, rolled oats is a heart-healthy whole grain with 4 grams of dietary fiber. Rolled oats also offer complex carbohydrates that break down slowly to provide lasting energy and stave off mid-morning hunger. A perennial hot-cooked cereal, oats also can be included in such foods as breakfast bars, breads, rolls, cakes, cookies, meatloaf and more.
Who says eating healthy is too expensive. Building meals and snacks around these “frugal foods” helps ensure good nutrition for your family yet allows you to spend less on those weekly trips to the grocery store.
For additional information, contact the Wildcat Extension District, Crawford County, 620-724-8233, Labette County, 620-784-5337, Montgomery County, 620-331-2690, Pittsburg Office, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education (EFNEP), 620-232-1930.