I have to tell you, it is so hard for me to eat on a budget each week, and I’ve had to learn to find the most frugal foods possible, so I don’t break the bank on my food supply. I’m a health nut, and a foodie, which makes me a store’s top target for spending money at the store. It always surprises me when people tell me how frugal I am. I guess over the years, I’ve just learned some tips and tricks, and even though it is really hard for me to save money on food, I’ve found some great frugal foods that help me do so. Along with clipping coupons, checking store sales, and keeping things simple, you can really and truly eat healthy and be frugal at the same time with these fabulously frugal foods.
Carrots are absolutely one of the most frugal foods you can buy. Here’s why I like them besides the fact that they’re cheap. Carrots are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They keep your skin, heart and waistline in tip top shape, along with your eyes and hair. They’re also great for bulking up your meals and adding sweet flavor. I snack on carrots every single day, and add them to salads, muffins, pancakes and even smoothies. Best of all, carrots are really cheap, even when bought organic. Most organic carrots are seriously pennies more than regular, so why not just buy organic? You can buy the large carrots to save the most money, but I usually buy the baby ones for easy snacking and less washing. They’re great for those days you need a sweet and crunchy craving satisfied quickly.
2. Leafy Greens
Most people think that eating salads everyday is boring and expensive. Well, I’m here to tell you that salads are not the only thing to eat leafy greens with, and leafy greens, when bought smart, don’t have to be pricey. You’ll get the most bang for your buck nutrition wise with leafy greens over all other veggies. They are the most potent in chlorophyll, Vitamin A, iron and protein, and they are low in calories. Use greens like kale, spinach and romaine, which are some of the best for you, and then progress to collards and arugula if you can, which offer a stronger taste. I use leafy greens in omelets, salads, smoothies, sauteed with fish and juice with them. I buy a whole bag of pre-cut kale each week that costs only $2.58 cents and it lasts all week without going bad. You can buy spinach at similar prices, and buy organic when you can, even if it is a dollar more. You get more nutrients and less chemicals out of organic greens than inorganic greens, so make your money worth it!
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are hands down one of the best sources of complex carbs you can eat, and they’re richer in vitamins, minerals and water than grains are. They’re also friendlier to your waistline, digestive tract and your skin. Sweet potatoes are also cheap and they last a long time, which means you can not only afford them, but also keep them around for a few weeks without them going bad.
I love onions! They are cheap, they make everything taste better, and though they stink, they are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. They are also great to beat bloat, aid in water balance, increase heart health and prevent inflammation.
Though I prefer to eat plant sources of protein, cheap forms of vegan protein like beans do not agree with me at all, so I do buy eggs every couple of weeks. Per serving, they’re very cheap, even if you buy organic, which I do. Better yet, get them from a local farmer; they’ll definitely cost less if you buy them from local farms. Eggs are a wonderful source of nutrients, protein, vitamins, minerals and are amazing for your brain, weight and metabolism.
Raisins are one of the only fruits I eat, and I don’t eat a lot of them, but I do buy them regularly. Raisins are filled with fiber, are alkalizing and though they are high in sugar, you only need a little bit per recipe to get a great flavor and nutrition. Raisins are also cheap! Bananas are another great option. Both offer tons of potassium, but I don't care for bananas, so I buy raisins for my muffins, pancakes, trail mixes and energy bars. I don’t recommend eating them by the handful unless you buy the mini boxes, since their sugar content is high, but per serving, they are much cheaper and richer in nutrients than most regular fruit, which is very pricey.
7. Almond Milk
Lastly, though it is technically not a food, it is made from a food, so I’ve included almond milk here. I buy almond milk every single week to get my calcium, Vitamin E and magnesium in a small 30 calorie serving. I buy fortified brands like Silk, which have 50% more calcium and magnesium than dairy milk does. It is also healthier for your heart and your waistline, so long as you buy unsweetened versions. Best of all, there is always a coupon for almond milk, or a store sale. I use it in coffee as a creamer, in smoothies or drink it before bed to put me to sleep. You can also do just about anything with it where you would use milk, from baking, to making puddings, sauces and even dressings.
If you have a favorite frugal food, I’d love to hear about it! How do you save money at the store each week, and still eat healthy?