{Nourish} Eat healthy on the cheap

September 29, 2012 6:16:02 PM



One huge misconception about weight loss that just drives me crazy is that eating healthy is too expensive. Umm, think again! Eating processed, packaged and convenience foods is expensive, both initially and when it causes health problems down the road like obesity and its many complications.  


True -- whole foods take a bit more effort to prepare but saving a little money and eating healthier fare is well worth the extra time involved. And don't get me started on the price markup at restaurants. Ryan and I can eat just as well at home for several days for the cost of dinner for two at some of these joints. Besides, you never know exactly how your food is prepared and the portions are all out of whack.  


Now, I like to go out for dinner just as much as the next girl (I've come to the conclusion that it's simply because I get to dress up and don't have to clean up after), but dining out too much can easily break the bank and the calorie budget. And so we cook and eat the vast majority of our meals from home.  


With all of this cooking and eating at home our grocery bill can get pretty pricey, so I've become a master of creating recipes around cheap ingredients. Cheap does not mean unhealthy. There are lots of healthy, nutritious foods that don't cost a fortune. The trick it to keep it simple. The more complicated the recipe and the longer the ingredient list, the more it's going to cost.  


For quality, yet inexpensive, sources of protein, you just can't go wrong with eggs, canned tuna and salmon, plain Greek yogurt, beans and lentils, and my favorite whole grain -- quinoa.  


I get a lot of questions about quinoa so let me tell you about it. First of all it's pronounced keen-wah. It's the only whole grain that is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids. Plus it has lots of other good stuff, too, like fiber, iron, magnesium and B vitamins. I use it in place of rice and pasta and prefer the red variety as it has a bit more fiber.  


In addition to being a good source of protein, canned beans, dried lentils and quinoa are an excellent source of fiber. Save even more money by cooking dried beans yourself. You can also better monitor the sodium content this way.  


Other cheap, healthy staples in the {Nourish} kitchen include: sweet potatoes to bake and top with sautéed spinach and garlic, left-over shredded chicken breast, and Greek yogurt mixed with fresh herbs from the garden; fresh greens like baby spinach, kale, and Swiss chard because I will put sautéed greens in or on anything; seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables because everything is cheaper when it's in season; frozen fruits and vegetables when they're not in season because nutritionally frozen is as close to fresh as you can get; and chicken breast, center-cut pork chops, and fish like tilapia and salmon in bulk.  


Before you head to the grocery store make sure you have a good list of everything you need, including coupons that you may have. With a little planning and preparation you'll be well on your way to creating delicious healthy meals on the cheap.