Healthy Cooking On A Budget

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Versatile Staples To Always Have In The House

For those of us trying to cook healthily on a budget it can sometimes seem like a difficult task. Although the common misconception is that healthy living costs more, we’re here to show you that with a few key staples on hand, nutritious meals can be both easy and affordable.

Having budgeted for many years, I’ve learned that one of the best ways to stay healthy is to make sure that you’ve always got versatile staples in the house that you can use in almost any dish.

As Tina Haupert says “I’ve learned that if I stock my kitchen with nutritious foods that are versatile and easy to prepare, eating healthy meals and snacks isn’t too difficult, even during my busiest weeks.”

Doesn’t that sound great? Easy to prepare, healthy meals, ready at breakneck speed!

So, here’s our list of healthy, versatile staples to keep on hand especially for those moments where you have a craving or when you aren’t sure what you want to make for dinner.

1) Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Referred to as “EVOO” by Rachael Ray, one of my favorite TV cooks, extra virgin olive oil is an incredibly useful staple to have on hand. While it’s a bit more expensive than its cousin, vegetable oil, you can usually get it in larger sizes for a fair price. Trust me, when you start using EVOO for frying and other tasks usually reserved for vegetable oil, you’ll notice that your food even tastes healthier!

Here are the “10 best olive oil recipes”, as per the Guardian newspaper. I particularly like Patatas a lo pobre – you’ve got to try it!

2) Tuna fish.

Tuna fish is a great protein source to have on hand. You can always mix it with mayo for quick sandwiches or wraps, or you can take it even further with other recipes. Instead of buying more expensive meats, you can add it into pasta dishes, salads, and even omelettes to ensure you get a healthy, nutritious meal, without breaking the bank. Buy tuna in bulk to get the best prices.

Here are 10 things you can make with canned tuna

3) Canned tomato products.

Canned tomatoes are great, whether you make a lot of sauces or you just want something that will give your food a little bit of flavor. They are incredibly inexpensive and by having them on hand, you open up your cooking repertoire to a wide range of different dishes! Not only are they healthy, they’re also long lasting, so there’s no danger they’ll go off before you use them!

Here are 6 easy dinner recipes you can make with canned tomatoes

4) Brown rice or quinoa.

If your family are big rice eaters, a healthy like for like alternative to have on hand is brown rice. You can read more about why brown rice is healthier than white rice here.

I’d also recommend adding quinoa to pantry as well. Quinoa is a bit pricier than rice, but that doesn’t mean that you should totally disregard it. It’s become really popular with younger generations, and, health experts like Diana Herrington say that quinoa has “…some powerful health benefits. It tastes great, it is high protein, and it is part of another major food trend of today: gluten free eating.”

To get you started with quinoa, here are 15 quick and easy quinoa recipes to try out!

5) Eggs.

No post about healthy staples would be complete without mentioning eggs. Arguably one of the most versatile ingredients around, eggs provide an excellent protein source at a very affordable price.Even though eggs are quite high in cholesterol, eating them from time to time is great.
What’s more, there’s no shortage of the dishes you can cook with them! From French Toast or omelets on a Sunday morning to egg white souffle and quiches when you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, eggs should be one of the top things on your weekly shopping list.

Here are 30 egg recipes to inspire you!

6) Sour cream or yogurt (low fat of course!)

Low-fat/low-calorie sour cream and yogurt are great for any pantry. They’re both used in a lot of recipes, so if you’re making a dip or you’re looking to thicken a sauce, they’re great to have on hand.
Did you know that, if you want to, you can substitute yogurt for sour cream in recipes? “Yogurt is an excellent substitute for sour cream in most recipes, but keep in mind it is thinner in texture. Thicken yogurt by draining through a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes,” Peggy Trowbridge Filippone from About.Com’s Homecooking section suggests.

Here are 7 ways to cook with sour cream

7) Broths.

Chicken, beef, and vegetable broths are all incredibly inexpensive, they keep on the shelf for a really long time, and they can be used in soups, stews, dips, main dishes, side dishes, and more. In short, if you’re ever going to make a meal, you may be able to include some sort of broth in there! By keeping it on hand, you can ensure that you don’t have to run out the next time you’re making your favorite stew.

You can find a delicious chick broth recipe here!

8) Various types of beans.

No matter what type of bean you have on hand, they’re going to be a healthy addition to the meals that you’re putting together. Nadia Harris states that “Beans such as kidney beans and black beans are high in essential dietary fiber important for healthy digestion. Adding beans to your daily diet is good for lowering body fat and controlling weight. This helps to prevent chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.” That’s a ton of health benefits – it’s no wonder people love to add beans to their diets!

Here are 23 hearty bean recipes we love!

9) Wheat pasta.

Pasta is a quick and easy meal, but have you considered switching to wheat pasta vs regular pasta? Not only is it lower in calories and higher in fiber, it’s also higher in essential vitamins and minerals too.

Here’s a great article examining the difference between the two types of pasta

It also tastes just as great with sauces (and if you’ve got canned tomatoes to hand – see tip 3 – making a quick tomato sauce shouldn’t take more than a few minutes!)

Here are 29 whole wheat pasta dishes that will get your taste buds going!

So to wrap up, the best way to eat healthily on a budget is to ensure you’re well stocked up when it comes to healthy, versatile ingredients, especially those listed above.

As Eating Well echo, “The best way to ensure you have everything you need to prepare delicious meals is to keep a well-stocked pantry. When you cook at home you can prepare healthy, nourishing food using quality, fresh ingredients—much better than prepared food that is often loaded with calories, fats, sodium and added sweeteners.”

Let’s get stocking and let’s get healthy.

Bon apetite!

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Monica Davis

About Monica Davis

Monica Davis has been in the business of influencing people to change their lives and helping them to develop their professional and business objectives for over 20 years. Monica Davis is a bestselling business author, speaker, trainer, media coach, award-winning television host and producer, and the publisher of Exceptional People Magazine.

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