Are you hoping to improve your health in 2013? One of the best ways to do that is to change your diet. But let’s face it—we’re all feeling the crunch of the economic downturn, and sometimes that makes it harder to reach our goals. Recently, we looked at ways to save money on fitness in the article, Working out on a budget for 2013. And that’s a good start. But the truth of the matter is, and has always been, that you can’t out-train a bad diet. So today let’s look at some healthy foods you can incorporate into your diet, without blowing a whole paycheck.
Before we get to the list, though, here’s a huge money-saving tip. Whenever possible, buy your foods from the bulk bins, or buy them whole and unpeeled. For example, instead of that bag of baby carrots, look for whole carrots. The few minutes you’ll spend peeling and chopping them yourself will be well worth the savings.
Celery It’s a time-honored classic diet food for a reason. It has a high water content, and provides dietary fiber, two things most of us don’t get enough of. And it has so few calories that you will actually burn more calories chewing it than you will consume. It’s also been known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. WinCo currently sells celery for $1.28 per pound.
Popcorn With fiber to fill you up, this homemade snack is a real bargain when you buy it in the bulk bins. Pop it yourself on the stove with a minimal amount of oil and skip all the buttery goo that clogs your arteries. Best of all, a little goes a long way. Priced at $1.05 per pound at WinCo, popcorn is a healthy, affordable treat.
Carrots So, by now you know that carrots are cheaper when you don’t buy the cute baby variety. Of course, you’ll get loads of antioxidants in the form of carotene, and a host of other nutrients. There are two alternatives when you buy carrots. Plain, unpeeled, whole carrots are already well-priced at 48 cents a pound at WinCo. Or, you can buy a 10 pound bag of the same carrots for only $4.38. If you love to munch and are trying to break the chips and crackers habit, carrots could be your solution.
Beans High in dietary fiber, beans will help you feel fuller longer, meaning you’re likely to eat less. They’ll also help keep your cholesterol and blood sugar from rising too quickly after a meal. And they provide protein, iron, and other key nutrients. Buying from the bulk bin is not only cheaper, but you won’t get all the sodium and additives that you find when you buy canned beans. WinCo has a variety of dry beans in their bulk bins, most of which are under a dollar a pound. Pintos are 91 cents a pound, kidney beans 98 cents, and black beans 99 cents. Buying dry beans means a little prep work, like soaking beforehand, but like popcorn, a little goes a long way.
Cabbage and broccoli Crucifers, such as cabbage, kale, and broccoli, are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. Long noted for their cancer-fighting properties, they are loaded with nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K, as well as B1, B2, and B6. A cup of cabbage has only 33 calories. It’s priced at 46 cents a pound at WinCo right now. And broccoli crowns are 98 cents a pound. Stop your cart and load up on these cruciferous vegetables as a small investment in your future health.
Sweet potatoes Delicious and filling, sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidants and fiber. They contain more than 80 nutrients. Seriously, why aren’t you eating sweet potatoes regularly? True sweet potatoes are priced at $1.28 a pound at WinCo, and they have a pale white or yellowy flesh. You will also find yams nearby, which are essentially the same thing. Red garnet yams are 98 cents a pound, while jewel yams are only 88 cents a pound.
Grapefruit Just coming into season is another classic diet food, grapefruit. This little citrus wonder is loaded with vitamin C, fiber, and other nutrients. Pink grapefruit also provides lycopene. They’re low in calories, and at this time of year, they’re also low in price. WinCo sells a five-pound bag of grapefruit for $4.28, or about 86 cents per pound. Or you can buy single grapefruits for 68 cents each.
Oatmeal A whole grain, oats provide protein and fiber. They are a great start to any day, helping you feel full and keeping your blood sugar regulated. But don’t buy them in the cereal aisle. Go to the bulk bin for the best bargain. WinCo sells steel cut oats for only 60 cents a pound. Scottish oatmeal in bulk is 64 cents a pound, and regular oatmeal is 91 cents a pound. This is a huge savings over the stuff in the grocery aisle, and you don’t have to worry about all the “flavorings” that have been added, or kill a tree with all that extra packaging.
Beets Yes, they’re mostly sugar, but they also provide folate, dietary fiber, potassium, iron, and other nutrients. Best of all, they contain compounds which have been shown to help protect against birth defects, colon cancer, and heart disease, and help raise HDL (good) cholesterol, and lower triglycerides and overall cholesterol levels. WinCo sells beets for 98 cents a pound, which is a great deal.
So, next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t automatically steer your cart toward pre-packaged foods or pass up healthy choices because you think you can’t afford it. With a small investment of your time to peel and chop these foods, or pop up a batch of fresh popcorn instead of using your microwave, you’ll be rewarded with better health.
Talk it up:
How do you eat healthy on a budget?
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