We all have those weeks and months when our check disappears before we've even seen it. By the time bills are paid off, there's just enough money left to make a quick trip to the supermarket and stock up on the cheapest foods you can find.
If this is you, it can be tough to make the healthy choice. Food like cup noodles and instant rice is always cheap, while the healthy food like meat and dairy tend to be more expensive. Well, here are the foods you should buy when money's tight -for your health's sake, as well as for your wallet's sake:
Dry beans cost as little as $1 per lb, and they'll expand when you cook them. One pound of beans can be three or four meals for a large family. Plus, if you add spices and herbs, you can make them very enjoyable. Beans are loaded with protein, and they are rich in fiber as well--meaning they're very filling. They're a low-fat protein that is one of the healthiest options out there, not to mention budget-friendly.
Nothing quashes hunger pangs like brown rice, though it may not be the tastiest choice. It's loaded with fiber to satiate your hunger, and you'll find that brown rice expands a lot more than white rice. A 32-oz bag of white rice will run you about $2.50, while half that much brown rice will cost about $2.75. Despite the higher price, you'll be far less hungry with brown rice.
You'll find that most greens are fairly cheap, and they're rich in the nutrients that you need while eating sparingly. You can make hearty soups by adding chicken broth, or fill up on leafy green salads. There are a lot of greens that are sold very cheaply-like kale or chard -as they are less popular than lettuce, spinach, and broccoli. They aren't as tasty, but much healthier.
This is the king of the tuber family, and one of the most versatile foods around. You can use potatoes to stretch soups and stews, or they can be baked and eaten whole. A potato has up to 200 calories, but is loaded with filling fiber, Vitamin C, potassium, and other very important minerals. If you're on a budget, this is one of the cheapest ingredients out there.
You'll find that the frozen greens may not be as tasty as the fresh ones, but they can often be cheaper. A 1 to 2-pound bag of frozen peas will run you about $2 at Wal-Mart, while fresh peas will be more expensive. You can get an assortment of veggies at a great price, and they make a tasty, filling addition to your meals.
They may seem expensive, but they can actually take the place of a meal. Each protein bar will run you about $2 to $3, and they've got a balance of protein and carbs that make them a great, healthy meal.
Peanut butter is a great protein-rich food that is surprisingly inexpensive, especially if you buy it from places like Wal-mart. There is a bit of sugar in cheap peanut butter, but it won't hurt if you're eating on a budget. It's a very filling spread that is loaded with antioxidants and other minerals. A large can of peanut butter will only cost you about $4, and it will last a long time!
Living on a shoe-string budget doesn't mean you have to suffer. The foods above will help you to trim your shopping budget, making it easier for you to get a few special treats to mix in with these basic staples here.