Cooking healthy, delicious meals for your family doesn't have to be a financial strain. You just have to think strategically about the way you shop and how you cook. Here are some inexpensive, healthy foods that are so versatile, you can make lots of dishes with them and never get bored:
- Dried beans and rice are cheaper alternatives to the canned and quick-cooking versions. They can be bought in bulk -- giving you many more servings for the cost -- and have a very long shelf life.
- Seasonal fresh fruits and veggies from your local farmers market are usually better in quality and less expensive than produce from grocery stores. You can also feel good knowing you're supporting people in your own community.
- Frozen produce is an inexpensive and healthful alternative to fresh fruits and vegetables that aren't in season. The food is picked at the peak of freshness, blanched (for quick preservation of vitamins and minerals) and then flash-frozen. Use frozen fruit in smoothies, stirred into oatmeal and in baking, and frozen veggies can be substituted for fresh in most any recipe.
- Canned tuna and salmon are good alternatives to their fresh -- and more expensive -- counterparts. Both fish are packed with protein and are low in fat, sodium and calories. Use them in pasta dishes, casseroles, salads, soups and, of course, fish cakes.
- Whole grains such as oats, grits, barley and quinoa are very reasonably priced when buying in bulk, and they can be used in sweet and savory dishes, in snacks and for bulking up soups and meat dishes. And like dried beans and rice, they have a very long shelf life.
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