These healthy foods are coincidentally vegan, although you don’t have to be vegan to eat them. This is a cheat sheet of the most nutritionally dense, cheap choices in foods. Now that going vegan is trendy, it’s become harder for vegans and everyone else to save money on healthy, natural foods. Conventional methods of saving money at the grocery store don’t always apply to healthy food. That’s because healthy food doesn’t come in a box or bag. Or does it?
Dried peas and beans
Legumes are a secret super food that few people know or think about. They’re chock full of low fat protein and brimming with fiber. A bag of dried peas, lentils or beans can make a weeks worth of tasty soup, with just a few inexpensive veggies added. Wondering where vegans get their protein? Look no further than these pantry staples. And remember, soy, an occasional vegan protein, comes from beans, too.
Note: Be sure to choose GMO free soy and bean products for optimum nutrition and none of the evil side effects.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts are another vegan protein source. While they may seem horribly expensive, a large bag lasts a long time, since a very small handful represents a serving. A serving of almonds is just 10 nuts. A serving of walnuts is the same and contains all the Omega 3 you need in a day. A small sprinkle of chia seeds gives you an even wider range of Omegas. So, even though a bag of nuts or seeds has a hefty price tag, they are cheap in the long run.
Frozen fruits and vegetables
Did you know that frozen produce actually contains more vitamins and antioxidants than their fresh supermarket equivalents? Flash frozen fruits and vegetables are great for saving money. They have higher nutrient value than the fresh fruits and vegetables you find in the supermarket produce section. Check the label to be sure you are getting nothing but 100% produce. Additives, sauces and extra ingredients are not a healthy food choice.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Sometimes you’ll want fresh fruits and vegetables. Buy them in season, on sale or at farmer’s markets to save the most money. When you find a good deal, freeze them for later use. Better yet, grow your own healthy food in the garden. No room for a garden? Too cold for gardening? Growing vegetables indoors in sunny windows will solve those problems. No sunny windows? Think about purchasing grow lights. Yes, they’re a bit costly but will save you money on produce, year after year.
Note: Be sure to eat those ultra-cheap leafy, dark greens for iron, especially if you’re vegan.
Long lasting, high nutrient produce
Fresh sweet potatoes, squashes, onions and garlic are cheap, will last a long time and are chock full of vitamins. The shelf life of these coincidentally vegan choices is much longer than other produce. The key word there is shelf. They don’t need refrigeration, although keeping onions and garlic cold will prolong their life.
We all know the healthiest juice is 100% juice, no sugar added. Unfortunately, this is not a money saving proposition. Here’s a few tips to save you money on healthy juice. Bottled 100% juice on sale is a good money saving option. Bottled juice keeps for long periods of time so stock up and save. Although it isn’t exactly the same, frozen concentrated juice can be a real money saving healthy food. Check the label of all juices for added ingredients, such as sugar. A juice maker that uses whole fruits or vegetables is a great money saver too, despite the high, upfront price tag..
Popcorn is healthier than chips and saves money on snack foods. It’s full of fiber and a naturally low fat snack. Avoid microwave popcorn if you want to stay healthy and save money. Purchase an air popper instead. They use no oil. Buy organic, GMO free popcorn seeds on the bottom shelf of the snack aisle. They’re cheap and good for you. To keep it healthy, add spices, not butter and salt. Experiment with different options. For instance, you can add nuts to the mix for more Omega 3 power.
Buy whole grain flours, rather than refined white. Look for corn meal, whole oats and other popular grains in larger quantities. Stock up when there’s a sale. They keep for a very long time. Be sure to store them in airtight containers in a cool dark place. Experiment with other whole grains too. Try less popular whole grains like barley and quinoa for nutritional content variety Brown, black and red rice are a healthy, money saving item that’s deceiving. They may look expensive but they go a long way and can be stored long term.
Herbs and spices
Many people don’t realize that herbs and spices are very high in antioxidants. Herbs and spices may not seem like a money saving proposition. After all, some are nearly five dollars a bottle now. Think in the long term. That bottle will likely give you five to six months of antioxidant power. Load your fruits, whole grains and vegetables with antioxidant rich spices and herbs. The flavor is intense. You’ll be increasing the healthy value of every food you eat. Garlic and cinnamon are among the healthiest herbs and spices. Try herbes de provence spice blend for a real health boost.
Note: Don’t forget, herbs are one of the easiest things to grow, too. That will save you even more money on this coincidentally vegan health food.
Portions of this article were previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.