Hey friends and happy Tuesday! I literally cannot believe its almost the end of August already, I swear 5 seconds ago it was just the beginning of summer. Oh well, I do love fall because to be honest I’d much rather be cozied up inside the house with tea and blankets watching netflix then being in a bikini outside.
Anyways, lately I have been getting a few questions about how to stay healthy on a budget and what to keep in the house to always be able to make healthy recipes, so I thought I would write a blog post on it. Sometimes not every single one of these products are in the house but I do my best to try! A lot of these food products are super versatile as well so you can make a few different things with them with a lot of health benefits. I don’t really include a lot of vegetables or fruits on here just because I am always switching those up depending on whats on sale or what I’m craving. BUT I always buy a wide variety of them so don’t think just because there not on the list below I don’t. Veggies and fruits should be the majority of your grocery haul!
Also, the products on this list are, for the most part, very affordable. I really don’t understand when people say “Oh eating healthy is expensive.” Some things are if your getting into the fancy shit but honestly, the last year of school I was on the tightest budget ever and I STILL maintained a healthy diet. You just have to be smart about what your buying, look for deals and be creative! I would stick to fruits, veggies, plant-based proteins like seeds, chickpeas, lentils, beans, whole grains and I would stay within my budget.
Here are my 16 go-to staples:
Don’t go buy the pre-packaged oatmeal boxes or whatever. There full of sugar and preservatives. I usually buy quaker quick oats, comes in a big red bag OR steel cut oats. Oats are good to make energy bites for the week, homemade granola, oatmeal or sometimes I melt some pb on banana with a sprinkle of oats on top. SO good!
2. Whole wheat pasta
This isn’t really versatile I mean you can really only make pasta dishes with pasta…but its good to have when you want to make a quick, easy dinner with fibre-filled whole grains! Or if your just craving some damn carbs. I always load my pastas with veggies like spinach, tomatoes, brussel sprouts or broccoli, and make a homemade sauce with added nutritional yeast for the creamy, cheesy texture.
3. Canned or crushed tomatoes
Really good staple to have because you can use it to make homemade pasta sauces or for spaghetti squash, or even chilli. Whatever floats your boat. You can throw some lean ground turkey with it, onions, garlic, mushrooms, let it simmer with some spices and all done!
4. Peanut butter
Uhm because DUH! Peanut butter literally is life and I go through that stuff like you would not believe. Probably because I put it on oats, smoothies, my homemade “nice cream” which I will do a separate blog post about, energy bites, sandwiches or just with a massive spoon :). Be smart about buying peanut butter though, choose brands that only have one or two ingredients: Peanuts. Or sometimes if theres sea salt thats a safe bet as well. Brands like kraft make some of their peanut butters with palm oil, sweeteners and other preservatives that kind of reap the benefits of the nuts. So choose wisely!
5. Almond milk or a non-dairy milk
I dont drink cow’s milk for health reasons and cause I really think it tastes gross, dairy in general is not a big part of my diet so I stick to non-dairy milks. More nutritional value plus I love the creamy, nutty flavour it has. Not expensive at all and very versatile! I use it in coffee, oatmeal, smoothies, sometimes with scrambled eggs (which I didn’t think would be good cause of the nutty taste but its very good!). I go for the unsweetened kind whether thats plain or vanilla. The sweetened one I find way to sweet plus it has added sugar!
6. Chia, hemp or flax seeds
Perfect way to get more omega-3’s, fibre, antioxidants, protein, calcium AND iron in your diet. Also rich in Manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, vitamin B3 (Niacin), B1 (Thiamin) and B2. They are also studies that show seeds lower your risk of heart disease, decrease inflammation, blood sugar, and increase weight loss! Throw them on top of oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, cereal, make chia seed pudding etc!
7. Frozen fruit
I always keep a bag of frozen fruit around because it lasts longer then fresh, I always throw it in smoothies, toppings for oatmeal or nice cream, or sometimes frozen berries are the perfect night time/afternoon snack to satisfy your sweet tooth.
8. Brown Rice
A go-to complex carb that I always keep around the house. Its good for a side dish, or I make breakfast scrambles with it with eggs and veggies, I make stuffed peppers with brown rice as well. It’s such an easy, healthy carbohydrate to whip up, plus its very affordable!
9. Sweet potatoes
Another fav, complex carb of mine! Usually sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta and brown rice are my go-tos. Sweet potatoes are amazing because, first of all there frikon delicious, second of all, they are filled with Vitamin A (beta-carotene) which improves eyesight, builds immunity and fights off diseases, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C which aids in wound healing, produces collagen, bone and tooth formation, fight colds and flus. Also a good source of Vitamin D which is essential for healthy bone growth. Sweet potatoes also contain iron, magnesium, potassium and are VERY versatile as well. My favourite is chopping them into cubes with olive oil and seasoning salt for hash browns, sweet potato fries, baked sweet potato, sweet potato toast, stir fries, breakfast scrambles, etc.
10. Nutritional Yeast
This is a recent favourite, and probably the most expensive thing on my list. But I try and keep it around because I’m doing my best to cut out cheese and this is the closest thing I’ve found that does a good job in replacing it. It has a cheesy, creamy texture like it tastes so so good and has a lot of health benefits. Nutritional yeast, or commonly known as “nooch” is full of B vitamins (particularly B12) and fibre making it a much healthier option to cheese. Its sooooo amazing on popcorn and I sprinkle it on pasta dishes, sweet potatoes, rice, scrambled eggs, basically anything I would normally put parmesan or cheese on! So worth the price.
11. Canned Lentils, Chickpeas, Black beans
If your tight on a budget, plant-based sources of protein are a life saver! I buy cans of these bad boys for like a dollar a piece and you can use them in a lot of different ways. I love plant-based protein sources because your getting so many nutrients for less calories and fat compared to animal sources. Lentils, beans, nuts and seeds are all loaded with a variety of vitamins and minerals like calcium and potassium, high in fibre, phytonutrients and omega-3 fatty acids with 0 cholesterol or saturated fats. These plant-based protein sources have been known to decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes and they balance your bodies natural pH levels. If you eat a variety you will get the right amount of amino acids as well to make it a complete source of protein. You can use them to make burgers, salads, avo/chickpea toast (my FAV), stir fries, chilli’s and sauces!
12. Nuts, Cashews, Almonds, Brazilian nuts, whatever
Another great source of plant-based protein, fibre, omega-3’s, vitamin E, healthy unsaturated fats that can be used in a variety of different dishes! Or you can just toss them in a sandwich bag and munch on as a snack. Thats usually my go-to but you can also top on yogurt, smoothie bowls, use in homemade granola, oatmeal or salads!
13. Onions and garlic
Totally obsessed with garlic and any recipe that calls for 2 cloves I literally put 6 instead I just love the taste so much. Onions I never used to like up until a couple years ago but now I use them in so many different recipes as well. Onions and garlic go in everything from stir fries to pasta sauces, omelettes, skillets, chilli’s, soups, dips, homemade salsas etc. Everywhere and anywhere I can add onions and garlic you know I will be! Garlic and onions actually have tons of health benefits as well. They contains various vitamins and minerals such as manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin. C, selenium, fibre, copper, potassium, phosphorous, iron and vitamin B1. They also boost your immune system and are known to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease. ALSO full of antioxidants. Some studies show they may even beneficial in reducing alzheimer’s disease.
14. Lemons & Limes
I always have lemons in my water but lemons and limes are good for making other things like homemade salad dressings or healthy dips like guacamole. There are so many health benefits to lemons and limes including healthy digestion, improves skin quality, reduces inflammation, freshens breath, boosts immune system and helps you stay hydrated.
15. Olive oil or Coconut Oil
These are the top two oils that I cook with on a regular basis. I usually do a teaspoon when I cook with it because its fairly calorie dense due to the high fat content even though it is a healthy fat that raises the HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) in your blood. Coconut oil has also been known to be healthful for your teeth, skin and hair because it kills harmful bacteria. I usually use a bit of olive or coconut oil instead of butter when I make popcorn, or use it when I make a healthy cookie dough recipe (in the recipe section of my blog).
I don’t eat eggs everyday, maybe 3-4 times a week but I love them so much! Complete source of protein meaning it contains all essential amino acids, has healthy fats and cholesterol, biotin, selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12, zinc, iron and copper. Eggs are also affordable and versatile. I make them sunny side up on top of a bunch of veggies and nutritional yeast for a skillet type breakfast, scrambled with a bunch of veggies, omelettes, egg salad sandwiches, denver’s, you name it! Literally doesn’t matter if its breakfast, lunch or dinner, I can eat eggs any time of the day.
Hopefully this gives you some ideas and take-aways on what to keep in the house in order to live a wholesome, nutritious lifestyle.
If you do want my recommendations on fruits and veggies, some of my favourites that I grab a variety of every time I go shopping are: Spinach, cucumbers, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, spaghetti squash, avocados, bananas, carrots. These are usually my go-tos cause I use them in a lot of different recipes but sometimes I get a couple other kinds of veggies to switch it up. Also some of my favourite spices to add some extra flavour to a meal are: Turmeric, garlic powder, oregano, basil, ginger, and good ol’ salt and pepper, I’m really not that fancy.