We don’t need to spend a lot of money to eat well. In a market saturated with prepared food ‘products’ it can be helpful to remember the simple goodness and health benefits of the following staples. These are the nutritional and relatively economical, superfoods that appear regularly on my household grocery list and on my table.
High protein, high fiber black beans are a great choice for versatility and nutrition. I cook up a pot of them with garlic and veggie stock to use for salads, burritos or ladled over steamed brown rice topped with a bit of salsa or hot sauce.
Whole, baked sweet potatoes are the easiest of all applications for this vitamin-dense food. Split down the middle lengthwise and topped with a stew, I promise you will not walk away hungry. I also chop up cold baked sweet potato into my salads. Roasted sweet potatoes are a sweet treat as well–again tossed over a salad or on their own. Tasty and filling.
Besides the protein, essential amino acids, healthy fat–including the ever-important Omega-3–one big thing nuts have going for them is portability. A highly concentrated source of calories, this food is so easy to store for a quick snack or as an add on to a veggie salad on a busy day. As one who never hits the fast food joints, I always keep a stash of nuts in my car in case hunger strikes.
Creamy, crunchy or both, like I do. This high-protein, calorie-dense, high nutrient bang for the buck food is essential to my week. Perfectly paired with a fresh, crunchy apple or smeared on whole wheat toast, it is a staple I never want to do without. Also great to use in Asian noodle sauces, stews and as the fat in granola–let me count the ways!
Tofu: Baked, Grilled or Scrambled
High protein, low-fat, versatile tofu is a powerhouse of nutrition with so many uses. There are books on the subject! Go to the library! The most common applications in my kitchen on a busy week are scrambled for weekend breakfast carrying over into the week and sprinkled over salads cold, or wrapped with leftover rice or veggies in a whole grain tortilla and quick-marinated slabs, baked in a 400 degree oven. These are great on salads, dinner and general grab n go snacking.
Berries on Oatmeal
I like to set up overnight oats with frozen blueberries for my week. It makes morning so easy! Very simple: oats, non-dairy milk, topped with blueberries. Cover, refrigerate. Done. I usually make 3-4 servings in advance. They only seem to get better the longer they soak.
Typically my salads stay pretty basic, economically feasible and nutritious. You don’t have to eat top-shelf veggies to be healthy and well-fed. Just choose the best quality for the money you have to spend. Lettuce, the darker the green, the better the nutritional value. Carrots are still cheap and full of vitamin A and other good things. The humble red cabbage packs plenty of nutrition for the price and a full head goes a long way. Don’t forget celery! It’s distinctive crispness and flavor adds the perfect counterpoint to the sweet carrots. Even though some of these ingredients have gone up in price, remember–they have culinary value, beyond salad making. If they get a bit old, they can be easily made into soup!
A plant-based diet needn’t be complicated or expensive. Read my recent post, Plant-Based on the Cheap for more time and money saving tips.