I'm sitting beside Lake Geneva in MN watching the sunset as I finish this blog post. I actually sprinted from my guest room to get a glimpse of the space between light and dark, feeling the cool lake breeze on my cheeks. There really are some things money can't buy. God is the ultimate painter.
There were times and seasons in my life when I would get really upset about all of the things I couldn't buy because I didn't have the money. It wasn't until more recently that I realized my problem wasn't ever about not having enough money, it was about my attitude toward God. Anger and frustration about money wasn't the problem; it was about not having enough God. That was not a problem with God though...he is always enough. We need to check out heart to see who (or what) is on the throne. God has given me everything I need. He cares for me in every way. However, when I focus on my lack, God leaves the equation. When I focus on God's abundance and providence, God becomes the center of my life and I am content. I have enough.
The same is true about food. Whether you are on a budget, you have food allergies/sensitivities, or you're just a picky eater, it's easy to focus on all the things we CAN'T have. Have you ever done that? I have. It puts my heart in a bad place. My attitude of self-pity is usually taken out on those around me. However, as soon as I make the switch to looking at the abundance that God has provided for food, my heart is instantly grateful and calm.
Below is a list of budget and kid-friendly superfoods. Rather than taking an attitude of "Ugh, I'll never eat those or my little people will never eat those. . . " be still, my soul. My encouragement for you is to start with one pantry item at a time. Once you have mastered that one item (or meal), add another budget-friendly super food to your diet. Also, we have a fun new blog series called Veggies You Never Thought You'd Love that gives one family friendly healthy eating tip (focused on helping your kids be more accepting of new foods). Type this title into our search bar to see all of the blog posts and stay tuned! A new post is release each month and our next one is next week which features a veggie dessert!
We climb mountains one step at a time. We nourish our bodies one bite at a time. Blessings!
In the post and the printable below, we included links to some of our favorite recipes that include these budget-friendly super foods as well as links to where you can buy some of these items online (note prices may vary).
Great for: Casseroles, salads, soups and stews, and more. Lentils are the most user-friendly of the beans because they cook quickly without pre-soaking, but I highly recommend soaking them overnight with 1 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Took cook, generally you just need to cover 1 cup of lentils with 3 cups of water or broth and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
What's a serving? 1/4 cup dried lentils.
Price per serving: 10 cents. You can buy a 16-ounce bag for $1.29. Each 16-ounce bag makes about 13 servings of lentils (if 1/4 cup dry is a serving). That small bag of lentils is deceiving because the lentils are dried, but once cooked, you will see the value.
Nutrition info per serving: 120 calories, 10 grams protein, and 11 grams fiber.
A 1-pound bag of brown rice, for example, sells for about $1.75 and cooks up into about 10 side servings -- that's just 18 cents a serving. You can purchase a larger size bag for a better value. Remember to soak your rice overnight in 1tbsp. of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
Great for: Hot or cold cereal, granola, crumb toppings for desserts, and muffins.
What's a serving? 1/2 cup dry oats.
Price per serving: 13 cents. A 42-ounce container of store brand oats costs around $3.99, and each container has about 30 servings, based on a serving of 1/2-cup of dry oats.
Nutrition info per serving: 150 calories, 4 grams fiber, and 5 grams protein.
3. Brown Rice (organic if available and in budget)
Great for: Side dishes, rice salads, fried rice, casseroles, soups, and stews.
What's a serving? 1/4 cup dry rice.
Price per serving: 18 cents. A 1-pound bag costs about $1.75 and contains 10 servings.
Nutrition info per serving: 170 calories, 2 grams fiber, and 4 grams protein.
4. Frozen Vegetables
Great for: Side dishes, casseroles, and stews. Sign up for our blog so you don't miss out on a quick and easy sheet pan recipe that uses frozen veggies that's coming out this month!
What's a serving? 1 cup.
Price per serving: Around 25 cents. Frozen vegetables come in 12-ounce to 24-ounce bags that cost anywhere from $1.75 to $2.25 and contain 6-8 cups, depending on the vegetable and the size of the bag. At one national store, you can buy a bag of frozen organic green beans for $1.79. A bag of petite peas will cost you $1.19, and a 10-ounce box of frozen chopped spinach costs $1.19.
Nutrition info per serving: A 1-cup serving of frozen mixed vegetables (classic mix) has 82 calories, 6 grams fiber, 4 grams protein, 115% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, 8% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, and 7% of the Daily Value for potassium.
5. Canned or Jarred Marinara Sauce or Canned Tomatoes
Great for: Pasta dishes, pizza, casseroles, appetizers, Italian sandwiches, and stews.
What's a serving? 1/2 cup.
Price per serving: About 28 cents. You can buy a 24 or 28-ounce jar or can of marinara or pasta sauce for $1.67.
Nutrition info per serving: A serving of meatless pasta sauce has around 90 calories, 2 grams fiber, 15% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, and 10% of the Daily Value for vitamin C.
6. Sprouted Grain Bread
Great for: Hot and cold sandwiches, bread stuffing, bread pudding, and breakfast strata.
What's a serving? 2 slices. Labels usually list a serving as 1 slice of bread (about 28 grams per slice), but for our purposes, we'll use the amount you'd use to make a sandwich.
Price per serving: About 30 cents. You can get a 22-ounce loaf of store-brand whole-wheat bread for about $2.99 (on sale). Each loaf has about 22 slices, or 11 servings of 2 slices each.
Nutrition info per serving (2 slices): About 120 calories, 6 grams protein, and 3 grams fiber.
7. Farm Fresh Eggs--Pastured
Great for: Making quick omelets or as an ingredient in fried rice. You can also blend eggs to make quiches, frittatas, egg casseroles, or burritos.
What's a serving? 1 egg.
Price per serving: 25 to 37 cents. You can buy a 16-ounce carton from a farmer for $1.99 to $2.99.
Nutrition info per serving: 70 calories, 8 grams protein, 10% of the Daily Value for vitamin B12, 6% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, and 4% of the Daily Value for vitamins D and E.
8. Fresh Bagged Organic Spinach
Great for: Quick salads, egg dishes, casseroles, soups, and stews.
What's a serving? If you use it for a main-dish salad, about 4 cups makes a serving. If you sauté it and add to an omelet, or use it for a side salad, about 2 cups is a serving.
Price per serving: 66 cents for a 4-cup serving; 33 cents for a 2-cup serving. A bag (9 ounces) of washed spinach leaves sells for about $1.99 (on sale).
Nutrition info per serving: 4-cup serving contains 20 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 160% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, 40% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, 8% of the Daily Value for calcium, and 40% of the Daily Value for folic acid
Is there any food as cool as the banana? It comes in its own little package, is completely portable and is loaded with nutrients and fiber.
Great for: Eat your bananas plain, or add them to a smoothie for a creamier texture. And don't forget the kid-friendly peanut butter and banana sandwich or banana muffins!
What's a serving? 1 medium banana
Price per serving: And you can buy one for around 40 cents. Bananas are cheap because they're always available, regardless of season.
Nutrition info per serving: About 100 calories. Bananas are a very good source of potassium. Athletes love bananas because they provide energy via fiber and vital potassium. Bananas can lower your risk for heart disease, sooth ulcers, relieve constipation, help your body to absorb calcium and protect your kidneys. They are a true "superfood."
10. Bulk Dried Beans
Great for: Burritos, nachos, dips, enchiladas, or a quick side dish.
What's a serving? Each 16 oz bag has about 12 servings, based on 1/2-cup servings.
Price per serving: About 42 cents. You can buy a 16-ounce bag of beans for about $4.99.
Nutrition info per serving: About 140 calories (for the vegetarian type), 7 grams protein, 6 grams fiber, 4% of the Daily Value for calcium and 10% of the Daily Value for iron.
11. In-Season Organic Fruit
In-season organic fruits are amazing. Most fruits, like bananas, comes in their own little package, is completely portable and is loaded with nutrients and fiber.
Great for: Snacks or desserts
What's a serving? 1 whole fruit, ½ cup berries
Price per serving: And you can buy one 3-pound bag of organic apples for under $6.00 in season. That makes each apple around 43 cents. Apples are cheap because they're always available, regardless of season. If you are on a budget, you can save money by choosing organic produce over conventional when you are going to eat the skin (like apples and berries) versus when you peel the skin and throw it away (like bananas and oranges).
12. 100% (non-GMO) Whole-Wheat or Brown Rice Pasta
What's a serving? 2 ounces of dried pasta. A serving for most people translates into about 2 ounces of dried pasta, which means you get about 7 servings in the typical box or bag of dried pasta.
Price per serving? About 48 cents. You can get a 13- to 16-ounce box or bag of store-brand dried pasta for about $3.40.
Nutrition info per serving: About 200 calories, 7 grams protein, and 6 grams fiber.
13. Organic Russet Potato or Sweet Potatoes
Great for: Baked potatoes, breakfast potatoes, fries, salads, casseroles, and stews.
What's a serving? 1 medium or large baked potato.
Price per serving: About 50 cents per potato. You can buy a 5-pound bag of Russet potatoes for about $4.99, and a bag contains 11-13 potatoes.
Nutrition info per serving (one medium-size potato): 168 calories, 3 grams fiber, 5 grams protein, 20% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, 10% Daily Value for iron, and 25% Daily Value for potassium.
14. Canned Tuna
Great for: Sandwiches, casseroles, several types of salads, and to serve with crackers.
Note: Due to levels of mercury detected in canned tuna (with higher levels in albacore tuna than canned light tuna), the FDA recommends that pregnant women, women who are trying to become pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children limit albacore tuna to no more than 6 ounces per week. The FDA also recommends that those women not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish due to high mercury levels. In my opinion, it would probably be best for pregnant women to avoid canned tuna altogether and to choose lower-mercury seafood instead.
What's a serving? A 6-ounce can contains around 2 servings.
Price per serving: About 70 cents for chunk white albacore in water. You can buy a 6-ounce can of solid white albacore in water for about $1.99, or a 6-ounce can of chunk white albacore in water for about $1.39. The best deal is usually with chunk light in water for 85 cents per 6-ounce can.
Nutrition info per serving: About 500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids (0.5 gram), 60 calories, and 13 grams of protein.
15. Plain Full Fat Yogurt (organic preferred)
Great for: A quick snack, parfaits made with fruit and granola, and smoothies.
What's a serving? Most individual servings come in 6-ounce or 8-ounce containers. You can save money by buying a larger container of yogurt and then taking your 6- or 8-ounce portion from it.
Price per serving: Individual servings (taken from a larger container) cost less than 99 cents each and sometimes less when found on sale.
Nutrition info per serving (for a 4-ounce serving of plain): 150 calories, 0 grams fiber, and 14 grams protein.
Foods not to skimp on (but try to buy on sale):
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Produce that which you eat the skin
- Fermented and cultured foods- purchased or home made (including bone broth)
Foods and beverages that you can live without (saving you money)
- ALL beverages aside from filtered water—yes, you can ditch your daily cup of milk and still survive getting your daily calcium from plant-based sources
- Most condiments (except for mineral salt, apple cider vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil)
- Unnecessary snacking and treats (especially snacking after dinner)
- Eating out. It’s expensive and not usually your most nutritious option
Sample Menu Using Budget Ingredients
Scrambled eggs with spinach and tall glass of filtered water
Whole orange or banana and single serving of plain yogurt and tall glass of filtered water
Spinach salad with black beans, in-season, on sale vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and mineral salt and a tall glass of filtered water
Organic apple sliced up with lemon juice and cooked lentils (all mixed together warm or cold—salt is optional) and a tall glass of filtered water
Stir fry frozen vegetables (or in-season, on sale varieties) in water and apple cider vinegar; mix in brown rice and canned tuna. Add extra virgin olive oil and mineral after cooked. Serve with a baked potato or sweet potato and a tall glass of filtered water
Looking for even more ideas? Check out these popular series below!
You are worth more than mediocre. You are worth exceptional health.
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any illnesses or disease. Please always check with your doctor before beginning any new nutritional or fitness program or before making any nutritional/fitness changes.