November 02, 2010

By Tina Haupert

A lot of people think that you have to pay top dollar for quality foods. But part of maintaining my Feel Great Weight has been about learning to eat healthy without breaking the bank.

I try to get the most nutrition for the least amount of money. So my kitchen is stocked with good food, but my wallet isn't empty. Here are my favorite low-cost (and low-calorie!) picks at the grocery store and my favorite ways to use them.

Rolled oats
Rolled oats are a complex carbohydrate. They are high in fiber, cost less than a dollar per serving, and make a filling and hearty breakfast (or snack) that keeps me going all morning long.

Serving suggestions: For breakfast, add fruit, nuts, or peanut butter to oats, or bake Oatmeal Raisin Bars for dessert. When I'm really in the mood for a treat, I'll whip up a 3-Minute Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.

 
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Apples
Apples are one of my favorite snacks. You can find them anywhere, they travel well, they naturally come in a single serving, and, best of all, they taste delicious!

Serving suggestions: You can eat them plain or sliced and dipped into honey yogurt, or as dessert in an easy Apple Crisp.

Eggs
For around $2, you can get a dozen eggs, which makes them one of the cheapest sources of protein available. Eggs are also a very versatile food. They make a great whole-wheat toast for breakfast, a perfect egg salad sandwich for lunch, or a filling veggie frittata for dinner.

Serving suggestions: I'm a big fan of this Tortilla-Crusted Feta-and-Broccoli Quiche or this Polenta Breakfast Pizza.

Whole-Grain Pasta
This pasta is a staple in our house because it always makes a quick-and-easy healthy meal. It has more fiber than regular pasta, so I feel full faster, and I'm not tempted to eat a second helping.

Serving suggestions: Try these hearty noodles in a Pasta Salad With Tomatoes, Arugula and Feta or a gooey Marconi and Cheese With Cauliflower.

Bananas
I eat a banana almost every day of the week. Hence, it's important that they are affordable. My local grocery store charges $0.49 per pound, so I can get a whole bunch for just a couple of dollars. Bananas are high in potassium and fiber, so they're a no-brainer as a food choice!

Serving suggestions: Eat 'em sliced and topped with a tablespoon of peanut butter, in smoothies, or with oats in this Baked Banana Oatmeal. You can also add them to a treat like Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies to up the health factor.

Canned beans
I always get my money's worth with beans! They're a great source of meatless protein, as well as fiber and iron. Plus, the varieties are endless—chickpeas, black, pinto, navy, kidney—it's difficult to get tired of them!

Serving suggestions: Use them in salads, or mix with pasta or rice, or even in your own homemade hummus. You can prepare them as a side, like in this recipe for Seared Scallops With White Beans and Bacon.

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