Think it costs too much to eat a healthy diet? Think again!
Kansas State Research and Extension presents our "top 10" list of frugal foods that combine great taste and a nutritious punch for a minimum cost. All of the frugal foods on our list are versatile — try them for breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks.
Apples and bananas. A perfect on-the-go snack, both apples and bananas are naturally portable. Eat these satisfying and sweet nutritional powerhouses raw or baked, or add them to salads, desserts and baked goods.
Beans. Full of antioxidants, dietary fiber and protein, canned beans cost about 23 cents per serving. Dry varieties that you cook yourself cost even less. Keep them on hand to pack into brown bag lunches and to make quick suppers.
Brown rice. With a slightly nutty taste, brown rice is a whole grain. It is more nutritious than white rice. Serve as a side dish, at breakfast or as a snack with cinnamon and milk, or add to casseroles and soups.
Canned tomatoes. Canned tomatoes make a great base for countless main dishes, dips, sauces, soups, stews and chili. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and lycopene. Buy them without added salt if possible.
Canned tuna. A versatile addition to sandwiches, salads and casseroles, tuna is high in protein and vitamin D, and low in calories and fat.
Eggs. Eggs are high in protein and low in cost. Boiled, fried or scrambled — eggs cook quickly, so they're perfect for breakfast, lunch or supper. For variety, try French toast, huevos rancheros or egg salad.
Fat-free milk. A natural convenience food, skim milk offers a healthy dose of vitamin D, calcium, protein and potassium. Serve skim milk with meals and snacks, and use in soups, smoothies and desserts.
Kale. At about a dollar a bunch, kale is one of the least costly green vegetables you'll find. Three quick and easy ways to serve kale are to: Serve it hot after pan-frying with garlic and a small amount of vegetable oil; steam and add to pasta salads or as a topping on homemade pizza.
Potatoes. White potatoes and sweet potatoes are satisfying and are high in dietary fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Bake, boil, roast, pan-fry or oven-fry them, or add to casseroles or soups.
Rolled oats. At just 14 cents, one cup of cooked oats is a heart-healthy whole grain with 4 grams of dietary fiber. Cook oats with fruit for a breakfast or snack, add them to baked goods, or use them to "extend" the ground beef in meatballs or meatloaf.
For more great ideas for frugal food, see the K-State Research and Extension newsletter "Dining on a Dime." It's available in English and Spanish on a bi-monthly basis. Check out the latest issue and archived back issues at http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/humannutrition/Dining.htm.
Other ideas for low-cost living are available at my Living Well blog at http://SWKTalk.com/livingwell.