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25 Cheap And Healthy Foods You Need To Know

25 Cheap And Healthy Foods You Need To Know

“I really want to eat healthy, it’s just that I’m broke!” Sound familiar? As a former college student and member of Club Broke, I know the feeling. But who says healthy eating has to be expensive? Get fit on your budget with these 25 cheap and healthy foods you need to know about.

Frozen/Canned Fruits and Vegetables

Buying fresh produce is great if you can afford it, but I know it doesn’t fit every budget. Fortunately, frozen and canned varieties of fruits and veggies are an affordable way to nourish your body with vitamins and minerals that will increase your energy, immunity, and health.

1. Spinach 

Spinach is a nutritional power-house that offers a variety of vitamins and minerals, fiber, protein, and a staggering amount of antioxidants. If you’re not a fan of the taste, mix tiny chunks into a sandwich or egg-and-cheese omelet (seriously, you won’t even notice it).

Read more: 10 Delicious Recipes Made with Frozen Spinach

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is a great bang-for-your-buck vegetable that reduces your cancer risk and detoxifies waste within your body.

Read more: 11 Benefits of Broccoli to Convince Anyone to Eat It

3. Green beans

Green beans provide a hefty dose of Vitamin A, which delays the signs of skin aging.

Read more: 11 Sinfully Easy Green Bean Casserole Recipes

4. Carrots 

Carrots aren’t just for rascally rabbits; they’re a great, healthy veggie snack that you could bring to work or on a road trip. You could also improve the flavor of your soups this winter by slicing-and-dicing a carrot to add to your delicious creation.

Read More: How to Grow Food Indoors in Winter

5. Corn

Corn comes equipped with lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that can improve your vision. Just don’t forget to use a toothpick if you’re eating it on the cob.

Read More: 33 Healthy Veggie Meals in 12 Minutes or Less

6. Tomatoes

Tomatoes could give you healthy, vibrant skin to die for. Beta-carotene protects your body from skin damage while lycopene makes your skin less sensitive to UV damage (one of the leading causes of wrinkles).

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Read More: The Health Benefits of Fruit

7. Strawberries

Strawberries are another fruit that could make you incredibly good-looking. This berry is bursting with biotin, a B-vitamin responsible for strong hair and nails. As an added bonus, the antioxidant ellagic acid prevents skin sagging.

Read More: 7-Minute Chocolate Covered Strawberries Recipe

8. Peaches

Peaches are a tasty treat that could relieve your upset stomach and put you in the mood for frisky fun.

Read More: 15 Natural Ways to Relieve Stomach Pain

9. Bananas 

Bananas pack more than 360 milligrams of potassium per 6 inches of fruit. Since potassium’s job description is “keep your heart beating,” it’s a good thing to eat more of.

Read More: 7 Benefits of Bananas You May Not Have Known About

10. Cherries 

Tart cherries are a great late-night snack; they contain the hormone melatonin, the hormone responsible for you getting sleepy every night.

Read More: Tonight Before You Go To Sleep, Make Sure You’ve Done These 10 Things

Bonus Tip #1

The cheapest fresh produce typically depends on what season it is, so be a savvy shopper. Check out this list of the cheapest fruits and vegetables month-by-month and go bargain shopping at a local farmer’s market.

Bonus Tip #2

There is zero difference between name-brands like Green Giant green beans and the generic variety offered by your grocery store, so stick with the generic labels for serious cash savings.

Protein

Wrapping your head around how many grams of protein you should eat per day isn’t easy, so let’s just keep it simple; aim for a fist-full of protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

11. Eggs

Eggs are the cheapest source of protein you’re going to find; in addition, creative chefs can prepare them in an end-less variety of ways by scrambling/poaching/boiling them, or mixing up the meats/veggies/cheeses used in their morning omelets. On a semi-related note, breakfast for dinner is always a good idea.

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Read More: 10 Amazing Facts About Eggs You Need to Know

12. Canned tuna

Tuna is probably the highest dose/lowest cost source of protein you can find. You probably shouldn’t eat canned tuna every day due to the mercury content, but as long as you’re alternating it with another meat or two from right below here, you’ll be fine.

Read More: 8 Things You Should Know About Eating Sushi

13. Meat (beef/chicken/turkey/etc.)

Chicken and turkey are your best bets for price/value, but keep an eye out for discounts on beef and lamb. Here’s a list of vegetarian foods high in protein just in case you don’t eat meat (because if you don’t, you need to pay special attention to this).

Read More: The Ultimate Kitchen Cheat Sheet

14. Protein powder 

Whey protein is a super convenient protein source that you can grab-and-go as needed. Buy your protein in bulk to save money, and make sure you choose a credible brand, like Optimum Nutrition.

Read More: 20 Juice and Smoothie Recipes for Energy and Vitality

15. Cottage cheese 

Cottage cheese contains 23 grams of protein per serving, plus 18% of your recommended daily calcium intake for stronger bones less prone to injury.

Read More: 5 Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work (note #3 — Baked Cottage Cheese Wrap)

Bonus Tip #3

Since meat is normally the most expensive food you buy, check out your local ads to find the best deal on meat. Perform this search once or twice a week as needed and enjoy the savings.

Fat

Fat does NOT make you fat; on the contrary, consuming healthy fats like the ones listed below will help you stay full and satisfied during the day, making it less likely you’ll over-eat. Please note that eggs and meat (preferably free-range and grass-fed if you can afford it) are two of the best sources of fat you can get, but I’m not listing them here since I just mentioned them as a protein.

16. Olive oil

Just two tablespoons of olive oil per day could offer a host of benefits including improved brain function, bone health, and protection from viruses.

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Read More: The Many Uses and Benefits of Olive Oil

17. Butter 

Butter is not the enemy; if you want an enemy, look in the direction of margarine masquerading as a “health food” (while truthfully being full of artificial chemicals and devoid of nutrition).

Pro-tip: if it looks like the food’s packaging is desperately trying to convince you that it’s healthy, it’s probably not healthy.

Read More: How to Make Butter at Home

18. Cheese

Cheese could save you from a dental bill; this food contains an extremely high amount of calcium, which is the most important mineral for strong teeth.

Read More: How to Make a Grilled Cheese with No Mess

19. Nuts

Nuts are a portable, protein-packed, heart-healthy snack that could increase your longevity.

Read More: How to Make Nuts Healthier

20. Avocado 

Avocado offers 39% of your recommended daily fiber intake, plus avocado’s ability to “prevent unwanted inflammation is absolutely unquestionable in the world of health research.” (Source)

Read More: 4 Benefits of Avocado That Make It More Irresistible

Bonus Tip #4

Keep a plastic bag of nuts in your purse or pocket just in case you get hungry in the afternoon; this will help you counter those afternoon cravings with a healthy fat that satisfies your hunger until dinner-time.

Carbs

Despite what Dr. Atkins might have said, carbs are not the devil. Eating too much of anything — carbs, fat, protein, even fruit — will result in weight-gain. For now, consume 1 serving of carbs from the list below with every meal.

21. Rice

Rice, whole-grain or not, is a great cheap cooking accessory to keep in your kitchen. Debating the pro’s and con’s of brown rice versus white rice would require an essay (and this is already long enough!), so to dive into that debate, go here.

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Read More: How to Cook Brown Rice Like a Chef

22. Beans/legumes

Legumes are a great source of carbs and protein that you can add to soups, salads, and dips. The nutritional value of legumes varies depending on type, so compare the labels in your store to figure out your best options.

Read More: 11 Sinfully Easy Crock Pot Recipes

23. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a slow-digesting carbohydrate that hangs out in your stomach for a while after consumption, which could help you control cravings since you’ll feel full longer.

Read More: How to Cook Oatmeal Perfectly

24. Potatoes

Potatoes, like oatmeal, are rich in complex carbs that digest slowly and reduce over-eating.

Read More: How to Grow Potatoes in Your Garden

25. Popcorn 

Instead of munching on candy the next time you enjoy a movie marathon, opt for natural popcorn which includes fiber and a surprising amount of antioxidants.

Read More: Is Popcorn Healthy? 5 Ways to Keep Popcorn Healthy

Bonus Tip #5

There is an endless varieties of stir fry you could make with rice, a meat, and a vegetable or two. If you’d like some suggestions, check out these stir fry recipes. Oatmeal is another food that can be prepared in a number of ways, so check out these oatmeal recipes if you’d like to keep your breakfast fun and interesting.

Proper Nutrition: Best Practices

The best way to ensure proper nutrition is to eat a wide variety of the cheap and healthy foods on this list. To guide you in the right direction, I suggest starting with:

  • Have at least 1 fruit and veggie per meal (for a total of 3 per day). Aim to consume a full rainbow of fruits and veggies as different colors typically contain different vitamins and minerals.
  • Have one fist-full of protein per meal (that could be 2 eggs, canned tuna, or 6-8 oz. of meat).
  • Fat helps you stay full and satisfied, so start your day with a high fat/high protein breakfast. This is especially important if you tend to get hungry at work and snack on not-so-healthy things. A ham-and-cheese-omelet cooked in olive oil served with chopped tomato, berries, and a handful of nuts would do the trick.
  • The more active you are, the more carbs you need. Consume more carbs on days you exercise and less carbs on days you don’t. In other words: you may eat that bowl of pasta, but make it a workout day if you can.
  • Track your results by measuring your waist once per week and taking a progress photo once per month. Going in the right direction? Great! Don’t change a thing.
    Going in the wrong direction? First, don’t jump to the automatic conclusion that you need to eat less; many people pursuing fat loss (especially females) are not eating enough. Join an online support community like Fitocracy or the Nerd Fitness message boards to get support from experienced folks who would be happy to help you.

Click here to download a one-page budget friendly shopping guide that you can print and take to the store.

I hope this guide to cheap and healthy foods helps you get fit on your budget. If you have any other money-saving health tips, please share them in the comments.

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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