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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 September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

Reference

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