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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.

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Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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