Six Affordable, Healthy Items to Add to Your Grocery List

Avocado, Swiss chard and sweet potatoes

For many people, cooking at home can seem daunting. What should I make? What are some healthy options that still taste good? And can I really save money by doing this?

Your local supermarket is loaded with affordable and healthful gems that taste great – it’s just a matter of knowing what to look for and tapping into your culinary creativity.

Keep an eye out for some of these items next time you head to the store.

6 Healthy and Cheap Groceries to Pick Up 

Avocados

Avocados aren’t just for guacamole anymore. Slice them over a salad instead of cheese or meat, or spread them on a BLT as an alternative to mayonnaise.

A smooth and creamy treat, avocados are a fantastic source of oleic acid, which has been linked to decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increased health-promoting HDL cholesterol. Avocados also deliver a significant dose of folate, a nutrient that lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Look for avocados that are firm, not mushy or hard. They’re in season most of the year. You can also look for mini or “baby” avocados that are smaller and come in a multi-pack perfect for single servings.

Butternut Squash

This bell-shaped gourd packs a powerful punch of beta-carotene, which is especially beneficial to women. Beta-carotene is a natural deterrent against breast cancer and supports healthy lung development in unborn children. Butternut squash is also loaded with vitamin C and fiber.

Try slicing and boiling it until soft, then mashing it with a few tablespoons of plain nonfat yogurt and a dash of salt, pepper and cinnamon for a flavorful replacement for mashed potatoes. It’s also delicious roasted, added to macaroni and cheese or baked into a savory pie. Look for pre-cut or frozen varieties to save time.

Quinoa

We’ve all heard of this super seed by now. Pronounced “keen-wah,” you can find this grain-like seed in the bulk foods section or the rice aisle of your grocery store. This ultra-versatile starch can be used in thousands of dishes; anything from a high-fiber, high-protein alternative to rice in a casserole, to a tasty and hearty substitute for oatmeal. 

Quinoa is loaded with amino acids that your body uses to repair and maintain tissue. It’s also an excellent source of magnesium, which has been linked to the prevention of migraines and is proven to help regulate blood pressure. Diets high in whole grains like quinoa also have been linked to the prevention of certain cancers and childhood asthma.

Related read: Seven easy ways to reduce your food waste >>

Sardines

The thought of eating canned fish might be a deal-breaker for you. However, if you’ve ever enjoyed a tuna salad sandwich, sardines should be a definite “can-do” for you.

Still need some more convincing? Sardines are high in omega-3s, making them excellent for heart and circulatory health. Some studies show omega-3s to be helpful in cases of depression and anxiety, too.  Sardines are also packed with calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and B vitamins. Unlike several other types of fish, sardines are virtually mercury-free.

Give them a try on toast, tossed in a salad or added to a basic pasta sauce to bump up the flavor. 

 Baked homemade sweet potato fries with ketchup

Sweet Potatoes

To put it simply, sweet potatoes are some of the best vegetables you can eat. They’re full of vitamin C, potassium and fiber. They’re also an excellent source of carotenoids, a nutrient that helps boost your immune system, protects you from the adverse effects of free radicals and assists reproductive functions. 

For a mouthwatering replacement for French fries, slice a sweet potato or two into wedges, drizzle with olive oil and bake or grill until crispy. They’re also versatile enough to be mashed, roasted, tucked into tacos or baked and topped with cinnamon. 

Swiss Chard

If you haven’t heard of Swiss chard, it’s time to bone up on your produce studies. Just one cup (cooked) of this colorful leafy vegetable provides more than 300% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K — which is essential for maintaining bone health. 

Swiss chard is also loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin E and dietary fiber. Furthermore, it’s extremely high in phytonutrients, which have been linked to colon cancer prevention, diabetes regulation and kidney health. 

For a quick, savory side dish, pick up a couple of bunches of Swiss chard and sauté the leaves with garlic and olive oil until they are slightly wilted. This veggie also comes in a few colorful varieties, like rainbow, to brighten up your dinner table. 

Next Up: More Smart Grocery Shopping Tips

When you’re writing your next grocery list, consider adding some of these healthy alternatives. Remember to be creative with your meals and keep an open mind. You just may discover some new favorites.

Hungry for more money-saving tips? Check out this blog next: How to Create a Food Budget.

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