Studies show that people that eat out 3 or more times per week eat more fat, sodium and calories and fewer vitamins, minerals, and fiber than those that eat in. Stock your kitchen with nutritious foods to save your waistline and wallet. Try these:
- Beans and brown rice. Black, red, kidney, or other beans are all loaded with fiber, especially the soluble type that lowers cholesterol and helps control blood sugar. Brown rice can be made in large batches and frozen to be used for multiple dishes later.
- Jarred salsa. Salsa can be tossed into simple recipes (like the beans and rice above), used over eggs, or added to a salad in place of dressing. Most salsas add only 10 calories per 2 tablespoons, and they’re decent sources of potassium, vitamin C, and lycopene. Read the label for sodium content and look for salsas with 150 mg or less.
- Eggs. Eggs are cheap and provide a complete protein in just 75 calories. Don’t toss the yolk! It’s a good source of iron, vitamin A, and protein.
- Bagged spinach. Spinach may keep longer than other bagged salads, and it’s a better source of potassium and beta carotene than hearts of Romaine or iceberg lettuce. Try a spinach salad with strawberries or sliced apples to boost the nutritional content even more.
- Whole wheat tortillas. Whole wheat tortillas are not only great for tacos, but they also can be used for breakfast burritos or flatbread pizza. Look for ones with 100% whole wheat flour and at least 2-3 grams of fiber per wrap.
- Light string cheese. People shun cheese because of its fat, but light cheese made with skim or 1% milk boasts 20% of the daily value for calcium in a mere 60 calories. Look for generic versions instead of big names to save a little money.
- Oatmeal. Plain oats are one of the simplest, most nutritious foods on the planet. Oats are a great source of carbohydrate and soluble fiber that can be doctored up with cinnamon, vanilla, or dried fruit.
- Clementines. You can typically find a great bag of these citrus fruits for cheap at several stores in the fall and winter. The beauty of these is that they’re simple to peel and eat if you’re in a hurry.
- Frozen vegetables. For about $1.29 per bag, you get at least 8 servings of low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods. Plus, frozen vegetables are picked at the peak of ripeness and then flash frozen.
- Peanut butter. While calorie-dense, peanut butter boasts monounsaturated fat and a decent dose of protein. Smear some on whole wheat toast for breakfast or on a banana or apple for a filling snack.
By Lisa C. Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.