For some reason, it is generally accepted that only the rich can afford to eat healthy food, while people with an average income have to save on their health and choose foods not for their nutritional value, but for cost. KEDEM.RU undertook to dispel this myth. We have discovered many useful products that are still cheap despite everything. Moreover, many expensive products are not necessarily healthy, but, on the contrary, are poorly combined with the principles of healthy eating – this primarily applies to smoked meat delicacies, sweets and semi-finished products. Of course, in the economy mode, we will not be able to afford healthy oysters, caviar, artichokes, asparagus, goji berries and other superfoods, but composing a balanced diet for little money is a reality. We present to your attention the cheapest products that are good for your health.
1. Whole cereals
To date, barley and barley (crushed barley) can be called the record holder in terms of price-benefit ratio among cereals. The barley from which these amazing foods are made is considered the healthiest cereal. It contains proteins, starches, provitamins A and B, as well as many minerals, including rare phosphorus and iodine. The simplest barley and yachka dish is porridge. It is especially tasty from pre-soaked whole grains. Pearl barley soup with mushrooms is wonderful – it is very satisfying, tasty and costs almost nothing if you have dried mushrooms for the winter. You can even make an analogue of risotto – perlotto on barley.
Other whole or crushed cereals: millet, oats, corn, wheat – are significantly inferior to barley in useful properties and overtake it in price. But they are also worth having in the kitchen to add satiety and variety to your diet. For example, you can make a delicious porridge with a mixture of oatmeal, corn, and barley. And if you add bran, which are also very cheap, we get an effective remedy for cleansing the intestines and fighting excess weight. As for the flakes, they are much inferior in nutritional value to whole grains. Their main advantage is the speed of preparation.
Don’t forget that whole grains can be germinated and get balanced vitamin complexes for almost nothing.
Interestingly, rice and buckwheat, which have risen in price greatly in recent years, are not at all as useful as it is commonly believed. In polished rice, except for carbohydrates, practically nothing remains, and buckwheat can be called a superfood only in its green (not fried) form.
2. Peas, lentils
Legumes are the main vegetable source of protein. The cheapest representatives of this group in Russian stores are whole yellow peas and large green lentils. From them, like from cereals, you can cook porridge and soups; you can add boiled peas and lentils to stews and salads; jelly can be made from pea flour. You can germinate them like cereals.
Legumes have one peculiarity – they take time to cook, and this insignificant complexity scares the housewives away from them. In fact, boiling legumes is no more difficult than boiling cereals. Whole peas can be soaked overnight, after which they cook quickly. Split peas and green lentils do not require soaking and cook for 20-25 minutes. It’s important to keep in mind that legumes are a pretty heavy food. They need to be eaten a little and in no case before bedtime.
Of all types of meat, chicken has the most optimal price-benefit ratio. It is very profitable to buy whole chicken or chicken and bake it on the grill, in foil, in the sleeve. And it is even more profitable, tastier and healthier to fry the legs and wings, and cook broth from the chicken leftovers. The next day, it remains to add some vegetables and cereals – and a delicious, hearty, very cheap soup is ready.
Speaking of fish, we mean whole live or frozen. Beautiful fillets and a variety of smoked fish delicacies do not fit today’s topic due to their high cost and dubious benefits. Try different varieties of fish: from salmon to capelin, all of them are tasty and healthy in their own way, and you can only rely on your own taste here. As with chicken, the best way to cook fish is with soup. It requires inexpensive fish and a basic set of vegetables.
By-products are what is in animal carcasses in addition to muscle tissue: kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, entrails, brains, legs, ears and tails. Do not faint when meeting these products on the shelves, it is better to ask the seller for the price, it will pleasantly surprise you. The most expensive and easy-to-cook offal is the liver. No one doubts its benefits and taste, but not everyone knows that other animal organs can be surprisingly tasty and much healthier than meat. For example, tripe (tripe), which is sold for ridiculous money to feed dogs, when properly prepared, turns into a delicacy, pork legs – into delicious jellied meat, and pork ears – into an excellent snack. Working with many offal takes time and a spacious kitchen in a private home. In a city apartment, you can cook only chicken stomachs and hearts, which is also good in terms of economy and benefits.
6. Soy products
Speaking of soy, we do not mean soy sausage, skillfully disguised as a meat product with the help of dyes and flavors. We’re talking about pure soy products: soy milk, soy meat, tofu, tempeh, miso, yuba (fuju). Soy contains many useful substances: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, micro- and macroelements. Soy seeds and flour from them are not recommended to be used in their pure form, as they contain substances that suppress the digestion process. Because of this, many people have a strong distrust of soy – they have read or heard somewhere that soy is poorly absorbed, and made the wrong impression about it. In fact, in Asia, soy is not simply eaten. It is fermented to neutralize enzyme inhibitors, or, more simply, it is boiled, fermented, pressed, dried for a long time. It turns out a huge variety of healthy and light foods.
If you are not already familiar with soy products, start with soy asparagus, which is not really related to asparagus, but is made from soy milk films. It is sold in all major supermarkets for little money. Soy asparagus can be used in a variety of dishes: salad, stew, noodle soup, you can use soy asparagus as a quick snack or as a side dish for rice.
According to numerous studies, fermented milk products are much healthier than milk. They have a probiotic effect, that is, they improve the intestinal microflora, which in turn helps to digest food more efficiently and assimilate useful substances from it. Kefir is completely safe for those who are lactose intolerant. A glass of this wonderful drink and a slice of black bread is a hearty, healthy and low-budget afternoon snack or late dinner. Important note: choose a simple kefir without any fruit fillers, normal fat content, with a short shelf life, produced at a local dairy plant – in this case, it will be as useful and cheap as possible.
Seaweed (kelp) is a real mine of minerals. It contains iodine, potassium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc and rare substances, the effect of which on the body is not fully understood. For maximum benefit, it is better to eat fresh seaweed, but this is not always possible, so you will have to be content with dried or canned. If you like Korean kimchi (spicy salads made from vegetables, mushrooms and seafood), buy pickled seaweed. This is one of the cheapest types of kimchi.
9. Local vegetables
Of the vegetables, cabbage, carrots and onions are optimal in terms of price-benefit ratio. With a slight stretch, beets and radishes can be attributed to vegetables. It is especially good to buy these products in summer and autumn at local markets and store (ferment) for the winter. Sauerkraut is an excellent vitamin supplement for the whole winter that will cost you almost nothing but a few hours of shredding. Cabbage soup with carrots and onions is a well-known body shaping remedy. You will definitely not suffer from hunger and lack of nutrients, and the extra pounds will quickly disappear. If you cook cabbage soup with different fillings – potatoes, beets, celery, cereals, herbs, mushrooms – it will never get bored. By the way, the potatoes loved by Russians are comparable to vegetables in price, but significantly inferior in useful properties.
10. Fruits and berries
Fruits and berries are essential for human health and good mood. Unfortunately, local apples, pears, plums, currants and raspberries can be bought cheaply only in season and only in markets or in distant villages. The rest of the time in stores, apples are more expensive than bananas and oranges. This is not to say that this is good, but not bad either. Fresh tropical fruits are just as healthy as apples. If you have to save money, buy a little bananas and oranges.
and eat 1-2 servings every day.
It is even more profitable, although not so pleasant, to buy dried fruits. Avoid brightly colored candied fruits and shiny dates – these are expensive and not healthy at all. Buy nondescript dry varieties of dark raisins, prunes and dried apricots with seeds. In terms of taste and effect on the body, they are much closer to fresh grapes, plums and apricots.
11. Sunflower oil
For normal life, a person needs fats. Without them, many vitamins are not absorbed and hormones are not produced. Lack of fat can lead to a weakened immune system, depression and chronic illness. The best product in terms of price-benefit ratio among fats can be considered unrefined sunflower oil. It needs to be added to vegetable salads to absorb vitamins, and refined is better for frying.
If you think that margarine is both cheaper and healthier, keep in mind that margarine and all sorts of spreads are made from low quality vegetable oils by hydrogenation. Isn’t it better to buy a natural product?
Spices can hardly be called an essential product, but simple dishes turn out to be tastier and more aromatic with them. In addition, black and red peppers, horseradish, bay leaves, turmeric, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, celery root and many other spices are very useful – they promote digestion, strengthen the immune system, and keep food fresh. It is better to buy whole spices than ground spices: they retain the essential oils and maximize the benefits. Moreover, the price of whole and ground black pepper is almost the same. Avoid bouillon cubes and ready-made mixtures “for chicken”, “for pilaf”. They often contain salt and monosodium glutamate, but why do we need them at the price of spices?
We have deliberately omitted tea from the list of cheap healthy products. Cheap tea means either low grade or old product. It has neither taste nor benefit. It is much more pleasant to buy some good tea and brew it in the Asian way: in a small teapot or gaiwan.
The same goes for chocolate and juices. These products are useful only if they are natural, and in this case they cannot be cheap in any way.
As you can see, the cheapest products can be healthy and tasty. Spend your money wisely and be healthy!