Ah, the prototypical arrangement in the food symphony - how to eat healthy on a tight budget. For omnivores this means less steak and more chicken. For vegans, this just means less fresh produce but just as much awesome. The focus here is on getting enough protein while abstaining from pricier, exotic fruits and vegetables, with the end goal being quick, easy meals (without gluten), that won’t break your budget or your diet, without needing a whole lot of supplementation (if any).
- Brown rice & quinoa - the side-dishes of your dreams, and a suitable snack whenever you need them to be. Trader Joe’s carries boxes of organic brown rice and quinoa in microwavable bags that are portioned perfectly and make for a quick pick-me-up when you need it most.
- Black beans - canned or bagged. It seems to be much easier to portion and enjoy canned black beans, not to mention it’s much easier to go organic when they’re canned. Bags, however, are generally more cost effective. Black beans are an excellent source of fat and protein, and are inexpensive. With some corn tortillas…vegan tacos, anyone?
- “Milk” - take your pick: Almond, coconut, hemp, or soy milk. The argument can be made for almond and hemp milk over the others, however, soy milk is easy to find and cheap. Milk alternatives are a great source of protein and many essential vitamins and minerals.
- Cashews, peanuts & pistachios - unsalted. Cashews and pistachios are not cheap, however, they are doable on a tight budget because of how calorie-dense they are, meaning you don’t need to eat many to get a lot of protein and calories, making them a fantastic snack. Peanuts are generally a no-no when on a diet, and a common allergen. However, peanuts are cheap and a great source of protein, so if you must, go for it.
- Hummus- a cheap add-on to any number of dishes, especially those black beans I mentioned earlier. Frankly, hummus can make just about anything delicious, and is found almost anywhere. Simply add it to a bland meal and you have a party on your hands.
- Hemp seeds & chickpeas. Cheap, delicious, goes on anything, and full of protein. Also…conveniently portable and no preparation required, can you really ask for more? Yes, but now you’re just being silly.
- Avocados - a delicious add-in to salads and meals (tacos, anyone?) with plenty of vitamins, fats, and a little protein. While not particularly cheap, one avocado can go a long way.
- Sweet potatoes - easy to prepare (5 minutes in a microwave) and they last forever, which, on top of their fantastic nutrition, makes them a great selection for just about any budgeter’s grocery list. You don’t need butter to enjoy these.
- Arugala, kale & spinach salads - the most expensive part of this list, more that likely, as salads often require the salad-maker to add in as much “extra taste” as possible in order to enjoy said salad. If that’s you, you’re in luck, as this exact combination can be found in individual bags at Trader Joe’s (and they’re organic) - and to take rings a step further, you can always throw in some of the other things on this list to liven up your salad (e.g. black beans, nuts, avocado, hemp seeds).
- Pick a fruit, any fruit, preferably in season…as long as it fits your budget.
That’s all for now, but please keep in mind - the initial purchase may seem fairly expensive, but what’s really key here is that the foods are just about everything you need, and you won’t need to eat nearly as much to get your fill. On another note of the awesome variety, there’s no gluten to be found…and did I mention you can go raw with almost everything on this list (except the milk)?