7 Kitchen Staples to Help You Eat Healthy on a Budget

by JJ Virgin on September 30, 2013

Have you heard the old myth that it’s too expensive to eat healthy? It’s time to put this rumor to rest so you can get on with enjoying a healthy lifestyle while staying on a reasonable budget!

First, let’s be honest: The real culprit for expensive food bills is usually dining out or buying food at the last minute. We’ve all been there: a trip to the store for one or two necessities turns into one or two bags full of groceries, and those expensive packaged foods sneak in.

Nothing kills a budget faster than lack of planning and impulse shopping! My cost-saving and proven solution is to plan ahead and stock up on healthy staples to have on hand at all times.

Keeping your pantry and fridge stocked with smart, nutritious options not only makes eating healthy cost-effective, it also makes choosing the right foods practically automatic, reduces temptation, and saves tons of time – definite wins!

The secret is to buy foods that are packed with amazing health benefits, super-satisfying, and ultra-versatile. Stock up your freezer when produce is in season, and watch for good buys on your favorite staples.

Not sure where to start? I’ve got you covered!

Here are 7 essentials I always keep in my kitchen, so I never have to worry about breaking the bank while eating healthy:

1) Coconut oil and coconut milk

This pair of fantastic superfoods can help you boost weight loss, fight infection, and prevent heart disease.1-3

And they’re so versatile, you can blend them into your protein shakes, add full-fat coconut cream to thicken savory soups or stews, and even whip up a decadent coconut ice cream for a guilt-free, low-sugar impact dessert.

Find out the Five Ways Coconut Oil Makes You Look & Feel Great, and don’t forget to try our wildly popular Coconut Ice Cream recipe. Yum!

2) Bone broth

The bone broth hype is real: every sip is rich in amino acids and minerals that can promote weight loss, enhance metabolism, reduce your appetite, and strengthen your immune system!

Meanwhile the collagen in bone broth helps keep your skin, hair, and joints youthful and strong.3-6  

Bone broth adds an easy boost of flavor and nutrition when you use it to boil veggies, rice, or quinoa instead of using plain water. I always keep a few bags in the freezer for convenience. (You can make your own with this recipe, or buy pre-made bags when the price is right.)

Grab a mug of bone broth when it’s cold outside or try it in a simple, delicious soup like our Crockpot Chicken & Cauliflower Rice Stew.

3) Frozen berries and cherries

These delicious fruits are low-sugar impact and a favorite staple for my daily protein shakes (which are the ultimate easy, inexpensive meal – more on this later!). Remember to buy organic whenever possible.

Rich in fiber, omega-3s, and antioxidants, it’s no surprise berries and cherries are a yummy superfood that can keep you full between meals, not to mention reduce cellular aging. Yes, please!

Here’s a smoothie recipe that’s gotten rave reviews, featuring a generous serving of unsweetened dark cherries: Chocolate Cherry Chia Protein Shake.

4) Leafy greens and zucchini  

Whether you’re vegan or Paleo, we can all agree that leafy greens should have a starring role in any healthy diet. Fortunately, organic greens are also very affordable, especially if you buy while they’re in season!  

A rich source of vitamins A, C, K, folate, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, you’ll want to stock up so you have enough greens for 5 servings a day. (It’s easy when you sneak a half cup of frozen spinach into your smoothie and toss some chard and arugula in a generous salad at lunch.)

I also keep zucchini on hand for making yummy zoodles as a healthy pasta replacement – you can go all zoodle, or mix them half and half with quinoa or lentil gluten-free pasta.

Need a meal in less than 20 minutes? This Chicken Zoodle Stir Fry recipe is the perfect choice!

5) Quinoa, wild rice, and cauliflower rice

Any one of this trio of slow-low carb options is a great way to round out a meal, especially when you eat by the Sugar Impact Diet Plate. These three are my staples to create the perfect meal in minutes.

Cauliflower rice (a.k.a. riced cauliflower) is extremely affordable and available in the freezer section of your local grocery store. You can also make it yourself in seconds by running a head of washed organic cauliflower through the grater setting on your food processor!

I often mix my cauliflower rice half and half with wild rice – it’s actually a grass and fantastic for you. This grain-free option is high in fiber and vitamins, plus it’s very affordable and will last for months in your pantry.

And of course, there’s quinoa. It used to be a rarity, but now this superfood has gone mainstream and is even more affordable as a result. New to the quinoa party? Try 5 Yummy Ways to Eat Quinoa to get started.

Don’t forget to cook any of these three in bone broth for added flavor and nutrition! (See how all of these staples come together so easily?)  

6) Chia seed and flaxseed

Both of these seeds are little superfood powerhouses, loaded with protein, healthy fats, and fiber that can help fight inflammation, boost brain function, and keep you full for hours.

Add chia or flaxseed to smoothies, marinara sauce, or soup for an easy nutrition boost. Or make an easy Chocolate Berry Chia Pudding – it’s so delicious and healthy, it can serve as breakfast or dessert.

And with just 5 minutes to prep the night before, you’re saving time and money with a sweet, hearty meal the next morning!

7) Protein shakes

Last but most definitely not least, protein shakes have been one of the most important staples on my shopping list for over 30 years. In fact, I was so serious about my smoothie habit, I formulated my own high-quality protein powder!

This should be no surprise, considering protein shakes are a healthy, cost-effective way to replace one or two meals a day. You can make a nourishing, complete meal for under $3.50, and that includes organic frozen fruit.

This single kitchen staple can make all the difference in jump-starting your metabolism for fast fat loss, while giving your body everything it needs to boost energy and fight cravings until it’s time for your next meal.

Find out How to Make the Perfect Protein Shake, so you can add the perfect blend of fat and fiber to each shake for the biggest impact on your health. (You’ll notice most of the superfood staples listed above are included!)

Looking and feeling your best is priceless, but they’re both achievable even if you’re on a strict budget. Now you’re all set to make tasty, healthy meals while keeping your grocery bill and waistline lean!

For more ideas on how to keep your kitchen and pantry stocked to eat healthy on a budget, get my Shop Smart Shopping list below.

Have questions? Follow me on Facebook and Instagram and let me know how my team and I can best support you!

Article Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19931617 (metabolic syndrome and coconut milk)
  2. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2006.1209 Fights infections
  3. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/3519928 fights heart disease
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25926512  bone broth
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17403271  bone broth
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2105184  bone broth