The economy sucks right now, and everything seems to be so expensive. Luckily, many restaurants have scaled back their portions or prices to accommodate the difference in the economic environment. These foods may be cheaper. However, they’re still riddled with tons of sugars, salts, and saturated fats that bastardize any healthy benefits they may have had. Once in a while, sure. Just don’t make it a habit.
Even with tough times, there are still foods that are very reasonable in price and yet nutritious. It may take a bit of effort, but most grocery stores have sales every week, so take advantage of those when good products are cheap. Regardless of sales, here are five foods that stay in the affordable range while giving you excellent nutritional value.
Ah, the wonderful peanut. Who doesn’t love to grab a handful of these babies and chow down? Peanuts have been an American staple for years and can be found just about anywhere. Go to Aldi’s and pick up a 1-lb package of peanuts for just $2.00. This will give you 16 servings, each serving containing 160 calories, 14 grams of fat (12 grams poly and monounsaturated fats), 200 milligrams of potassium, and 7 grams of protein. A 1-ounce serving of peanuts is pretty small but very calorie dense. This is perfect for in-between big meals when you want a nice snack.
Cluck, cluck, cluck. Chicken is an excellent source of protein and extremely lean. The great thing about cooking chicken is that it’s very versatile and can cover a wide range of ethnic recipes. For a quick fry, go for the breast, as cooking too long causes it to dry out and taste nasty. For longer barbecuing, go for the legs and thighs, which have a bit more fat on them and give the chicken great flavor. Most grocery stores have sales on chicken breasts for around $2.00 a pound. Pick up a 5-lb package, bake off what you need for the week, and there you have it. You can have chicken sandwiches on the cheap all week! For some flavor to go with your chicken breast, barbecue sauce is man’s best friend.
For those who love marine life and, more specifically, like eating it, tuna fish is an excellent choice. Tuna is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve heart health, and it’s a fantastic source of protein. Tuna is extremely cheap, especially at Aldi’s where you can buy a can for 49 cents. Get 10 to 12 cans for $5.00 to $6.00, each containing around 30 grams of protein. Now that’s a steal! Tuna isn’t the best tasting food item, but if you doctor it using hot sauce, a touch of mayonnaise, or other condiments, it can improve the texture and taste.
Straight from a cow’s udders, milk is an amazing beverage that does the body good. Milk is loaded with calcium to keep bones strong and it’s easily digestible due to its liquid form (so long as you aren’t lactose intolerant). This is a great product that goes well with protein shakes and is also wonderful for breakfast. If you aren’t a big fan of regular milk or you can’t stomach it well, try soy milk or almond milk as an alternative. As far as regular milk goes, a gallon of two percent milk hovers around $2.50 a gallon. That’s 128 grams of protein for $2.50. Sign me up!
Who came first—the chicken or the egg? Well, it doesn’t matter because when it comes to protein, eggs are the king of the farm. Protein values are rated from 1–100, and the 100 rating is based off the egg. Egg protein is great for athletes because it’s easily digestible and is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids that our bodies can’t produce. Each egg contains 4 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of protein, and about 70 calories. They also contain about 200 milligrams of cholesterol per egg as well, which isn’t a worry unless you have genetically bad cholesterol. The dietary cholesterol in eggs is helpful because cholesterol is a precursor to testosterone. Every athlete can benefit from increases in testosterone, and eggs can help you get there. The best part about eggs is that they’re dirt cheap. Aldi’s has a dozen eggs at around $1.00 a piece. There isn’t any way you can go wrong with that deal!
Even in difficult economic times, it’s possible to eat well for a reasonable price. Next time you go shopping, take a look at what you’re buying and ask yourself if it’s beneficial to your nutritional plan. Try to limit snack foods as these can make your food bill and waistline go through the roof. So eat well and chow down!