Eating Well on a Budget: Part 5 – Protein
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Eating Well on a Budget: Part 5 – Protein

Posted on Monday, December 10th, 2012 at 8:00 am
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Eating Well On a Budget: Part 4 – Grains

Proteins are the basic foundation for healthy bodies and minds. Every single cell in the human body contains protein. Your body uses protein to repair cells, make new cells, and keep you energized and moving throughout the day. The Environmental Working Group has compiled a list of 29 different types of protein that provide you with the most nutrition at the lowest cost. All of the proteins listed provide a balanced amount of healthy fats and essential minerals like iron. The Environmental Working Group suggests that for every $25 spent on groceries, $4-5 should go towards protein.

Protein comes in many forms that are all delicious. The EWG’s list of proteins with the best value include: perch, squid, canned light tuna, whiting or silver hake, black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, eggs, lentils, pinto beans, red kidney beans, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and turkey. Other proteins listed include chicken, white beans, almonds, pecans, goat, lima beans, cod, and tilapia.

Eggs, beans, and nuts are a great way to add protein to just about any dish. Try adding hard boiled eggs and nuts to a salad or make a delicious chili with a combination of your favorite beans. For a tasty side dish, cook up some fried rice with eggs, rice, and your favorite veggies for a triple kick of nutrition! For a quick snack or breakfast treat, spend some time on a weekend boiling up a dozen eggs. Keep the eggs refrigerated for the next week and grab them as you get hungry.

Nuts are versatile and can be added to many dishes for some extra crunch and flavor. Try adding some to your oatmeal or cereal in the morning. You can also toss a few in your stir fry for dinner. Raw nuts can be purchased in bulk and are often less expensive than their roasted counterparts.

Chicken is a staple in most households and offers many great tasting ways to get some added protein throughout the day. Whole or bone-in chicken is often cheaper than boneless style chicken. You can cook up a whole chicken and refrigerate it. You can cut some pieces off throughout the week and add it to your favorite salads or sandwiches. Chicken can also be frozen to last longer.

If you’re a fan of fish, keep in mind that varieties like croaker, perch, and canned light tuna may contain pollutants. Try limiting consumption to once a week. Also, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s list of the best fish to enjoy without harming the environment or depleting fish populations.

If you and your family enjoy a varied diet, getting an adequate amount of protein shouldn’t be a problem. However, protein bars or protein drinks could be a good way to add a little protein in the middle of the day. Talk to a nutritionist or research brands that are low in sugar and fat, but high in protein for the best results!

Next Up: Eating Well On a Budget: Part 6 – Dairy

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.