Eating well doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank

Should you choose nutritious food, or should you save money? Don’t resign yourself to one or the other; eating healthfully doesn’t have to be expensive. To watch your health while watching your budget, drop these seven budget-friendly foods into your cart each shopping trip.

Budget-friendly: Quick-cooking oats
Budget-drainer: Nutrient-deficient cold cereal

Many cold cereals are full of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Furthermore, not only does a serving of quick oats have double the fiber of cold cereal, research suggests the fiber in oats sops up cholesterol from the digestive tract, preventing it from entering your bloodstream, and may even help with blood glucose control.

Budget-friendly: White potatoes
Budget-drainer: Boxed scalloped potatoes

It sometimes gets a bad rap, but when not drenched in cheese, butter and sour cream, the humble spud is essentially fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and packed with potassium, vitamin C, fiber and magnesium. Most boxed scalloped potatoes, however, are loaded with sodium and heart-damaging saturated fat. Instead, try mashing potatoes with garlic and milk for a healthier option.

Budget-friendly: Eggs
Budget-drainer: Beef franks

It’s just as quick to whip up eggs for a sandwich as it is to boil a hot dog. Two wholesome eggs give you almost the same protein as one frank with just a fraction of the sodium and saturated fat.

Budget-friendly: 100% vegetable juice
Budget-drainer: Fruit juice beverages

Pour a glass of vegetable juice to enjoy delicious antioxidants and phytonutrients, or pour the fruit juice beverage for added sugars and extra calories. If you want to trim the sodium, buy a low-sodium variety.

Budget-friendly: Salted peanuts
Budget-drainer: Sweet and salty granola bars

Are you surprised that the granola bar has more sodium than the salted peanuts? Each bar has 150 milligrams sodium, and the peanuts have just 115 milligrams per 1-ounce bag. The peanuts also have more than twice the protein and no added sugars.

Budget-friendly: Edamame
Budget-drainer: Cracker chips

Salty cracker chips are highly processed with a lengthy list of ingredients. Compare that to the ingredients list of the edamame: soybeans. Theyre fun to snack on and a good source of fiber, protein, and vitamins A and C.

Budget-friendly: Light tuna in water
Budget-drainer: Grilled beef patty

The American Heart Association recommends we eat fish at least twice weekly to improve coronary heart health. The beef patty provides 230 calories and a scary 8 grams of saturated fat. The tuna contains some heart-healthy omega-3 fats, has no saturated fats and provides only 50 calories per serving.

Jill Weisenberger is a registered dietitian in southeastern Virginia and the author of Diabetes Weight Loss: Week by Week. Visit jillweisenberger.com for more information.