I am often asked to share tips for healthy eating on a very tight budget. On this week’s Green Goddess blog, I’ve listed my top five (very) cheap and healthy foods. 

1. Bananas 

Perfect for: Breakfast 

What's a serving? One to three bananas

Price per serving: One for 30 cents, or three for $1 

What’s in it for you: Each banana has 100 calories, 12 percent of daily potassium and 20 percent of daily Vitamin B-6. Yes, bananas do have sugar and starch, but guess what? So do cereals, pop-tarts and even bagels! If you’re looking to do some carb-loading during the first part of the day, skip the processed sugars and go for nature’s sweet treat instead. If you want to slow down the sugar release, smear a few teaspoons of nut butter on the banana.

2. Cabbage

Perfect for: Side dishes, sandwiches (use cabbage leaves instead of bread), soups and stews.

What's a serving? One cup

Price per serving: 20 cents. You can get cabbage for $1 a pound.

What’s in it for you: 17 calories and two grams of fiber. Cabbage is excellent for liver support – our largest detox organ. When you liver is happy, you’ll have more energy, and your skin will boast a youthful glow.

3. Boxed (cooked) or Dry Legumes

Perfect for: Beans are great as side dishes or added to burritos, nachos, dips and enchiladas. You can also make great bean soups with a few left over veggies, water and dry herbs. 

What's a serving? Each box of cooked beans has about three servings, based on half-cup servings. 

Price per serving: About 50 cents. You can buy a 10-ounce box of organic beans at Whole Foods for $1.49. Or you can get one pound of dry beans for $1 (Goya brand at Publix), soak them overnight, then cook them. If you use dry beans, you will get three pounds of beans for $1, making it eight cents per half-cup serving. 

What’s in it for you: About 140 calories (for the vegetarian type), seven grams protein, six grams fiber, calcium and iron.

Z-TIP ON BEANS – Sprout mung beans and lentils. Put them in cold water over night and rinse the next day. Let them air-dry and they will be ready to eat by the end of the day. You can eat them as a snack, add them to salads or sprinkle them into your soups. 

4. Frozen Vegetables

Perfect for: Side dishes, stir fries and soups.

What's a serving? 3/4 cup (according to the package, but I like to double or triple my veggies.)

Price per serving: Around 40 cents. Frozen veggies are usually sold in 12 to 16-ounce bags that cost about $2 and contain four to five cups of veggies.

What’s in it for you: Low-cal and filling. As an example, a 3/4-cup serving of frozen mixed Organic Mediterranean blend vegetables at Whole Foods has only 25 calories. Add bulk to your meals without excess calories and dress them up with your favorite sauces. I love adding frozen spinach to my omelets and making stir-fries with a few bags of frozen veggie mixes and mushrooms.  

5. Garlic

Perfect for: Sautéing in side dishes, soups and stews. Garlic is great for liver support and, when eaten raw, has anti-bacterial properties. Do note, make sure there is something rich in the dish if you’re eating it raw. Raw garlic can be very strong and give you heartburn if you don’t pair it up with some olive oil, nuts, vegan cheese or ghee. 

What's a serving? One clove

Price per serving: Four cents. You can get garlic for $2 a pound and one pound of garlic will get you about 50 servings. 

What’s in it for you: Five calories per serving. Great anti-bacterial properties can help you stay healthy! 

Z-TIP: If I feel like I’m coming down with a cold, I chop up a clove of garlic and eat it on top of toasted Ezekiel bread with a little bit of ghee or Daiya cheese. I usually feel better right away.

2 EASY MEAL IDEAS:


Quick Complete Protein Chili: 

2 boxes of cooked beans

2 cups of cooked brown rice (another very inexpensive product)

16 ounces salsa

Mix together, heat up and serve.

Easy Cabbage Salad

1 cup shredded cabbage

1/4 cup sprouted lentils

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

Mix together and serve for a satisfying and healthy side dish. 

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About Alina Z.

Alina Z., aka “The Green Goddess,” is a certified holistic health coach, detox specialist and raw-food chef (she conducts occasional classes at Whole Foods in Boca). Prior to moving to Florida,  Alina hosted her own TV show in Maryland—“Entertaining A to Z”—for people who didn’t have time to cook but wanted to eat healthy. Catch one of her web episodes at eHow.com, visit Alina’s website at alinaz.com, or follow her on Facebook (facebook.com/CoutureFood) or Twitter (@CoutureFood). The Green Goddess blog runs every other Wednesday at bocamag.com.