For years, fast food chains have been enticing customers with the promise of quick, cheap eats by heavily advertising a dollar value menu. I’ve applied that same theory, with a healthy spin. Here are ten staple ingredients under a dollar and recipes that can feed a family of four for about a dollar per serving!
Sunflower Seeds, 4-ounce package = $0.59
Garnish salads, mix into trail mix, add to bread mix or grind into butter. Vitamin E helps promote heart health and a 1/4 cup of these sunny seeds provides nearly your entire daily recommended intake.
Plain Fat-Free Yogurt, 6-ounce container = $0.67
Enjoy with cereal, mix into dips, top with fruit or granola. Buy the unflavored yogurt; it has less sugar than flavored yogurts. Add your favorite fruit or granola for a delicious low-calorie, high-calcium snack.
Butternut Squash, 1 pound = $0.69
Rich in flavor and beta carotene, butternut squash is a nutrient powerhouse that makes an easy side or soup. Found year round, the only down fall is its shape, which requires a unique approach to cutting.
Tuna in Spring Water, 6-ounce can = $0.69
High in omega-3 fatty acids, tuna promotes a healthy heart, optimal vision and helps prevent cancer because it is rich in selenium. Keep some on hand to make a quick tuna salad sandwich or mix in with pasta for a warm entrée or cold salad.
Eggs, 1/2 dozen = $0.79
Not only a good source of inexpensive protein, eggs are nutritious, easy-to-prepare, and versatile. If you are cholesterol conscious, remove the yolks. Scramble, poach, hard-boil, use up leftover vegetable to create an omlet … the possibilities are seemingly endless!
Pinto Beans, 15-ounce can = $0.79
In terms of price and nutrition, pinto beans are an excellent value. A concentrated source of dietary fiber, protein, and antioxidant packed, use to create healthy soups, sides, dips, and salads.
Canned Diced Tomatoes, 15-ounce can = $0.85
More flavorful than some fresh produced tomatoes, canned diced tomatoes can be substituted in recipes without losing a lot of nutrients. Canned diced tomatoes can be added to make a chunky tomato sauce for pasta, and Mexican-style tomatoes add a punch to chili or tacos or pasta salad. The lycopene-laden vegetable (or fruit) is available in many varieties that make it easy to cook any tomato-based recipe, no more slicing or dicing!
Frozen Spinach, 10-ounce package = $0.87
Well-cleaned and precooked, frozen spinach is the easiest way to incorporate a plant-based, low-calorie source of iron into your diet. Enjoy it creamed, with marinara and pine nuts as a side or mixed into lasagna or served with pasta as an entrée. There is little nutritional difference between fresh and frozen spinach.
Brown Rice, 8-ounce package = $0.87
Rice is a staple the world over and is thought to have been a source of food for over 9,000 years. A great source of phytonutrients, selenium, and dietary fiber, brown rice can be simmered and served alone or with beans, lean protein, in a veggie stir-fry, or to add bulk to soup.
Corn Tortilla, 10 pack = $0.89
While corn tortillas are not a nutritional powerhouse they can easily be prepared as a tostada, wrap, or chips and coupled with beans, veggies or lean meats for endless healthy meal ideas.
Scramble 2 egg whites and 2 whole eggs with 2 tablespoons skim milk. Add 1 cup salsa and sprinkle with 1/4 cup reduced fat cheese, cook together until warmed through. Serve with whole wheat toast or wrap in a tortilla.
Total cost (including whole wheat tortillas), about $3.31 or $0.83 per serving.
Pinto Bean Chili
In a Dutch oven, sauté a small diced onion in 1 teaspoon olive oil, add 2 (15-ounce) cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained, 2 (15-ounce cans) Mexican-Style diced tomatoes (not drained) and season with chili powder, salt and pepper. Simmer together, top with optional cheese or sour cream.
Total cost, about $3.78 or $0.95 per serving.
Black Bean Tostada
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray both sides of 4 corn tortillas with non-stick cooking spray and season with salt. Bake for 5 minutes per side for a total of about 10 minutes or until golden, crisp. Meanwhile, rinse and drain 1 (15-ounce) can of black beans, transfer to a small bowl. Cube one avocado and dice one small onion, add to beans. Season bean mixture with 2 teaspoons lime juice, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Top warmed tortillas with black bean mixture.
Total cost, about $3.21 or $0.82 per serving.
Tuna Salad Sandwiches
In a small bowl, combine 1 (6-ounce) can tuna in spring water with 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 cup minced onion, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and a dash of olive oil. Mix well and serve on whole wheat bread slices.
Total cost, about $2.69 or $0.68 per serving. You could add a small bag of baked chips and still stay under $4 total.
Butternut Squash Soup
Roast a 2-pound Butternut Squash, remove seeds, scoop out flesh into a large food processor. Add 1 (15-ounce) can rinsed and drained garbanzo beans, 1 (6 ounce) container yogurt, 1 (14-ounce) can vegetable broth, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and salt/pepper to taste. Combine in food processor until smooth, transfer to a large sauce pan, and simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through.
Total cost, about $3.84 or $0.96 per serving.
It’s no doubt most Americans are feeling the effects of the economic slowdown. Your dinner table can still offer terrific, healthy options that will not break the bank or your belts.