People often complain about meeting dietary needs on a limited budget. I live on a very limited budget but honestly, I never complain. It doesn't help, it's unproductive, and I have no need to complain.
By doing a little research, let's call it 'diet due diligence,' I've managed to get all of the essential amino acids, high quality protein, carbohydrates, necessary fats, fiber and minerals on well under $200 a month for 2 people while maintaining a varied and interestingly healthful diet. Imagine that?
I start with Quinoa, a grainlike seed (pronounced "keen-wah") that is as close as you can get to a perfect food, because it provides almost all the nutrients a body needs. Quinoa delivers significant amounts of 20 different amino acids your body uses to maintain and repair tissues, including all of the essential amino acids--protein building blocks your body can't make and has to get from food. (Only animal protein can make the same claim, and it's almost always higher in calories and fat than quinoa.) It's also a great source of magnesium, which helps regulate blood pressure. A half cup gives you more than 50 percent of your daily needs, as well as some iron and potassium.
Quinoa can be made as a hot or cold cereal, it can be used as you would use rice and it can be made with a sauce like pasta. It's a versatile, great tasting, power packed food and it's CHEAP if you buy it in 25 pound bags.
We buy about 40 small Roma Tomatoes every month. They're cheap and they're versatile; they can be used in salads, on sandwiches and stews though I prefer them uncooked. I eat at least one tomato every day.
One of the most well known tomato eating benefit is its' Lycopene content. Lycopene is a vital anti-oxidant that helps in the fight against cancerous cell formation as well as other kinds of health complications and diseases. Free radicals in the body can be flushed out with high levels of Lycopene, and the tomato is so amply loaded with this vital anti-oxidant that it actually derives its rich redness from the nutrient.
Lycopene is not a naturally produced element within the body and the human body requires sources of Lycopene in order to make use of this powerful anti-oxidant. While other fruits and vegetables do contain this necessary health ingredient, no other fruit or vegetable has the high concentration of Lycopene that the tomato takes pride in.
We grow 6 different types of peppers indoors in 5 gallon containers in Minnesota. Obviously if we can do it here you can do it wherever you might live. They're small trees and they produce almost all year long. Peppers don't have that spicy image for nothing. This vegetable is an excellent way to spice up otherwise bland dishes. Peppers come in a beautiful array of colors and shapes. They add flavor, color, and crunch to many low-calorie dishes.
All peppers are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, but red peppers are simply bursting with them. Antioxidant vitamins A and C help to prevent cell damage, cancer, and diseases related to aging, and they support immune function. They also reduce inflammation like that found in arthritis and asthma. Vitamin K promotes proper blood clotting, strengthens bones, and helps protect cells from oxidative damage.
Red peppers are a good source of the carotenoid called lycopene, which is earning a reputation for helping to prevent prostate cancer as well as cancer of the bladder, cervix, and pancreas. Beta-cryptoxanthin, another carotenoid in red peppers, is holding promise for helping to prevent lung cancer related to smoking and secondhand smoke.
Besides being rich in phytochemicals, peppers provide a decent amount of fiber.
Hot peppers' fire comes from capsaicin, which acts on pain receptors, not taste buds, in our mouths. Capsaicin predominates in the white membranes of peppers, imparting its "heat" to seeds as well. The capsaicin in hot peppers has been shown to decrease blood cholesterol and triglycerides, boost immunity, and reduce the risk of stomach ulcers. It used to be thought that hot peppers aggravated ulcers. Instead, they may help kill bacteria in the stomach that can lead to ulcers.
Both hot and sweet peppers contain substances that have been shown to increase the body's heat production and oxygen consumption for about 20 minutes after eating. This is great news; it means your body is burning extra calories, which helps weight loss.
So there's a small introduction into living and eating healthy on a very limited budget. Throw away the microwave and start eating fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and whole grains. Get High Fructose Corn Syrup, Additives, Colorings and Sweeteners out of your diet. Don't buy processed foods or foods with more than 2 or 3 ingredients. Don't eat or drink from cans; they're lined with Bisphenol-A, an endocrine disruptor. Don't drink from plastic containers and never microwave FOOD. You'll save loads of cash at the grocery store, you'll feel better, and you don't need to be a Vegan or shop at an Organic Grocer. Just wash all those vegetables when you get home from the grocery store!