Cheap foods do not need to be dull or lack nutrition

Cheap Eats

by Leanne Ely CNC

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Eat Healthy, Eat Cheap

A lifestyle of poor diet and lack of exercise kills about 400,000 Americans every year. That's as many as who have died from smoking. Can you imagine? And that's only Americans. This number does not count the rest of the world that eats poorly and neglects to exercise! YIKES!

It's a tough world out there and today's grocery store is no exception. Here are some tips to navigate the grocery store successfully and buy the healthy foods you need and avoid the unhealthy ones that could kill you! Healthy foods don't need to bankrupt you or make you spend untold hours in the kitchen. Here are some tips for getting healthy happening in your kitchen today with cheap foods:

  1. Fast Food. Look for stuff that is fast and easy to make, like sweet potatoes (stab, bake, eat). They are cheap eats, massively good for you and filling. And one of my favorite fast foods? Soup! Yes, soup!
  2. Go Green. Baby spinach is fast-food friendly too. Not as cheap as sweet taters, but worth the cost of admission! I like mine stir-fried (little bit of olive oil and a lot of garlic!) and in salads.
  3. Brown Rice. You can make a vat of this stuff, scoop into individual freezer bags and freeze for later use if time is of the essence. Having a box of quick cooking brown rice at home isn't a bad idea either, but the long cooking stuff is much less expensive.
  4. Grown Your Own. Having a veggie garden is a lot easier than you may think. Check out for a plan for nearly everyone!
  5. Thirst Out. Water is about as economical as it can get. If you want clean and fresh water, check out different water purifiers and start pile driving the water. Cheaper than anything else you can drink!
  6. Seasonal Stuff. Buy in season (summer is the time to find cheap watermelon, not the middle of winter), buy locally when at all possible, and buy organically.
  7. Garlic and Onions. Very inexpensive and will ratchet up the flavor and potency of nearly anything you make, not to mention the antioxidant factors as well. Keep them on hand!
  8. Read Labels. If you have to spend 10 minutes deciphering a food's label with unpronounceable chemical additives that you have no earthly idea what they are, your body doesn't know what they are either. Not only that, but also you're going to pay for those expensive chemicals at the cash register and in your own health. Skip anything with fake colors, flavorings or "flavor enhancers." They all rob you of your health!
  9. Vegetarians Unite. Once a week, go vegetarian. That doesn't mean eating a bunch of soy-based processed foods, but rather choosing a vegetarian meal each week. We had fresh tomato sauce on pasta with chopped fresh oregano and feta cheese sprinkled over the top. The tomatoes and oregano came from my garden and the whole meal was divine!
  10. Beans, Beans. Beans are the ultimate healthy, yet frugal food. Dried beans need to be soaked, cooked and then can be made into a multitude of cheap eats from soup to chili to salad. Eat your beans for corn's sake!

Don't become a statistic and please don't think healthy food is out of your reach or budget! It's not hard. It's enjoyable and the cool thing about eating healthy, grown in the ground food is you always know what you're eating. No labels necessary!

Leanne Ely is a New York Times best selling author of Body Clutter and the popular Saving Dinner cookbook series. According to Woman's Day Magazine, she is the expert on family cooking.

Leanne's syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva can be found in 250 newspapers nationwide and in Canada. Her vast broadcast experience includes media satellite tours, QVC several times as well as guesting on several national television shows, including HGTV's Simple Solutions, ABC Family's Living the Life, Ivanhoe's Smart Woman, Small Talk for Parents and Talk of the Town. She has guest chef-ed on the cooking show, Carolina Cooks and has taught cooking classes all over the country for Bloomingdale's.

In addition, she is a seasoned radio personality. Leanne's own radio show, Heart of A Woman aired during drive time in two major California markets, Los Angeles and San Diego. Her current show, The Dinner Diva is one of the top Blog Talk Radio shows on the Internet.

On the Internet, she pens the Food for Thought column for the immensely popular,, with over half a million readers weekly. She has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, the Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orange County Register - to name a few. Additionally, she is a sought after speaker and has spoken all over the country, with keynote addresses to corporate and non-profit entities. Visit Leanne Ely on Google+.

Take the Next Step

  • Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

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