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4 Frozen Foods for a Budget

Being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to eat unhealthy foods. The freezer section is a great place to find whole foods rich in nutrients that won’t break the bank. Grab these four on your next grocery trip!

If you are grocery shopping on a tight budget, spend some extra time in the frozen food section. While fresh foods are generally a better choice, frozen foods can fit the bill when fresh produce is not available or is cost prohibitive. Some healthy, budget friendly options include:

 

  1. Berries: frozen berries such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are perfect for adding to smoothies, while offering up antioxidants and fiber.
  2. Edamame: a good source of isoflavones, frozen edamame is often easier to find than fresh.
  3. Seafood: wild Alaskan salmon and black cod are sustainable seafood options that may be more cost-effective frozen than fresh.
  4. Vegetables: look for frozen spinach, kale and other dark, leafy greens that have no added ingredients.

 

When buying frozen, choose organic produce when possible. The price of frozen organic foods is often lower than that of fresh organics. If you cannot buy all organic, follow the "Clean 15" from the Environmental Working Group for a priority list. These are the 15 non-organic product items that contain the least pesticide residues. Also, be sure to read labels - avoid frozen meals (including the ones that are labeled "healthy" or "natural") as they often contain inferior ingredients such as trans-fats and high sodium content.

Meal Planning: Buy These Canned Goods!

Looking for a cost-effective way to get nutrient-dense foods into your meals this week? Consider canned foods. Quality canned foods offer a convenient and economical alternative to fresh foods, and can provide nutritional benefits from seasonal items all year round.

Before you start perusing the canned goods section, however, keep in mind that canned foods are often high in sodium, so always choose no- or low-sodium versions. Also, a recent study indicates that daily intake of canned soup appears to raise levels of BPA, an endocrine disruptor, dramatically for short periods, so choose jarred soup over canned soup if possible. Some canned items to look for include:  

  1. Fish: Sockeye salmon is a great choice, as it is always wild caught, and the canning process softens the bones, making them an edible source of calcium. Sardines packed in water or olive oil are also a good option.
  2. Beans: Always a healthy addition of fiber and protein to your meals, these time-savers can be used straight from the can after a quick rinse. Look for organic varieties of kidney, pinto, black, and garbanzo.
  3. Fruits and vegetables. Because fruits and vegetables are usually canned soon after they are picked, many of their nutrients are maintained. Some types of processing - heat processing of sweet corn, for example - even boost antioxidant activity. Look for brands made from organically grown produce and choose canned fruit that is packed in its own natural juices or water, rather than in heavy syrup, which adds unnecessary calories and sugar.

More research is needed to determine if foods like canned soup raise BPA levels. So consume canned goods in moderation to round out your diet, and eat fresh or frozen foods instead whenever your time and budget permit.
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