Contributed to Elliot G.

Healthy eating often gets a bad rap when it comes to cost. A common perception and rationale for not eating more healthfully is a belief that “Healthy food is expensive!”  while fast food is often associated with being a better value for the money. However, what might initially be considered cheaper (although the jury is out on that!) could actually be more costly in the long run. Why?  Fast foods have been linked to several disease conditions including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, each with their own long term repercussions and that needs to be factored in.

Here are some ideas that can get you on your way to eating healthy on the cheap at any meal.

Breakfast. Eat oatmeal, not the instant kind which is individually packaged, more expensive and contains added sugar, sodium and other food additives. Instead buy the type of oatmeal that you cook on the stovetop. You can buy Quaker oats for 17 cents a serving or for less if you buy from the bulk bin at a health food store. Then add your favorite healthy ingredients (e.g., peanut butter, seasonal fruit, honey, etc.).

Lunch.  Eat more greens. Salads are a great way to incorporate more greens into your meals.  You don’t have to be dull about your ingredients: use different green such as spinach or arugula and include beans or hard-boiled egg for protein. For interesting meal ideas, check out these healthier lunch options that will not break the bank.

Dinner.  Cut down on meat. You can buy lots more vegetables for the cost of two steaks; instead of eating a whole steak, cut it into strips and share it or have it as leftovers.  Add a mixture of vegetables on the side and some rice and beans and make a fajita. Increase your portion of veggies and keep your meat serving to the size of a deck of cards.

Eating healthy can be easy and cheap. What are your favorite, cheap and healthy eats?  We invite you to share in the box below.