1. Water is almost free, particularly if you use tap water or filtered tap water and don’t buy bottled water. Free of calories, essential to human health, supports detoxification, cognition, healthy blood pressure, reduces overeating and false hunger. Water consumption reduces the intake of fruit juice, soda and coffee drinks that are high in sugar and cost.
2. Wild plants, foraging is free. You don’t need to poach on other people’s property. Likely you already have a few edible visitors in your own yard. Some common edible plants are – dandelion leaf, chickweed, purslane, garlic mustard, stinging nettles (puree or cook first), tiger lily flower, violets. Wild edibles tend to be more nutrient-dense than store bought varieties, rich in minerals and “secondary plant metabolites” = good medicine.
3. Beans, approximately $2 per pound of dried beans. Beans are a powerhouse food. Rich in antioxidants, heart healthy saponins, fiber and protein. Beans benefit weight loss, they are low glycemic and good for Type II diabetes and diabetes prevention.
4. Whole Grains, approximately $2 per pound of brown rice. Best to get a variety of whole grains. My favorite healthy options are quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, millet and amaranth. Since wheat is a growing issue for many, I am not listing gluten-containing grains here. Get whole grains not “whole grain” products and rinse and soak for better absorption of nutrients. Grains are rich in fiber and support healthy digestion.
5. Spices and culinary herbs, starting at 75 cents per oz in bulk. This is one of the few items that will be cheaper in the health foods store than conventional grocer, if you buy bulk. A little bit goes a long way! Small amounts of spices and culinary herbs provide health benefits. In general, this category of foods improves taste, improve digestion, relieve gas, improve body temperature in winter, rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds.
6. Least expensive veggies – carrots, onions, cauliflower and cabbage
7. Least expensive fruits – apple, watermelon, banana
Get the USDA’s full report here.
8. Chicken eggs. A dozen eggs can be as low as $2. Get organic and free range and the price jumps to $4-5. Regardless, chicken eggs are one of the best, inexpensive non-vegetarian protein options. They are a rich source of B vitamins, Vitamin D, selenium and protein. Eggs provide a low calorie, high protein source. Many studies suggest that 1-2 eggs a day has little correlation with heart disease
Sample Menu from our Top Ten List
Bfast – Steel cut oats, with sliced banana, pinch of sea salt and cinnamon
Lunch – 1 egg poached over sauteed cabbage, roasted garbanzo beans
Snack – sliced apple
Dinner – Red beans and cauliflower rice