Easy Changes: Budget Whole Foods

Something I think we can all relate to is making our money stretch further. Whether you’re a single college student, family of 5, or like me and have to feed a very hungry husband we all want our dollar to go as far as it can.

Having cut out processed and prepackaged foods, I am always looking for ways to stretch meals and save money. I get it, I’m there with you. I have compiled a list of foods that we eat pretty frequently to bulk up our meals.


If you can buy your beans dry, either in bulk or bags, you will save a lot of money. Yes, canned beans are cooked for you, but if you want to save some dough go with dry. Go the extra step and soak your beans for added nutrition. Beans will keep for months if stored in airtight container (buckets are great).

Recipes: Hummus UnRefried Beans Black Beans and Rice Veggie Burgers

2. Rice

Rice is another cheap filler. We buy brown or whole grain rice and add it to soups, accompanied with Mexican dishes, add it to casseroles, sides, mains, it’s so versatile. Along with beans, I try to keep some cooked rice in the refrigerator and/or freezer. Again, soaking is key.

Recipes: Rice Salad with Kale and Chickpeas (Yum!) Creamy Chicken and Rice Cilantro Lime Rice (sub EVOO in)

3. Potatoes

We love potatoes. Russet, sweet, red, gold, you name it. Potatoes are cheap and filling. We peel and slice one up into small strips for hashbrowns. We put them in our burritos. Add them to soups, make homemade mashed potatoes (so easy!).

Recipes: Breakfast Burritos, Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes (sub in butter)

 4. Carrots

We could all use more orange, right? Always buy whole carrots, versus baby (they are often bleached). Organic carrots are still cheap, cut some pesticides from your life, buy organic carrots. Eating them raw for a quick snack–accompanied by that hummus up there. Add them to soups or casseroles. Whatever you do, add carrots to your diet.

Recipes: Honey Roasted Carrots Carrot Cake

5. Oats

This is a big breakfast food for us, either warm or in granola. There are varying types of oats to choose from: steel cut, rolled (aka old fashioned or quick cooking), instant. Each goes through different levels of processing with steel cut being the most nutritious, followed by rolled, and instant oats are stripped of nearly of its nutrients. I’m coming at you with the soaking method again!

Recipes: Granola Bars, Pumpkin Oatmeal, Granola, Carrot Cake Porridge

6. Bananas

Bananas are always in our house. They are an easy and quick snack or addition to breakfast. I cut them up and freeze them to add to smoothies. They can be used in place of sugar in baking. Banana bread! Eat these and love them.

Recipes: Banana “Ice cream“, PB Banana Smoothie, Soaked Banana Bread

This is not a complete list of cheap, real foods, but these are a few that we always have around. Do a little research. Check out the “healthy food” aisles at the store and you might just be surprised as how cheap fresh or frozen produce is. I think the big thing to remember today is that a lot of processed foods are actually more expensive than their whole food counterpart just for the convenience. An easy way to save money on food is to cook more at home.

What whole foods do you incorporate into your diet to save money? Are you willing to do a little extra work to save money on food?


2 responses to “Easy Changes: Budget Whole Foods

  1. It's ironic – a couple of years ago, I wouldn't have dared to eat a potato. Now that I've cut out processed foods to avoid dairy, eggs, wheat and corn (nursing baby can't process these), I've started adding potatoes to almost every meal. I can't even remember why I avoided them! Carb- schmarb!


  2. Hi Emily,
    Yes, carbs scared me too once upon a time, I think most of us fell into that trap. I'm glad to hear that you're taking care of yourself and baby, lots of women are not educated on that. Thanks for stopping by and congratulations on your little baby!


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