These 9 things should be on every healthy broke girl’s grocery list

Healthy food can seem dauntingly expensive. And, if you’re trying to buy pre-made salads at Whole Foods or organic peanut butter, it might be.

But let’s be real: junk food can be just as expensive, and the secret to staying healthy and staying on your budget is simply to cook meals yourself.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of buying a bunch of fruits and veggies, not knowing what to do with them, and realizing they’ve gone bad before you had time to find a recipe that incorporated them. So, we talked to Amie Valpone, Lycored Nutrition Ambassador, about what a broke bish should have on her shopping list – and WTF to do with all those raw ingredients.

Amie has spent 13 years in Manhattan, and she suffered chronic health issues for 10 of those years. So let’s just say she knows what she’s talking about. These foods will def get you the most bang for your buck.

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1. Tomatoes

It’s summertime, and tomatoes are in season!

They’re also super great for you.

“Tomatoes are widely known for being an incredible source of antioxidants, such as lycopene, the carotenoid that gives tomatoes their deep red color,” explains Amie.  “They’re soaring with vitamin C and biotin, which is key for keeping that youthful look in your skin.”

As for what to do with tomatoes besides cutting them up and throwing them into salads? Amie says to try roasting them in the oven with extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, or making a homemade tomato sauce using fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

“I let this simmer on the stovetop for an hour until the flavors are well combined and then serve it atop zucchini noodles or alongside roasted chicken and whole grain pasta,” she says.

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2. Red Cabbage

Cabbage is probably not the first veggie you think of when you hit the store, but maybe it should be.

“Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C and a healthy source of manganese,” says Amie. “It’s loaded with an impressive amount of antioxidants as well.”

You can chop up the cabbage and throw it in a salad or stir-fry, but Amie’s most genius idea is using the leaves to make lettuce wraps – or cabbage wraps.

“Gently peel off the leaves of the cabbage (discard the outer leaves) and use them as ‘cups’ to toss in your favorite ingredients such as hummus or guacamole, sprouts, tomatoes and ground beef or diced chicken. Then, just roll up the cabbage leaves like a burrito and eat it with your hands. It’s like making lettuce wraps but you’re using cabbage instead of lettuce because cabbage is so much cheaper than lettuce.”

3. Peanuts

Every wannabe healthy person buys peanut butter for a protein-dense snack, but peanut butter is expensive, and  a lot of brands are loaded with sugar and other junk.

Instead, Amie suggests buying straight up peanuts, and maybe even making your own peanut butter if you’re feeling fancy/have a food processor.

“Peanuts tend to be the cheapest nut on the market,” she says. “You can easily make homemade peanut butter by purchasing your own peanuts in bulk and pureeing them in a food processor with a pinch of sea salt.”

She then recommends drizzling the peanut butter on your morning cereal or smoothie bowl for a very Instagrammable breakfast loaded with extra protein and healthy fats. Or, grinding up the peanuts and coating your chicken and veggies with them instead of bread crumbs.

“You can also add the peanut butter to your smoothie or mix it with freshly squeezed lemon juice to make a peanut sauce drizzled on top of chicken lettuce wraps,” she says.

Um, yum?

4. Cauliflower

If you haven’t been introduced to the wonders of riced cauliflower, get on that. You can make it yourself with a food processor, but thankfully most legit grocery stores now offer riced cauliflower in the frozen section, so you can sub that in for your usual carbs when you’re trying to chill on gluten.

“Cauliflower is soaring with vitamin C and it’s an easy veggie to toss into soups and main dishes,” says Amie. “It’s easy to whip into a grain-free pizza crust with almond flour and eggs.”

Um, did she just say grain-free pizza?

Best of all, cauliflower is cheap and since it’s kind of flavorless, it can be added to anything!

5. Lemon

Repeat after me: I will not waste money and calories on pre-made salad dressings.

Seriously, they’re usually loaded with fat or other junk, and if you make a good salad filled with veggies, a little olive oil and lemon should be all you need. Also, lemons are great for you!

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Amie notes that they have antioxidant properties, and a little lemon can make your chicken and veggies pop even if they seem boring.

6. Kale

Like Amie, I’m a kale stan for life.

It’s a superfood (whatever that means), it pairs well with everything, and if I fry it up in olive oil on the stove, I can eat it all day.

“Kale is full of vitamins C, K and A along with fiber and contains the carotenoid lutein, which is amazing for vision health,” says Amie.

If you want something cool, you can eat the kale raw (maybe massage it with olive oil if you’re feeling fancy) in a salad. If you want something crispy or warm, you can fry it up in a veggie stir-fry, or throw it in an omelette. Literally, anything is possible!

7. Extra-virgin olive oil

If you didn’t previously love eating vegetables, it’s because you weren’t making them right. If you just throw them in a pan (or the microwave) they’re not always going to taste that great. Olive oil and spices really make the magic. And as far as oils go, olive oil is pretty healthy.

“Olive oil contains healthy mono-unsaturated fats so it’s ideal for use on salads and roasted veggies,” says Amie.

And you can turn any veggie from bland to bomb by throwing it on a tray, drizzling it with olive oil, and sprinkling some salt and pepper on top, then cooking it at a high temp. If you use it on a veggie like kale or brussels, it might just cure your crunchy craving that you’d normally get from chips.

8. Rolled oats

Remember when one of our writers tried Victoria’s Secret diets and they involved lots of groats? Well, there’s a reason for that, oats are healthy and keep you full longer — allegedly. Also, most places offer gluten-free oats if you’re on that train.

If a bowl of oatmeal doesn’t tickle your fancy, make sure you’re pimping it out with fruits, peanut butter, and whatever else. If that still doesn’t work, Amie has some other ideas.

“You can use rolled oats to thicken up your morning smoothies [and] your evening pureed soups.”

9. Chick peas:

Meats can be expensive, so chickpeas are a great affordable way to get your protein fix on.

“Chick peas are high in fiber and can be super helpful for supporting digestive health,” says Amie. “They contain antioxidants such as vitamin C, E and beta-carotene.”

Like cauliflower, chick peas are kind of a chameleon. You can use them to make hummus, or use them to make “healthy” cookie dough (which is amazing, trust me). Honestly, you can get a little weird and make your own dip wth random ingredients and it’d probably turn out good. Or you can just throw chickpeas, spices, and olive oil in the food processor for some homemade hummus.

Gimme More Health

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