Eating Healthy on a Tightwad's Budget

It was 5am. Freezing outside. I couldn't sleep. I was thinking about the diet that has been recommended to me, going 30 days without sugar. I've seen the results - a beautiful girl at church went from a size 10 to a size 4 in a few months. So the dilemma is, how do you go sugar-free without busting the budget wide open?

My favorite method is hitting the local Meijer's produce clearance racks. It's baffling, the product that the produce department deems "undesirable", and sells for rock-bottom prices. I walked in there at 5:30 this morning and waltzed out with eggplant, cukes, zukes, bananas, grapefruit, 2 heads of lettuce, and legions of apples for probably 25% what they usually charge. Sure, it's unpredictable, the types of produce available. But it's a test of your frugality - call it a personal Iron Chef challenge. Can you take an unknown ingredient and make something healthful and delicious? I'm up for that.

My other secret weapon in the battle for cheap, healthy eating is dried beans. You can get lots and lots of 1 lb bags of these nutrition powerhouses for usually less than $1 each. And in the book Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy, she points out how easy it is to make a complete protein with legumes - pairing them with vegetables, dairy, or whole grains will net you all the benefits of eating a hunk of meat, plus high fiber, low fat, and bulging wallet. And don't let the prep scare you. It's only a matter of soaking overnight, then about 1 1/2 to 2 hours of simmering. Sure, it's a little time consuming. But when you stack all these benefits together, it's clear that dried beans can be the frugalistas best friend.

What about you? What are your tips for maximizing your nutritional dollar?

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