The simple definition of “healthy food” is food that has the nutrients we need to keep ourselves healthy. To have that outcome, we need to eat nutrient-rich foods that are high in anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals, not empty calories. Unfortunately, many people think that healthy food is too expensive for their families. Fortunately, that doesn’t need to be true.
The United States is a country of immigrants – almost all of the citizens of this country have fairly recent ancestors who came from somewhere else. One of the things many people leave behind when they come to our shores is basic, good-tasting, home-cooked meals based on high-value, unprocessed foods. Those of us whose ancestors were here before the Spanish and English reached our shores have an equally rich ancestral tradition of eating foods that keep kids and adults strong and fit. The traditional recipes were healthy, and usually cheap.
Then, along came sugar, processed foods, fast foods, and fry bread. Chips, French fries, hamburgers dripping in fat and surrounded by puffed white bread that offers no nutritional value. Boxed macaroni and cheese, instant noodles, lots and lots of pasta…. It all adds up to concentrated calories with little for the body to use to stay healthy.
So what’s a busy person to do? One reason processed foods and fast foods are purchased is because we all think we don’t have enough time to cook a real meal, so we buy foods that can be eaten right out of the bag or box. A lot of processed foods are made from corn or corn products, wheat products, and sugar, which are subsidized so they seem cheap – but they add to our medical bills by making us unhealthy.
Here’s how you can have quick, delicious meals on hand whenever your family gets hungry, without buying a pizza or heading to the burger joint: cook your mom’s favorite recipes on the weekend, put the meals in serving-sized containers, and pop them in the freezer.
If your mom wasn’t a great cook, just look online or in your own favorite cookbook for recipes that include lots of veggies, especially cabbage, kale and broccoli, which have now been shown to help give people some defense against diabetes, which is reaching epidemic proportions in this country. Hearty stews that have a bit of meat, or none at all, will go a long way towards filling empty stomachs. Water soups – soup recipes that don’t need canned chicken or beef broth to give them great flavor – are inexpensive and delicious, if you add all your favorite veggies, they don’t cost much, and you can always have some on hand.
When you walk down the frozen food aisle in your local supermarket, pass by the pre-cooked meals in those tiny packages, and head for the frozen veggie section instead. Vegetables in this section are almost always frozen and packaged just hours after they’ve been picked, so they still have all their nutrients. You can use only as much from each package as you need, and put the rest in the freezer, so you don’t end up with old fresh veggies growing limp in the bottom of your refrigerator.
Instead of a pasta meal, consider brown rice, instead, with lots of vegetables and a simple sauce. A large bag of brown rice doesn’t cost much, it goes a long way, and it hasn’t had all its nutrients washed away, like the flour that pasta is made out of. Or cook up some potatoes – they’re delicious, filling, and actually good for you if you don’t drown them in fat.
And, for the least expensive, healthiest food you’ll ever find, consider growing some of your own vegetables in the backyard, and perhaps even keeping a few chickens. Growing your own food could come in handy as food prices continue to rise.
Jonni has been writing online for over 8 years. She often writes about pets, gardening, and health, but she has other interests as well. On her latest website she describes many picture framing tools. Check out all the different options available if you need a mat board cutter for your custom frames.