Eating healthy for less

February 5, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Even though money may be tight, healthy eating is still possible. Mellisa Melcombe, the founder of, shares some suggestions for health conscious foods that can save you money.

Peanut Butter on Whole Grain Bread
Very affordable; a jar of peanut butter will run you about $2-$5 and can last a while, if you stick to the 2 Tablespoons per serving. Whole-grain bread is extremely affordable and high in fiber. It's a great choice for lunch or even breakfast. Organic butters cost slightly more, and with any nut products - you should buy organic, because of the pesticides. Whatever you do, buy 100% peanut butter.

Oats (for oatmeal)
Oatmeal is one of the best and most affordable breakfast choices and can be bought in containers or even in bulk. It will keep you full of fiber.

Nuts and Raisins (from Trader Joes)
Nuts can be very expensive, but there are deals available, for example at Trader Joe's you can get a bag of nuts for as low as $3.50. Mix some raisins and nuts for the perfect afternoon snack or even after-dinner treat.

Hummus and Whole Wheat Pita
Hummus is a very reasonably priced product and is full of protein and nutrients. Paired with pita, and you have the perfect meal or snack.

Soy Milk
Soy milk is a great alternative to regular milk for people who are trying to incorporate a little soy into their diet or for those trying to avoid dairy. Soy milk is now available at almost every grocery store at great prices. Many stores now promo Soy milk for as little as $1.99 a half gallon.

Soy & Non Fat Yogurts
Yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium and can be the perfect breakfast, lunch or snack. Look for yogurts without high fructose corn syrup that are about .99 cents each. Almost every major grocery store features a weekly yogurt promo. Some organic Yogurts on sale for as low as .69 cents.

Beans can be used for the base of many meals including chili, mexican food, etc. A can of beans can be very cheap -- .99 cents or less -- and since beans are full of protein, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Combine beans with rice, and you have a perfect meal. You could go ethnic too. Add your favorite spices to the rice or beans depending upon your desire - then add tortillas, flatbread, or pita. Basically the same meal gives you many variations.

Tomato Sauce and Whole-Wheat Pasta
If you are going to eat pasta, whole wheat is best and can be found and most markets. A bag of whole wheat pasta should last a while. Most bags found at Trader Joes or Whole Foods have an average of 8 servings. Wheat spaghetti noodles cost about $1.19. Paired with a good tomato sauce or pasta sauce, which can cost under $2.00, you have the perfect meal for a few dollars a day and can feed a family nicely.

Fruit is filling and can be bought very inexpensively at farmer's markets. Farmer's markets are great because you can find what is fresh and in season. Often the farmer's give great deals.

Purchasing notes:
Every city has different markets to purchase the above products inexpensively. In general, Trader Joe's has good prices, but so do most markets for non-fat dairy products, soy milk, peanut butter, oats, pasta, beans, and tomato sauce. On certain items, Whole Foods has competitive products made by their own brand 365.

About Melissa Melcombe:
Melissa "Mel" Melcombe is a 24-year-old food enthusiast, vegetarian, and developer of the healthy living website called Melslife, which has become the leading source of healthy living information for "echo boomers." Mel does not see herself as an expert, but rather as a passionate person who has a lot of opinions about health, food, and healthy lifestyles; and she wants to share her information with the world.

For more information, visit