Simple Pineapple Dressing

How to Make Your Own Oil-Free Salad Dressing

 

The Components of an Oil-Free Salad Dressing
How to Make Your Own

There is a growing trend to forego added oils in the diet. With that, many people are looking for recipes for oil-free salad dressings. Recipes abound in the media, and the possibilities are endless. Yet our likes, dislikes, specific salad ingredients, and food sensitivities all work together to determine what we want or don’t want on our plate.

To help meet these needs, I’ve put together a list of basic components of an oil-free salad dressing or sauce. This list contains basic ingredient categories that any salad dressing would contain, with a list of possible items that could be used in each category.  This is not a specific recipe, but a blueprint of items to include to make your own dressing, your way. The possibilities are endless and limited only to your imagination! And, the list is not comprehensive. It’s simply not possible to list all potential ingredients such as herbs and spices. So, don’t feel limited to the list below. Use it as your guide and develop your own special dressing or sauce that meets your needs for the food you want to serve it with.

Enjoy!
Judi

Components of an Oil-Free Dressing or Sauce

1. A “Base” for Bulk

This ingredient should have a relatively neutral flavor despite the fact that it will lend a little flavor to your dressing. It will provide bulk or volume to your dressing and will also help the dressing to adhere to the ingredients in your salad or dish where the dressing will be used. This ingredient is the foundation of your dressing and should be your starting point.

Examples:

Steamed mushrooms
Yellow squash (cooked or raw)
Zucchini (cooked or raw)
Cauliflower (cooked or raw)
Winter squash (roasted, steamed, or boiled)
Green peas (frozen and thawed)
White beans (cooked)
Other bean of choice (cooked)
Blackeye peas (cooked)
Soft tofu
Garbanzo beans (cooked)
Yogurt of choice

2. Fat-Containing Ingredient

This component provides richness and smoothness to your dressing. It also helps the dressing to adhere to your salad vegetables. If necessary, it can be left out, but your dressing may be lacking that “something special” that’s needed to help give it body and give it a delicious, full flavor.

Examples:

Hemp seeds
Avocado
Flax meal (if using whole flax seeds, grind them separately first)
Chia seeds (soak them first)
Soaked nuts or seeds of choice (examples: cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds)
Nut butter of choice
Tahini
Cheese of Choice

3. Acidic Ingredient

All dressings need an acidic ingredient to help the flavor stand out when added to other foods. Your choice of which acidic ingredient to use will affect the flavor of your dressing in a big way, so consider whether you want a sweet and fruity or tart and savory flavor. A sweeter dressing would benefit from fruits and/or fruit juices and/or balsamic vinegar being used as the acid component(s). Dressings that need more tartness would benefit from adding a standard tart vinegar.

When choosing fruit, you have many choices. You could juice the fruit and add only the juice to the dressing. Or you could peel the fruit, remove seeds, and add whole segments of the fruit to your mixture. The pulp from the fruit would add fiber and bulk to your dressing. So, it’s a matter of personal preference and what you need at the time. I’ve tried both ways, and they both work well, depending on the outcome you want. Just be sure to remove any white pith from citrus fruit if adding whole fruit sections, since that can be bitter.

Examples:

Lemons
Limes
Oranges
Clementines
Tangerines
Pineapple (whole or juiced)
Raspberries
Strawberries
Blackberries

Apple cider vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Red wine vinegar
White wine vinegar
Rice vinegar
Any other vinegar of choice

4. Salty Component

Salt enhances the flavor of foods, and is added to many foods to bring out flavors and make them taste better. Despite that, many people need to reduce their salt intake for health reasons, while others want to reduce or omit added salt to prevent health concerns. There are ingredient options to choose from below that can be used if added salt is something you want to avoid.

Salt-Free Options:

Celery (Yes, celery added to a dressing will give it a salty flavor without any added salt)
Dulse or kelp flakes

Salty Options:

Sea salt
Capers
Fermented vegetable brine
Soy sauce
Tamari

5. Spicy/Savory/Herb Additions

These ingredients are optional, but will certainly add flavor to your dressing and will give it that distinct flavor you want your dressing to have. The list in this category is endless, so it’s impossible to include everything. Let your salad ingredients and other dressing ingredients be your guide on what to add so your dressing will have the flavor you hope for. Let your taste buds be your guide as to how much to add.

Spicy/Savory Options:

Jalapeno peppers
Chile peppers of choice
Mustard (prepared)
Ketchup
Bell peppers (with or without seeds)
Cucumber (with or without seeds)
Nutritional yeast
Onion (fresh or powdered)
Garlic (fresh or powdered)
Ginger (fresh or powdered)
Turmeric (fresh or powdered)

Herb/Spice Options:

Basil
Cayenne pepper
Cilantro leaves
Coriander seeds
Cumin
Dill
Italian seasoning
Mustard (dry)
Oregano
Paprika
Parsley
Pepper
Rosemary
Sage
Tarragon
Thyme
Turmeric

Also, any prepared herb blend or salt substitute seasoning blend that you like may be used.

6. Sweet Component

If you look at bottled salad dressings, most of them contain added sugar. There’s a reason for this. Sugar makes things taste good. Despite that, we’ve learned that added white, refined sugar is far from a healthful component in foods. So, we’re trying to avoid it. Hence, we won’t include white sugar in this list. Nevertheless, a little added sweetener of some type will enhance the flavor of your dressing, so this category should not be overlooked. It’s an optional ingredient, but can make a difference in the flavor of your finished dressing. Which sweet component you choose WILL add distinct flavor to your dressing, so choose one that will blend well with your other components.

Possible options:

Honey
Maple syrup
Molasses
Raisins
Dates or date sugar
Dried figs
Dried apples
Applesauce
Coconut sugar
Stevia
Fresh fruit (in general)
Mango
Berries of choice
Sweet cherry juice
Pineapple juice
All fruit jam
Tomato
Carrots
Balsamic vinegar

7. Liquid

After placing all the other ingredients in a blender and processing them, you’ll probably find that the mixture is way too thick and dry to be called a dressing or sauce. You’ll need to add some liquid to thin it out to be the consistency you want. The liquid you choose can simply be water, which will dilute all flavors in the mix. Or, you could choose to add a liquid that will enhance your flavors, mellow them out, add creaminess to it, or even duplicate (and enhance) a flavor that’s already in your mixture.

Here are examples of possible liquids to add to your dressing. Add whatever amount you need to bring it to the consistency you want. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Water
Coconut water
Milk of choice
Fruit juice of choice
Pineapple juice
Apple juice
Tomato juice
Vegetable broth

Directions

Place all of your ingredients into a high-speed blender, with a small amount of your liquid of choice. Blend until smooth. Add more liquid as needed to make the dressing the consistency you want. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Enjoy!

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Blended Creamy Orange Dessert

Blended Creamy Orange Dessert

Here’s a FAST and easy refreshing dessert or snack to make on a hot summer day. It’s simple to make, with few ingredients and can easily be tailored to your preferences. It reminds me of the Creamsicle popsicles I used to eat when I was young! The recipe makes 1 hefty serving or 2 modest servings, but can easily be increased to accommodate however many you need to feed. Below is a short video demonstration of how to make this dessert. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Blended Creamy Orange Dessert
Makes 1 to 2 Servings

6 each (about ½ cup) frozen mango chunks
6 each (about ½ cup) frozen papaya chunks
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup coconut milk (canned, unsweetened, full-fat variety)

Place all ingredients in a small blender or food processor. Process briefly until smooth. Enjoy immediately!

Note: Sweetener can be added to this, if desired. This recipe can EASILY be increased to make whatever amount you need!

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Making your own vegetable broth is not hard. Yes, it does take a little time, but it’s a great way to use up some vegetable scraps and can save a lot of money over time if you use a lot of it when cooking. Why not give it a try? You can make a small amount just for starters to see how it goes for you. When you’re comfortable, make a big pot of it, divide it into containers holding the amount you expect to use at one time, and freeze it. It should keep for up to 6 months in the freezer. What you add to your vegetable broth can vary according to what you have available and your personal preferences. There are few “hard and fast” rules to making it, so why not make some? If nothing else, add it to homemade vegetable soup and you’ll be glad you did!

Below is a video demonstration of how I make my own vegetable broth. The written recipe is below that, followed by ideas on ways to use the leftover vegetables from the broth.

Enjoy!
Judi

Homemade Vegetable Broth

1 onion, chopped (or 4 tablespoons of dried minced onion)
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
4 to 6 cups chopped greens of your choice (i.e. kale, collards, cabbage, bok choy, turnip greens)
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 Tbsp dried parsley
4 Bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper (to taste, optional)*
Water to fill the pot

Optional add-ins of choice:
Bell peppers
Mushrooms
Corn cobs
Any vegetable scraps you saved in the freezer for making broth
Sugar
Garlic
Nutritional yeast
Marjoram

Place all ingredients in a large pot with a lid. Fill the pot with water. Cover the pot and bring everything to boil. Lower the heat, and allow everything to simmer for at least 1 hour (2 hours or more is preferable to get the most flavor out of your vegetables). When the vegetables are well cooked and flavors blended, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool some. Strain out the vegetables and place the broth in covered containers and label with the date made. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Note: When freezing broth, it is helpful to store it in containers that hold the amount you anticipate needing (or in increments of that amount). For instance, storing it in 1, 2 or 4-cup increments can be helpful when making soups calling for broth. Simply remove one or two containers and you’ll know you have the right amount of broth needed for your recipe.

* Adding salt, pepper, and other seasonings (such as garlic) is actually optional. Remember that your broth will be used in future recipes to add flavor to foods. It is generally not used alone as a soup in itself, but added to soups for flavor. Being conservative on seasonings allows you the freedom to season future dishes appropriately without having to take into consideration what was already added to the broth.

Ideas for using the vegetables from making the broth…
Yes, the flavor of the vegetables WILL be diminished after cooking them to make broth (at least, that’s the goal). But they are still OK to eat and there is still some nourishment left in them, along with their fiber. So, why not use them somehow? Here are some ideas.

* Season them with your favorite herbs and maybe a little salt and pepper, and simply eat them as a side dish with a meal. If the flavor is still too bland, combine them with some vegetables that were not used in making the broth. Cook the “new” vegetables however you want and add in the broth vegetables at the last minute, just to heat them up.

* Add them along with fresh vegetables to soups (especially vegetable soup), stews, and casseroles.

* Add them along with sautéed mushrooms and onions to an omelet.

* Puree them and add them to a Sloppy Joe mixture for bulk and thickening.

* Season them and serve them over rice or another grain.

* Add them to quinoa salad.

* Puree them and add them to chili as a thickening agent.

* Freeze them for later use.

* Squeeze them through a colander, in cheesecloth, or through a nut milk bag to get yet more broth out of them. Make pulp crackers with the pulp or add it to your compost pile.

* Puree them and add them to tomato or marinara sauce.

* Puree them and add them to burger patties or meatloaf (both meat or meatless).

* Puree them in a food processor, season the mash to your liking, spread onto dehydrator trays and dry them into veggie crackers.

* Puree the vegetables and stir them into softened cream cheese, cashew cream, or another base. Add whatever seasonings you like and use it as a vegetable dip.

* Puree the vegetables and use them as a base for creamy potato soup.

* If nothing else appeals to you, add them to a compost pile.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began h
er journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

(Almost) Tropical Slushy

(Almost) Tropical Slushy

Here’s a REALLY fast, easy and delicious dessert or treat you can whip up in no time on a hot summer day. This is a spoonable treat, not your typical slushy that you sip through a straw. The recipe makes about 3 servings, but it could VERY easily be increased to make whatever amount you want. It’s best served right away, but can be kept in the refrigerator for later use and partially refrozen if needed.

Below is a video showing how to make this treat. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

(Almost) Tropical Slushy
Makes 3 Servings

1 cup very cold (or partially frozen) roasted butternut squash*
1 cup frozen mango cubes (not thawed)
½ cup canned pineapple with juice**

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. If you prefer a sweeter mixture, add a little sweetener of your choice. Serve immediately.

Note: This mixture is at its best when it is freshly made and has partially frozen elements in it. It will be like a spoonable slushy. Store any leftover mixture in a covered container in the refrigerator. The leftover mixture will taste good, but will not taste as sweet as when it is icy cold.

* For a true slushy texture, place the butternut squash in the freezer and use it when it is partially frozen (but not rock solid).

** Any type of canned pineapple may be used since it will be blended smooth. Fresh pineapple may also be used, but you may need to add a couple tablespoons of water or pineapple juice so it will blend smoothly.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Easy Spinach Salad with Pineapple Dressing

Easy Spinach Salad with Pineapple Dressing

Here’s a super easy spinach salad with delicious sweet-tart pineapple dressing. The dressing REALLY makes this salad stand out in the crowd. If you haven’t tried my pineapple dressing, I urge you to give it a try sometime. It goes very well on any green salad. Below are videos showing how to make this salad and dressing. Written recipe follow the videos. No measurements are needed in the salad ingredients. Make as little or as much as you need!

Enjoy!
Judi

Easy Spinach Salad with Pineapple Dressing

Salad ingredients:
Fresh spinach, washed and spun dry
Red onion, sliced or chopped
Red or green bell pepper, diced
Grape tomatoes
Diced apple (with peel)
Avocado slices
Sweetened dried cranberries or cherries, optional
Toasted walnuts or sliced almonds, optional

Pineapple dressing:
½ cup canned pineapple with juice*
1 Tbsp hulled hemp seeds
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Prepare dressing: Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Store extra dressing in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.
* Any type of canned pineapple can be used, whether it’s crushed, tidbits, chunks, or rings. Fresh pineapple may also be used, but you may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to help it to blend smoothly.

Prepare salad: With this recipe, make any amount of salad that you need. Simply arrange fresh, washed spinach on a serving platter or bowl. Top with desired amount of onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, diced apple, avocado slices, and toasted nuts, if desired. Drizzle with dressing or serve it on the side. Enjoy!

Simple Pineapple Dressing

Simple Pineapple Dressing

Here’s a REALLY simple dressing that can be used on a green salad or changed slightly to dress up your favorite fruit salad. These three simple ingredients whip into a fast, delicious, and tasty dressing…Try it! The recipe can VERY easily be increased for you to make whatever amount you need. Below is a video clip showing how to make the dressing. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

https://youtu.be/WE8FnCVgDj4

Simple Pineapple Dressing
Makes About ½ Cup (1 to 2 Servings)

½ cup canned pineapple with juice*
1 Tbsp hulled hemp seeds
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar**

Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Enjoy this over a mixed green salad or a fruit salad where you want a little tang. Store extra dressing in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

* Any type of canned pineapple can be used, whether it’s crushed, tidbits, chunks, or rings. Fresh pineapple may also be used, but you may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to help it to blend smoothly.

** Red wine vinegar is delicious when using this dressing on a green salad. Try balsamic vinegar for a little sweetness when used on a fruit salad.

Note: If preferred, add a little sweetener of choice. For more of a savory dressing, add 1 clove of garlic or 1/8 tsp garlic powder, and a little salt and pepper to taste.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Black-Eyed Pea Dip

Black-Eyed Pea Dip

Here’s an easy and healthful dip made with black-eyed peas. It’s vegan, SOS-free, healthful, easy to make, and delicious. It works well with vegetable sticks, chips, pita bread, with a salad, and can even be used as a sandwich spread. Try it sometime!

Below is a video demonstration of how to make the dip. The written recipe is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

https://youtu.be/eLayu0UaKd4

Black-Eyed Pea Dip
Makes about 2-1/2 Cups

2 cups cooked black-eyed peas (or 1 (15-oz) can of black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained)
1/2 avocado, diced
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 2 small cloves garlic, chopped)
1/3 cup chopped onion, or ½ tsp onion powder
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
½ tsp dried dill weed
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Serve with vegetables, crackers, pita bread, and chips, or use as a condiment on wraps and sandwiches. Store leftover in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

Sweet Potato Oat Bites

Sweet Potato Oat Bites

If you want to make a simple, easy to make treat that’s healthful and not too sweet, here it is! These little “bites” are a cake-like/cookie-like treat that will help to satisfy that sweet tooth in a gentle yet healthful way. Give them a try!

Below is a video demonstration of how to make the little bites. The written recipe is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

https://youtu.be/664SwhbDoHQ

Sweet Potato-Oat Bites
Makes About 14 Small “Bites”

These are soft cake-like, cookie/like treats that are really easy to make. Stir in the add-in of your choice for unlimited variations. The recipe can easily be adjusted to make as many as you need. Enjoy! jk

1 cup oats (any kind)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup mashed cooked sweet potato
1 to 2 Tbsp maple syrup or apple butter, to taste
1 or 2 Tbsp milk of choice, or more if needed
¼ cup “add-in” of choice

Place oats in a food processor and pulse until the oats are medium ground (with some oat flour, but some oat pieces are fine). Add remaining ingredients (using 1 tablespoon of milk at a time) and pulse until well mixed, and holds together when pressed…not too wet and not too dry. If too wet, add a small amount of oats and process more. If too dry, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time until the mixture is moist and holds together. Stir in your “add-in” ingredients.

Scoop by rounded teaspoonful onto a silicone mat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 375F for 18 to 20 minutes, until set and lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Possible add-in ingredients (use any combination or single ingredient of choice):

Chopped dried fruit of choice, such as cherries, cranberries, figs, apples, raisins, apricots, etc.
Chocolate chips
White baking chips
Cinnamon chips
Nut of choice such as pecans, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, cashews, Brazil nuts, etc.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Green Pea Dip

Green Pea Dip or Hummus

Here’s a simple dip or hummus made with green peas. It’s good served with vegetable sticks, chips, pita breads, or even used as a spread on sandwiches. It’s an easy way to add more protein and nutrients to your foods! The recipe is simple and fast to make can easily be increased to meet your needs.

Below is a video demonstration of making the dip. The written recipe is below the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Green Pea Dip or Hummus
Makes About 1 Cup

1 cup frozen and thawed green peas
½ of an avocado
1/3 cup diced onion, or 1 tsp onion powder
1 small clove garlic, chopped, or 1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley, or 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp of salt, optional
Water, if needed to blend (using no more than 1 tablespoon at a time)

Place all ingredients (except water) in a blender or food processor and blend until combined and smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time, as needed.

Serve as a dip with raw vegetables or chips, as a flavoring in wraps or sandwiches, as a topping on toasted bread, or in a bowl topped with chopped vegetables of choice and served as a meal or side dish. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Cabbage

Inexpensive Foods with Tips for Healthy Eating When Money is Short

We’ve all had times when money is tight. It’s never fun, but in the vast majority of cases, things WILL get better. It’s usually a matter of “hanging in there” until it does. In the meantime, here is a list of inexpensive foods and tips for healthy eating that can help you make it through the tough times.

 

Vegetables…

Fresh Carrots

Fresh carrots are a great buy year-round. A one-pound bag is under a dollar in most grocery stores and can go a long way in servings. There is little waste, especially if they are not peeled. Simply wash them very well and cut off the ends and any area that doesn’t look good. They can be eaten raw in salads or as a snack, added to soups, stews, and casseroles, served as a side dish, and included in main dishes. A pound of carrots yields about 3-1/2 cups when sliced. Assuming a serving is about one cup, and the cost of one pound of carrots is $0.75, that brings the cost per serving to about $0.21. The cost of a half-cup serving of cooked carrots, at $0.75 per pound would be about $0.11 each.

Fresh Cabbage

A head of fresh cabbage packs a lot of food within its head. Whether it’s chopped, shredded, fermented, stir-fried, boiled, roasted, sautéed, or used as a wrap, we can get a lot of mileage out of one head of cabbage. One pound of shredded cabbage yields about 4-1/2 cups. Most cabbages weigh well over one pound, so if you opt for a heavy cabbage, you’ll get a lot of servings out of it. Assuming one serving is one cup of shredded cabbage, and assuming that cabbage cost $0.68 per pound, that brings the cost per serving to a mere $0.15.

White Potatoes

A five-pound bag of white potatoes can often be found for around $2.50, or even less. One pound of potatoes yields about 3-1/2 cups chopped or 2-3 cups mashed. Assuming a serving size is 2/3 cup, at $2.50 for five pounds, that brings the cost per serving of chopped potatoes to around $0.09, and mashed potatoes to around $0.13.

Sweet Potatoes

Fresh. Fresh sweet potatoes are usually around $1.00 per pound (sometimes less). As with white potatoes, one pound yields about 3-1/2 cups chopped. So comparisons are equal, assuming a serving size is 2/3 cup (which is what is listed as a serving size on the canned sweet potatoes), at $1.00 per pound, that brings the cost per serving to about $0.19.

Canned. A 40-ounce can of yams sells for about $2.25. The Nutrition Facts panel lists a serving size as being 2/3 cup with 7 servings being in the can (including the liquid). At that rate of usage, the cost per serving is about $0.32. Note that canned yams are usually packed with added sweeteners. If you are trying to avoid such additives, fresh sweet potatoes would be your best option.

Lettuce

Whole heads of lettuce are usually your cheapest option when buying lettuce. They are often the freshest to choose from, offer the most lettuce for your money, and have been shown to have the lowest bacterial count among the options, even when compared with triple-washed lettuce and lettuce blends in bags and plastic boxes. A whole head of non-organic lettuce averages about $1.50, with organic options up to twice that amount.

One head of lettuce yields from 4 to 6 cups when torn, depending upon the variety. For the sake of comparison, we’ll assume one head of lettuce yields 5 cups of torn leaves. Assuming 1 cup is a serving, that brings one serving of torn lettuce leaves to about $0.30. When comparing head lettuce to spring mix baby leaves in an 11-ounce tub that sells for $4.84, a one cup serving comes to $0.69 each.

Cauliflower (Fresh Whole Head vs Frozen Florets)

Fresh. The advantage to buying a whole head of cauliflower is that they are usually priced individually rather than by the pound. Choose a fresh cauliflower that feels very heavy for its size, with no browning on the surface, and you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck. A medium head of cauliflower yields about 6 servings and averages about $2.75 in cost. That brings the cost per serving to $0.46.

Frozen Cauliflower Florets. Frozen cauliflower florets may be found in some stores. When writing this, I found a 12-ounce bag of frozen cauliflower florets for $1.79. The Nutrition Facts panel suggested a serving size as being ¾ of a cup, with 3 servings in the bag. That brings the cost to $0.60 per serving.

Fresh Kale or Other Greens by the Bunch

A one-pound bag of fresh (not organic) kale costs about $2.94. The bag lists about 6 servings per bag. That comes to $0.49 per serving.

Bunches of fresh greens, such as kale, turnip greens, and collard greens often sell for about $1.48 each. Bunch sizes vary, so it’s impossible to precisely state the cost per serving. However, assuming one bunch offers 4 servings, at $1.48, it comes to $0.37 per serving. With that, the individual bunches of greens are cheaper per serving than the prepackaged one-pound bags.

Canned Tomatoes and Tomato Paste

Canned tomatoes and tomato paste are available in just about any grocery store year-round. They are inexpensive and flavorful additions to many foods. They can be added to soups, stews, casseroles, sauces, dressings, and even beverages. Unless you grow your own tomatoes, the canned varieties are usually cheaper than buying fresh tomatoes for the same applications. The price of canned tomatoes (14.5-ounces) usually starts around $1.00 a can, with name brands being a little higher. Generic (6-ounce) cans of tomato paste may start as low as $0.42 a can with name brands being higher than that. Whichever you choose, they are a great buy and can add a lot of flavor to foods.

Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables are a very easy and convenient food to have available. They can be used as side dishes and included into a wide array of other foods like salads, soups, stews, casseroles, etc. Many people are now buying frozen vegetables in steamable packaging, which makes cooking them in the microwave very easy and convenient. However, when comparing the cost per serving, the steamable packaging often adds extra expense to the vegetables. Notice that I said “often.” That is because this is not always the case. In this case, it’s helpful to compare cost per serving to determine which is cheaper…frozen vegetables in steamable packaging or those in regular packaging that cannot be placed in the microwave. Usually, those packaged in regular packaging are cheaper per serving, but not always, especially when comparing like items in a generic brand. That being said, however you buy them, frozen vegetables can go a long way in helping to stretch the food budget, depending upon how they are used.

Fresh Celery (Whole Bunch, Not Celery Hearts)

When shopping for celery, choosing the entire bunch will be cheaper than selecting a package of celery hearts. The whole bunch includes the leaves and root end. Many people cut off and discard the leaves, however, they are completely edible and add celery flavor to any dish they’re added to. If you have aversion to eating the celery leaves, place them in the freezer and save them for soup or stock. The entire bunch of celery often can be purchased for about $1.50, whereas the celery hearts will cost more than that, sometimes up to $3.00 for organic varieties.

Fresh Onions

One 3-pound bag of yellow onions can be found at many grocery stores for around $1.50 a bag. Onions are essential for flavoring some foods, and a 3-pound bag of onions can go a long way when being added to freshly prepared foods. They can be used raw in salads and on sandwiches, added to a huge array of cooked foods, and even caramelized and eaten as a side dish with a uniquely sweet flavor. For anyone who prepares food “from scratch” onions are a very inexpensive essential ingredient.

Fresh Garlic

Fresh garlic may appear to be expensive, since it is usually priced by the pound. However, a bulb of garlic is small and lightweight, bringing the cost per bulb down more than you would think at first glance. When priced by the “each,” garlic bulbs can be found for $0.50 each. Like onions, garlic is an essential ingredient in many home-cooked foods and there simply is no substitution. Considering that many recipes call for only one or two garlic cloves at a time, you can get some flavor bang for your buck when buying garlic.

 

Fruit…

Bananas

Bananas are one of the cheapest fruits available, often selling for around $0.69 a pound (and sometimes less). One medium banana will usually cost around $0.25 each, of course depending upon its size. They are filling and nutritious, so bananas are excellent options when on a tight budget. Even better is the fact that you can buy whatever number of bananas you want, down to only one, if needed.

Fresh Pineapple

Fresh pineapple is a fruit you may not think of when on a tight budget. However, they can often be found for around $2.25 each. Considering how much fruit you get from one whole pineapple, it’s a good buy, especially when comparing it to the cost of canned pineapple. One fresh pineapple contains about 5 cups of pineapple when cut into cubes. One-half cup is considered to be a serving, so one whole pineapple has about 10 servings of fruit. At $2.25 each, one serving of fresh pineapple comes to about $0.23. One 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks (packed in juice) sells for about $1.28. The can holds about 4-1/2 (1/2 cup) servings, bring the cost per serving to $0.28, so fresh pineapple is a better buy.

Watermelon (when in season)

One large watermelon in season offers a lot of servings and is a great bargain when considering the number of servings you get per fruit. When in season, they are usually sold by weight and are very inexpensive since they are usually plentiful. When off-season, many stores still carry them, but they are much more costly and would not be the cheapest option during the winter months and early Spring. Choose a melon that is heavy for its size, sounds hollow when tapped, and is yellowish on the side where it rested on the ground. There may be pre-cut melons available, but they will cost more per pound than the whole melons.

Frozen Mangoes

When thinking about inexpensive foods, mangoes usually don’t come to mind. However, when comparing the cost of a fresh mango to a large bag of frozen mango chunks, the frozen bag wins the prize. I found a 48-ounce bag of generic brand frozen mango chunks for $6.47. That may sound a bit pricey, but when considering the contents vs buying that same amount in fresh mangos, I considered the frozen option to be a good buy. The large bag had 10 each 1-cup servings, which is equivalent to about 10 average size mangoes. With the price of the large bag, that comes to about $0.65 per mango or per 1-cup serving. Where I live, fresh mangos usually sell for about $1.00 each. Sometimes they sell for less, but it’s not often that I can find them for as low as $0.65 each. So, with all things considered, if you enjoy mangoes, the frozen option may be a good choice for you. Also, the advantage of the frozen option is that you won’t be in a rush to eat them before they go bad. You can simply take what you need from the bag without issue.

 

Grain Products…

Oats

Oats have become increasingly more popular these days. They can be used as a traditional breakfast porridge, eaten soaked with milk of choice, made into oat milk, added to burgers and other foods, and even eaten in savory dishes at meals other than breakfast. When comparing prices, I focused on old fashioned rolled oats, either regular or quick cooking. Prices varied a lot, with $0.11 to $0.13 being the lowest cost per ½-cup serving (when measured dry) of rolled oats.

When comparing the price of steel cut oats, the cost per serving was about $0.18.

Rice

White Rice Long-Grain. There are many types of rice on the market, and they each have their own price points. For the most part, whichever type of rice you buy, it will have a relatively low cost per serving. When comparing the ever-popular long grain white rice, the cost per serving ranged from $0.04 to $0.08. This is an EXTREMELY low-cost food when considering cost per serving and can be a staple for many meals when on a tight budget.

Brown Rice, Long-Grain. When comparing the price per serving of brown rice, it was very comparable to the long-grain white rice, averaging about $0.06 per serving.

Pasta

Pasta is a standard low-cost food, often being sold for around $1.00 to $1.30 a pound (for traditional wheat-based pasta). It can be used in salads, side dishes, main dishes, soups, casseroles, and even as a crust for pizza. Food processors often list 2 ounces of dry pasta as a serving. From my personal experience, I find that to be about half what I would normally eat when having pasta as a main course. So, assuming pasta is the main course, we’ll count 4 ounces (dry) as one serving. At $1.30 a pound, that brings the cost of one serving to $0.33. If serving pasta as a side dish, using 2 ounces (dry) per serving, the cost would be about $0.16.

Bread

Bread can serve as a foundational element of many meals, from sandwiches to French toast to being used as a pizza base. Assuming a loaf of traditional bread costs about $3.00 and has 22 slices, the cost per slice is $0.14. The cost of specialty bread such as gluten-free bread is usually twice that of traditional wheat bread, and often has fewer slices per loaf. Assuming the cost of such a loaf is $6.00 with only 12 slices, the cost per slice is much higher at $0.50. If you’re on a tight budget and must eat gluten-free, then such bread may be too costly when money is tight. Opting for something else may be preferred.

 

Protein Foods…

Peanut (and Nut) Butter

Peanut butter can be used as a sandwich and snack filling, and even as a thickener and flavoring agent in sauces, dressings, and other foods. All nut/peanut butters are considered to be good sources of protein and may help meet nutritional needs, especially when dollars are short. Peanut butter is usually cheaper than nut butters, and is available in most grocery stores. Prices per 2-tablespoon serving vary widely among different types of peanut butters. One name brand all-natural peanut butter sold for $4.86 for a 26-ounce jar. The price per serving came to $0.21. Another name brand option of traditional peanut butter sold for $5.44 for a 40-ounce jar, bringing the cost per serving to $.16. A generic brand of traditional peanut butter sold for $4.68 for a 64-ounce jar, bringing the cost per serving to $0.08. DO read the labels because all peanut butters are not created alike. Ingredients DO vary, so be sure you’re getting what you need before making your purchase.

Nut butters vary in price depending upon the type of nut or seed used in the butter. When comparing a name brand of almond butter with a generic brand, of course the generic brand was cheaper per serving. The name brand sold for $6.97 for a 12-ounce jar, with 11 servings, bringing the cost per serving to $0.64. That may be too high when money is tight. The generic brand of almond butter was a little cheaper, selling for $4.98 for 12 ounces, bringing the cost per serving to $0.45. That is still not an extremely cheap food, but it is less costly than meat. So, it may or may not work for you when money is tight.

Dried Beans, Lentils, and Chick Peas

Dried legumes are well known for being inexpensive sources of protein. They can be cooked and used as a main dish or side dish, and added to soups, stews, casseroles, burger, tacos, burritos, and even salads. The prices will vary among the different varieties, but any way you go, you’ll get a lot of food for your dollar. Yes, they must be soaked and cooked, but there is not a lot of hands-on time spent in the process, and it’s actually very easy. Extras can be stored in the refrigerator or in the freezer for a longer period of time. Dried beans, lentils and peas should be a first-choice for a protein source when on a tight budget.

Canned Baked Beans

Canned baked beans are a very inexpensive choice when planning meals on a tight budget. Simply open the can and they are ready to use. They can be used as-is or more flavorings added, if desired, although that is not mandatory. One name brand of baked beans was sold for $1.50 for a 28-ounce can. The can held 6 each ½-cup servings, bringing the cost per serving to $0.25. Putting together a main dish with canned baked beans can’t be any easier when on a tight budget!

Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is another very quick and easy protein option when planning meals on a tight budget. When comparing prices, a 12-ounce can of name brand tuna sold for $2.08. There were three servings listed on the Nutrition Facts panel, bringing the cost per serving to $0.69. Not bad for a complete protein, and it’s cheaper than meat.

Eggs

A dozen eggs can be found in just about any grocery store. They often sell for around $1.50 a dozen, coming to about $0.13 each. This is REALLY inexpensive considering they can be used as a main course, boiled and added to salads and other dishes, used as binding agents in breads, pancakes, and other cooked or baked foods, and even eaten as snacks. When on a tight budget, having a dozen eggs in the refrigerator can help to stretch your dollars in a lot of ways!

 

Dairy…

Milk

Buying milk by the gallon is cheaper than buying it in smaller containers. If you’re a milk drinker, this may be your preferred option. Nonfat dry milk is usually cheaper than fluid milk, but the flavor is certainly not the same. If you don’t use a lot of milk, but want to have some available, consider buying a small box of dry milk and mix up only what you need at the moment.

Non-Dairy Milk

Non-dairy milks are without a doubt more expensive than cow’s milk. However, there are many reasons why some people avoid cow’s milk and opt for plant-based milks. If you prefer plant-based milks yet find them to be too expensive at the moment, consider making your own oat milk. It’s not hard to make, and you can easily make as much or as little as you want at a time. This saves money and allows you to use what you probably already have in your pantry.

 

Tips for Healthy Eating When Money is Short…

Plan Home-Cooked Meals and Make a Grocery List

Take time to plan your meals in advance, if at all possible. When money is tight, it’s far cheaper to prepare meals yourself than ordering take-out or going to your favorite restaurant. Take a look in the refrigerator, pantry and freezer and incorporate what you can that you already have into the next week’s meals. This will not only save money, but will help to rotate your food so it’s used before it gets stale or goes bad. Make a grocery list of what you’ll need (that you don’t already have) to make those meals. Try to avoid adding too many extra things that won’t be needed for the next week.

Stick with Your Grocery List When Shopping

When you’re at the store do your best to stick with your grocery list. When choosing items, look for the cheapest option and choose that, if it will work for you. This might be the least cost per ounce, pound, or by the “each.” Sometimes the label on the store shelf will list the price per unit. This can make shopping easier than trying to do the math yourself. If you see something you forgot to add to the list that you know you don’t have at home and will need for the meals you’ve planned, then get it. If it’s not needed for the next week, let it wait and save those few dollars for the moment.

Save Time by Fixing Large Meals and Using the Leftovers

This saves time over the course of the week. Leftovers can be used for lunches the next day, or used as small portions along with a salad for another main meal. They can also be frozen in individual serving size containers for use later when time and/or money is short.

Avoid Shopping When You’re Hungry

Shopping when you’re hungry is a BIG way to add to the grocery bill. It’s all-too-easy to pick up extra items when you have an empty stomach. Before you know it, you’ve gone way over budget. So, try to arrange your shopping trips after having eaten a substantial meal. It’ll do a budget good!

Buy Less Processed Foods (Strive for None)

Less processed, whole foods are healthier to eat than processed. Sometimes, they are cheaper. For instance, a brick of cheese is usually less costly than shredded packaged cheese. A whole cauliflower is cheaper than packaged cut cauliflower. A whole melon will be cheaper per pound than a cut melon. Nevertheless, many people swear that processed foods are cheaper when groceries are tallied. In some cases, that may be true. However, when considering the toll processed foods have on your health, eating whole, unprocessed foods (and preparing meals yourself from plain ingredients) will help to regain and preserve your health far better than their processed counterparts. There’s an adage that applies here… “You either pay for it at the grocery store, or pay later at the doctor’s office.” Truer words could never be spoken when it comes to food. If you want to keep or regain your health, remember that motto and opt for less processed foods any time you can. Your body will thank you for it. AND, so will your pocketbook in the long run!

Buy Generic Brands When You Can

Buy generic brands if you can. Read the labels to be sure they will meet your needs. Sometimes the ingredients in generic brands will differ than those in the name brands. This may or may not be right for you. If possible, use the generic brands since they will almost always be cheaper.

Avoid Junk Food

If a food won’t promote good health, then it’s not worth spending your precious dollars on. If you yearn for a dessert after a meal, choose fresh fruit instead of something laden with added sugars, fat and empty calories. Those foods are unhealthy to eat and are expensive too. Enjoy a piece of fresh fruit and savor it as you eat it. Slow down, enjoy the moment, taste the natural sweetness, chew slowly, and enjoy nature’s bounty as it is intended to be enjoyed.

Take Advantage of Sales

If items you use on a regular basis are on sale, buy a few extra to save dollars over time. If the items are perishable, make sure you can use them before they go bad. Otherwise, you’re simply tossing your hard-earned dollars in the trash.

Eat More Plant Proteins

Plant proteins such as beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds are cheaper per serving than most animal proteins. Such foods also provide an array of vitamins and minerals, along with fiber that is not found in animal foods. Even if you enjoy meat, fish and poultry, making one or two days a week “meat-free” will boost your health in many ways as well as giving your budget some relief.

Shop in Season

Fresh foods in season will often be cheaper than those that had to be shipped half way around the world to reach you during off-season months. Foods in season will also be higher in nutrient value than older ones that had to be shipped long distances to reach your grocery store. So, shopping in season and buying locally when possible not only gives your wallet a break, but also boosts your nutritional intake too.

Don’t Forget Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are usually frozen soon after being harvested. So in some ways, they may be fresher than their counterparts in the fresh produce isle. There may be some nutrient loss during the freezing process, but there is also nutrient loss over time in fresh fruits and vegetables. The only way to get around that is to pick your own from your personal garden or a local farm. Shopping at a local farm market is the next best thing, but in many areas they are not available year-round. Your next best option would be to choose frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be used in meals, added to smoothies, used as a topping for morning porridge, thawed and used in salads and desserts. They are very convenient since they will be there when you’re ready for them, with no worries about perishability in the refrigerator.

Buy in Bulk When You Can

If you have storage room, buying in bulk can save money over time since many foods are cheaper by the “unit” when purchased in bulk. Grains are an excellent example. Rice, millet, barley, and oats can often be found in bulk, whether online or in some grocery stores.

Start a Garden, If Possible

Growing your own food is not only rewarding, but cheaper than buying it in grocery stores. Seeds are inexpensive, considering the yield you get from a mere seed or two. Extra seeds can be kept in the freezer to prolong their life, so they can be good for more than one growing season. Also, freshly grown produce often tastes better than store-bought, and its nutrient content should be higher than that of store-bought counterparts since they are not as old. So, get venturesome and start a garden if you can. Start small as you learn, then plant larger gardens as time, space, and knowledge allows.

Pack Your Lunch

Taking your own lunch ensures you have complete control over what’s in your meals. You’ll very likely be eating more nutritious meals than you would have if buying your lunch out, AND you’ll be saving money too. If you’re used to buying lunch out on a regular basis, taking your own lunch may seem like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t have to be. Make extra food in the evenings, pack it up in a to-go container, and place it in the refrigerator for the night. In the morning, simply take your lunch container to work with you and store it in the refrigerator there, if there is one. If not, put it in an insulated bag with ice packs and it should keep well for you until lunchtime. Most offices have a microwave available, so if it needs to be heated, use the microwave. Packing lunch for the next day while preparing supper (OR packing some leftovers when you’re finished eating supper) makes taking your lunch extremely easy and doesn’t take any extra time in the morning. Simple planning ahead makes this very do-able.

 

Resources
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/29-cheap-healthy-foods#section2

https://tuppennysfireplace.com/best-frugal-foods-buy-broke/

https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/spending/articles/cheap-foods-to-buy-when-youre-broke

https://familiesforfinancialfreedom.com/cheapest-groceries-list/

https://greatist.com/health/44-healthy-foods-under-1#Drinks

https://www.mymoneyblog.com/cheapest-vegetables.html

https://www.thekitchn.com/best-cheap-fruits-vegetables-258057

https://www.backyardboss.net/cheapest-fruits-and-vegetables/

https://www.almanac.com/content/measuring-vegetables-recipes-pounds-cups#

https://www.walmart.com/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-ways-to-eat-healthy-on-a-budget#section5

https://www.wisechoicemarket.com/blog/-the-true-cost-of-processed-foods/

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.