Top 10 Plant Based Superfoods on a Budget

Have you have dedicated yourself to a healthy eating plan but just don’t have a great deal of cash to splash on the latest ‘superfood’ trends? Affordability of eating healthily is something I hear of a lot, and it still surprises me every time as I myself have never spent a lot of money lot of money of foods. I guess this is because many people are looking in all the wrong places, believing they need to splash out on expensive, exotic berries and the like.

This is simply not the case, and in this post I will share with you my top 10 plant based superfoods on a budget; the very same that I put in my own shopping trolley every week along with the other plant based foods on my grocery list, that are not only easily affordable, but are delicious, versatile and will keep you bouncing with health and vitality.

Batch Cooking

sliced courgettes

No, having loads of spare cash really isn’t what you need to stay healthy, it may help, but it’s not needed. It’s so much more about putting in the time for a bit of research (we all have access to the internet), learning how to live a healthily, and allocating more time for exercise and home cooking (which can be done in big batches then frozen for those days when you have no time to cook).

This is one of the most helpful things you can do to save time, and my own freezer is always full of leftover portioned out healthy meals ready to take out and leave on the side to defrost while you are at work. All you need to do is put them in the oven and steam a few veggies, boil some pasta, or toss a salad together. The best things to cook and freeze in batches are:-

  • Bean chilli’s
  • Bolognese sauce
  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Casseroles
  • Lentil or pulse soups
  • Pureed soups
  • Homemade burgers
  • Pasta sauces

Healthy Food Swaps

sweet potato chips

I know what you’re thinking; you can buy a bag of frozen chips for £1 right? Yes, they literally are as cheap as chips, but by the same token you can buy a packet of sweet potatoes for the same price and make your own much healthier and lower fat version, with virtually no more effort – except maybe a bit of chopping.

This is just one example, but I’m sure you can see where I’m going here – there really are healthy substitutes for every version of junk food imaginable, and it’s much easier to make these swaps when you know what you’re looking for.

Swapping your every day foods for the foods on the list below will not only make you and your family healthier, but will also help you to discover new foods and different and exciting dishes. Tying new things keeps you tastes buds alive and sizzling, until in the end you will crave health food like you used to crave junk foods – this really does happen after you have broken the cycle of sugar addiction and naturally start listening to what your body needs. 

Sugar Cravings

woman holding donuts

Unless you’ve been living on another planet then you will be well aware of the damage that sugar and trans fats wreak on your body if eaten to excess and on a long term basis. We didn’t understand the true extent of this a few years ago – but now we do, yet so many are still over consume foods that can accelerate the aging process of the body on both the inside and out, and put the at much higher risk of disease and a shorter life span.

Why do we do it to ourselves? Well, eating high fat and sugar foods triggers the release of feel good endorphins into the body (in some ways like a drug, though there is no real evidence that sugar is actually addictive in humans). This is the body’s way of making sure it survives by keeping you interested in sourcing out high calorie foods.

Unfortunately, this instinct can get out of control as you become addicted to the feelings of pleasure rather than the sugar itself. Add to this a whole host of other potential reasons why we may over-eat, including emotional eating to push down bad feelings, self-sabotage and other psychological factors, then you can see why there is such an attachment to foods that make us feel better.

Breaking the Cycle of Binge Eating

If I had an easy answer to this I’d be rich! But what I can say from my own experience, is when you feel a craving coming on there are to ways you can go depending on the type of person you are.

  1. If you’re an all or nothing type who can’t just eat a few squares of chocolate and need to eat the whole bar, then you need to use the distraction technique until the craving passes – go and read a book, do some exercise, eat a teaspoon of coconut oil (this works), do some housework, or meditate you feel it’s gone. There will come a time when you will be able to control the amount you eat, but that’s not yet. As you become healthier this will come naturally.
  2. If you’re at a point where you have more control (this definitely comes naturally as your body gets healthier), then have a little of what you fancy and leave it there. Afford yourself a couple of small treats a day, and be sure to ONLY have them if you know you are going to enjoy them and not feel guilty.

Top 10 Budget Superfoods

It’s worth noting that ALL of these super foods have a much higher nutrient absorption rate when eaten alongside a little healthy fat such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil or coconut oil (except the ones that already contain fats of course). And most of these foods (apart from potatoes) are better when either eaten raw, or very lightly cooked to help keep their delicate nutrients intact, thus making them more healthful.

1. AVOCADOS

avocado with pip

These are the absolute number one superfood, and I would encourage you to try to consume half an avocado a day in some form or another. You can chop them and add to your meals, smash them onto toast with a squeeze of lemon, or simply add them to your smoothies to make them rich and creamy.

Benefits:- Avocados are high in heart friendly monounsaturated fats, full of fiber and antioxidants, and contain vitamins K, E, C, B5, B6, potassium and folate. They are also super low GI, making them a fantastic food for type 2 diabetics as they will help to keep blood sugar stable.

On top of this, avocado’s also help to lower bad cholesterol, offer eye protection due to their high levels of antioxidants, AND help with a weight loss diet due to the fact they are full of fiber and are low GI. They will help keep your blood sugar under control and you feeling fuller and satiated for longer, stopping those diet busting sugar cravings in their tracks.

2. ALL PULSES

Just think of all the different pulses out there, such as lentils of all varieties, kidney beans, chick peas, pinto beans, cannellini, borlotti and black beans. I’m sure you can think of more, but the point I’m going to make is they can ALL be used in place of meat to make many plant based dishes, including bean chilli’s, hummus, bean burgers, falafel, chickpea curry. Find many more all over the internet under vegan meals.

Benefits:- As well as their impressive fiber and protein profile, pulses contain high doses of zinc, iron, folate and magnesium, and their phytonutrients, tanins and saponins have antioxidant effects. They are also another low GI food, so perfect for dieters and diabetics.

3. SWEET POTATOES

sweet potato buddha bowl

Swap your normal frozen chips and white potatoes for sweet potatoes – you can chip them, mash them, roast them, or do pretty much anything you would normally do with your potatoes. And they are just delicious roasted in coconut oil with some paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.

Benefits:- Sweet potatoes are one of natures highest forms of beta carotene, which is all down to their bright orange colour pigment. They drastically up your blood levels of vitamin A and antioxidants, and also contain high levels of other nutrients such as vitamin C, manganese, copper, and an array of B vitamins.

They are high in fiber and low GI, so perfect for helping to keep blood sugar stable – especially if you eat them alongside lots of other high antioxidant, low GI foods.

4. PEANUTS AND SUGAR FREE PEANUT BUTTER

Peanuts are a really inexpensive plant based source of protein, and are easy to incorporate into any snack. Or, you can spread your peanut butter on a slice of wholegrain toast with a sliced banana, for a wholesome, filling and tasty lunch.

Benefits:- High in protein, antioxidants, B-vitamins, copper, potassium, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium, peanuts certainly have a host of health benefits. They also contain resveratrol, which is an antioxidant well known for its anti aging benefits.

5. BLUEBERRIES

blueberry smoothie

Blueberries offer one of the highest levels of phytonutrients out of ALL the common fruits and vegetables, and can be bought cheaply when in season, or frozen at other times of the year.

Add them to breakfast cereals, homemade quinoa porridge, smoothies; or make ice cream from frozen blueberries by whizzing them up in a blender with chunks of frozen ripe banana and a little coconut milk. If you make it thick enough it makes an absolutely delicious and healthy dessert too!

Benefits:- The health benefits of blueberries are simply astounding, plus their high antioxidant content neutralises free radicals to help offer protection from age related diseases. They are also anti inflammatory and can help with muscle repair, boost memory, lower blood pressure, and like cranberries can also reduce risk of bladder infections.

6. BROCCOLI

Broccoli is one of the highest protein vegetables, and is something you would do well to eat as much as possible. It’s such a versatile vegetable and can be sauteed with garlic, lightly steamed, added to stir-fries, or finely chopped and eaten raw in salads.

Benefits:- High in fiber and vitamins B6, B1, A, E, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, niacin, omega 3 fatty acids and iron. But broccoli’s main superstar qualities come in its powerful anti carcinogenic compounds and nutrients.

It is a great detoxifyer with fantastic anti aging properties, and has high levels of iron which is great for anemics; can also boosts bone health, eye health and also immunity if eaten often alongside a healthy plant foods diet in general.

7. FROZEN PEAS

frozen peas

Frozen green garden peas are full of protein, AND they are literally one of the cheapest veggies you can buy if you get them pre-frozen. The great thing about frozen produce is it’s usually a lot more cost efficient than fresh, and actually has more nutrients as it is almost always frozen immediately after it is picked or harvested when it’s at its nutritional peak.

Fruits and vegetables lose their nutrients quickly after picking, so the faster they are picked and eaten, or frozen, the better.

Peas can be boiled, and added as a side dish with any meal; or you can jazz them up with a squeeze of lemon juice and some flaked almonds (there’s another 2 more superfoods for you right there!).

Benefits:- The humble green pea boasts one of the most nutrient dense profiles so far on this list; in fact it’s simply astonishing the amount of bang you get for your buck with peas nutrition wise and I can’t believe more people aren’t onto this. For starters. green peas are rich in vitamin K, C, E, B6, B2, beta carotene, copper, phosphorus, manganese, folate, niacin, molybdenum, zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium, choline, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids; plus they also contain antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties. They are also low on the glycemic index scale, so great for weight management.

As well as all these above mentioned wonderful benefits, peas have recently been found to contain unique phytonutrients called saponins, which can pretty much ONLY be found in green peas. And when combined with all their other nutrients, the benefits have been found to be far more outreaching than previously recognised.

Peas are also of great benefit to those with obesity, diabetes, and blood sugar problems as they are yet again another low GI food that will help keep blood sugars stable.

8. BEETROOT

whole red beetroot

Beetroot is another cheap and versatile super food that is just choc full of nutrients. You can eat it raw, grated into salads, steamed, or roasted in olive oil and balsamic vinegar (totally yum BTW). You can also juice it with carrots and ginger for a fantastic immune and energy boosting veggie juice – beetroot is often used by athletes for its endurance qualities so we certainly can’t argue with this one!

Benefits:- Beetroot’s bright red colour comes from its antioxidant compound betalain. It may also offer immune support, reduce bad cholesterol, slow down dementia, and supports the liver by helping to prevent fatty deposits forming.

9. BANANAS

Bananas just had to go on the list, as you can usually buy a bunch of them for under a quid and they’re a filling and easy to eat snack on the go. Great just to have in your bag in case of a snack attack emergency as they will fill a hole and stop you snacking on less desirable junk foods.

Benefits:- High in fiber, so another good food for dieters and weight watchers; bananas are also helpful for depression and anxiety due to their high B Vitamin content, which are nutrients great for the central nervous system. They are also a source of potassium, iron, magnesium and manganese.

Bananas are also heart friendly, help lower blood sugar (especially the unripe ones), help with anemia, are anti aging due to their high levels of antioxidants, and are gut friendly as their pectin and resistant starch act as a prebiotic, thus soothing IBS symptoms.

10. BAKED BEANS IN TOMATO SAUCE

beans on toast

Oh yeah, being a Brit I had to go there! Baked beans are a good old British staple that I’m not even sure the rest of the world knows about, but these truly are a thing of greatness aren’t they? We eat these with everything and anything this side of the pond, and if you’re stuck for a cheap, high protein, and easy to prepare meal, then beans on granary or sourdough toast have everything you could possibly wish for. Comfort food at its finest 🙂

If you can, buy the sugar free or lower sugar versions to make sure the benefits aren’t lost in that extra 4 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR that is in just ONE can of beans.

Benefits:- Not only are baked beans full of iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, folic acid, and B6, but they also contain more vitamins and minerals than red meat, making them a great substitute for vegetarians, vegans, or those just trying to cut their meat intake down.

Baked beans are full of the antioxidants that help to fight free radicals in the body, and when eaten 4 times a week may help to lower cholesterol and risk of heart disease (alongside other dietary changes of course). They are also a fantastic weight loss food as they are low GI, high in protein and fiber, and also low in fat – so basically, all the features of a great fat burning food.

Thank you for stopping by zestforever today. I hope I have left you with more understanding on eating healthily for less, and I hope I have inspired you to add these delicious ingredients to your shopping list. Please feel free to leave any feedback below as I would be more than happy to hear from you.

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Here are some healthy eating meal ideas that you may find helpful too!


 

Stefanie Taylor
Plant based eating is set to EXPLODE in 2019; not just for health reasons, but also to help keep our beautiful planet thriving. I have lived this healthful lifestyle for over 2 years, which is the reason why zestforever was born to share my experiences, trials and errors, how I overcame them, and how to turn to this lifestyle in such a way that you will thrive too.

I have studied, tried and tested healthy foods, superfoods and diets for over 25 years, but nothing has come close to giving me the buzz of wellness that plant based eating has. To expand my knowledge further I have also studied and worked as a Sports Nutritional Advisor, Nutritional Therapist, and Clinical Weight Loss Advisor - all of which can tie in with the plant based diet.

This website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical diseases or illnesses. It's merely meant as a way of showing you how to boost your health through the eating of more nutritious plant foods in place of junk foods.

I am grateful for your support, and I hope that the tips and guides you find here will help to guide you on your own plant based journey.

12 thoughts on “Top 10 Plant Based Superfoods on a Budget”

  1. Wow, this was some good information. Especially the part about the banana. I personally don’t like them but with the benefits I think I will start adding them to my diet. Thanks for that information.

    • Hi Onyay, thanks for reading and I’m glad you have found the information useful. Yes, if you start adding these foods into your diet regularly you should start seeing great benefits. It really is worth it!

  2. I just love to read about Superfoods! What a great selection and I had no idea how nutritious bake beans are! I especially like your information on broccoli as that is the only vegetable my kids will really ever eat. I really like your information on your site so have bookmarked it! Great information.

    • Hi Colleen, thanks for enjoying my article so much, that has really made my day and I really appreciate it. That’s great your kids eat broccoli s I don’t think many kids do ha ha. And yes, baked beans are so good that I have them about 5 times a week these days. Luckily you can buy the completely sugar free version now that is just sweetened with Xylitol which is a natural sugar and not an artificial sweetener.

  3. These are great suggestions! These foods are all healthy and great for your body and truly not very expensive. I do, however, try to buy some of these foods organic on a farmer’s market, so they can be a bit more expensive, but still not as expensive as certain super foods I didn’t even hear about 5 years ago and I can’t even pronounce.

    • Hey there, and thanks for your comment. Yes I buy lots of organic produce too. I have an organic veg box delivered every week from a local farm and it is always such great value for money, so maybe I should also add this as a suggestion to my list. I also love to eat a plant based diet which is just the healthiest way to live as far as I’m concerned – for us, and the planet in general.

  4. Homemade sweet potato fries are so good, cheap, and easy – you’ll never want to pay too much for them in a restaurant again. And really, 1/2-1 avocado a day? That sounds delicious but I never thought about eating them that frequently. Thanks for the good tips for budget super foods!

    • Hi Penelope, yes sweet potato fries are just the absolute best, especially when cooked in coconut oil with their skins left on as it makes them go all gooey and chewy. Yum yum. Ok, I know I rave on about avocados in pretty much all of my posts, but they really are a top super food and I just can’t say it enough. They are full of healthy fats (good for hair) and have been found to have specific components and antioxidants found nowhere else in nature’s foods!

      Not only that but if you have an avocado with breakfast, or any meal, it fills you up and stops you craving sugar for most of the day, hence why they are so good for diabetics. But eat them anyway, as they will surely prevent you getting diabetes in the first place. Oh and another thing, though they’re full of fat they actually promote stomach fat loss.

  5. Wow, great article. Not all people can afford to buy healthy food, I will for sure forward this article with others. Thank you so so much for writing about budget healthy foods. I highly Appreciate it.

    • Thanks Sarah, I wrote this especially for people who don’t have the finances to buy expensive foods. At least this way they can eat healthily no matter what their budget. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks Sarah, it’s nice to hear praise about my website. I am glad I am providing a useful service to others as this is my aim. Anybody, on any budget can be healthy and eat healthily and I’m hoping this post can prove that fact. Thanks for sharing.

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