With food prices skyrocketing thanks to crazy weather and high gas prices, a lot of us are eating on the cheap. And for too many of us, cheap food means the 99-cent menu at the fast food joint is looking pretty good.
But don't let the cost of groceries drive you to the drive-through. Nutritionist Paulette Lambert at the California Health & Longevity Institute says historically, the cheapest "peasant food" has also been the healthiest. It's just a matter of being organized, knowing what to buy, and being willing to cook a little.
Here are a few of her tips:
Less meat, more grains. Think about substituting lentils for ground beef in chili (recipe below) or toss beans in with chicken to stretch your meals.
Cheaper cuts of meat. Chicken thigh meat costs half what breast meat does, and once you trim the fat off of it, the difference in calories won't make any difference to your health.
High-protein pasta. Looks and tastes like white flour pasta, but is made with half legume flour, so it has the protein and fiber of beans snuck in.
Seasonal veggies are cheaper, and taste better -- so eat what's growing now.
Cheaper fish can be better in a lot of dishes. Kids will gobble down fish sticks you make yourself from cod, but turn their noses up to higher-priced grilled halibut or seabass.
Check out these recipes below, and get started on a plan won't bust your budget or your waistline: the cheapest ingredients are often the healthiest and best for staying trim.