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Best foods for seniors: High in nutrition but low in cost

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senior man and woman selecting produce in store

Low-cost meals for healthy eating on a budget

One of the most important things you can do to live a longer, more active, and independent life is to maintain a healthy diet. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), focusing on proper nutrition as you age helps manage chronic conditions and offers a multitude of long-term health benefits. A cheap, healthy diet plan may help ward off illnesses, from heart disease to diabetes to many cancers. It can even affect your changing dental needs, like sensitive teeth and gums. Eating healthy on a budget may lessen your chances of developing gum disease or losing your teeth.

Each time you shop, prepare, and enjoy your favorite low-cost meals, remember this: Eating healthy on a budget will also keep you doing the things you love for longer, whether that’s golfing, swimming, traveling, playing with your grandkids, or all of the above. And, eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, the best foods for seniors can be low-cost meals that center on getting the most nutrition on a budget.

At first, finding cheap, healthy food you also enjoy can seem a little challenging, but don’t give up on your goals. Sticking to an affordable, healthy diet plan is possible if you know what to eat. That’s why we’ve included our list of healthy foods on a budget in a FREE shopping list you can download and take to the store.

To start planning low-cost meals that focus on nutrition, look no further than your plate. According to My Plate, you want to fill your plate with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein at every meal. The best foods for seniors will also incorporate necessary nutrients for the later stage of life, such as dietary fiber; potassium; and vitamins A, B12, C, and D. 

When you go shopping, look at food labels as well as prices to ensure you are eating healthy on a budget. Keep in mind, your appetite may not be as big as it used to be. The recommended daily calories per day for seniors should be around 2,000 or less. That means you can stock up on fewer foods that are high in nutrition but low in cost.

You can ask your doctor whether you need to add dietary or meal supplements to your diet to get more bang for your buck. In the meantime, check out this list of best foods for seniors who are committed to eating healthy on a budget, and fill your shopping cart without emptying your wallet the next time you visit the grocery store:

  • frozen vegetables, like peas, corn, spinach, carrots, lima beans, and green beans
  • frozen fruits packed in their own juices, not syrup, such as berries for smoothies or to top yogurt and fortified cereals
  • applesauce
  • pre-sliced fruits and vegetables, especially if handling a knife is a challenge
  • fresh fruits and veggies, such as bananas, oranges, apples, avocados, and broccoli
  • dark, leafy greens, like spinach
  • cabbage
  • dried prunes
  • canned fruit, like peaches or pears packed in water, not syrup, which has added sugar
  • fortified cereals
  • instant oatmeal or steel-cut oats
  • low-fat or fat-free yogurts
  • low-fat or fat-free milk; choose a lactose-free version if dairy upsets your stomach
  • low-sodium canned tuna packed in water, not oil
  • fresh or canned salmon
  • skinless chicken breast, or buy it with the skin on and remove it at home to cut costs
  • lean cuts of beef
  • lean pork
  • low-sodium canned beans, like black beans, pintos, white beans, or garbanzos
  • lentils
  • low-sodium soups packed with vegetables and protein
  • whole grain pastas
  • tomato sauce
  • canned tomatoes
  • brown rice
  • quinoa
  • eggs
  • low-fat cheeses
  • low-fat cottage cheese
  • dark chocolate
  • natural peanut butter without added sugar or sodium
  • herbs and spices, instead of salt
  • sweet potatoes or regular potatoes with the skin left on
  • whole grain breads

As you can see, you can easily eat healthy on a budget. After a few days or weeks, eating these types of foods that are high in nutrition but low in cost will become a habit, and you’ll start to see the many benefits, from having more energy to seeing the cost-savings. And in the years to come, you’ll spend more time doing what you love and less time in the doctor’s office tending to illnesses. Looking after your physical well-being now means you’ll be even better prepared for tomorrow.

Download your free shopping list of healthy foods >

Photo credit: iStock

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