Impoverished but empowered: Fitness on a budget part 1

Impoverished/Empowered is a three-part series designed to get you healthy and keep you that way while you’re experiencing financial hardship, creating a leaner budget, or just don’t like spending a lot of money. Today we tackle the most important component of any lifestyle: nutrition.

It’s hard to go onto a very strict food budget. The monotony can really take a toll on your morale by the sheer fact of how boring it can get. It’s one thing when you choose to spend less, but it’s a mental blow when you’re forced to.

Staples

 

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is maybe the perfect, if bland, breakfast. A low glycemic index, iron, fiber, manganese, oatmeal has a little of everything. It’s not devoid of protein, either. If you have high cholesterol, you should already be downing oatmeal by the bowl-full. It’s relatively quick to make, and can be done on the stovetop or in a microwave. If you need to spice it up, add some brown sugar, honey (which doubles as a tea-sweetener), or our next entry.

 

Peanut Butter

I honestly can say I feel horrible for those allergic to this utilitarian delight. Choc-ful of B-vitamins, protein, and (depending on the type) fats and sugar, you can grab a jar of this for all sorts of purposes. On a ramen noodle diet? Throw a spoonful of this in to make a poor man’s pad Thai. Sweet tooth? Don’t even bother putting it on anything. Just scoop it directly into your mouth. It CAN be a little pricey, but if you can deal with changing brands, you’ll usually find one on sale.

Simple, boring, but doable


Rice/Beans/Lentils

Half the planet can’t be wrong, right? A mixture that the Koreans call “kongbap,” it was long served to prisoners as a cheap way to feed them. If your goal, too, is to survive, stock up on this dish that is high in fiber, protein, and has some iron for good measure. It’s also dirt-cheap, so you’ll be able to feed a person on less than a dollar a day with this stuff. You can also make it as a healthy, carb-rich side, if your financial status is higher than “don’t starve.”

I don’t suggest eating them “Rocky”-style


Eggs

Add some protein in your diet for cheap with des oeufs. You don’t even need a refrigerator for them, contrary to American beliefs. You can mix them in with your oatmeal or rice, then nuke it for a minute or two. Or just break one into a coffee mug, mix it around with a fork, and microwave it for one minute for instant scrambled eggs.

Fruits & Vegetables

You think maybe there were apples that weren’t forbidden in Eden?


Apples

Now, plant-based foods can be a little more expensive, but you can’t forego them. Apples actually have more fiber than bananas and can stem a craving for sweets.

Fun fact: I hated bananas for TWENTY years, then binged on them


Bananas

Is it like, a national standard that these are ¢79/lb everywhere? At least in the coastal areas of the U.S.

I’ve never eaten enough carrots to turn orange, even though I’ve kind of tried


Carrots

It’s like, $2 for a bag of baby carrots in most grocery stores, and some farmers’ markets will have really good deals on pretty hefty carrots. Get your Vitamin A on when you eat these to help out your skin and eyes.

And always look out for anything on sale, especially potatoes, blueberries, spinach, and kale. If you want to heat your vegetables, I suggest you steam them. I do that with a pot of boiling water with a strainer in it and a lid on top.

Treats

 

Cereal

You’ve got a very balanced nutritional content (iron, B-Vitamins, trace minerals), along with enough sweetness to satisfy, plus a lot of them are fun and colorful. Unfortunately, if you’re lactose-intolerant, milk alternatives can be more costly.

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