Budget-Friendly Foods: 4 Must-Haves for the Pantry

by in Healthy Recipes, March 2, 2010

beans

The grocery bill probably seems like it goes up every week. Before you hit the store again, plan to make the most of the healthy ingredients you’ve got on hand. These four pantry staples are easy to use and super affordable (especially when you buy them in bulk).

Dried Beans
Dried beans are more affordable than canned ones, and they’ll keep in the pantry for years. Cooking dried beans does require a little extra planning — so check the package directions and set aside some time. Use them to add protein and iron to salads, salads, tacos or rice and beans. Here’s more on why we think beans are a legume to love.
RECIPE: Black Bean Salad

Pasta
There’s no better way to feed a crowd than pasta. Versatile and easy to prepare, this Rachael Ray recipe has a nutrient-packed, bonus pantry ingredient — canned pumpkin! Whole-grain pasta is a little more expensive, but since the extra fiber fills you up, you’ll eat less. Before you shop, check out our recent whole-grain pasta taste test results.
RECIPE: Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta

Corn Flakes
They’re not just for breakfast! Whole-grain corn flakes (yes, corn is actually a whole grain) can make a crunchy coating for chicken, fish and veggies — a better solution to all the fat of frying. Keep them on hand to jazz up your favorite dishes.
RECIPE: Crispy Chicken Fingers

Tuna
Canned tuna is one of the most affordable ways to get omega-3 fats from seafood. Whip up a lighter tuna salad sandwich or add some tuna to pasta for a five-ingredient fix or the retro classic, tuna casserole.
RECIPE:
Homestyle Tuna Casserole

TELL US: What are your budget-friendly pantry staples?

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Comments (19)

  1. Steph says:

    Amazing recipe with beans! Mostly because I'm addicted to cheese http://www.fourgreensteps.com/community/recipes/s

  2. Diana says:

    Pinto beans are great cooked with a few sprigs of cilantro, one onion quartered, salt and pepper. When they are tender, take out the cilantro, and onion, and enjoy!!

  3. eppie says:

    Has anybody tried to cook the beans in a pressure cooker? I do all the time and they are great! Do not cook them with salt or spices in the pressure cooker. When they are soft season the beans well with salt, garlic, onion, cilantro and ground cumin for great flavor.

  4. winsome says:

    amen to the pressure cooker for the beans.

  5. Joni says:

    I use special K protein cereal instead of corn flakes and it gives a great breading to make chicken fingers, pork chop coating, casserole toppings… Low carb/high protein. A little goes a long way.

  6. Paola says:

    I make my black beans in the pressure cooker too.Add chopped onion,minced garlic,and green bell pepper.I also use a few spices liked dry oregano,cumin,and ground coriander.Cook until tender then add salt and a touch of white vinegar.Let it simmer until it thickens stirring so it don't burn.Serve with rice and choice of meat like citrus marinated chicken.It's a meal that you will love and within budget.

  7. Jeanine says:

    Dried beans are very easy to cook. The trick is to use your crock-pot or slow-cooker. I pick over and rinse a two-pound bag of beans at night before bed and put in my crock-pot with water to cover about 1 inch above the level of the beans. I set the appliance on low and let it cook overnight (8 hours). In the morning I drain the beans and add whatever ingredients the dish needs to make a meal and set it to cook on low again for the day. Think pinto beans for chili, navy beans for baked beans, black beans for beans and rice, etc. My family loves my crock-pot chili and my homemade baked beans. I also start my refried beans in this way.

  8. ETC433 says:

    i agree…they say to use crushed pork rinds instead for doing light breading….works great.
    google calorie commando he has some great ideas to cut fat & calories out

  9. Leslie says:

    We live low carb. I make black bean chili with whatever meat is in the fridge or freezer, rotel and plenty of fresh garlic, plus any flavor I like. I've used dried and canned beans, tastes great either way. Very high pro, low gi.

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