With the abundance of fast food chains lining the streets of the United States, it is easy to get caught up with unhealthy dollar menu items. However, you might be surprised at the quick and inexpensive meals that sit right within your pantry or grocery store.
Very popular in Italian cuisine, polenta is a quick and easy grain that can be prepared in so many interesting ways. This form of corn meal can come raw or in precooked wrapping. Because it can be produced in abundance, this ingredient is one of the cheapest--and filling--items on the store shelf.
Once it is made, the flavoring is up to you. It can be used as a base for sauces and is an alternative to pasta. If you purchase the precooked product, all you need to do is slice it up and bake it until crispy.
Polenta can be substituted for bread for a lower calorie and carb option.
Most people think that frozen foods are high in preservatives and fat. However, there are many options in your grocer's freezer that may surprise you.
Frozen vegetables, such as peas, artichokes and asparagus, can provide your daily dose of vitamins. They are also substantially cheaper than fresh vegetables and have a much longer shelf life.
You can add these ingredients to whole wheat pasta for a filling and low carb meal or just serve them as a side dish along with grilled chicken.
Beans, Beans, Beans
Canned beans are one of the pantry staples you cannot live without. They are such a versatile cooking item that can be used in so many dishes.
Beans are loaded with fiber and nutrients and they are quite filling when added to a dish. The cans can be found at any grocery store and usually cost between $1 and $1.50 per can.
To make beans a healthy part of your meal, add them to whole grain rice and ground beef. They are also an alternative to meat products if you are on a vegetarian diet.