If you’re concerned that buying brain healthy foods will bust your budget, stop worrying. You don’t have to spend a bundle to eat right. I recently wrote a blog on brain healthy eating for the poor.
Go for satisfying grains. When it comes to grains, you can’t beat old-fashioned oatmeal or pearled barley, which cost about 10 cents or less per serving. These bargain whole grains offer a huge nutritional bang for your buck, moderate blood sugar for hours, and keep you feeling full longer.
Buy vitamin-rich vegetables frozen and save. Stock up on frozen vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and carrots whenever you go to a warehouse store like Costco. It’s cheaper than buying fresh and can cost you as little as 11 cents a serving.
Boost antioxidants with apples, oranges, and bananas. Affordable apples and oranges (less than 50 cents each) and bananas (less than 20 cents each) are full of vitamins and antioxidants that promote health and boost brain performance.
Say cheese—low-fat cottage cheese, that is. Cottage cheese is packed with protein, calcium, and vitamins A and D. With a single serving of cottage cheese, you get 13 grams of protein for about 75 cents. Just make sure you are one of the lucky ones who process dairy. Being lactose intolerant can drop blood flow to the brain and make you more impulsive.
Pump up protein with affordable eggs. Getting adequate amounts of protein doesn’t have to involve eating expensive meat. At less than 20 cents apiece, protein-rich eggs are an affordable option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Fill up on high-fiber, low-cost beans. Loaded with fiber and high in protein, beans should be a staple in any household that is struggling financially. For example, a 1-pound bag of black beans costs less than $2, and gives you twelve servings for less than 16 cents each.
Stock up on canned tuna. Eating fish like tuna is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. You can get a three-pack of tuna for about $2.50, which means for about 83 cents a can, you get 22 grams of protein and a good amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Be careful not to overdo the tuna as it may contain some mercury.
Drink to your brain health with skim milk and water. Low in fat and high in protein and calcium, skim milk is fortified with vitamins A and D and will only set you back about 25 cents for one serving. You don’t need to buy pricey bottled water. With a $15-$20 water filter that fits on your kitchen faucet, you can drink from the tap and get healthy, filtered water that will keep your brain and body hydrated for optimal performance.
Spice up your meals. With just a few spices in your cupboard, you can enhance the flavor of any dish without using a lot of unhealthy butter, cream, or salt. You can find spices for a few dollars each—they’re even cheaper if you can buy them loose where you scoop the spices into bags rather than buying them in a bottle.
Become a savvy shopper. You can save a bundle if you buy items that have a long shelf life—like canned tuna, beans, oatmeal, barley, and frozen vegetables—in bulk. Look for sales and specials, use coupons, and buy generic brands when possible. You can even shop online for many food items or look for coupons online from local stores to find the best deals.
Reference: Dr Daniel Amen and Dr. Jeff Fortuna, the author of Nutrition for the Focused Brain and Food, Brain Chemistry and Behavior.