Miller’s Picks: 10 Foods for the Frugal
Feeding your family on the cheap is a hot topic.
"That's the Number 1 thing I get," says Robin Miller, host of the Food Network show "Quick Fix Meals With Robin Miller." ''People say, 'You're known for quick and healthy and family-friendly -- now can you throw budget in there, too?' "
Miller has a master's degree in nutrition and is the author of several cookbooks. Her show and cookbooks celebrate several economizing methods, especially the cook-once-eat-twice system.
"You're stretching your dollar, not just stretching the meal," she says.
Here are Miller's top 10 favorite foods that are as healthy for you as they are for your wallet.
Miller likes whole-wheat pasta because it's cheap and satisfying. "It's what -- a dollar a box?" she says. "It's got more fiber, which is wonderful, but it also fills you up more quickly, so you're likely to eat less."
2. Canned beans
"Put them into soup or stew and they stretch a meal," she says. They're rich in folate and fiber. "A big bang for your buck."
"Yogurt is always on sale," she says, noting she has seen it for as little as 50 cents per cup. Yogurt is a good source of calcium and Vitamin D.
Not usually considered a budget item, Miller picks vitamin C-rich asparagus in March because it's in season. "They're so expensive the rest of the year, and so thin and tender and wonderful."
5. Canned tomatoes
Miller is never without this pantry staple, in its various forms: stewed, diced, petite diced, whatever. The canned version has more cancer-fighting lycopene than fresh tomatoes, and it adds flavor and color to soups, stews and sauces.
"Cereal is so expensive. It's like 4 bucks for a box of air," Miller says. Oatmeal is a hearty, nutritious and inexpensive way to start the day. "It lowers cholesterol, it's heart-healthy."
7. Brown rice
Choose the original, which takes 40 minutes to cook, or the precooked, which takes about 10. Brown rice has extra B vitamins and more fiber than white rice. Be sure to stick to plain brown rice, not the flavored types that are more expensive.
Plain almonds are inexpensive when bought in bulk. Miller loves them to round out a meal with a burst of protein. She tops salads and pasta with almonds that she dry toasts in a skillet for a few minutes. "You can give a meal more 'meat' without adding meat. If you sprinkle asparagus with toasted almonds, it's something worthy of a guest."
Eggs are hard to pass up because of the price. "How many times can you get 12 things for a dollar? Never." Miller likes to make frittata for dinner. "It's a great, affordable, protein-packed food."
10. Canned or pouched salmon
Fresh salmon is expensive, but Miller says salmon in a pouch has more calcium because it's processed with the bones.