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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Best nutrition buys under $2.00

A couple weeks ago I had a column on best nutrition buys under $1.00 so here is one on best buys under $2.00. Have you ever noticed that no one talks about how expensive treat food is or how expensive fast food is in comparison to whole food? By expensive I not only mean the cost in dollars and cents, but also relating to the poor quality of nutrient that your body gets in return for your hard earned cash. For just a few minutes I would like for you to think of food as pure nourishment. Then consider the nutrition that can be had for $2.00 or less; the cost of a gas station premium coffee and a small bag of chips. This two dollar treat doesn’t have much nutrition but weighs in at about 380 calories and 20 grams of fat.
A ten ounce box of frozen spinach:
It costs at least four times as much to get the equivalent of cooked spinach from fresh. Frozen spinach has a long shelf life, is a quick side dish, and is great with all things tomato. In a half-cup of frozen spinach you get about three grams of fiber, 150% of the Vitamin A needed in a day, and three grams of protein for about 25 calories. Yes, that is not a typo. 25 calories. A ten ounce box provides about four half-cup servings.
A 24 ounce container of plain or vanilla yogurt:
Three six ounce cups provide three people with about 20% of the calcium needed for a day. There is some variance. Watch for four ounce cups, they provide less Vitamin D and calcium as a rule. Choose the store brand and be sure that your yogurt is fortified with vitamin D – all yogurts are not.
A bunch of fresh broccoli:
Wow, you don’t even need to cook it, kids like it better raw. Serve a cup of kid sized broccoli for a quick snack. If your child finishes that he or she will have gotten 135% of the Vitamin C needed in a day. Chase colds away for only 31 calories and no environmentally unfriendly packaging. Opt for healthy dips like hummus or yogurt dip. A bunch for $1.99 should provide about three to four cups, depending on the size of the bunch.
Fresh mango:
Although it is a bit of work to peel and slice, the mango is still a good value for the money and effort. Provide two people 35% of the Vitamin C and 12% of the Vitamin A needed for the day in two half-cup servings for about 50 calories each and $1.50 total.
The real bottom line when purchasing food is the quality of nutrients purchased with your food dollar. No nutrition when purchasing food is like throwing those two bucks out the window – you got nothing for your money.
Article by Monica Smith published on MSU Extension News.