Holy Name Medical Center Blog

Healthy Plant-Based Meals on a Tight Budget

Posted by Debbie Bessen, MS, RD, CSO
Director of Clinical Nutrition
Holy Name Medical Center on April 21, 2020
Debbie Bessen, MS, RD, CSO, Director of Clinical Nutrition Holy Name Medical Center

Earth Day is a good time to think about how you can make a difference in protecting our planet. Eating a plant-based diet can slow down the pace of climate change by reducing animal-related food production, which is responsible for a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

At this time, when our meat supply has been compromised by the closure of plants within several states due to COVID-19 infection among workers, eating a plant-based diet makes more sense than ever before.

Plant-based does not equal vegan or zero animal products. It just means less of these, a lot less. Research supports a link between plant-based diets and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. A plant-based diet is also cost-conscious; animal meats are the most expensive ingredient in most dishes.

To help reduce financial stress, keep healthy, and celebrate Earth Day, here are some simple plant-based recommendations:

  • Pick up some plant-based proteins, from lentils, chickpeas, tofu, nuts, seeds, quinoa, rice, and beans.
  • Utilize frozen vegetables.
  • Canned foods can be a nutritious, low-cost option when fresh produce is unavailable. One thing to keep in mind is that chemicals are used in canned foods including BPA and BPS/F, which have been associated with some health concerns. If you are going to use canned foods, try not to include them at every meal.
  • Dried beans and lentils are usually the most cost-effective.
  • Organic produce is preferred, however, most studies showing the health benefits of consuming produce were done with conventional produce – so do not avoid conventional produce if you cannot find or afford organic produce.

The following recipes are packed with nutrients and come in at less than $3 per serving. Most are less than $2 per serving.

Debbie Bessen, MS, RD, CSO, is a registered dietitian specializing in oncology, food sensitivities, gastrointestinal health, and weight control.