Foods to eat when you are poor

Here at Plastics, we’re all about finding our own paths to personal fulfillment. Being bold. Having adventures. Living the revolution. But we’re also realists: We’re aware that whiny humanities majors don’t always (read: never) make big money after college. That in mind, we would still like to eat decent meals.

New York-based nutritionist Barbara Mendez pointed us toward the cheapest foods to keep us full and keep our minds focused on that fulfilling career breakthrough that’s surely around the corner.

If you want a filling meal, beans, rice and lentils-based dishes are your best bet, Mendez said. They’re as cheap as it gets, they’re versatile, and they’re packed with protein.

For snacks, stick with the basics as well — apples and peanut butter are cheap and high in energy, although with the recent peanut shortage, prices may go up …

Alternately, eat carrots with hummus, which is high in fiber and is also a great source of calcium, Mendez said.

For breakfast, make yourself a bowl of oatmeal with chopped nuts for added protein and an apple for some flavor. Throw in lots of cinnamon, which acts like insulin, taking the strain of digesting carbs off your body.

You could also scramble some eggs or boil them and eat one as a snack during the day.

If you’re trying to study, omega-3 oils may keep you on task, as they have been linked to improved brain activity. Mendez ate salmon and kale every time she studied for her masters’ degree for exactly this reason, but for us budget starved youngsters, flaxseeds may be the best source of omega-3 oils. Look for flaxseeds in small health food stores and grind them yourself — flaxseed oil is sold for a higher price than the seeds.

Sugar and refined foods may be inexpensive and delicious, but avoid them like the plague, especially if you’re trying to get work done. Whenever we have negative thoughts (or are freaking out), we need serotonin in our brains. Sugar boosts serotonin levels very quickly, but the crash later makes it very difficult to stabilize the body.

Below is one of Mendez’s recipes — It’s tasty, cheap and simple, and it covers some of the ingredients we’ve talked about in this post.

Three Bean Salad

½ Minced medium Red Pepper

1 Minced Carrot

½ Minced Yellow Squash

15oz frozen corn, defrosted and drained

15oz cans of beans (Black, Kidney & Garbanzo)

1 Cup chopped Scallions

3 Cup of finely minced Red Onion

½ Tbsp each chopped fresh Basil, oregano and Parsley

½ Tbsp each chopped fresh Basil, oregano and Parsley

2 Cup Red Wine Vinegar

½ Cup Olive Oil

¾ Cloves minced Garlic

3 Juice from 1/2 a large Lemon

Salt & Pepper to taste

 Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for two or more hours. Serve as an

appetizer with tortilla chips or as a side dish to grilled fish.

— Arielle

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