March is National Nutrition Month, and CFBNJ is putting an extra focus on healthy food. In less than ten years, we’ve increased the amount of fresh produce we distribute by 575 percent, and we are always looking for ways to keep increasing that amount.

All month, along with Feeding America and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, we’ll have tips to help you and your family. Lindsey Kennedy, staff Registered Dietician at the Community FoodBank, says, “Good health and nutrition are priorities for CFBNJ every day, and we’re paying special attention to eating right and wellness during National Nutrition Month. There are a lot of foods and recipes that are both healthy and budget-friendly, and we’re glad to be a resource for families looking for this important information.” Lindsey wants to share the Academy’s list of some nutrient-rich and budget-friendly foods.

Beans. They provide fiber, protein, iron and zinc. Dry beans are cheaper but need to be soaked. Canned beans are more convenient but should be rinsed to reduce the salt content. Canned beans are about 13 cents per quarter-cup serving. Dried beans cost about 9 cents per ounce.

Bananas. They provide vitamin B6, fiber, potassium and vitamin C. They make an easy grab-and-go snack or quick topping for yogurt and cereal. Once they are the ripeness you prefer, place them in the fridge. The peels will turn black, but the banana itself will keep. Or, peel and freeze for using in smoothies. Cost is about 36 cents each – much cheaper than a candy bar.

Peanut Butter. One tablespoon of crunchy or smooth peanut butter has around 95 calories, 4 grams of protein and 8 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Choose natural peanut butter, if possible. It does not have added sugars or fats. Cost for 2 tablespoons is about 27 cents.

Yogurt. Plain or nonfat yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and protein. It can make a good substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise when you want to cut fat in recipes. To save money, buy yogurt in large tubs instead of single-serve containers. Buy plain yogurt and add your own flavorings such as hot chocolate powder mix or granola/cereal or canned fruit in its own juice. Cost for 6 ounces is about 60 cents.

Whole-Grain Pasta. It provides more fiber, protein and vitamins than regular pasta. Plan ahead as it takes longer to cook. One ounce of dry whole-grain pasta is about 14 cents.

Frozen Peas. Frozen vegetables are an excellent alternative to fresh. They are frozen at the peak of freshness and pack important nutrients, and they won’t rot in the crisper drawer. Frozen peas are full of protein, fiber and vitamin A. They’re easy to toss into soups, salads, rice, pasta dishes and stews. They cost about 23 cents per half-cup.

Almonds. They’re packed with heart-healthy unsaturated fat and antioxidant vitamin E. Save money by buying unsalted raw or blanched almonds in bulk. Cost for an ounce of almonds is about 55 cents.

Eggs. Protein is one of the most expensive components to people’s diets. Eggs are cost effective at about 11 cents per egg and provide a source of high-quality protein. They’re also very versatile. Have a bowl of hard-cooked eggs in your fridge at all times for a quick breakfast or grab-and-go snack, or to add some protein to a lunch or dinner salad.

 Canned Tuna. It’s packed with protein, heart-healthy omega-3 fats, selenium and B vitamins. Choose packed in water instead of oil. Chunk light tuna has less mercury than albacore. Have it on hand for quick meals like tuna salad sandwiches or tuna on green salads. Tuna cost about 27 cents per ounce.