Eating healthy is cheaper than you think. Too many of us complain that maintaining a healthy diet burns a hole in our wallets when, in fact, eating healthy without breaking the bank is possible. All you need is a game plan.

One major cost buster is simply shifting away from our reliance on buying groceries from supermarkets.

These grocery stores charge high markups on perishable goods such as fruits and vegetables to cover the cost of spoilage. If you want to eat healthy and save money, get familiar with the nearby public markets and start shopping there. Farmer’s Market in Cubao, Cartimar, and Guadalupe Public Market in Makati are popular options for the budget-conscious consumer in Manila.

The public markets in Quezon City, particularly in Cubao and Diliman area, are also chock full of vendors who either source their products from local farmers or grow their own produce–hence the very affordable prices. Vendors in public markets are more than happy to sell their produce by the piece, which allowed us to stretch our daily budget. But if you want to save more, buying in bulk is the way to go.

With this knowledge at hand, we decided to challenge ourselves and discover how far a budget of just fifty pesos per day would take us. Over a span of five days, we purchased ingredients from different vendors in Krus na Ligas, Diliman and created one salad recipe per day. This is what we came up with using fifty pesos or less:

Monday – The Skin Food

Healthy Salads_Spinach Strawberry Salad
Beauty products can only do so much if you are not eating the right kind of food. Fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals that help prevent and cure skin diseases, as well as improve complexion. To create the salad, simply toss fruits and greens high in vitamins C , A, and lutein–such as strawberries, carrots, oranges, and spinach—into a bowl.

Tuesday – The Protein-Packed Salad

Healthy Salads_Chicken and Egg Salad
Healthy salads don’t have to be boring and tasteless. You can add your favorite chicken to give your greens more texture and nutrition. Remove the skin to shave off the extra fat and calories that come with it. Then, add a hard-boiled egg and you get a protein-packed salad. You can enjoy as is or drizzle some olive oil and vinegar to elevate the flavor.

Wednesday – The Low-Calorie Meal/Lettuce Tuna Wrap

Healthy Salads_Tuna Salad
Aside from chicken, tuna is a popular go-to meat for health nuts and fitness buffs. Depending on how you prepare it, tuna can be fairly low in calories. Ideally, purchase tuna that is either in brine or water. Try and avoid tuna that is canned in oil. One can has about 70 to 90 calories but rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. To bring out the flavor of the fish, simply heat it in a pan for a minute or two and combine with celery. If you prefer your tuna cold, simply squeeze some lemon over it and add salt and pepper to taste. Place the mixture in lettuce leaves and voila – you now have a tasty tuna wrap!

Related: Move Over Kale: These 10 Greens Are More Healthy

Thursday – The High-Fiber Salad

Healthy Salads_Avocado and Apple Salad
If you’re always hungry but you’re trying to lose weight, this avocado-apple salad is your best friend. Avocados and apples are rich in fiber, which facilitates weight loss. While apples are a rich source of iron, avocados are known to be high in monounsaturated fats, a healthy kind of fat that helps you feel full and satiated. Combine them in a bowl and you get a fiber-rich meal.

Friday – The Pinoy Special

Healthy Salads_Eggplant Salad
You’re probably familiar with the roasted eggplant salad. It’s a common side dish staple for pretty much all Pinoy meals due to its delicious, smoky flavor that enhances the taste of any dish.

However, the eggplant is not just a plate decoration or flavor enhancer. This low-calorie vegetable is also rich in antioxidant compounds that help improve cardiovascular health and protect our body from free radicals. To make the salad, roast two eggplants and mix with celery and tomatoes. You can also add some lemon juice to give your salad a zesty kick.

Injecting some variety into your salads is important to ensure you’re getting the right nutrition, even while on a diet.

If you are creative and resourceful enough, you’ll realize that being healthy is actually not as expensive as you think it is.

Do you have healthy salad recipes to share? Leave a comment below!

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