Eating healthy on a budget can seem like a challenge. But one of nature’s most nutritious foods is also one of the supermarket’s least expensive: dried legumes.

Lentils: The Perfect Food
Lentils: The Perfect Food

Legumes, or pulses — the family of grain seeds that includes lentils, beans, peas and peanuts — are so healthful they’ve been nicknamed The Perfect Food. High in fibre and packed with vitamins and minerals, pulses are also a great plant-based source of protein at a fraction of the cost of animal protein. In fact, a 1/4 cup serving of peanuts and a 1/3 cup serving of dried beans cost about 30 cents each. Even better, dried legumes can be stored in airtight containers for over a year.

If you’re trying to lose weight, eating a serving or two of legumes daily might help. They are filling, low-glycemic and very versatile: use them to make CurriesSaladsBreakfast cerealBurgersBrownies and even Cookies.

 Lentils are easy to prepare and don’t require soaking. Dried beans cook up just as easily but require pre-soaking first. I usually soak mine overnight, then drain and rinse them in the morning. Then I cover them with 2 inches of water and simmer for the recommended time.

 Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Pulses are a cheap and easy way to incorporate one of nature’s best foods into your diet.