It’s affordable, versatile and super nutritious.
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A hand placing an egg carton in a shopping basket
Credit: Getty Images / Yurdakul / redrhino78

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where associate nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

I know it can be polarizing, but I love grocery shopping. Making a menu plan for the week and perusing the colorful produce aisles is one of the highlights of my weekend. Plus, planning ahead helps me eat healthy, save time during the week and save money, which is important as a dietitian on a budget. One of the most expensive food groups at the store is the protein section. Luckily, there is one food that helps me meet my protein needs in an affordable way, and I never leave the grocery store without it: eggs.   

Eggs are always on my grocery list for the week, no matter what my specific meal plan holds. They're nutritious, affordable and last up to three to five weeks in the fridge; what's not to love? One whole egg contains about 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbs and 72 calories. Eggs are a great source of important nutrients like vitamin B12, choline and carotenoids, which can help with red blood cell production, vision, memory, brain health and more. To me, they are a staple for everything from breakfast to dinner, and they also help when I want to make an impromptu dessert from what I have in my pantry.

Beyond how healthy and budget-friendly they are, I love eggs because there are endless ways to use them, and there are several recipes that I love that prove it. One of my favorite easy dinner recipes to make is Shakshuka. All you need is a can of diced tomatoes, a few eggs and any vegetables or greens in your fridge that you need to use up. I also lean toward savory foods, so Scrambled Eggs with Vegetables is a staple breakfast (and it helps me clean out my fridge, too). 

When I'm meal prepping, I'll often make a big batch of hard-boiled eggs that can make great snacks or a quick egg salad lunch when my fridge is really bare. Last, but certainly not least, I love fried rice as a light meal or snack between meals. I usually have a tub of grains (namely, brown rice) in the fridge that can be made into Easy Fried Rice. Stir-frying rice up with an egg, soy sauce and scallions is fast, filling, flavorful and requires minimal cleanup. 

So the next time you're at the store, add a carton of eggs to your cart. They're a budget-friendly and nutritious protein, and are always in my fridge. For more budget-friendly cooking tips, check out the frozen food I never leave the store without