The best healthy foods to fit any budget
Forget that 99 cent bag of Fritos or dirty water dog. Stroll smart down the grocery aisle and choose feel-good foods that are great for the body and even better for our budget. Here’s our list of 44 tasty, healthy(!) foods, all for under a buck per serving.
*Prices may vary depending on location and store; we averaged price based on multiple sources.
1. Oats, $0.13 per serving, about $1 per pound (in bulk) : Take a tip from Mr. Ed. Oats are high in fiber, low in fat, and may even help lower cholesterol. What’s not to love? Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal, substitute for flour in cookies, or even use as breadcrumbs.
2. Eggs, $0.19 per egg, about $2 per dozen: When in need for some protein, eggs are quick, delicious, fix. Scramble with veggies for a filling breakfast, add to homemade fried brown rice, or make a frittata!
3. Almonds, $0.60 for a 1oz serving (20-25 nuts), about $5 per 8oz bag: Rich in monounsaturated fat and fiber, these super-nuts could reduce the risk of diabetes and decrease body weight. (Sorry, Almond Joys don’t count.) Munch on ‘em during the day, or add to a bowl of cereal or oatmeal for extra healthy fats and protein.
4. Peanuts, $0.50 for a 1oz serving (25-30 nuts), about $4 per 8oz bag : Take me out to the ball game on the cheap. Sure, peanut butter might be a dangerfood, but in their natural form, these legumes are a healthy treat. When eating in moderation, peanuts supply a dose of healthy fats and can reduce the risk of heart disease. When add to any chicken and veggie dish, they add a great Asian-inspired flare!
5. Garbanzo beans, $0.30 per ½ cup serving, about $1 per can : These little beans pack a serious amount of fiber. Add to a salad, roast them with curry powder, or make your own hummus.
6. Lentils, $0.12 per ½ cup serving, about $1 per pound (dry, in bulk) : With more protein per pound than beef, lentils are a filling food rich with antioxidants (and quite tasty, too). Here are seven ways to make lentil soup, along with a killer recipe for vegetarian lentil tacos!
7. Black beans, $0.30 cents per ½ cup serving, about $1 per can: These unassuming beans pack a ton of fiber and have a solid amount of calcium, fiber, potassium, and folic acid. Pro-tip: Buy the dry beans for an even better nutritious and money deal — boiling beans at home may preserve more of their cancer-fighting antioxidants. Cook up some black bean soup, or make a healthy black-bean dip.
8. Pinto beans, $0.30 cents per ½ cup serving, about $1 per can : The health factor of refried beans at a Mexican restaurant may be questionable, so mash them up at home. These beans are full of protein and fiber and are a delicious addition to any homemade burrito — breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
9. Tofu, $0.50 cents per a 4 oz serving, about $2 per pound : High in protein and low in fat, tofu is a delicious source of protein for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Plus, soy in moderation may help reduce cholesterol and the risk of breast cancer. Pan fry tofu with veggies in the next stir-fry, or even add the silken variety to a fruit smoothie.
10. Pumpkin Seeds, $0.50 per 1oz serving, about $5 per pound: Move over birds, these seeds are for us humans (and not just on Halloween)! Filled with essential vitamins and minerals, along with protein and iron, sprinkle these in a salad or roast with spices for a healthy, crunchy treat.
11. Chicken Breasts, $0.75 per 4 oz serving, about $2.99 per pound: Forgo the McChicken on the dollar menu — fresh chicken breasts are about two quarters and are filled with protein. Grill ‘em, bake ‘em, or enjoy sliced in a whole-wheat wrap with veggies.
12. Canned Salmon, $0.75 per serving, about $1.50 per can: No need to splurge on a salmon filet to enjoy this omega-3 packed seafood. Grab the canned version for some protein power without dishing out the big bucks. Whip up some homemade salmon burgers or chowder with a twist.
13. Canned Tuna, $0.75 cents, about $1.50 per can: Not only is tuna fish cheap, but it’s an easy way to get omega-3’s (which could make us brilliant). Mix with Greek yogurt and chopped veggies for a healthier tuna salad.
14. Whey Protein, $0.75 cents per scoop, about $40 per 3 lb container : Need an extra dose of protein? Add whey protein to a smoothie, bowl of oatmeal, or sneak it into the next batch of brownies.
15. Low-fat Milk, $0.25 cents per cup, about $4 per gallon : Got milk? One calcium-filled glass can help keep teeth strong and even help keep off those excess pounds. Add a splash to a fruit smoothie, or enjoy in a bowl of oats or cereal.
16. Low-fat Yogurt, about $1 per 6 oz cup : Skip the bagel and pick up a quick treat that’s filled with protein and calcium! Enjoy for breakfast with some granola, or as a post-workout snack. Just beware of flavors loaded with extra sugar. Extra points for choosing superfood Greek yogurt — though it can be more expensive, so waiting for it to go on sale is a smart move!
17. Low-fat Cottage cheese, $0.88 per 1/2 cup serving, about $3.50 per 16 oz container: It’s time to put looks aside. This clumpy, mild cheese is surprisingly high in protein, and tastes great in both sweet and savory dishes. Top with sliced pineapple and berries for a sweet protein-packed treat, or make it savory in a low-fat creamy pasta sauce.
18. Whole-grain Pasta, $0.37 cents per ½ cup serving, about $3 per box: Move over white stuff; the whole-wheat version of pasta is full of fiber, antioxidants, and protein, and may help lower risk of heart disease. Enjoy its nutty flavor with stir-fried veggies and hearty marinara sauce.
19. Brown Rice, $0.18 per ¼ cup serving, about $2 per pound : Listen to our manifesto: Choose brown rice over white (especially at Chipotle). The whole-grain version is full o’ fiber and may cut the risk of diabetes.
20. Popcorn, $0.30 per ½ cup serving, about $1 per pound for plain kernels: Snack attack? Pick a low calorie snack that’s also a good source of fiber. Pop kernels in the kitchen and add spices. Movie theater popcorn ain’t got nothin’ on this!
21. Quinoa, $0.60 per ¼ cup serving, about $4 per box : It may be hard to pronounce (that’s keen-wah), but it’s easy to prepare and packs a nutritious punch. Filled with protein and fiber, this superfood also contains nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce on their own.
22. Grapes, $0.75 per 1 cup serving, about $1.50 per pound : These sweet little treats are high in antioxidants, which may help reduce cholesterol. They’re a perfect snack when that sweet tooth rolls in; freeze them for a fresh alternative for popsicles!
23. Apples, about $0.50 to $0.75 per apple (depending on variety): It’ll keep the doctor away, so grab this superfood for a serving of vitamin C and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Snack with almond butter or add to a sandwich.
24. Bananas, $0.20 to $0.50 per banana, about $0.60 per pound or $2 per bunch : It’s time to go bananas for… bananas. Filled with fiber and potassium, these 100-calorie “snack-packs” may even help with that hangover. Enjoy sliced with peanut butter, or impress friends with banana ice-cream!
25. Kiwi, about $0.40 per kiwi: Fun fact: Kiwi’s are actually berries and are filled with vitamin C and fiber. Slice it up in that next fruit salad or enjoy straight up with a spoon.
26. Cantaloupe, $0.50 per ½ cup serving, about $3 per small melon: C is for cantaloupe and vitamin C. Filled with antioxidants, cantaloupe is cheap and makes a perfect spring or summer treat! Feeling creative? Freeze chunks of this sweet fruit for an extra-special warm weather snack.
27. Watermelon, $0.30 per 1 cup serving, $5 per melon : This feisty superfood may have Viagra-like effects, but it’s also guaranteed to be filled with vitamin C — a cancer fighting antioxidant that helps strengthen immunity and promote bone health. Slice em up and enjoy (or make a watermelon daiquiri).
28. Pears, $0.85 each, about $1.75 per pound (depending on variety): It’s not just an apple a day that may keep the doc away; white fleshy pears may help prevent strokes. They’re also full o’ fiber. Keep things mixed up and try the Barlett, Bosc, and Anjou varieties.
29. Oranges, $0.50 each, about $1 per pound (in family-sized pack): Oranges aren’t just about their vitamin C. This citrus fruit is also filled with fiber, folate, and potassium. Skip the glass and go with the whole fruit to surpass the excess sugar and get a healthy dose of antioxidants.
30. Canned Tomatoes (Diced), $0.50 per ½ cup serving, about $1.80 per 14.8 oz can : To really get a bang for that buck, go the canned route. Canned tomatoes are perfect for homemade sauces and stews. Tomatoes also contain exceptional amounts of the antioxidant lycopene that remains in the flesh even after cooking and canning. Just keep on the lookout for cans with no sodium added.
31. Canned Pumpkin, $0.75 per ½ cup serving, about $2.50 per 15oz can : No need to go pickin’ to reap the benefits of the pumpkin patch. A pumpkin’s orange color is thanks to carotenoids, a plant pigment with powerful antioxidant properties. Head to the kitchen and whip up some pumpkin pasta sauce or even pumpkin hummus.
32. Garlic, about $0.30 per bulb: It doesn’t only put a stink to our breath. Garlic has some smarty-pants benefits, helping enhance memory. It’s also full of antioxidants to promote heart health and reduce the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s. Add to a pan of veggies or tomato sauce to spice up the flavor, or roast it in the oven for a sweeter flavor.
33. Onions, $0.18 each, about $0.59 per pound: Quit crying — onions pack a surprising nutritious punch, including a hefty dose of antioxidants. Sautée and add to an omelet, or stack on a sandwich for extra flavor.
34. Sweet Potatoes, $0.50 each, about $1 per pound: The white ones may be a dangerfood, but this time around, the sweet stuff is the way to go. It tips the scale with its high levels of vitamin A, contains beta-carotene (which may help prevent cancer and protect us from the sun) and also helps keep that skin silky smooth.
35. Winter Squash (Acorn, Butternut, etc.), $0.50 per ½ cup serving, about $1.50 a pound : Squash isn’t only an awesome racquet sport. It’s also a versatile veggie filled with vitamins, fiber, and potassium. Skip the bowl and roast a squash and fill with other hearty goodness!
36. Kale, $0.50 per cup (raw, chopped), about $2 per bunch : Popeye was missing out. Kale is the antioxidant king among all fruits and veggies, and contains vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium (phew!). Need another reason to eat them? Kale chips.
37. Broccoli, $0.50 per ½ cup serving, $2 per bunch : Need another reason to go green? Broccoli has remarkably high levels of folate and vitamin C, which may help reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.
38. Beets, $0.35 each, about $1 per pound : These purple gems are filled with betalains, which may help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases  . They are also packed with folate, fiber, and vitamins galore, making them one of the best health bargains around. Chop em, roast em, or add to a berry smoothie!
39. Spinach, $0.50 per cup (raw), about $2 per bunch: These unassuming greens are unbeleafable. They’re nutrient dense with vitamin A, K, andcalcium. Try sautéing them with mushrooms or subbing for iceberg in the next lunchtime salad.
40. Carrots, $0.50 each, about $2 per pound: Those rabbits are on to something. Carrots provide a nutritious crunch with their fill of vitamin A. They’re perfect for dipping into hummus, or taste great roasted with other root veggies and a drizzle of olive oil.
41. Edamame, $0.50 per ½ cup serving, $3 per 10oz package (frozen) : This star legume is filled with fiber and protein and makes a great afternoon snack. Skip the chips and enjoy with a touch of salt for a quick, nutritious treat.
42. Coffee, $0.40 per 16 oz cup (brewed), about $10 per pound: Not only is it amazing for you, but brewing coffee at home can save some real dolla dolla bills. This morning pick-me-up also contains antioxidants to help protect the heart, and is a great pre-workout fuel to help increase endurance. Not thirsty? This kitchen staple doubles as the key ingredient for a variety of other household chores, too!
43. Tea, $0.10 per tea bag, about $5 a box (varies based on type) : The varying health benefits of tea are a-plenty, ranging from their antioxidant powers to helping maintain a healthy weight. Skip the sugary stuff and try brewing iced-tea at home, and opt for green if looking to maximize antioxidant intake.
44. Water, free. (Well, kind of) : Head to the nearest faucet — our bodies depend on it. Water keeps us hydrated (shocking), flushes out toxins in the body, and helps when trying to lose a few pesky pounds.