Following a healthy diet can be a challenge. It’s hard to know what to eat. How do you choose among all of the vegetables, fruits, dairy, and whole-grain products at the grocery store? What’s the best way to cut out extra sugar, fat, and sodium? And how do you afford to eat healthy? Anyone who’s walked into a Whole Foods or health-food store knows healthy foods can get expensive.
Fortunately, you can find many cheap, nutritious foods — at least if you know where to look. Read on to check out some of our favorite healthy foods you can buy for less than $1 nationwide.
1. Greek yogurt
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s national dairy report, Greek yogurt costs an average of $0.98 for a 4- to 6-ounce container. Even cheaper? Regular yogurt, which averages just $0.53 for that same 4- to 6-ounce pack. Either way, yogurt makes a healthy but delicious food to eat at breakfast or for a snack. Greek yogurt, specifically, packs a lot of protein. And you can even cook with yogurt by using it in sauces or in place of fats in baked goods.
The USDA reports a dozen large, Grade A white eggs costs an average of $0.89. At that price, everybody should keep eggs in their refrigerator. They come in handy for making breakfast and brunch. Plus, boiled or poached eggs make appearances in many delicious recipes, such as ramen (not the kind that comes in a Styrofoam cup). Eggs fill you up and can help you lose weight.
3. Kidney beans
According to USDA data, canned kidney beans cost an average of $0.90 per pound. At that price, you’ll want to start cooking with these nutritious beans more often. Like other beans, they can help lower your cholesterol. And when you combine them with a whole grain, such as brown rice, they act as an almost fat-free source of protein. Need some help figuring out how to cook with them? Try these easy recipes that use both rice and beans.
4. Pinto beans
Another budget-friendly, but healthy legume to add to your grocery cart? Pinto beans. The USDA reports canned pinto beans cost an average of $0.87 per pound. These beans offer a low-fat source of protein and provide you with nutrients, such as iron and potassium. For ideas on incorporating pinto beans (and other beans) into your cooking, check out these delicious recipes.
According to USDA data from early 2017, bananas cost an average of $0.49 per pound. (If you want organic bananas, they’ll cost you about $0.70 per pound.) Bananas make a great snack, and they’re a delicious addition to a healthy breakfast. And you can always cook and bake with them, too. In fact, a few of our favorite banana-centric recipes include banana bread, banana pancakes, banana ice cream, and even banana nut butter.
The USDA reports cantaloupes cost an average of $0.98 per pound. These large melons are a great source of vitamin A. They provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. You don’t have to buy organic cantaloupes to stay safe from pesticides. Just make sure you thoroughly clean and scrub your cantaloupe before cutting it up because this fruit can transmit bacteria and cause foodborne illness.
7. Red grapefruit
According to the USDA, red grapefruit cost an average of $0.90 per pound. In addition to boasting a low price tag, grapefruits also land on the list of fruits that can help prevent disease. If you don’t love grapefruit but don’t mind hybrid citrus, try the tangelo instead. According to the USDA, tangelos — which are a hybrid of tangerines and grapefruits — cost an average $0.99 per pound.
The USDA reports honeydew cost an average of $0.74 per pound. Honeydew, like many other fruits that have a high water content, can help you feel full while consuming only a small number of calories. They also provide important nutrients, such as potassium and vitamin C. A low-calorie fruit like honeydew can make a great snack or dessert because it tastes sweet but doesn’t come with all the drawbacks of processed sweets.
According to the USDA, kiwi cost an average of $0.34 per pound. You don’t need to bother buying organic kiwis because their thick skin protects the inside of the fruit from becoming contaminated with pesticides. The kiwi lands near the top of our list of fruits that offer even more health benefits than you think. They provide numerous vitamins and nutrients but are low in calories. And interestingly enough, kiwis might be able to help you get a better night’s sleep.
The USDA reports limes cost an average of $0.75 per pound. Most of us know limes play an important part in numerous cocktails. And we definitely won’t discourage you from the occasional indulgence in that department. But if you stock up at the grocery store, you can also use limes to make salsa, guacamole, and hot sauce. Plus, you can make a delicious lime vinaigrette for your salads.
Although mangoes don’t cost $1 or less by the pound, you can buy one mango for less than $1. The USDA reports they cost an average of $0.98 each. Mangoes have a lot of fiber, which means the sugar they contain gets absorbed more slowly than the sugar in other kinds of fruits. And you don’t need to buy organic mangoes either, so save your money. Another tropical fruit to try out? Papayas. According to the USDA, papayas cost an average of $0.78 per pound.
12. Navel oranges
Similarly, a pound of navel oranges will cost more than $1, but a single navel orange costs an average of just $0.66, which makes it an affordable, healthy snack or dessert. (An organic navel orange will cost you an average of $0.89 if you want to splurge.) Oranges famously provide high amounts of vitamin C. They also have fiber and potassium. And nutritionists recommend consuming oranges to protect against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
The USDA reports pineapples cost an average of $0.74 per pound. Fresh pineapple makes a delicious breakfast or snack. But you can also get creative with pineapple if you bought a particularly large one at the grocery store. These delicious recipes put pineapple in oatmeal, muffins, salads, casserole, and even salsa.
The USDA reports watermelons cost an average of $0.59 per pound. Watermelon might be a summer favorite. But you should think about eating this fruit on occasions beyond your yearly cookouts. Watermelons provide a variety of important nutrients. Although watermelon consists mostly of water, it also contains vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, lycopene, and antioxidants. You can even use watermelon in a variety of savory recipes to try something new for dinner.
15. White onions
According to the USDA, white onions cost an average of $0.57 per pound. Onions contain fiber and folic acid, and they are easy to incorporate into just about anything you want to cook. You can add onions to all of your favorite comfort foods, too. (Think six-onion pieces, onion and Brussels sprouts gratin, and honey-roasted Vidalia onions.)
16. Red potatoes
The USDA reports red potatoes cost an average of $0.82 per pound. Although you can choose from many kinds of potatoes at the grocery store, red potatoes make a great choice — and not only because of their low price per pound. Because people tend to eat the skins of red potatoes, they provide higher amounts of fiber, B vitamins, potassium, and iron than other kinds of potatoes.
17. Russet potatoes
According to the USDA, russet potatoes cost an average of $0.74 per pound. Although many nutritionists might encourage you to reach for red potatoes, russet potatoes aren’t unhealthy — so long as you don’t cover them with high-calorie and high-fat toppings, such as sour cream or butter. Russet potatoes provide both protein and fiber, as well as carbohydrates. And if you stick to healthy potato recipes, russet potatoes make a great pantry staple.
The USDA reports beets cost an average of $0.52 per pound. Plenty of people hate beets. But if you don’t mind the taste, you should stock up at the grocery store. Beets provide essential vitamins and minerals. And they can act as the centerpiece for numerous nutritious meals, such as roasted beet and garlic pasta or beet pesto pizza.
19. Bok choy
According to the USDA, bok choy costs an average of $0.51 per pound. Bok choy, which some people refer to as Chinese cabbage, is a cruciferous vegetable. That puts it in the company of other nutritious, more expensive veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips. Bok choy is the perfect ingredient to add to these simple stir-fry dishes, which make easy dinners to get on your family’s dinner table.
The USDA reports cabbage costs an average of $0.48 per pound. Cabbage, another cruciferous vegetable, makes an inexpensive addition to your grocery cart. And you don’t need to forego cabbage just because you aren’t sure how to incorporate it into your meals. These cabbage recipes will help you find some new uses for the budget-friendly vegetable.
According to the USDA, carrots cost an average $0.39 per pound. This root vegetable most commonly comes in orange. But you can also find purple, white, yellow, black, and red carrots. They all contain beta-carotene and vitamin K, plus antioxidants and potassium. In fact, carrots make the list of vegetables that are even healthier than you think. This root vegetable makes a great snack all on its own. Or you can incorporate them into your lunches or dinners.
The USDA reports an ear of sweet corn will cost you an average of $0.43 each. Sweet corn is actually a pretty healthy food. It provides you with antioxidants and beneficial phytochemicals. But the reason why some people think it has a bad reputation? The toppings that some of us tend to add to a fresh ear of corn. Steer clear of the butter and salt if you want to keep corn healthy. And check out these recipes for some fun ways to use your stash of sweet corn.
According to the USDA, cucumbers cost an average of $0.69 per pound. (Just make sure you don’t accidentally grab the zucchini. Zucchini costs an average of $1.30 per pound, almost twice as much as cucumber.) Cucumbers make a great addition to your salads because they support heart health, provide you with important anti-inflammatories, and can even relieve pain.
Although kale might not come in under $1 per pound, you can definitely buy a bunch of kale for less than $1. According to the USDA, kale costs an average of $0.74 per bunch. Kale might have a bit of a bad reputation, at least in certain circles, thanks to its almost-bitter taste and the fanaticism surrounding it. But if you can deal with the taste of kale, you might as well add it to your grocery cart — and try these delicious recipes that use kale.
25. Swiss chard
Similarly, the USDA reports you can buy Swiss chard for an average of $0.79 per bunch. The produce section offers many other kinds of greens with which you might be more familiar. But give Swiss chard a chance. It provides large amounts of vitamin A and vitamin K. Plus, this leafy green is actually more nutrient-rich than kale.
26. Green bell peppers
According to the USDA, a single green bell pepper will cost you an average of $0.78. (These peppers will run you about $1.25 per pound.) Bell peppers make delicious additions to salads. But you can find plenty of other ways to use them, too. Stuffed peppers, for instance, make a quick but easily customizable dinner. And if you opt for green peppers instead of pricier red, yellow, or orange varieties, they’ll be pretty budget-friendly, too.
27. Acorn squash
The USDA reports acorn squash costs an average of $0.90 per pound. Want to know some other kinds of squash you can buy for less than $1 per pound? Look for butternut squash, grey squash, and spaghetti squash. Acorn squash and those other kinds of winter squash all offer important health benefits. Plus, they’re easy to incorporate into delicious fall recipes.
28. Sweet potatoes
According to the USDA, sweet potatoes cost an average of $0.71 per pound. Sweet potatoes provide you with important nutrients, such as vitamin A and vitamin C. They also deserve a place in your kitchen because they’re so easy to cook with and versatile enough to make appearances in a variety of dishes. Check out these delicious recipes, which all star sweet potatoes.