Consumers know that there is a price to pay for eating healthy. Prices on organic foods, and healthier options in general, tend to be higher than prices on processed foods with low nutritional value. Certain health foods, however, aren’t going to break the bank. In addition to money-saving strategies like buying in bulk, avoiding restaurants, and growing your own garden, there are ways to cut costs simply with the foods you choose to purchase.
If you aren’t picky, opting for the produce items currently on sale at the grocery store is a great cost-saving measure. Frozen fruits and vegetables can also be the cheaper option in some cases. Certain food items are less expensive out of the can, but many shoppers prefer to buy fresh when possible. Plus you might be surprised at how many fruits and vegetables are actually cheapest when bought fresh.
Be wary of conveniently wrapped items like bagged lettuce, which comes with a significant upcharge and often does not retain its freshness as long as a full head of lettuce. At some stores or farmer’s markets, you can save money by buying seconds or bruised produce, which can be either eaten soon after purchase or frozen for soups or smoothies.
Shoppers with all types of budgets can appreciate a wholesome bargain. Exact prices, of course, depend on the store and the region, but no matter where you shop, the following foods tend to be a great deal when you consider their nutritional value. If you add these 10 foods to your grocery list, your money will go further in terms of your shopping budget, as well as your health.
The average prices listed below were gathered from various sources, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS). Nutritional information was provided by a variety of resources including NutritionData.com. If you’re concerned that prices may rise significantly when buying organic, don’t worry. There are easy ways to buy organic foods on a budget, such as assessing which foods are most important to buy organic based on pesticide use and other agricultural practices.
Here are 10 nutritious foods that will save you money.
Average price: $0.58 per pound, $0.25 per cup
Health benefits: Cabbage is one of the cheapest vegetables you can buy, and it’s also chock full of nutrients. It’s a good source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and like other cruciferous vegetables, it’s thought to help lower cancer risk.
Suggestions: Not sure how to prepare cabbage? Try these seven delicious cabbage recipes like white beans and cabbage, a budget-friendly dish that incorporates two of our low-cost nutritious foods.
Average price: $2.09 per dozen
Health benefits: One egg has 6 grams of protein, making it a fast and easy choice when you need a protein boost. Eggs are incredibly useful ingredients in a variety of cuisines. Some stick to egg whites to help lower cholesterol, but eggs yolks contain B vitamin choline, which aids in brain development.
Suggestions: Eggs aren’t just a great breakfast food. Here are seven creative ways to incorporate eggs into your dinner dish, such as quiche or miso soup.
3. Dried beans
Average price: $1.48 per pound
Health benefits: A half cup of beans provides as much protein as an ounce of meat, without the saturated fat. This protein powerhouse is also packed with fiber. While dried beans and lentils will save you the most money, canned beans are fairly inexpensive as well and can be more convenient for last-minute meals.
Suggestions: If you love beans but you’re running out of ideas for preparation, try making homemade black bean burgers, mussel and white bean stew, or these other simple recipes to turn plain beans into outstanding meals.
Average price: $0.57 per pound, $0.29 per cup
Health benefits: Bananas are known for being full of potassium, but they are also a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. According to a recent study, bananas can reduce the risk of stroke in post-menopausal women.
Suggestions: Considered a great trail snack, bananas are also one of the best natural sweeteners for smoothies, yogurt, and other concoctions. Here are 28 of the best banana recipes from banana breads to sandwiches.
5. Brown rice
Average price: $1.59 per pound
Health benefits: Brown rice has been shown to lower the risk of diabetes when people make the switch from white rice, and it also has more fiber. With healthy levels of protein and manganese, it’s an easy side dish for well-balanced meals.
Suggestions: In addition to making a great stir-fry, brown rice can also be used as an ingredient in healthy whole-grain snacks, such as brown rice bars and Parmesan-rice crisps.
6. Sweet potatoes
Average price: $0.92 per pound, $0.50 per cup
Health benefits: One of the best reasons to eat sweet potatoes is for the vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene may help prevent cancer, and it protects your skin from the sun. Sweet potatoes are rich in countless other vitamins and minerals, such as potassium and vitamin C.
Suggestions: Simple baked sweet potatoes make an excellent side dish. If you want to get more creative, try these seven sweet potato recipes to make for your morning meal.
7. Plain yogurt
Average price: $2.36 per quart (32 ounces)
Health benefits: One serving of plain yogurt can have as much as 13 grams of protein, and the calcium and vitamin D may help prevent osteoporosis. Yogurt, like milk kefir, contains live and active cultures of bacteria that aid in digestion and help restore “good” bacteria to the body, which is particularly important if you are taking antibiotics.
Suggestions: Plain yogurt not only serves as a tangy sugar-free dessert, it can also be used to create affordable, homemade skin and hair products.
8. Canned tuna
Average price: $0.99 per 5-ounce can
Health benefits: Due to levels of mercury detected in canned tuna, the FDA advises pregnant women to limit their consumption of tuna to no more than 6 ounces per week. For everyone else, tuna is a cost-effective source of protein, iron, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. Make sure to buy tuna in water rather than oil, as the oil adds extra fat content.
Suggestions: If you’re bored with your usual plain tuna sandwich, try these six tasty recipes that take canned tuna up a notch. For a healthier tuna salad, use plain yogurt in place of mayonnaise.
Average price: $1.02 per pound, $0.59 per cup
Health benefits: Beets are filled with betalains, a type of antioxidant that may aid in preventing cancer and other degenerative diseases. This root vegetable also boast high levels of folate, fiber, and numerous vitamins and minerals. Another naturally sweet food, beets are as versatile as they are nutritious.
Suggestions: Beets can be served in salads, smoothies, or as a side. You can also make your own beet kvass, a vitamin-rich fermented beverage useful for digestion. The magnesium-rich beet greens are extra healthy when combined with chickpeas, providing a natural mood boost.
Average price: $3.98 per 32-ounce container
Health benefits: Oats are high in fiber and protein, low in fat, and may even help lower cholesterol. Your morning helping of oatmeal is also a great source of thiamin, magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese. Oats are a very affordable health food, especially when bought in bulk. Some prefer steel cut oats, which are generally more expensive but delicious in all their slow-cooked glory.
Suggestions: To bring new life to your breakfast bowl, try these six recipes to transform your morning oatmeal. Bananas, another nutritious and budget-friendly food, make for a naturally sweet addition to oatmeal.