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10 Cheapest & Healthiest Foods to Buy

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With prices rising, it’s nice to know that there are still some decent values at the grocery store. Even better, these foods are good for you. We selected items on the list based on average national prices (Bureau of Labor Statistics and Department of Agriculture and nutritional quality as reported on various websites.

Saving money and healthy eating!  Things don’t get much better than that.

And check out these other posts: 10 recipes using these cheap and healthy foods and 10 More Cheap and Healthy Foods.

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Bananas

Plain, mashed, in recipes, they’re always good. And because the skins are so thick, you don’t have to buy organic. They’re a great source of potassium, too.  Average price in the US – 60 cents per pound –  but you can find them cheaper in larger grocery chains. Best to eat lightly green since the starches in bananas convert to sugar as they ripen.

Beans

It’s best to buy dried beans and soak them yourself so you don’t get all the salt that’s in canned versions.  Plus dry beans are cheaper with a pound (makes 8 cups) running around $1.50.  Canned beans are still a good value with store brands costing under $1 (2 cups). Just rinse them to get rid of some of the salt.

Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes can be used in just about everything – stews, soups, pasta dishes – you name it. Depending on the brand, a 28 ounce can costs between just over a dollar to around $2. Just avoid cans lined in white (a type of plastic that can leech into the liquid) – something you’ll only find out when you open the can.  So avoid those brands once you find them.  No need to buy organic either thanks to better farming methods.

Carrots

Great raw or cooked, carrots cost a few dollars per pound. They’re even put into tomato sauce as a sweetener, though that’s what makes tomato sauce stain.  Since they’re root vegetables, best to choose organic if you’re buying fresh carrots. And skip bagged carrot “stubs” which are expensive or canned which can contain a lot of salt.  Choose frozen carrots instead.

Frozen Spinach

This is one of my favorite veggies. I throw it in soups, stuff chicken or pork chops with it and mix it up with rice.  You’ll find chopped or whole frozen spinach with store brands being the best value at around $1.50 per bag. Plus frozen spinach has less pesticide residue than fresh, traditionally grown spinach.

Lentils

These legumes don’t take long to cook and add some fiber to soups and stews.  Buy these dried since they don’t require soaking. A one pound bag of these tiny beans goes a long way and costs under $2.  Mix with a little brown rice and/or vegetables for a hearty side dish.

Oatmeal

Besides a breakfast food it’s a great topping for yogurt, fruit desserts and of course, the base of oatmeal cookies! There’s little difference nutritionally between old fashioned and one minute varieties, so pick whichever is cheaper. Prices range from $2 to $4 per canister.

Peanut Butter

Who doesn’t love peanut butter? On bread, veggies or fruit, mixed in recipes or out of the jar, it’s a perennial favorite. Use natural versions to avoid partially hydrogenated solids but even traditional versions are cutting down on those.  So pick the brand – and price – you like.  Just keep the portions in control if you’re watching y our weight since peanut butter has a high calorie count.

Peas

One cup of peas supplies a quarter of daily fiber requirements and they’re a great source of vitamin C and A. If you don’t like plain peas, throw them in soups, rice, stews or salads. Fresh peas can be pricey unless they’re in season in your area so stick with frozen peas.  They can be baked, roasted or eaten raw (after thawing, of course).

Sweet Potatoes

Mashed or roasted, sweet potatoes are full of good for you nutrients – like all the vitamin A for a day and a good dose of potassium and fiber. My favorite way to make (and eat) them is as potato chips – made in the microwave!  Prices are creeping up but you should be able to find them for about $1 per pound ($1.50 for organic).

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by on February 5th, 2013