Thanks to reader suggestions, we created a second list of cheap and healthy foods to buy. (Here’s the original cheapest and healthiest foods post…). Between these two lists, there is definitely enough variety to eat well and not break the bank.
UPDATE: Due to concerns about mercury in all types of canned tuna, we removed it and replaced it with milk.
At about $2 per dozen (not much more for organic), they’re a great source of protein, vitamin D and other nutrients. And they’re not the “baddies” they’ve been made out to be. Even if you have heart disease or diabetes, 4 eggs per week (including eggs in baked and cooked foods) is considered safe.
With only 42 calories and costing around 50 cents per fruit (including organic…but non-organic is on the safe list) https://yofreesamples.com/money-saving-blog/buy-organic-skip/, you’ll get 100% of your daily vitamin A requirements. Great for snacks, added to salads, sliced in frozen juice pops or in smoothies.
Everyone knows oranges are full of vitamin C but they have a mix of antioxidant nutrients and one will provide 12% of your daily fiber requirements. They’ll cost about $1 per pound (a bit more for organic). Stick with grown in USA or organic if grown in other countries. Besides a good snack choice, you can slice and add to salads or try grilling or broiling for a change of pace dessert.
A great source of calcium and vitamin D, 2% and whole cost about $3.50 per gallon – and often less if you buy store brands. Skimmed milk is often cheaper, but it’s best to have a little fat in your dairy as it helps with the absorption of vitamin D. Two tricks – buy the cheaper skimmed and add some half and half or cream (look for long lasting one quart containers) and if you’re concerned about the fat in whole milk, water it down!
The problem with pasta is that it’s easy to eat too much so watch the portion size. One serving is 2 ounces dry/one cup cooked– not a lot but enough to provide protein, B vitamins and lots of micro nutrients. If you pick whole wheat or blended varieties, you can add a fiber boost. Stretch pasta by adding vegetables and tossing with a little Parmesan cheese. Expect to pay about $1.50 per pound – less for store brands.
Whether you eat this for breakfast, as a snack or use for sauces and marinades, yogurt is a great way to keep your digestive track healthy since they’re full of probiotics (good bacteria for your body). Greek versions (tangier and smoother) have more protein and less carbs or low/no fat varieties. Watch out for flavored or “fruit at the bottom” versions which can have a lot of sugar. Add your own toppings instead.
My favorite food, potatoes are high in vitamin C and potassium. Plus eating the skin provides a shot of fiber so cook them skin and all! Russet potatoes are usually the cheapest of potato varieties and they’re best for baking, or course, and mashing (don’t add butter when mashing – you’re going to add that later anyway…). Regular and organic (better choice!) potatoes both cost about the same – $1-$2 per pound.
With meat prices skyrocketing, chicken remains a good value if you buy it whole or pick chicken legs. Both are still under $2 per pound for traditionally raised chicken with organic double the price. The good news is that all chickens are now raised without hormones. And choose antibiotic-free and/or air chilled (no water added) if you can’t swing for organic.
Usually less than $2 per pound, brown rice contains anti-oxidants plus it has more fiber than white rice. And paired with beans, you’ve got a complete protein. But keep portion size in mind since rice has a lot of carbohydrates. It’s best as a side dish (one cup) or to mix with meats, veggies or vegetable sauces.
A great snack food, popcorn is full of fiber and low in calories if you skip the butter or sugary toppings. If you’re concerned about the type of corn, pick organic, non-GMO kernels – about $3 – $4 for 28 ounces compared to traditionally grown corn which costs much less (especially if you buy in bulk). Make it in the microwave (shake 1/4 cup of kernels with 1 teaspoon oil in paper lunch bag then tightly fold the top and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes on high).
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