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28 Healthy Foods That Won’t Mess Up Your Budget

Medical Health

Here’s an unpopular opinion: Eating healthy can be tasty and inexpensive. There’s a myth floating around that healthy eating is inherently expensive, but that’s not always the case. In fact, there’s a host of healthy goods you can buy that keep both your wallet and your body healthy and happy.

We compiled a list of our favorite budget-friendly healthy food items to inspire your next grocery run. Remember to bring a grocery list to the store with you to prevent your cravings from calling the shots.

To create a balanced meal, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with whole-grains, and a quarter with a lean protein. Look for food that is rich in vitamins and minerals, high in fiber, and has a low glycemic index, like these...

Produce

1. Sweet potatoes

Health Benefits: Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. They are also rich in many vitamins and minerals.

Tasty Tip: Heat coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. Dice the sweet potatoes and toss them in the pan with a sprinkle of salt. Cook until crispy edges form and sweet potatoes are cooked through.  

Average price: $1.13 per pound

2. Bananas

Health Benefits: Bananas are rich in potassium and vitamin C, plus, they aid in digestion. Did you know that bananas are both a fruit and an herb?

Tasty Tip: Slice bananas and freeze with almond butter drizzled on top.

Average price: $0.57 per pound

3. Apples

Health Benefits: Apples are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. Apples also contain fiber that helps promote healthy digestion!

Tasty Tip: Slice apples and spread on peanut butter and a sprinkle of low-sugar granola.

Average price: $1.32 per pound

4. Cucumbers

Health Benefits: This low carb fruit is high in vitamin K and vitamin C. Cucumbers also contain potassium, manganese, magnesium, and calcium.

Tasty Tip: Dice cucumbers, add a splash of lime juice, and sprinkle with Tajin.

Average price: $0.50 per pound

 5. Golden Beets

Health Benefits: Golden beets are heart healthy (they help lower blood pressure), high in antioxidants, and great for your kidneys. Beets are beneficial for those with anemia.

Tasty Tip: Toss some diced golden beets on top of a salad with rotisserie chicken and a citrus based dressing.

Average price: $1.92 per pound

6. Squash

Health Benefits: Squash contains lots of vitamins! Squash are rich in vitamin A, B6, and C. Squash also contain folate, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese (good for strengthening your bones and processing fats and carbs).

Tasty Tip: Sauté squash with a little oil and salt in a skillet over medium heat.

Average price: $0.89 per pound

7. Carrots

Health Benefits: Carrots are high in beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium and antioxidants. Carrots may help improve eye health and help lower cholesterol.

Tasty Tip: Carrots aren’t just a good savory food, but a flavorful addition to zucchini muffins and cupcakes.

Average price: $1.00 per pound

8. Spinach/Kale

Health Benefits: These leafy greens contain a great source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant compounds.

Tasty Tip: For a healthy twist on your typical salad dressing, try adding lemon juice, hummus and pesto to your greens with some protein on top.  

Average price: $1.50 per pound

Refrigerated Items

9. Greek Yogurt

Health Benefits: Greek yogurt is a great way to start your morning packed with protein and probiotics. Notable nutrients include vitamin B12 and potassium.

Tasty Tip: Add berries, low-sugar granola, and honey for a little flare.

Average price: $0.49 per 4-6oz. serving

10.  Cottage Cheese

Health Benefits: Similar to Greek Yogurt, cottage cheese is a great source of dairy with protein. It helps regulate blood sugar and digestion. Plus, cottage cheese is a heart healthy food that aids in digestion and boosts weight loss.

Tasty Tip: Add fruit and honey.

Average price: $7.00 per pound (That’s a lot of honey!)

11.  Eggs

Health Benefits: Eggs are one of the cheapest sources of protein and they’re low in calories! They’re versatile, which is one reason they’re a popular staple. You can eat them anytime of day. Eggs contain vitamins B2, B6, B12, and D. They also contain zinc, iron, and copper minerals.

Tasty Tip: If you want to add some variety to your eggs, try sautéing spinach with cherry tomatoes, then crack eggs on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. For an extra kick sprinkle some feta cheese in the scramble while the eggs are cooking.  

Average price: $1.54 per dozen

12.  Hummus

Health Benefits: This plant-based protein helps promote digestion. Hummus is said to be anti-inflammatory and have a low glycemic index, which helps regulate your blood glucose levels.

Tasty Tip: Hummus is amazing with carrots, chips, cucumbers…almost everything!

Average price: $2.99 per cup

Meats/Vegetarian Options

13.  Pork Tenderloin

Health Benefits: Tenderloin is a lean cut of pork making it one of the healthiest cuts of meat. Pork tenderloin is high in protein, phosphorus, vitamin B6, potassium, niacin, and zinc.

Tasty Tip: Place meat in a crock pot and drizzle ½ - ¾ of a jar of Salt Lick BBQ sauce on top with a chopped yellow onion. Cook for 8 hours on low or until meat shreds easily. Take two forks and shred the meat and serve on a bun.  

Average price: $2.99 per pound

14.  Ground Beef

Health Benefits: Ground beef contains high levels of iron, magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, and protein. Make sure to pick a lean beef!

Tasty Tip: Ground beef is versatile and can be made into taco salad, soup, or taco bowls! Another healthy option is to make spaghetti squash and put ground beef on top.

Average price: $4.05 per pound

15.  Tofu

Health Benefits: For our vegetarian friends, Tofu is a great source of protein and it contains all nine amino acids. Tofu is also rich in many vitamins and minerals.

Tasty Tip: Cook your tofu to your liking and make a grain bowl with brown rice and edamame.

Average price: $2.00 per pound

Frozen Items

*Contrary to popular belief, frozen food is healthy and often contains more nutrients than fresh produce. Frozen foods preserve the nutrients right away, whereas fresh produce sits for longer and loses nutrients.

16.  Chicken Breasts

Health Benefits:  Chicken is high in protein and vitamin B6. Chicken contains lower amounts of cholesterol, sodium, and fats than red meat.

Tasty Tip: Place 6 frozen chicken breasts in the crock pot. Add a large jar of Pace Picante salsa and packet of taco seasoning. Cook on low for 8 hours and shred chicken with forks when done.

Average price: $1.571 per pound

17.  Vegetables

Health Benefits: Vegetables are crucial to a healthy diet. They are rich in vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, and folate.
a. Broccoli/Cauliflower ($1.69 per pound)

Tasty Tip:  Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice on top of broccoli and bake until crispy (approx. 30-45 minutes).

b. Vegetable medleys (Price varies pretty widely)

c. Edamame ($10 per pound, which goes a long way)

d. Brussels Sprouts – drizzle olive oil, balsamic glaze, chopped purple onions, salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 450* until crispy. ($2.92 per pound)

Tasty Tip: Grain bowls are delicious, healthy, and combine many of the items on this list. Combine sweet potatoes, edamame, brown rice, chicken/pork/tofu, brussels sprouts, white wine vinegar, and cilantro.

18.  Fruit

Health Benefits: rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory! Berries are a natural source of sugar and can help satisfy your sweet tooth.

a. Blueberries – a great substitute if you’re craving something sweet. Grab a cup of frozen blueberries and drizzle milk on top. It is so yummy! ($2.29 per pound)
b. Strawberries ­– great for smoothies with banana, blueberries, and cold water. ($2.49 per pound)

Canned/Dried Items

19.  Canned Fish

Health Benefits: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, high in protein, and low in fat and calories.

a. Salmon ($1.88 per can)

Tasty Tip:  Eat it with crackers. You can also mix a can of salmon into mashed sweet potatoes.

b. Tuna ($0.82 per can)

 Tasty Tip: Try whole-grain pasta with arugula, canned tuna, and a creamy garlic sauce.

c. Sardines ($0.99 per can)

Tasty Tip: Toss sardines on top of a salad and eat it quick!

20.  Beans

Health Benefits: Beans are a legume that is rich in amino acids (the building block of protein). Beans also contain fiber, iron, and vitamins. They also help regulate blood glucose levels.

Tasty Tip: Beans are a tasty, high fiber addition to garin bowls! They come pre-cooked so heat them up on the stove for a few minute and season them with salt and a splash of black pepper.

Average price: $0.48 per pound

21.  Popcorn

Health Benefits: This snack is low calorie, high in fiber, and contains antioxidants to help with blood circulation and digestion.  

Tasty Tip: Air Pop popcorn and sprinkle with salt and Tajin.

Average price: $2.98 per 2lb bag of kernels

22.  Oatmeal

Health Benefits: Oats help lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar. They contain fiber and protein which helps you feel full longer.

Tasty Tip: For breakfast try adding fruit and almond butter. For dessert add a spoonful of Nutella.

Average price: $3.99 per 3lbs of oatmeal

23.  Peanut Butter/Almond Butter

Health Benefits: High in protein, contains healthy fats, low in carbs and contains vitamins and minerals.

Average price: $5.44 per 3lbs

24.  Whole-Grain Pasta

Health Benefits: Contains fewer calories than refined pasta. It also has a higher fiber content and contains manganese, selenium, copper, and phosphorous.  

Tasty Tip: Serve pasta with a side of mushrooms and chickpeas in Thai peanut sauce.

Average price: $1.28 per pound

25.  Rice Cakes

Health Benefits: This low-calorie snack is cheap and requires little prep time.

Tasty Tip: Try adding peanut butter and fruit for protein and nutrients.

Average price: $8.43 per pound

26.  Quinoa

Health Benefits: Not only does quinoa contain protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and other nutrients, it contains the plant compounds quercetin and kaempferol which are said to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer, and anti-depressant effects.

Tasty Tip: Try making a bowl with quinoa, beans, edamame, chicken, kale, and hummus.

Average price: $7.50 per pound  

27.  Lentils

Health Benefits: Lentils are high in fiber, folic acid, and potassium. Lentils also contain polyphenols which fight against harmful agents that may cause cancer or diabetes.

Tasty Tip: Lentils are a great addition to your salad or soup.

Average price: $4.58 per pound

28.  Whole-Grain Bread

Health Benefits: Whole-grains are good for your heart and help reduce risk of diabetes. Whole-grain bread is packed with nutrients including vitamins B and C.

Average price: $1.48 per loaf


Pro-Tip: Water is the bedrock of great nutrition and it’s one of the cheapest items on your grocery list! Your cells, organs, and tissue require water to function properly, and it helps you digest all of the amazing foods you’ll eat. The average woman needs 2.7 liters of water every day, so get a filter to make your tap water more drinkable or fill up on filtered water next time you go to the grocery store.

We know not everyone likes to eat everything—so we hope there are a few items in each category you enjoy eating!

Bon appetit, friends!

Written by:
Madeline Adams

Mattie was born and raised in Austin, Texas and is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. She is an executive assistant and operations manager at The Source. She finds joy in helping women and youth pursue their passions to live a healthy lifestyle. In her free time, Mattie is probably spending time with friends, coaching cheer at the high school she graduated from, taking photos, or playing outside.

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