Grocery shopping can be ridiculously expensive. But if you want to shop for healthy foods on a budget, these 50 hit the spot.
Whether you’re filling your cart for a big family or just one, this list of foods from vegetables to protein and everything in between, will guide you through the supermarket the next time you’re scratching your head for something healthy.
Each of the foods has a “nosh” add, to give you some guidance of what you can make with all these foods!
Despite the fact that most processed foods are cheap, these 50 healthy foods will find their way into your budget without a problem.
Paying for healthy food today means paying less for health care later tomorrow. Who wouldn’t want that?
Shopping for Healthy Foods on a Budget
This list of these healthy foods below is almost always more budget-friendly, but, depending on a few factors, could be slightly more or less. Here are a few examples of what affects the cost of food in a traditional grocery store.
Accessibility: If you live in a really rural area, often times the cost of food is marked up due to accessibility. The longer it takes for food to reach your destination, the more it typically costs.
Seasonality: If a food is not in season, it's likely to cost a little more. Watermelon sold in the dead of winter in Chicago, for example, is likely to cost more than if it were sold in August.
Weather: If a region of the country that produces a specific type of food is affected by drought or too much water, price will go up due to an imminent shortage. Supply and demand are always in play.
Popularity: The cost of food is often marked up due to popularity, either of an individual brand or entire category food. Usually, if you can find a lesser priced generic brand, it's well worth it as many (if not most) companies receive their products from the same suppliers.
That said, for the shelf-stable options, I really love a company called Brandless. They sell high quality healthy foods on a budget all the time (without the influence fo a brand).
The List: Healthy Foods for Your Budget
Here's the list of the 50 foods - first given in list form (short and sweet), followed by a much lengthier description of each food, the approximate cost, recipes I like, etc.
I hope you find this helpful!
- Kale - organic
- Romaine Lettuce - organic or conventional
- Cabbage - organic or conventional
- Carrots - organic or conventional
- Sweet Potatoes - organic or conventional
- Russet Potatoes - organic
- Onions - organic or conventional
- Garlic - organic or conventional
- Broccoli (frozen) - organic or conventional
- Cauliflower (frozen) - organic or conventional
- Peas (frozen) - organic or conventional
- Spinach (frozen) - organic
- Butternut Squash (frozen) - organic or conventional
- Tomatoes (canned) - organic
- Bananas - organic or conventional
- Kiwi - organic or conventional
- Strawberries (frozen) - organic
- Peaches (frozen) - organic
Budget-Friendly Dairy and Eggs
- Eggs - organic
- Plain Whole Milk or Low Fat Yogurt - organic
- Mozzarella Cheese - organic
Budget-Friendly Fats, Seeds and Oils
- Olive Oil - organic or conventional
- Peanut Butter (no sugar added) - organic
- Almonds - organic or conventional
- Sunflower Seeds - organic
- Chia Seeds- organic or conventional
- Garbanzo Beans - organic
- Black Beans - organic
- Refried Beans - organic
- Lentils - organic
Budget-Friendly Condiments, Sauces and Extras
- Marinara - organic
- Apple Cider Vinegar - organic
- Mustard - organic or conventional
- Honey - organic or conventional
- Apple Sauce - organic
- Dark Chocolate Chips
- Green Tea
- Brown Rice - organic or conventional
- Brown Rice Pasta - organic or conventional
- Corn Tortillas - organic
- Quinoa - organic or conventional
- Old Fashioned Oats - organic
- Chicken Thighs (boneless or bone-in)
- Chicken Breasts (bone-in)
- Lean Ground Turkey
- Lean Ground Beef
- Canned Tuna (non-BPA can)
- Canned Salmon (non-BPA can)
Kale - $1.49/bunch
Generally speaking, kale is great. It’s incredibly nutritious and versatile. Kale makes the top of the list of healthy foods on a budget because it can be added to smoothies, soups or as a base to a delicious salad. You can also make your own kale chips by simply chopping a bunch of kale into large chunks, then tossing with a little olive oil and sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 - 12 minutes and you’re set!
Nosh on this: Soups, salads, casseroles, smoothies or DIY kale chips.
Romaine Lettuce - $1.99/head
Romaine lettuce has taken a backseat to other leafy greens, like spinach and kale, but it’s still just as nutrient-dense. Romaine is a great source of folate, vitamin A and vitamin K. The thing I like best about this lettuce is how hearty it is. It doesn’t wilt easy, which makes it perfect for a make-ahead salad to eat in the office or on-the-go hours later.
Buy the full head of romaine, not the pre-chopped variety. You’ll get more for your dollar!
Nosh on this: Salads, from Caesar to chopped and everything in between.
Cabbage - $1.49/head
Red or green, cabbage is absolutely loaded with nutrition that is hard to find in most foods. An excellent source of nutrition, cabbage is part of the cruciferous vegetable clan, claiming detoxification and anticancer rights. Cabbage is really special because it contains a nutrient called sinigrin. Sinigrin has extremely strong anticancer properties, especially as it affects, colon, prostate and liver cancer.
Nosh on this: Salads, stir fries, sautees, soups and stews.
Incredibly affordable and convenient, carrots are a perfect go-to cooked or raw. Carrots are a great source of fiber and nutrients. Carrots have also been shown to have a positive effect on eye disease, thanks to the nutrients zeaxanthin and lutein. While baby carrots are super convenient, I prefer the taste of whole carrots. It only takes a couple minutes to peel and chop a one pound bag...and you’ll save some money along the way.
Sweet Potatoes: $0.99/each
Aside from all the nutrients in sweet potatoes, from beta carotene to vitamin A, sweet potatoes are lower on the glycemic index, and have a more positive effect on blood sugar- especially paired with a healthy fat, like olive oil. It’s not uncommon for just one sweet potato to serve two to three one-cup servings.
Cost and size of this tuber contribute to how it earns rank on the list of 50 healthy foods on a budget.
Nosh on this: sweet potato fries, baked sweet potatoes, sweet potato brownies,
Russet Potatoes: $0.50/each
White potatoes, including the Russet, often get a bad rap as being a “bad for you” food. That’s not necessarily the case. French fries and potato chips are definitely not a health food, but the hearty Russet, whether baked or even boiled, can be very healthy and affordable. They key is what you do with the potato after you buy it.
Potatoes are a great starch that provide a lot of energy, and act as a thickener for soups and stews. With the peel, they’re a good source of fiber and B6. Careful though! Unlike sweet potatoes, russet potatoes are doused in pesticides, so be sure to buy organic.
Nosh on this: baked potato slices or mashed potatoes
Every kitchen should be equipped with onions - red, yellow or white. The flavor, the fiber, the affordability...and the nutrition! Onions are a powerhouse of nutrients raw and cooked. One medium onion weighs in at about 44 calories and possess great detoxifying, antibacterial and cancer-fighting protection.
If you have high bad cholesterol (LDL) or high systolic blood pressure, you might find it interesting that research has shown that a nutrient prominent in onions called quercetin helps to lower both of these.(3)
From the same family as onions, garlic is equally healthy and even more affordable. Garlic can be stored in a cool dark place for up to a couple months and still possess the same nutrition benefits. Garlic has been shown to help fight infections - from stomach viruses to yeast infections, and even provide some level of protection from cancer.
Nosh on this: add garlic to sauces, soups, salad dressings or this delicious Cleansing Broccoli Slaw.
Broccoli (frozen): $2.79/16 oz bag
This low-calorie, high fiber vegetable is versatile in so many recipes, from breakfast through dinner. It’s easy to find and is extremely affordable. At about five servings per bag, one serving is just over 50 cents!
Broccoli is rich in vitamins A, C and K, as well as the nutrients potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Broccoli has also shown great anticancer promise, especially when it’s lightly steamed, thanks to an enzyme called myrosinase, among other compounds. (5)
Nosh on this: toss into soups and salads, add to your favorite omelet, or serve as a side sprinkled with a little olive oil.
Cauliflower (frozen): $1.99/16 oz bag
A close cousin to broccoli, cauliflower comes from the same family of foods, and possesses equally impressive health benefits. It’s also high in fiber, and quite filling, making it a great companion for anyone who needs to shed a few pounds.
A good source of vitamins K, C and B vitamins, frozen cauliflower - and all of its benefits - can be added to meals and even snacks. My favorite is to add ½ cup to smoothies for my kids. It’s an easy way to add nutrition without any difference in flavor.
Nosh on this: blend into smoothies, mash them up with potatoes, sprinkle with olive oil and roast until golden brown.
Peas (frozen): $2.29/16 oz bag
Peas are often overlooked as a go-to vegetable beyond a child’s plate, but these little green pods are a good source of protein, fiber, B vitamins and iron, to name a few.
At just under 60 calories for a half-cup serving, peas add great flavor and a touch of sweetness when added to just about any savory meal.
Nosh on this: sprinkle a handful onto salads, saute with mushrooms and onions, fold into your favorite omelet.
Spinach (frozen): $2.29/16 oz bag
This leafy green vegetable is one of the most versatile to cook with and has numerous health benefits. Spinach is full of vitamins K, A, B and C plus folate, magnesium, iron and calcium. It also has just 7 calories per cup (raw).
Because this superfood is so rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it may also help to reduce your risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Spinach also has been shown to improve your skin, bone and digestion.
Nosh on this: Add to omelets, use in a salad with walnuts and fresh strawberries or throw it in a stir fry.
Butternut Squash (frozen): $2.99/16 oz bag
Butternut squash, or winter squash, is harvested in the winter but can be enjoyed year long. What makes this vegetable unique is that it can be cooked into savory or sweet dishes.
One cup of cooked squash comes in at around 80 calories with an incredible 6.6g of fiber. It also has vitamin C and A, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and folate. In addition to being low-calorie, winter squash is also on the low end of the glycemic index. This means it’s both both filling and easy on the waistline.
Nosh on this: Turn it into spaghetti squash or a flavorful soup, or stuff it with quinoa and other seasonal vegetables.
Tomatoes (canned): $1.49/14.5 oz can
Did you know that ½ cup of tomatoes equals 20% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C? Tomatoes are ripe in not only vitamin C, but they also have fiber, potassium, choline and folate. They’re one of the most commonly purchased vegetables-and for good reason. Tomatoes may help prevent cancer, lower blood pressure, manage diabetes and even improve eye health.
When choosing the canned version, keep it stored in a cool, dry place. Also, when grocery shopping, be on the lookout for a low-sodium option. Regardless, canned tomatoes are a perfect go-to for any budget shopping for healthy foods.
Nosh on this: Toss into soups, casseroles, salads or sauces over top seafood dishes.
Bananas: $0.13 each
In 2016, the banana made up of 11% of all fruit sales. Rich in potassium and fiber, it’s not hard to believe why this sweet, satiating snack is so popular. Plus, bananas may also prevent health conditions like asthma, digestive issues, cancer and cardiovascular conditions.
When at the grocery store, choose bananas with ripeness at the same timeline as your cooking schedule. Brown or soft bananas are best for baking. They should also be used or frozen immediately. Green to yellow are best for eating as a snack. You can also wait to use these in a few days.
Nosh on this: Throw into yogurt, pair with almond butter or make into a healthy banana bread.
Kiwis: $0.49 each
The brown, fuzzy outside of kiwifruit can’t compare to the sweet, juicy green middle. This little fruit packs a big punch. With 273% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C in just one cup, they support a healthy immune system. Kiwis also have vitamins A, E and B6.
The nutritional content of this fruit works to balance electrolytes, maintain a healthy digestive system and to prevent disease. Kiwis can be eaten year round which can maintain your good health all year long!
Nosh on this: Toss kiwi into smoothies, on top salads or even into soups!
Strawberries (frozen): $1.99/16 oz bag
Keeping a bag of frozen strawberries on hand can make your meals and desserts so much sweeter. Plus, with 5 servings per bag, strawberries are just .39 cents per serving!
One cup has just 50 calories. Strawberries have folate to boost energy, fiber for your gut, vitamin C for your immune health and potassium to help keep your muscles working efficiently.
Nosh on this: Add to salads, smoothies, on top yogurt or into desserts!
Peaches (frozen): $3.49/10 oz bag
Peaches are yet another fuzzy fruit to add to your plate. Native to China and South Asia, peaches cover the gamut of healthy nutrients with vitamins C, A, E and K. They’re also high in vitamins B2, B3, B6 and folate. Vitamin B helps increase your energy, prevents infection and improves brain function.
Because fruits are such excellent sources of healthy vitamins and minerals, it’s important to include 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruits like peaches into your diet every day.
Nosh on this: Toss them into oatmeal or yogurt, add into salsa or even mix them into tacos!
Dairy and Eggs
Having eggs in your fridge can mean always having a quick meal at your fingertips. As you shop for eggs, choose organic and always do a quick check inside the container to make sure there are no broken eggs before you purchase them.
Eggs are an excellent low-calorie, high-protein and nutrient-dense superfood. They contain vitamins A and B, folate, phosphorus, selenium and choline. Choline is beneficial for brain function and for reproducing cell membranes. Coming in at about .25 per egg, they're an easy choice for this list of healthy foods on a budget.
Nosh on this: Throw into omelets, quiches or egg bakes. You can also put eggs into salads or on avocado toast.
Plain Whole or Low-Fat Yogurt: $3.39/32oz tub
Whole milk has often gotten a bad rep for being higher in fat than other milks. But whole milk is a great source of vitamins A and D, calcium, potassium and protein. Plus, some non-fat milks can actually have a higher amount of sugar in them. Low-fat yogurt splits the difference as a valuable source of vitamins and nutrients but without as much fat.
Including dairy into your diet has been shown to improve bone strength and helps to reduce the risk for diabetes 2 and cardiovascular diseases.
Nosh on this: Drink whole milk with your breakfast or use it on your cereal. Top low-fat yogurt with fruit or even cook it into a sauce.
Mozzarella Cheese: $4.39/pound
Say cheese! Aged mozzarella can be bought in low and non-fat versions while fresh mozzarella maintains a higher fat content. Aged mozzarella is often easier to digest for those who have a moderate intolerance to lactose.
In 1oz., or 1 slice of cheese, mozzarella has 6.3g of protein, 143.4mg of calcium and 21.6mg of potassium. Mozzarella often comes in the form of string cheese, rounds, cubes or even shredded. This makes this cheese one tasty, multipurpose ingredient.
Nosh on this: Top onto a healthy pizza, pair with raw tomatoes or even melt into a vegetarian lasagna.
Fats, Seeds and Oil
Olive Oil: $5.99/8.5oz
Not all fats are created equal. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat which is considered a healthy dietary fat. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which help protect against cardiovascular diseases like hypertension and stroke.
There are several different kinds of olive oils. But two you’ll see most at the grocery store are regular olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. What does this mean? Extra virgin olive oil is unrefined which means it has a stronger flavor.
Nosh on this: Blend it into a salad dressing or bake it with chicken. You can also use it as a bread dip with grated parmesan cheese.
Peanut Butter: $3.99/16oz
When you need protein but are looking for something extra convenient, peanut butter is a fast solution. Despite being higher in calories and fat, peanut butter is abundant in nutrients and will allow you to stay fuller longer. Aim to buy a peanut butter that is all natural and low in sugar.
Peanut butter is made up of healthier monounsaturated fats, is lower in carbohydrates and is an excellent source of protein. On top of that, it has vitamins E, B, folate, magnesium and copper.
Nosh on this: Top on green apples, celery, whole grain or gluten-free bread. You can even dollop it into your morning oatmeal.
Almonds: $3.00/5.5oz bag
Having nuts on hand makes for a simple, healthy snack. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, fiber, calcium, magnesium and monounsaturated fats. They also have biotin which is a B vitamin known for strengthening your hair, skin and nails. Almonds have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and insulin resistance.
A quarter cup of almonds is 207 calories. But, a little goes a long way when you’re hungry. Put almonds into a sealed container and throw it into your gym bag.
Nosh on this: Eat a handful on their own or toast in a frying pan with a little with cinnamon (sweet) or cumin (savory).
Sunflower Seeds: $2.19/7.25oz
If you’re looking to add a little more plant-based protein in your diet, sunflower seeds have 5.5g of protein per ounce. Some of the possible nutritional benefits of sunflower seeds include reducing your risk for cancer, diabetes and heart-related conditions. Seeds can also help improve thyroid function as well as skin and bone health.
Depending on how you’ll use them, choose the dehulled seeds for meals or even pick up some sunflower seed butter. Sunflower seeds also carry a long shelf-life so you don’t have to use them all right away.
Nosh on this: Top seeds into a fresh greens salad, mix with granola or top your morning toast with sunflower seed butter.
Chia Seeds $3.00/8oz bag
So, what are chia seeds exactly? Chia seeds are a plant-derived superfood originating in Mexico and Guatemala. The crunchy texture adds a nutty flavor to your breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Some of their health accolade’s include improving cholesterol, blood sugar and weight loss. They are full of fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. But chia seeds are also considered a complete protein. This means they have all 9 essential amino acids which your body can’t produce on its own.
A little bit goes a long way! One serving of chia seeds is two tablespoons.
Nosh on this: Sprinkle chia seeds onto your oatmeal, bake in a nut bread or make into a chia seed pudding.
Garbanzo Beans: $0.79/15oz. can
Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas may sound more familiar to you as the main ingredient in hummus. But beyond making for a great dip, garbanzo beans are high in protein, fiber, magnesium, calcium, zinc and both vitamins B and C. They’re also thankfully lower in sodium, cholesterol and fat.
Garbanzo beans are technically a legume. So, if you buy them canned, make sure to drain and then soak them overnight. Rinse them thoroughly before you cook them. They're a perfect addition to any healthy budget-friendly list.
Nosh on this: Cook into a healthy side dish over rice, top onto a Mediterranean-inspired salad or dip your veggies into some homemade hummus.
Black Beans: $0.79/15oz can
Beans in general are some of the healthiest sources of protein and fiber. But black beans in particular have 7.62g of protein and 7.5g of fiber in just 1 half-cup! As a result, they are one of the most reliable resources for improving digestion, boosting muscle recovery from workouts and for keeping you fuller longer.
Black beans are also high in other vitamins and minerals that help to ward off disease. Consuming them on a regular basis has been shown to manage blood sugar levels, prevent cancer and improve heart health.
Nosh on this: Add to fish tacos, throw in a crockpot with chicken and salsa or pair with scrambled eggs for breakfast.
Refried Beans: $1.29/15oz can
Plant-based proteins like refried beans and other legumes are a heart-healthy diet choice. If you’re looking to add more protein and fiber, refried beans could be your next side dish. Just 90 calories a serving, refried beans are also full of potassium, iron and other minerals. And, they’re low in cholesterol. However, refried beans can often be higher in sodium so look for a low-sodium brand and make sure to pair with lower sodium foods.
Nosh on this: Add into a slow cooker for a healthy Mexican dip or dollop onto tacos.
Lentils: $1.09/16oz bag, dried
Did you know that lentils are edible seeds from the legume family? There are numerous kinds of lentils including red, brown, black, yellow, kidney beans, soya and more. While lentils come from many countries, they all commonly are full of protein and have two amino acids called methionine and cysteine. Both of these amino acids help with muscle repair and recovery. Lentils also have so much protein that they’re often eaten in place of meat and dairy products.
Once you choose your type of lentils, soak them overnight and rinse the next morning.
Nosh on this: Toss into soups, casseroles or even lentil brownies.
Condiments, Sauces and Extras
Marinara $2.79/25oz jar
If you’re looking for a healthy pasta sauce that won’t break the bank, look into a flavorful marinara sauce. It’s lower in calories and fat than a heavy cream sauce and a little goes a long way. Just be sure to compare the sodium and sugar counts of each brand. The lower the better!
Since the main ingredient is tomatoes, marinara sauce is naturally high in vitamins A, E, K and C. It’s also nutrient-dense with calcium, iron, potassium, copper and niacin. Marinara sauce also is a good source of dietary fiber.
Nosh on this: Add marinara to favorite pasta, veggie pizza or cook with meatballs.
Apple Cider Vinegar $3.00/16oz bottle
Apple cider vinegar is an ingredient with multi-uses. It’s been studied as a way to lose weight, manage blood sugar levels, prevent cancer and cure urinary tract infections. Apple cider vinegar is made from crushing, distilling and fermenting apples. It’s high concentrate acetic acid is antibacterial and antifungal which is likely why it’s been studied as a remedy for so many ailments.
Nosh on this: Drink it in a tea, smoothie or even a mocktail.
Mustard $0.99/12oz bottle
There are almost as many kinds of mustard as there are individual tastes. From yellow and dijon to pinot noir and honey dijon, mustards cater to many dishes and palates. The mustard seed itself has omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B and C, plus magnesium and potassium. It also has other unique ingredients that have been shown to defend against cancer with antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. The mustard plant itself has been studied on its effects on psoriasis, ringworm, asthma, migraines and other health conditions.
Nosh on this: Bake with chicken, add to a dipping sauce or blend into a healthy salad dressing.
Salsa $2.00/15oz bottle
There’s more to salsa than the chips and guacamole. At around 10 calories for 2T, your basic salsa has tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, garlic, lime juice and salt. But salsa can range from red or green salsa to salsa with peaches or strawberries. It can be hot, mild or medium and it can be used as a dip, marinade or salad dressing.
Tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro are all great sources of fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamins B, A, C and K. Garlic has numerous medicinal properties including support for high blood pressure and cholesterol, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and yeast infections. Combine with fruit for added antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Nosh on this: Toss into a crock pot with chicken and black beans, add to scrambled eggs or tacos.
Honey $3.29/12oz bottle
Honey adds sweetness to meals and desserts but it also offers several therapeutic benefits.
Natural raw honey is composed of amino acids, proteins, antioxidants and micronutrients. It improves your blood count levels and immune health, and it acts as both a digestive aid and an electrolyte.
The darker the honey, the higher concentration of these nutrients. So when at the store, look for dark, raw, unfiltered honey. In addition to being a cooking ingredient, unprocessed honey can also heal burns and skin infections, and block UV rays.
Nosh on this: Add into tea, eat with apples or use a glaze.
Applesauce (unsweetened) $2.29/24oz jar
Applesauce is an easy, healthy snack that you can take just about anywhere. Homemade or store-bought unsweetened are your best bets for a low-sugar, low-calorie snack. Apples themselves are full of vitamins C and B, fiber and calcium. But sweetened applesauce can have a lot of extra sugar and other sweeteners.
Nosh on this: Eat a ½ cup for a snack, or substitute oil or eggs for applesauce when making baked goods.
Dark Chocolate Chips $2.99/12oz bag
If your recipe calls for chocolate chips, try swapping out semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips for dark chocolate chips. Look for dark chocolate with as much as 70% cacao. The higher the cacao, the lower the sugar content. It also has more antioxidants than any other chocolate.
Dark chocolate is rich in plant chemicals called cocoa flavanols. Flavanols can help lower blood pressure, manage diabetes and improve circulation.
Nosh on this: Toss dark chocolate cacao nibs into oatmeal or bake dark chocolate chips into cookies.
Green Tea $3.00/20-count box
More than a way to beat the sniffles, green tea is full of disease-preventing polyphenols. Polyphenols are plant-based micronutrients that are full of immune-boosting antioxidants. Because of this, green tea helps improve digestive issues, heart-conditions, liver disorders and autoimmune conditions.
Nosh on this: Pour over ice or drink hot with lemon and honey.
Cinnamon $2.49/2.4oz bottle
Cinnamon is a medicinal spice. It contains calcium, fiber, potassium and manganese. As a medicine, it’s an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial ingredient that helps to lower blood pressure, maintain blood sugar and possibly boost metabolism.
Cinnamon can be bought ground or as cinnamon sticks. There are several different kinds of cinnamon ranging from generic and organic to cinnamon blends. True cinnamon is called Ceylon cinnamon.
I can't do without cinnamon and added it to the list of healthy foods on a budget because it lasts forever and has such great nutrition benefits.
Nosh on this: Bake into muffins, add to oatmeal or brew a cup of cinnamon tea.
Brown Rice $1.50/16oz bag
If rice is apart of your recipe, always choose brown rice. Less-processed than white rice, it also has a higher nutrient base. It has protein and fiber, and the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. The American Heart Association recommends getting 6 servings of whole grains a day. A half cup of brown rice equals one serving.
You can buy brown rice in a bag, box or in bulk. Just make sure to store it in a cool, dry place inside a sealed container.
Nosh on this: Pair with a stir fry, add into soups or season into a rice pilaf.
Brown Rice Pasta $3.00/16oz bag
If you’re gluten-free or just looking for another pasta option, try using brown rice pasta. It has more fiber and protein than other pastas which makes it more filling. Brown rice pasta has around 40g of carbohydrates per 1C of cooked pasta which is great for energy. 1C also equals one serving of whole grains.
Nosh on this: Mix into a vegetarian pasta dish, with marinara and meatballs or with a light olive oil sauce.
Corn Tortillas $2.19/package
Corn tortillas make an easy, gluten-free wrap for so many yummy meals and snacks. It’s mostly comprised of whole grain carbohydrates but it also has some protein and fiber. 1 tortilla is 50-150 calories.
Most packages of tortillas are sold in bulk. So if you don’t use them all for one meal, seal them in a tight container and put in the fridge. They should last up to two weeks.
Nosh on this: Use them for shrimp tacos, bake into tortilla chips or slice and throw into soups and salads.
Quinoa $3.00/12oz bag
This nutty seed can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Quinoa is a unique plant-based protein since it’s one of the few vegetarian options that are a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids. This superfood also has 5g of fiber per serving and numerous vitamins and minerals.
Note that some brands require you to soak and rinse the quinoa before cooking. But overall, quinoa cooks just like you would rice. So keep these things in mind when preparing your food to cook.
Nosh on this: Serve with berries for breakfast, serve on top a salad, in soups or in a veggie bowl.
Old-Fashioned Oats $2.99/18oz container
Having old-fashioned oats on hand is an easy go-to for a number of meals, snacks and desserts. ½ C is around 150 calories with 4g of fiber and 5g of protein. Old-fashioned oats as opposed to steel-cut oats have been steamed, flattened and dried into oat flakes.
These oats make the list of healthy foods on a budget because they are extremely shelf-stable, travel easy (take them on vacation) and always taste great!
Nosh on this: Cook into oatmeal cookies, make a hot bowl of oatmeal with chia seeds or use for an overnight oats recipe.
Chicken Thighs $2.99/pound
Chicken thighs as opposed to chicken breasts have darker meat because they are made up of more muscle. Chicken thighs also have more fat and slightly more iron. Eating them without the skin can reduce the fat content. However, chicken thighs are more flavorful and have around 28g for protein per 100g.
Nosh on this: Marinade with balsamic vinegar, , honey lime or go mediterranean-style.
Chicken Breasts $2.99/pound
The healthiest way to cook chicken breasts is to bake or grill them. At around 120 calories per breast, they are also low in fat and high in protein. They are the leaner choice over chicken thighs. Chicken breasts also take less time to cook.
When handling raw chicken, make sure to rinse thoroughly and cut off any extra fat. Cut on a sanitary surface with clean hands. Also, make sure not to leave raw chicken sitting out for too long to prevent food poisoning with illnesses like salmonella.
Nosh on this: Bake with lemon and garlic, stuff with spinach or throw into a stir fry.
Lean Ground Turkey $2.99/pound
Ground meats can often have higher fat and sodium count. But lean ground turkey is the healthiest choice when cooking burgers, meatballs or meat sauces. ¾ C has approximately 120 calories and 26g of protein. When grocery shopping, look for ground turkey that is at least 90% lean.
Nosh on this: Season and cook into burgers, stuff into peppers or make into a turkey meatloaf.
Lean Ground Beef $2.99/pound
Not only is lean ground beef high in protein, it’s also full of the nutrients iron, calcium, potassium, and omega-3 and omega-6. Preparing it with healthy vegetables and whole grains can increase its healthy benefits.
When cooking ground beef, always choose meat that is 90-95% lean. The American Heart Association recommends that if you buy ground beef under 90%, pour off the fat after it has been browned.
Nosh on this: Cook into burgers, toss onto nachos or bake in a casserole.
Canned Tuna $3.19/5oz can
Tuna is full of vitamins and minerals including protein, omega fatty acids, iron and potassium. While there are several different kinds of tuna, all canned white tuna is albacore. Albacore is 80 calories per can with 16g of fat.
After you safely open the can, drain the excess water before eating. Canned tuna has been overcooked so it is safe to eat.
Nosh on this: Mix into an avocado salad, roll it into a wrap sandwich or make it into an open-faced tuna sandwich on whole grain bread.
Canned Salmon $3.19/6oz can
Canned pink salmon has 120 calories and 20g of protein per can. It is packed in oil and water but still with skin and bones. It has a high amount of omega-3s which have been shown to help prevent heart disease and manage other inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Canned salmon also has 25% of the daily recommended amount of calcium.
If you're a fan of salmon, this variety makes the list of 50 healthy foods on a budget because it's more shelf-stable, less likely to be wasted and incredibly nutritious.
Nosh on this: Cook into salmon patties, salads or sandwiches.
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