20 Cheap and Healthy Foods

by John Clark

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.

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. Great in soups, mixed with rice or pasta or on salads.
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.

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 carrots 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.

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.

Besides a breakfast food it’s a great topping for yogurt, fruits

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. Just keep the portions
in control if you’re watching y our weight since peanut butter has a high calorie count. Use natural versions if you need to avoid partially hydrogenated solids but even traditional versions are cutting down on those artery clogging ingredients (I can still eat my favorite, Jif!)

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 which can easily 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 you need 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).

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, eating 4 eggs per week (including eggs in baked and cooked foods) is considered safe. Eggs with extra Omega Fatty Acids, though more expensive, are a good choice if you can’t get these nutrients from other foods.

With only 42 calories and costing around 50 cents per fruit (including organic – but non-organic is on the safe list: http://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 mixed into smoothies.

Everyone knows oranges are full of vitamin C but they also have a mix of antioxidant nutrients. Plus just one will provide 12% of your daily fiber requirements.Besides a good snack choice, you can add to salads or try grilling or broiling for a change of pace dessert. They’ll cost about $1 per pound. Stick with grown in USA or organic (a bit pricier) rather than those grown in other countries.

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 usually cheaper, but it’s best to have a little fat in your dairy as it helps with the absorption of vitamin D. My trick is to buy the cheaper skimmed and add some half and half or cream (look for long lasting one quart containers). And for drinking at least, you can make whole milk last long by watering it down!

The problem with pasta is that it’s easy to eat too much so watch the portion size. One 2 ounce dry/one cup cooked serving is enough to provide protein, B vitamins and lots of micro nutrients. If you pick whole wheat or blended varieties, you can also 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.

Plain Yogurt
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. Pick 2% since you need a little fat in all dairy for nutrients to absorb. But 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, luckily chicken still remains a good value. Whole or chicken legs are the least expensive with both running under $2 per pound for traditionally raised chicken. (Organic will double the price.) The good news is that all chickens are now raised without hormones. Look for antibiotic-free and/or air chilled (no water added) chicken if you can’t swing for organic.

Brown Rice
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 or veggies. I like to keep leftover cooked rice on hand for a quick meal or to add to soups.

A great snack food, popcorn is full of fiber and low in calories. Just 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).


Posted by on Jan 12 2015. Filed under Environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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