Eat Healthy Foods For Cheap

by Derek

When I was in college, I tried to eat as cheaply as possible. The only problem was the items that were cheap were typically terrible for my body. These cheap foods included pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, and pre-made frozen dinners. This is not the way to eat, no matter how old or young you are.


Healthy Foods That Won’t Break the Bank

Within the past month or so, my wife and I decided that it was time to eat a bit healthier! Well, with a limited budget, we couldn’t just go out and buy anything and everything. Healthy foods can get pretty expensive! So, we started doing our research and found some healthy treats that we can eat without killing our budget. Here are a few of the foods that we are now eating.

1) Eggs – this is a great source of protein and you can get at least 4 meals out of a $0.99 carton

2) Apples – these are less than a dollar a piece and are a great snack in between meals

3) Bananas – these are only 35 cents each (or less) and have some great health benefits as well! They are a great source of potassium and they can help prevent cramps after your workout.

4) Almonds – these may seem pricey when you’re looking at the package, but the serving size is small and they are a great source of vitamin E, fiber, and protein. Plus, they taste good!

5) Grapes – at less than $3 a pound, grapes can be a very satisfying and will curb your hunger before your next meal.

6) Chicken Breasts – this meat has very little fat, and at less than $4 a pound, can provide you with some very lean protein.

7) Canned Salmon – while fresh salmon is most likely out of your price range, canned salmon is often less than $3 for 14 ounces of Omega-3 packed meat.

8) Carrots – these little orange sticks are cheap at only $1 a pound! And, as rumor has it, they’re good for your vision.

9) Romaine Lettuce – for only $1.99, you can get an entire head of lettuce and enjoy its nutrients

10) Sweet Potatoes – full of fiber and antioxidants, these potatoes make a meal cheap at only $2 a pound.

11) Whole-grain Pasta – I love my pasta, and it’s a cheap treat for only $1.50 per package (14 ounces or so).

12) Brown Rice – this has always been cheap, but is still a great food for you to add to your meals.

13) Low-Fat Yogurt – this helps make smoothies for breakfast and only costs $2 per quart.

14) Low-Fat Milk – for $2.59 a gallon, you get all of your necessary calcium and protein for the entire week for next to nothing!

15) Canned Beans – you can find these cans for $0.69 a piece and get your healthy fiber for cheap!

Photo: Some rights reserved by lachshand

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Alex | Perfecting Dad August 17, 2011 at 9:12 am

Hey Derek, I’m totally surprised chicken is affordable where you life. It’s a different story here, chicken is like gold apparently. Even the thighs, which I used to love to buy because they were cheaper and better tasting than the breasts, are now about the same price, which is HIGH! We go for fish. Salmon is a pretty expensive fish, but there are other cheaper ones like Tilapia. Salmon is my favorite and I always buy it uncanned because it’s awesome for home-made sushi. If you like sushi, home-made is the way to go to save money as long as you don’t mind rolls or sushi that occasionally falls apart.

Derek August 18, 2011 at 4:14 am

I had no idea that chicken was expensive in some areas. Maybe it’s cheap here in the midwest because there are farms everywhere! 🙂 My wife and I enjoy Tilapia as well, and you’re right, it’s pretty cheap.

Maggie@SquarePennies August 17, 2011 at 10:00 am

Almonds are cheaper if you buy them at Sam;s Club. The bags are smaller than chip bags, so it’s not a big deal for storage. If you think you won’t use them fast enough just keep them in the freezer. These are the whole almonds & probabl;y Costco, etc. has them too. They also have walnuts that can be frozen too.

With food prices continuing to rise it’s smart to save where you can.

Derek August 18, 2011 at 4:16 am

I love almonds! I never used to care for nuts, but I think my tastes have changed. We watch for almonds to go on sale (which is quite frequently actually) and can get a 1lb bag for about $5. It lasts us the entire week, so it’s definitely worth it.

Jackie August 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Boy I really wished I liked more foods. As far as inexpensive options go, I’ve found that foods that are in season are usually the least expensive. If I were more motivated I might consider canning or freezing some of them to use for later.

Derek August 18, 2011 at 4:18 am

Very true! If the food are in season, they’re definitely cheaper. I might consider freezing my foods this fall if it means saving some cash! I’m going to have to look into that.

Kathy August 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I love shopping at Aldi. They have so many great nutritious products and options. Plus their produce is off the chain! I recently went in and bought two buggies worth of groceries for $100 filled with great quality food.

Derek August 18, 2011 at 4:19 am

Hmmm. I’m going to have to check out that place! We have one nearby, and I keep hearing that their healthy food is pretty cheap. Thanks for the tip!

Crystal @ Travel Insurance Comparison August 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Out of that list, my ears perked up at eggs, bananas, and chicken. Those are a very big part of my diet. I was surprised to see grapes on the list since I always cringe when we buy them since they are one of the most expensive fruits that we eat. 🙂 I do wish I had eaten healthier in college, but hey, that’s what college is all about…

Derek August 18, 2011 at 4:20 am

At times, grapes can be on sale for $1.99 a pound, which isn’t very expensive at all. But, yes, at other times they can be quite expensive, and then I just roll the cart right past them…. 🙂

Travis @DebtChronicles August 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I read an article from a contestant from “The Biggest Loser” say that “calories are cheap.” So true….how many calories can you get from a cheap value meal at a fast food restaurant? Being healthy is hard….being cheap and healthy is even harder. Great list…except for the canned salmon…dunno if I could do that one. 🙂 It’s all about personal preference though, right?

Derek August 18, 2011 at 4:22 am

I never really thought about it that way, but yeah, I could get my daily intake of calories in one sitting for about $4 at McDonalds. Those calories would definitely be more expensive with healthy foods, but isn’t that what we want? More food for FEWER calories? I’d rather be satisfied than hungry with a bunch of fat in me.

Travis @DebtChronicles August 18, 2011 at 5:46 am

Oh, I think you misunderstood what I said. Let me rephrase – “Crappy calories are cheap.” It takes effort to find the “right” calories that are both nutritious and taste good – and I was commending you on creating a really good list of foods that are both. Again, except for the Salmon in a can, but that’s just me. 😉

Derek August 18, 2011 at 6:07 am

Gotcha. Haha, have you tried Salmon in a can? It sounds like you’re really opposed to it for some unknown reason! 😉 Bad memories?

Khaleef @ KNS Financial August 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm

When I think of eating healthy, it’s hard to think of low cost foods; but a quick look at a list like this proves otherwise!

Derek August 18, 2011 at 6:59 pm

It sure does! When my wife and I bought our first “healthy batch” of food, I was surprised how cheap it was! It was actually less than when we bought our unhealthy food!

Little House August 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Great list. I personally love snacking on carrots and hummus (okay, hummus isn’t the cheapest, but I bet someone who’s handy in the kitchen can make it for less.)

Derek August 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I couldn’t ever quite get used to hummus….maybe someday. Carrots are cheap though!

101 Centavos August 20, 2011 at 7:19 am

The less processing, the more calories for the buck…

Derek August 20, 2011 at 5:46 pm

It’s tough to find food that isn’t processed these days! But, it’s definitely better for you.

Amanda L. Grossman August 20, 2011 at 9:44 am

I find spinach to be a great food because it is the cost of lettuce, but packs a lot more nutrients. I use it instead of lettuce on sandwiches and as salad, and also cook with it.

Derek August 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Nice tip! I’ll have to check that out the next time I go to the supermarket.

Mark November 22, 2011 at 4:05 am

I love everything you listed, except sweet potatoes. My diet consists of brown rice, dry beans, frozen vegetables, sardines, tuna, oatmeal, wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, skim milk, eggs and olive oil.

Eating healthy is extremely cheap.

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