Nutrition Strategies

25 Cheap Foods that are Good for You!

Get BIG Nutrition for Less Dough

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Watching your wallet and your waistline can be tricky. Eating right is easy when money is no object, but a trip to the supermarket often yields frustration for healthy eaters on a budget (which is most of us!). Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein are on your list, but they're so much pricier than Ramen noodles, frozen pizzas and bottles of soda! 

Sure, some healthful foods are more expensive, but the same rules of smart shopping apply: Price compare, be flexible about brands and choose larger sizes to save money per serving.

To help make your next shopping trip a breeze, but we've scanned the shelves and roamed the aisles to find 25 foods that are nutritious and affordable. (Prices from and, Cincinnati area, and the U.S.D.A. Fruit and Vegetable Retail Report, June 2013. These prices will vary according to location.)

1. Canned salmon: $3.09 for 14.75 ounces (77 cents per serving)
Get your Omega-3's for less. Salmon is full of these healthy fats, which help lower cholesterol and prevent heart attacks. 

2. Chicken breasts: $5.99 per 3-pound bag (49 cents per serving)
Easy-to-prepare, chicken is full of lean protein, which helps keep you fuller longer.

3. Natural peanut butter: $3.39 for 16 ounces (42 cents per serving)
Skip the sugary, processed varieties and spread the real stuff on whole-grain bread. Throw a tablespoon in smoothies or yogurt, use it as a dip for carrots and pretzels, or mix it with a bit of low-sodium soy sauce, brown sugar and garlic, then thin with water for a quick sauce.

4. Canned beans: 84 cents for 15 ounces (22 cents per serving)
Bulk up soups and stews while getting protein and fiber. Try chickpeas or black beans if you're not a fan of kidneys or pintos. Drain, rinse, and blend with lemon juice, garlic, cumin and a bit of vegetable broth for a quick dip.

5. Eggs: $1.99 for a dozen large (17 cents per serving)
Not just for breakfast, eggs are among the easiest foods to cook. If you're watching your cholesterol, scramble one egg and two egg whites. Add onion and spinach and you've got a great omelet.

6. Dried lentils: $1.35 per pound (14 cents per serving)
Full of protein and fiber, lentils cook in just 15 minutes! Throw some in soups and stews or cook with curry powder for a quick, spicy meal.

7. Almonds: $8 per pound (50 cents per serving)
Get vitamin E, fiber and protein while satisfying a crunchy craving. Nuts are rich in an amino acid that could be linked to heart benefits. Chop a few raw ones and throw them on yogurt.

8. Frozen fruit and berries: $2.99-$5.99 per pound (75 cents-$1.50 per serving)
Throw some in the blender with milk or yogurt for a healthy treat. Frozen berries can be used in oatmeal or drained and baked into muffins and quick breads.

9. Apples: $1.39 per pound (35 cents per serving)
They might not keep the doctor away, but apples are actually full of antioxidants, which help slow the progression of age-related diseases.

10. Bananas: 48 cents per pound (12 cents per serving)
Slice one on your morning yogurt or oatmeal for some added fiber and only 100 calories or so. Snack on a potassium-rich banana to prevent cramps after a workout.

11. Grapes: $1.86 per pound (37 cents per serving)
Freeze grapes for a low-calorie dessert or snack. Grapes--especially the dark purple ones--contain plenty of antioxidants that are known to help heart health.
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About The Author

Stepfanie Romine Stepfanie Romine
A former newspaper reporter, Stepfanie now writes about nutrition, health, fitness and cooking. She is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher who enjoys running, international travel and all kinds of vegetables. See all of Stepfanie's articles.

Member Comments

  • Prices aren't that far off where I live in FL. actually they are higher then what I pay,if you shop around using smaller stores we are fortunate to have ;produce and discount groceries if you shop Publix, Winn Dixie and Wally World your gonna pay more. Takes work and planning but worth it - 4/12/2016 8:16:54 PM
  • I agree that this article needs to be updated. Many of the prices are twice as high now as they were in 2013 when the article was written (even back in 2013 prices of some of these things were higher around here). Income hasn't gone up nearly as much as prices have. - 3/2/2016 2:28:33 PM
  • The author or SparkPeople may want to consider updating this article since the price differences from when it was first posted to now are so different they detract from the main message of the article. - 2/28/2016 8:20:33 PM
  • please note the first comment posting date = 11/4/2008 7:39:29 AM

    That may explain the BIG difference in prices that indicate Less-Expensive-Ne
    ss ! - 2/27/2016 3:13:31 PM
    Adding my 2 cents worth about the prices. Those are way lower than what is charged in Minnesota. - 2/27/2016 11:07:05 AM
  • I think the point is that typically these foods are less expensive than other options, and you get a lot of nutrition for the money. Of course there are price fluctuations, but whether we're talking today's prices or those of a couple years ago, this is a good list to choose from for affordable, healthy food choices. - 2/27/2016 10:53:24 AM
  • these prices are not right today !!!!!!!! a whole lot higher here !! - 2/27/2016 10:48:07 AM
  • About time to update the prices, they are way off. - 2/27/2016 10:29:23 AM
  • Good food but price are so not from 2016 - 2/27/2016 8:17:10 AM
  • This article should be updated with prices and give a range. What you pay in one part of the country, you won't pay in another part of the country. Also what you pay in rural areas can vary from metro areas. I live in rural Minnesota and buying many/most of these items even at Walmart isn't this cheap. - 2/27/2016 8:00:27 AM
  • All but 2 of them are on my regular grocery list, especially when they are on sale. Now that GMO salmon has been approved for sale in the USA I will be avoiding that. With a certain political party sponsoring a bill to forbid labeling GMOs, it will even harder to eat natural. I choose to vote with my pocketbook and economize elsewhere. - 2/27/2016 7:15:43 AM
  • I think food must be very cheep in the USA. - 2/27/2016 4:49:08 AM
    Yeah this is not evenly remotely helpful for Canadians- eggs close to 3 bucks a dozen and a pack of four chicken breasts runs over 20-25 dollars. - 11/15/2015 11:18:11 PM
  • How much do Doritos cost per pound? ($4 a pound) Or snicker bars? ($5 a pound) Or McD's chicken nuggets ($13 a ponnd). Even if you double the prices in his article, it is still much cheaper to eat healthy. - 11/3/2015 7:27:10 PM
  • I think prices have gone up since this was written! I know eggs cost more than that, and so does the chicken breasts we buy! - 8/28/2015 8:30:22 PM

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