Nutrition Strategies

25 Cheap Foods that are Good for You!

Get BIG Nutrition for Less Dough

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Vegetables
12. Romaine lettuce or other hearty lettuce: $1.18 per head (20 cents per serving)
Banish the iceberg and choose sturdy Romaine for your salads. It will give you more fiber and nutrients, plus a satisfying crunch.

13. Carrots: 74 cents per pound (15 cents per serving)
Mom was right. Carrots are good for your eyes, thanks to the antioxidants, including beta-carotene, in them. (That's what makes them orange!) Dip them in hummus (made from canned beans), natural peanut butter or low-fat dressings.

14. Frozen spinach: $2 for 16 ounces (50 cents per serving)
Thaw and drain this good-for-your green, then toss it in omelets, soups, stir-fries and pasta sauces. Spinach is full of vitamins A, C, K, plus fiber and even calcium.

15. Canned tomatoes: $1 for 14.5 ounces (28 cents per serving)
Choose low-sodium varieties and throw a can in pasta sauces and chili to stretch a meal. Puree a can with a cup of skim milk and season to taste for your own tomato soup. You'll get a dose of vitamins A, B and C and lycopene, an antioxidant known to prevent cancer.

16. Garlic: 50 cents per head (5 cents per serving)
Ditch the bottled and powdered stuff if you want to reap more of the myriad health benefits. Pungent and tasty, garlic can help lower cholesterol and blood clots, plus it can have a small effect on high blood pressure. Crush or chop it to release more of the antioxidants.

17. Sweet potatoes: 75 cents per pound (19 cents per serving)
Aside from being sweet and delicious, these bright root vegetables are a great source of fiber and antioxidants. Bake, mash or roast them--you'll forget about those other, paler potatoes.

18. Onions: 79 cents per pound (16 cents per serving)
Like garlic, this smelly vegetable is full of health benefits. Onions have been proven to lower risks for certain cancers, and they add flavor with few calories. Try roasting them to bring out their sweetness and cut their harsh edge. (If you well up while cutting them, store onions in the fridge for a tear-free chop.)

19. Broccoli: $1.99 per bunch (33 cents per serving)
Broccoli is like a toothbrush for your insides. Full of fiber, it will provide you vitamins A and C, plus fiber and a host of antioxidants. Broccoli is a superstar in the nutrition world.

Whole grains
20. Whole-grain pasta: $1.34 for 13.25 ounces (22 cents per serving)
With a nutty flavor and a subtle brown color, whole-wheat pasta perks up any meal. Start with half regular, half whole-wheat pasta, then gradually add more wheat pasta for a burst of fiber and nutrients.

21. Popcorn kernels: $2.39 for 2 pounds (30 cents per serving)
Air-popped popcorn has just 30 calories and a trace of fat. Pop a few cups, spritz with olive oil or butter spray and sprinkle on your favorite seasonings for a guilt-free treat.

22. Brown rice: $1.75 for 32 ounces (13 cents per serving)
Brown rice is a great side dish, but you can also use it to help stretch your ground meat. Mix a cup of cooked rice with 8 ounces of lean ground beef next time you make meatloaf to save 45 calories and five grams of fat (and some money) per serving.

23. Oats: $2.99 for 18 ounces (23 cents per serving)
Oatmeal is a hearty breakfast, but you can also cook sturdy steel-cut oats in chicken broth for a savory side dish. Or, mix oats with ground turkey to stretch your meatballs.

Dairy
24. Quarts of low- or fat-free yogurt: $2.49 for 32 ounces (47 cents per serving)
Buy large containers of plain or vanilla yogurt, then add real fruit. You'll save money and calories by not buying fancy single-serve yogurts.

25. Gallon of skim milk: $3.44 (22 cents per serving)
It really does a body good. Full of calcium and protein, milk can help stretch a meal. Pair an eight-ounce glass with a piece of fruit or a granola bar for a filling snack.

(Prices from Meijer.com and Kroger.com, Cincinnati area, and the U.S.D.A. Fruit and Vegetable Retail Report, June 2013)
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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

  • In Vermont, these prices can pretty much be doubled. $6 for 3lbs of chicken is almost laughable! Try $16. Grapes that low maybe one week a year, otherwise $3.99/lb. - 9/9/2014 11:20:56 AM
  • Connecticut's prices are much higher than this as of August 2014. chris - 8/30/2014 5:29:50 AM
  • JICAMA19
    fruits and vegetables are on sale weekly, especially in the summer. I don't eat meat, but almonds, beans, and soy are good a source of protein. - 8/25/2014 3:56:03 PM
  • Living in Southern California, I wish our prices were that low on food. I paid $2.99 for eggs yesterday, Banana's were .79 a pound. - 8/25/2014 9:21:50 AM
  • I see these prices as very comparable to what I pay in NC. I get my best produce prices in an Aldi's store. Their other products are also reasonable and I have found them to be very good.
    Matter-of-fact, I get some things cheaper than listed here, such as bananas for .44per lb. and grapes on sale much cheaper. I always shop for bargain items and things on weekly specials.
    Cook up dried beans by the lb., measure into bags, lay them flat, and freeze. Always ready. Do the same with lentils. - 8/24/2014 8:17:40 PM
  • ALINDASUE
    I don't know where the rest of you people shop or what brands you are buying, but the prices in the article are pretty comparable to what I spend for store brand and bargain brand products at Fred Meyer (Kroger) up here in Tacoma, Washington. I've been told by friends and family living in the Midwest that our prices are quite high compared to there. Has that changed recently?

    I do have a couple of "corrections" to point out though:
    Why buy expensive canned beans when dried beans are less expensive and cook up just as well? A one pound bag of dried beans will cook up 2-3 family sized meals worth for less than the price of that one can of precooked.

    Vanilla yogurt has just as much sugar and just as many calories and carbohydrates as any of the other flavored yogurts. If you want vanilla flavor mixed with the fresh or frozen fruit that you are adding, then stir a touch of vanilla extract into your plain yogurt. - 8/24/2014 12:23:13 PM
  • Too bad the article sours us since the prices are ancient in our state of Maine.
    If only a quick look at the market would have helped the authors integrity. Pat in Maine. - 8/23/2014 11:09:02 PM
  • I haven't seen prices this low in Louisiana since the 80's. Where are they shopping? All produce is very expensive now. And chicken, eggs & milk have all gone up. There is no more cheap food. - 8/23/2014 6:38:31 PM
  • I will grant you that these are healthy choices. However, the pricing should be updated as they are over a year old according to the notation/ footnote. I would also like to know what region they used because here in LV the prices, even on sale, don't come close to those quoted...especial
    ly the berries and nuts.

    Also. I take issue with the word "cheap." Inexpensive sounds better, even though in this case that doesn't apply either. - 8/23/2014 5:04:43 PM
  • If these foods aren't part of your specific "diet plan", then why post? Spark does not follow any particular "diet". Also, prices will change with time, yet these items are still a good buy. Hard to believe all the negative comments. Personally, I'm thankful for this article. - 8/23/2014 3:19:43 PM
  • Huh? Healthy foods? SALMON, EGGS, CHICKEN, MILK????
    I don't believe that these are healthy foods... Read 'Eat to Live' by dr. Joel Fuhrman. Animal products are an important factor in getting cancer, as I understand it. - 8/23/2014 3:04:31 AM
  • JINX407
    You are not helping me. I need a list of low protein foods! I will be going away in August & Sept and want to know what I can order in restaurants. I do NOT need to lose weight, I just need low protein foods for three months. PLEASE send me a list!!!
    Thank you. - 7/14/2014 2:01:00 PM
  • CANUCKSFAN2
    Like some below me have stated, these prices need to be updated. Also do realize that you have customers from across the world and so prices vary from region to region. - 6/19/2014 1:47:58 AM
  • I can see how this is geared towards the States, unfortunately here in Malawi (Africa) a lot of the items on the list are super expensive! I wish there was a list for those living outside of the States. - 6/18/2014 4:11:18 AM
  • as others have said, the prices quoted do not reflect what I find in the NY/NJ metro area as of 7/2014 but the items listed are still valid for creating a shopping list of good buys. For my money, nothing beats frozen veggies for economical/no waste food. I just wish fruits were more reasonable. $1 an orange...who would have thought that day would come - 6/17/2014 11:26:48 PM

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