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

  • You really need to update your prices, please. This is Feb/Mar. 2015 and the prices you show are very unrealistic for here in Texas. - 2/27/2015 1:09:34 PM
  • GRATEFULVEG
    These prices are WAAAAAAAY off! Maybe 10 years ago? The food suggestions are pretty solid. - 2/27/2015 11:40:02 AM
  • FESTIE
    I'm in Minnesota. These prices are laughable. Maybe 5 years ago on a 'lowest price ever' sale. Double or triple them for today.
























    - 2/27/2015 10:45:24 AM
  • Noticed that these prices are as of 6/2013. Maybe time to update some of the articles on Sparkpeople. - 2/27/2015 9:40:35 AM
  • sadly prices in Canada are nowhere near the ones posted, but the suggestions are still great! - 2/27/2015 8:42:17 AM
  • I can't say much about the prices as I live in Australia, but as we've just gone through a major problem with contaminated frozen berries from overseas, it might be worthwhile making sure WHERE your frozen goods are coming from and how they are grown before you save a couple of cents in a supposed cost cutting exercise. - 2/27/2015 3:42:37 AM
  • Wow. Maybe I should move to where these prices are. They're about double in my area. - 2/1/2015 11:32:26 PM
  • Thank you for this post, I learned many things I did not know!
    I agree with you regarding the grapes, they are also beneficial for weight loss. I suggest you to watch this video which answers the question: Are grapes good for weight loss?
    http://www.yout
    ube.com/watch
    ?v=6l2jaBSBiu4 - 11/27/2014 6:34:58 AM
  • 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

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