Vegetables12. 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 grains20. 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.
Dairy24. 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)