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Nutrition Strategies  ›  Healthy Habits

25 Cheap Foods that are Good for You!

Get BIG Nutrition for Less Dough

-- By Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer
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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

  • 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
  • That price for Almonds is quite honestly reflective of what we pay in the Midwest, granted this article is a bit outdated. Tonight's news showed that egg prices, beef, and other grocery items have gone up in the last month...so yes, this article's prices could use an update!! - 6/17/2014 8:30:05 PM
  • I cannot help but wonder where they are coming up with these prices. It certainly doesn't reflect Northern California, and that is the heart of almond country. I can't even get that price at a pick your own or a farm stand. - 6/17/2014 4:48:05 PM
  • EWEE22
    I can't take this article seriously with the title including the word cheap and many of the items are generally not considered even inexpensive, let alone cheap. Almonds for one are very expensive even when you get them on sale and clearance because they've expired.... still expensive. - 6/17/2014 2:14:41 PM
  • RYELEWIS
    The article should really be updated, these prices haven't been seen in this area for a very long time...they don't even reflect "sale" prices - 6/17/2014 1:35:50 PM
  • This is obviously a very old pricing list. Las Vegas prices font come close to these lows. - 6/17/2014 1:28:16 PM
  • HYEGEEK
    Garlic has 10 servings per head? Not the way I use it. I get 1 to 2 servings per head. Of course it might explain why I have so few friends. ;-) - 5/17/2014 9:22:38 AM
  • Currently I'm living in Japan and fruits and veg are sometimes DOUBLE that of meat products! Eating healthy here is VERY hard on your pocket O.o - 5/16/2014 10:51:56 PM
  • these or price do not match up Apples are outrageous. Lets face it fresh freggies are expensive. I will plant a garden this year. Please do not mention almonds or nuts period. EXPENSIVE. Dried beans and oat are inexpensive LOL! - 2/9/2014 7:55:45 PM
  • MYSTREAL
    I really wish these prices were close to where I live. A lot of the fruits and veggies are similar, but the rest are way off. On a good day I pay $20 for 3-4lbs of chicken breasts, and $5/4L of milk. Eggs run anywhere from $3-6/dozen. - 11/28/2013 1:12:10 AM
  • Very informative - 10/14/2013 11:08:40 AM
  • Most of the prices are pretty close for my area. Food prices vary by location season etc, I think the thing is to see the prices of the healthier items in relation to the not so healthy.

    I used to think that eating healthy was more expensive but I've found it's not, it just takes a lot more time, effort and planning. And can be more difficult to do for just one or two people as cheaper bulk veggies and such may go to waste before used if not careful. - 9/27/2013 10:55:41 AM