When you are living on a tight budget, you have to try all means to control spending. Food is not an exception.
There has been a myth that junk food (also often called “cheap food”) is the cheapest. However, hyper-processed food is generally more expensive than food cooked at home. Besides, the high calorie and high saturated fat from junk food may lead to various health issues.
Is it possible to eat cheap and healthy? The answer is yes. You just need to be more selective about what to buy. These are the 12 super cheap but healthy foods that you should go with for meals and snacks.
Bananas have long been the cheapest fruit in grocery stores. The average price for one pound of bananas in recent years has always been around $0.60.
Bananas have numerous health benefits. They are rich in potassium, a mineral well-known for lowering blood pressure. Bananas are also high in fiber, vitamin C and B6, which can help improving digestion and enhancing mood and energy.
Fresh green cabbage is typically about $0.60 per pound. It is cheaper than other leafy green vegetables such as lettuce and spinach.
Cabbage is loaded with vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B1, and copper. As one of the plant-based foods, cabbage may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
The average price of whole carrots is about $0.75 per pound. They are an excellent vegetable for various meals and make a great crunchy go-to snack.
Carrots are a rich source of beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. They provide many vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for improving vision, preventing heart diseases, and boosting the immune system.
The average price of potatoes is about $0.70 per pound. Since they are often sold in bulk, the unit price may be even cheaper.
Potatoes are important for a healthy diet. They are a nice source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6 and C, copper, potassium, etc. Proven benefits of potatoes include improving digestion, boosting heart health, reducing cholesterol level, etc.
5. Celery Stalks
Fresh celery trimmed bunches are about $1 per pound. Like carrots, celery sticks can be either a good ingredient for a meal or a crunchy, low-calorie snack.
Celery contains a list of minerals (calcium, sodium, copper, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium) and vitamins (A, C, E, D, B6, B12, and K). It is also a good source of fiber, thiamin, folic acid, and riboflavin. Identified health benefits include lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improving the immune system, managing diabetes symptoms, etc.
The average retail price of onions is around $1 per pound. Onions can be a part of many kinds of meals–from a stew to a soup, from a salad to a pizza topping.
Onions are packed with nutrients—quercetin (a plant flavonoid with potent antioxidant action), vitamin C, manganese, and dietary fiber. Their health benefits include protection against cancer, reducing blood pressure, fighting fungi and bacteria, and weight loss.
The price of a dozen of eggs may range from $1 to $4. The listed price of a dozen eggs is only $0.89 in Walmart of our neighborhood and $1.59 for 18 eggs in Lotte Plaza (Korean and Asian supermarket). Eggs are indeed a cheap food.
Eggs are high in protein and contain various nutrients such as iron, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Including eggs as part of our diet can have positive effects on our eyes, teeth, bones, and the overall health.
Regular milk costs $3-$4 per gallon and can make 16 cup servings.
Milk is a great source of vitamins and minerals (e.g., vitamin A, B12, D, calcium, zinc). It is critical for healthy bones and teeth, strong muscles, good eyesight, and control of heart diseases.
9. Whole Chicken
A whole chicken costs about $1.5 per pound and can make several meals.
Chicken is easy to prepare and has many health benefits. It provides us essential proteins and vitamins (E, B6, and B12). It is an awesome food for building energy and supporting the digestive function.
10. Dry Beans
Dry beans have appealing prices and can yield many servings. For example, a pound of dry pinto beans only costs around $1.50, but can make 12 cup servings of cooked beans.
Beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, potassium and complex carbohydrates. They are low in fat, free of trans-fat and saturated fat. The nutrition provided by dry beans is helpful for managing blood sugar and maintaining energy.
Regular oatmeal costs as low as $1 to $2 per pound. One pound of oatmeal can make about 10 servings.
Oatmeal is rich is dietary fiber and contains manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. It is a healthy food for anti-aging, improving digestive health, controlling blood sugar, etc. Since oatmeal is low in calorie but is very filling, it helps people losing weight.
Pasta is a highly affordable and versatile food. It only costs $1-$2 per pound. One pound pasta can make 8 cup servings.
Pasta provides us with energy and different nutrients in the form of fiber, vitamin B, and minerals (e.g., iron, calcium, zinc). Whole-wheat pasta is an even better source of these vitamins and minerals.
The foods listed above are great choices for keeping a healthy diet on a minimalist budget. Best of all, they are at a low price all year round, even when not on sale or without coupons.