10 Healthy Foods Under $3

by in Healthy Tips, May 12, 2009


It’s a common myth that healthy foods come with a high price tag. Here are 10 foods overflowing with nutrients that won’t bust your grocery budge. Stock up on your next market run!

#1: Non-Fat, Plain Greek Yogurt
Cost: $1 per 6-ounce container
Greek yogurt has a thicker texture and tangier flavor than regular yogurt — and that’s a good thing! It’s also is high in calcium, probiotics and contains no added sugar. Enjoy it with fresh fruit, added to smoothies or to replace half the mayo in any recipe. I use it instead of sour cream on baked potatoes and tacos. I like the Fage brand, which you can find in most grocery stores; Trader Joe’s has their own brand as well. Buy in larger sizes (which will cost more), to get more yogurt for your buck.

#2: Whole Grain Pasta
Cost: $2.29 per pound
Every cook has pasta in the cupboard for quick weeknight meals. Whole-grain versions have the same calories as refined “white” pasta, but more fiber, protein and vitamins. You can feed 4 to 6 people with a pound of pasta (as long as you follow the serving sizes!), so it’s an excellent, budget-friendly option. If you’re not quite ready for whole-grain pasta, you may also like Barilla Plus, a whole grain blend with great texture and a milder flavor than whole wheat.

#3: Bananas
Cost: $0.39 each
You can’t beat a healthy snack that costs less than 50 cents! A medium banana has about 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber as well as potassium and vitamin B6. Best of all, bananas are easy to transport (and come in their own sterile package). Add sliced pieces to cereal, oatmeal or a peanut butter sandwich for a more substantial meal. Apples and oranges — our other favorite, classic fruits — carry a similar price tag when they’re in season.

#4: Brown Rice
Cost: $1.40 per pound
Like whole-grain pastas, brown rice has the same calories but more nutrients than the white variety — and you can take advantage of that for only a small price difference (about $0.03 more per ounce). I use rice for stir-fries, burritos and cold veggie and rice salads. A little goes a long way -– 1/3 cup dry rice cooks up to 1 cup.

#5: Frozen Peas
Cost: $2.19 per pound
Peas are nutrient-rich legumes. One cup has 6 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein and more than half a days worth of vitamin A — all for only 100 calories. Frozen peas are a lot more convenient than shelling your own; plus, they keep for months and you can quickly add them to a variety of meals. I toss them into soups, salads, rice and pasta dishes to add some flavor, texture and fresh green color.

#6: Almonds
Cost: $0.33-$1 per ounce
Nuts may have a reputation for being pricey but as you can see, they are actually very budget-friendly – especially when you consider that 1 ounce is a proper portion for a snack (that’s about 22 almonds). Almonds are a great source of heart healthy unsaturated fat, vitamin E and protein. So enjoy them – just do so in moderation.

#7: Eggs
Cost: $2-3 per dozen
Eggs are not only a terrific source of protein; they also contain omega-3 fats and vitamin B-12 for energy production. And no, they’re not just for breakfast –- I like to whip up omelets, quiche or frittatas for easy, affordable weeknight dinners. A plain, hard-boiled egg makes a fast and filling snack, too.

#8: Sweet Potatoes
Cost: $1 each
Did you know a medium baked sweet potato has almost 40% of you daily vitamin C needs and over 400% of your daily vitamin A? Yeah, these babies are superstars. The bright orange color tells you that they are chock-full of beta-carotene — the antioxidant that helps protect cells from cancer or aging. Baked, roasted, boiled, mashed or even grilled, I love them anyway I can get them.

#9: Canned Beans
Cost: $1 per 15.5-ounce can
If you read Toby’s post on the benefits of beans, then you already know how nutritious they are. They’re also affordable, convenient and last in your pantry for up to a year. Just make sure to always rinse and drain them well before adding to soups, stews, salads and rice or pasta dishes — otherwise you’re keeping unnecessary sodium. (P.S.: Buying dried beans in bulk is even cheaper.)

#10: Broccoli
Cost: $2.50-3 per bunch
One cup of broccoli has only 30 calories and more vitamin C than an orange (it’s true!). Raw, steamed, stir-fried or roasted, broccoli takes on very different flavors, so experiment and see which you like the best (we do a lot of roasted broccoli in our house). Buy the bunch broccoli instead of the crowns; the stalks have a ton of flavor and you get more for your money. Add chopped stalks to stir-fry or shred them to make your own broccoli slaw.

TELL US: What’s another low-cost, healthy favorite that’s always in your shopping cart?

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Comments (65)

  1. Dana White says:

    Hi Ms. Mary –
    Thanks for your question. Rinsing canned beans can reduce the sodium content by as much as 40%. Removing the canning liquid also helps to cut down on some of the gaseous quality of the beans.

  2. grilled portobello mushrooms and bell peppers with a slice of smoked swiss makes an incredible burger. I love beef burgers but I ea this because it tastes great and is inexpensive.
    burn the skin on the pepper and peel it. It gives a great smoky flavor. add a 1/4 of the pepper to each grilled mushroom.

  3. ana says:

    Frozen veggies, they are free of preservatives and great for soups, so healthy and cheap

  4. ana says:

    Put frozen veggies (okra,tomatoes,onion,green beans,peas,carrots,potatoes, zucchini,squash) one diced green plantain, one diced sweet potatoe, one diced malanga,yellow squash.. Add Ragu sauce, a lot, add a pinch of cumin,garlic and of course, water. Cook until tender, you can make a puree, or eat as soup…Try it…

  5. Karen says:

    You rinse canned beans because they are ridiculously full of salt.
    A 1/2 cup serving of beans can have 500 or more mg of sodium. Add that to a soup, or taco seasoning and you can easily go over your RDA of 2500 mg for the whole day.
    Some soups can have over 1200mg in one cup!

  6. Kathy says:

    I have had trouble connecting to your links. I just filled out the questionnaire on losing weight with Ellie Krieger and it would said can’t find the website?

  7. HELEN FERR says:

    Rinse your beans, it sits in lots of salt and starch, mix them with tomotoes, celery,onions,carrots,dice zucchini,one cube of cheese, mix with a light salad dressing

  8. mevens says:

    Peanut butter! It gives me a good source of protein and it lasts forever.

  9. Debbie says:

    Lots of whole grain barley. You can purchase lots of different rices and barley at asian markets at reasonable prices. Home made tapioca and rice puddings. So easy to make and a great way to get a healthy dessert utilizing stevia, rice or honey for sweetening.
    Large cans of crushed tomatoes should also be in everyone’s cubbard. Save your stale pieces of bread for bread pudding or making breadcrumbs.

  10. Lydia says:

    We prefer ground turkey instead of ground beef in pretty much any recipe… it’s half the fat and about half the calories. you can get a one pound chub for usually less than $1.50…

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