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. CK says:

    Try making your own yogurt. Yes, you need a tablespoon or two for the starter, but you make it once, then you’ve got it for next time. Can also use lowfat/skim milk. Last time I bought Greek style yogurt at TJ’s, I was horrified by the fat content. That much fat per serving can’t be good for you. It was more like whipped cream. Delicious but too fatty for me.

  2. Bob C. says:

    I second all of the above! especially the lentils and carrots! I want to add miso paste. Great instant soup! Add whatever you want. I like diced tofu or chicken. Sometimes I add dried seaweed or spinach.

  3. Marne says:

    For Beverly, if your local grocer doesn’t carry the product you’re looking for ask them to order it. My local chain does this for customers. Have all the info you can find about the product with you and go see the manager. It’s worth a try.

  4. Ryan says:

    Beverly – you can make greek style yogurt by straining regular plain yogurt through a coffee filter.

  5. Laura says:

    Pears!!! Very satisfying for hunger and a sweet tooth!

  6. Shoshana says:

    10 Healthy Foods Under $3

    Cabbage is low in calories and therefore it is good for weight loss. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is believed that cabbage juice helps in treating peptic ulcers. Since cabbage is abundant in Vitamin C, it is good for protection from free radicals.
    100g of cabbage contain only 25 calories. This food is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and a good source of dietary fiber and folate. It largely contains carbohydrates.
    Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C. Cabbage is also a good source of thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin, and vitamin B6. It contains good amounts of vitamin k, folate, vitamin A and protein.
    Cabbage is an excellent source of manganese, calcium and potassium. It is a very good source of iron, phosphorous, magnesium. It is also a very good source of fiber, folate and omega-3 fatty acids. Further, sodium, zinc and copper are found in good amounts in cabbage.
    1 large Cabbage
    1 medium onion
    1 large carrot
    1 tbsp oil
    Fresh dill
    Black pepper
    Soy souse
    1tsp full of dry chicken stock flavoring
    Dash of salt
    Julianne the onion and sauté with the oil in a large skillet or wok pane,
    Julianne the carrot and add to the skillet
    Julianne the cabbage and add them to the skillet
    Sprinkle the spices, simmer and stir 4 times for even cooking
    The cabbage will be ready when it is opaque, soft and a little crispy
    And bon appétit!! Enjoy the best cabbage you ever had

  7. Alisha says:

    whole grain wraps($1.98-pack of 8) and baby spinach (3.68-for a big tub) I make egg wraps with a little low fat cheese and tomato-makes a great on the go breakfast

  8. Tightwad says:

    Great list! I've shared it with the readers of my blog, Top Tightwad Tips (see http://toptightwadtips.blogspot.com/), and encouraged them to read all these helpful comments, too!

  9. Casey says:

    Apples and oranges!!!

  10. joyce robinson says:

    Fresh cabbage is a staple each week

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