Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.
Are you trying to eat healthier food on an unhealthy budget? Fortunately, some of the cheapest foods are good for you.
The real trick to minimizing your grocery bill is finding the right recipes for healthy foods. That’s why we’re providing a list of 60 inexpensive and nutritious foods. Please note, however, that prices will vary based on the store, location and season. One serving refers to one apple, one cup of oats, etc.; not the entire bag of apples or bucket of oats. Bon appetit!
A great mid-afternoon snack when raw or a dessert when cooked. Just make sure you wash the skins first.
A portable source of potassium and a good basis for smoothies.
3. Baby Carrots
Keep a bag at work for a cheap and healthy snack.
Nutty flavored and makes a nice change from potatoes, rice and pasta. Barley Mushroom Pilaf
Good as a base for soup or a thickener. Soak in baking soda or cook with a peeled carrot to reduce gas.
Turned your nose up at beets as a kid? Give them another try.
7. Black Beans
Hands down, the most anti-oxidants of any bean. Soak raw beans for faster cooking time.
8. Black-eyed Peas
Good luck when eaten New Year’s Day. Also known as the cowpea.
9. Bok Choy
Light and sweetly flavored; a great way to stretch a wok meal.
Catch the crowns on sale for a low-calorie treat providing calcium, potassium, fiber.
11. Bulgar Wheat
A quick-cooking type of whole wheat you can use as a substitute for rice or cous cous.
12. Butternut Squash
Less than a buck in season and makes a deliciously smooth soup.
Try all three flavors: Green, red and Napa. All are filling and cheap.
14. Canned Tomatoes
Easier to cook with but make sure you use a low-sodium version.
The beta-carotene is good for your eyes but there’s so much more to the most inexpensive of veggies. (Easy to grow, too.)
It’s not true it takes more calories to eat celery than you earn, but it’s a nice idea. Not bad raw but a great energy boost when stuffed with peanut butter.
17. Celery Root
Grate with carrots and mix with low-fat milk and mayo for a French-version of coleslaw that’s unbelievably good.
18. Chicken Gizzards
Don’t throw away the bagged gizzards that come with each chicken. Properly cooked, they’re delicious and a great source of protein.
Skip super-expensive Starbucks (45 calories from fat) and bring a thermos of home-brew to work.
White, yellow and blue cornmeal are all roughly ground and make a nice change from wheat.
It’s hard to beat thinly sliced cucumbers and onions in a vinegar sauce for an easy and delicious potluck dish.
22. Daikon Radish
Also known as the Chinese radish, it looks like a carrot and is delicious raw. Low in calories and high in vitamin C.
23. Dried Plums
Prunes with an image makeover and the same benefits.
Less than $1 for half a dozen (sometimes for a dozen) and a cheap source of protein.
25. Garbanzo Beans
aka “chickpeas” are cheapest raw but even canned are a great protein.
26. Green Beans
Frozen retain their nutritive value but taste even better fresh. Stay away from the high-sodium canned.
Nutritionally rich, tons of fiber and available year round. Delicious sauteed in olive oil with onions, garlic and cayenne.
I like to peel them to make for a long-lasting snack. It’s addictive.
Two servings each packed with vitamin C, pectin fiber and antioxidants. Sweeten by cooking.
A highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties; considered to be anti-inflammatory.
Often $1 for 3 or 4 and they’re packed with vitamin C. Peps up smoothies or oatmeal. Tip: Spoon the fruit out of its shell.
The versatile legume makes great soups or mix up a can with fresh tomatoes for a snack.
Packed with vitamins A, B6, and C with fiber to spare. Hard to peel but has a great smooth texture. Watch for sales.
Prices have fallen to less than $1.50/gallon as a way to attract shoppers. Low-fat and non-fat milk really aren’t that bad!
Pay less for peanuts, almonds and walnuts in the shell. A handful makes a healthy mid-day snack.
Microwave slow or fast oats for two minutes in a bowl and mix with yogurt for breakfast.
37. Olive Oil
Drizzle on a crusty bread, douse with garlic salt and pop it into the toaster oven.
Bake whole or chop for added zest in just about any recipe. Saute with a dab of olive oil until they glisten.
The tiny ones make a great snack at work or school. Cut-up a big one for breakfast.
Whole grain pasta is a dietary staple with great nutritional value.
41. Pearl Barley
Not often remembered but the unique texture is great in soups, stews and casseroles.
Ripen at 65 to 75 degrees F for 4-10 days, depending on the type.
Pop some up at home with a minimum of salt and oil to feed the late-night munchies.
Avoid fries and chips, eat them with the skins or mashed and you’ve got potassium and vitamin C.
Scrape the soft flesh before carving and bake or puree.
46. Pumpkin Seeds
Snack on jack-o-lantern guts for protein and essential minerals.
In India, rice is cooked in boiling milk and sweetened with jaggery (an unrefined sugar) to make a rice pudding called Payash.
A cross between the cabbage and turnip; eat the bulb root or leaves to avoid goitres.
Mash with parsley, olive oil and lemon juice then spread on crackers for an appetizer rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Packed with nutrients; easy base for an omelet.
51. Split Peas
Yellow and green varieties are an inexpensive source of protein.
Acorn, spaghetti, zucchini, butternut, pumpkin, etc. Strictly speaking, they’re fruits, not vegetables.
53. Sweet Corn
Frozen or on the cob, it promotes healthy vision and a strong cardiovascular system.
54. Sweet Potatoes
Each of these orange babies packs four grams of fiber and more than 25 percent of daily vitamin A and C requirements.
Inexpensive, health protein source. Doesn’t take much to fill you. Don’t like the texture? Try it in smoothies.
Cans packed in water are dirt cheap lately and almost 100-percent protein.
A popular bargain-priced loss-leader around the holidays. Buy an extra bird and freeze it for later, if you have room.
The root is high in vitamin C and three greens are a good source of Vitamin A, C, K and calcium.
Yes, water is food, and it’s relatively free. Replace pop and coffee with water to reduce hunger cravings.
The best quick lunch and good for your digestive system. Cheaper if you buy in bulk, rather than individual servings.
But even the best foods aren’t enough. You physically can’t eat enough good foods to receive optimal levels of the essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phyotonutreints, etc. For that you need to supplement. Click here for the #1 rated nutritional supplements in North America