60 Healthy Foods for Pennies Per Serving

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!

1. Apples

A great mid-afternoon snack when raw or a dessert when cooked. Just make sure you wash the skins first.

2. Bananas

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.

4. Barley

Nutty flavored and makes a nice change from potatoes, rice and pasta. Barley Mushroom Pilaf

5. Beans

Good as a base for soup or a thickener. Soak in baking soda or cook with a peeled carrot to reduce gas.

6. Beets

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.

10. Broccoli

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.

13. Cabbage

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.

15. Carrots

The beta-carotene is good for your eyes but there’s so much more to the most inexpensive of veggies. (Easy to grow, too.)

16. Celery

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.

19. Coffee

Skip super-expensive Starbucks (45 calories from fat) and bring a thermos of home-brew to work.

20. Cornmeal

White, yellow and blue cornmeal are all roughly ground and make a nice change from wheat.

21. Cucumbers

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.

24. Eggs

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.

27. Greens

Nutritionally rich, tons of fiber and available year round. Delicious sauteed in olive oil with onions, garlic and cayenne.

28. Grapes

I like to peel them to make for a long-lasting snack. It’s addictive.

29. Grapefruit

Two servings each packed with vitamin C, pectin fiber and antioxidants. Sweeten by cooking.

30. Kale

A highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties; considered to be anti-inflammatory.

31. Kiwis

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.

32. Lentils

The versatile legume makes great soups or mix up a can with fresh tomatoes for a snack.

33. Mangoes

Packed with vitamins A, B6, and C with fiber to spare. Hard to peel but has a great smooth texture. Watch for sales.

34. Milk

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!

35. Nuts

Pay less for peanuts, almonds and walnuts in the shell. A handful makes a healthy mid-day snack.

36. Oats

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.

38. Onions

Bake whole or chop for added zest in just about any recipe. Saute with a dab of olive oil until they glisten.

39. Oranges

The tiny ones make a great snack at work or school. Cut-up a big one for breakfast.

40. Pasta

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.

42. Pears

Ripen at 65 to 75 degrees F for 4-10 days, depending on the type.

43. Popcorn

Pop some up at home with a minimum of salt and oil to feed the late-night munchies.

44. Potatoes

Avoid fries and chips, eat them with the skins or mashed and you’ve got potassium and vitamin C.

45. Pumpkin

Scrape the soft flesh before carving and bake or puree.

46. Pumpkin Seeds

Snack on jack-o-lantern guts for protein and essential minerals.

47. Rice

In India, rice is cooked in boiling milk and sweetened with jaggery (an unrefined sugar) to make a rice pudding called Payash.

48. Rutabagas

A cross between the cabbage and turnip; eat the bulb root or leaves to avoid goitres.

49. Sardines

Mash with parsley, olive oil and lemon juice then spread on crackers for an appetizer rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

50. Spinach

Packed with nutrients; easy base for an omelet.

51. Split Peas

Yellow and green varieties are an inexpensive source of protein.

52. Squash

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.

55. Tofu

Inexpensive, health protein source. Doesn’t take much to fill you. Don’t like the texture? Try it in smoothies.

56. Tuna

Cans packed in water are dirt cheap lately and almost 100-percent protein.

57. Turkey

A popular bargain-priced loss-leader around the holidays. Buy an extra bird and freeze it for later, if you have room.

58. Turnips

The root is high in vitamin C and three greens are a good source of Vitamin A, C, K and calcium.

59. Water

Yes, water is food, and it’s relatively free. Replace pop and coffee with water to reduce hunger cravings.

60. Yogurt

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