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25 Cheap And Healthy Foods You Need To Know

25 Cheap And Healthy Foods You Need To Know

“I really want to eat healthy, it’s just that I’m broke!” Sound familiar? As a former college student and member of Club Broke, I know the feeling. But who says healthy eating has to be expensive? Get fit on your budget with these 25 cheap and healthy foods you need to know about.

Frozen/Canned Fruits and Vegetables

Buying fresh produce is great if you can afford it, but I know it doesn’t fit every budget. Fortunately, frozen and canned varieties of fruits and veggies are an affordable way to nourish your body with vitamins and minerals that will increase your energy, immunity, and health.

1. Spinach 

Spinach is a nutritional power-house that offers a variety of vitamins and minerals, fiber, protein, and a staggering amount of antioxidants. If you’re not a fan of the taste, mix tiny chunks into a sandwich or egg-and-cheese omelet (seriously, you won’t even notice it).

Read more: 10 Delicious Recipes Made with Frozen Spinach

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is a great bang-for-your-buck vegetable that reduces your cancer risk and detoxifies waste within your body.

Read more: 11 Benefits of Broccoli to Convince Anyone to Eat It

3. Green beans

Green beans provide a hefty dose of Vitamin A, which delays the signs of skin aging.

Read more: 11 Sinfully Easy Green Bean Casserole Recipes

4. Carrots 

Carrots aren’t just for rascally rabbits; they’re a great, healthy veggie snack that you could bring to work or on a road trip. You could also improve the flavor of your soups this winter by slicing-and-dicing a carrot to add to your delicious creation.

Read More: How to Grow Food Indoors in Winter

5. Corn

Corn comes equipped with lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that can improve your vision. Just don’t forget to use a toothpick if you’re eating it on the cob.

Read More: 33 Healthy Veggie Meals in 12 Minutes or Less

6. Tomatoes

Tomatoes could give you healthy, vibrant skin to die for. Beta-carotene protects your body from skin damage while lycopene makes your skin less sensitive to UV damage (one of the leading causes of wrinkles).

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Read More: The Health Benefits of Fruit

7. Strawberries

Strawberries are another fruit that could make you incredibly good-looking. This berry is bursting with biotin, a B-vitamin responsible for strong hair and nails. As an added bonus, the antioxidant ellagic acid prevents skin sagging.

Read More: 7-Minute Chocolate Covered Strawberries Recipe

8. Peaches

Peaches are a tasty treat that could relieve your upset stomach and put you in the mood for frisky fun.

Read More: 15 Natural Ways to Relieve Stomach Pain

9. Bananas 

Bananas pack more than 360 milligrams of potassium per 6 inches of fruit. Since potassium’s job description is “keep your heart beating,” it’s a good thing to eat more of.

Read More: 7 Benefits of Bananas You May Not Have Known About

10. Cherries 

Tart cherries are a great late-night snack; they contain the hormone melatonin, the hormone responsible for you getting sleepy every night.

Read More: Tonight Before You Go To Sleep, Make Sure You’ve Done These 10 Things

Bonus Tip #1

The cheapest fresh produce typically depends on what season it is, so be a savvy shopper. Check out this list of the cheapest fruits and vegetables month-by-month and go bargain shopping at a local farmer’s market.

Bonus Tip #2

There is zero difference between name-brands like Green Giant green beans and the generic variety offered by your grocery store, so stick with the generic labels for serious cash savings.

Protein

Wrapping your head around how many grams of protein you should eat per day isn’t easy, so let’s just keep it simple; aim for a fist-full of protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

11. Eggs

Eggs are the cheapest source of protein you’re going to find; in addition, creative chefs can prepare them in an end-less variety of ways by scrambling/poaching/boiling them, or mixing up the meats/veggies/cheeses used in their morning omelets. On a semi-related note, breakfast for dinner is always a good idea.

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Read More: 10 Amazing Facts About Eggs You Need to Know

12. Canned tuna

Tuna is probably the highest dose/lowest cost source of protein you can find. You probably shouldn’t eat canned tuna every day due to the mercury content, but as long as you’re alternating it with another meat or two from right below here, you’ll be fine.

Read More: 8 Things You Should Know About Eating Sushi

13. Meat (beef/chicken/turkey/etc.)

Chicken and turkey are your best bets for price/value, but keep an eye out for discounts on beef and lamb. Here’s a list of vegetarian foods high in protein just in case you don’t eat meat (because if you don’t, you need to pay special attention to this).

Read More: The Ultimate Kitchen Cheat Sheet

14. Protein powder 

Whey protein is a super convenient protein source that you can grab-and-go as needed. Buy your protein in bulk to save money, and make sure you choose a credible brand, like Optimum Nutrition.

Read More: 20 Juice and Smoothie Recipes for Energy and Vitality

15. Cottage cheese 

Cottage cheese contains 23 grams of protein per serving, plus 18% of your recommended daily calcium intake for stronger bones less prone to injury.

Read More: 5 Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work (note #3 — Baked Cottage Cheese Wrap)

Bonus Tip #3

Since meat is normally the most expensive food you buy, check out your local ads to find the best deal on meat. Perform this search once or twice a week as needed and enjoy the savings.

Fat

Fat does NOT make you fat; on the contrary, consuming healthy fats like the ones listed below will help you stay full and satisfied during the day, making it less likely you’ll over-eat. Please note that eggs and meat (preferably free-range and grass-fed if you can afford it) are two of the best sources of fat you can get, but I’m not listing them here since I just mentioned them as a protein.

16. Olive oil

Just two tablespoons of olive oil per day could offer a host of benefits including improved brain function, bone health, and protection from viruses.

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Read More: The Many Uses and Benefits of Olive Oil

17. Butter 

Butter is not the enemy; if you want an enemy, look in the direction of margarine masquerading as a “health food” (while truthfully being full of artificial chemicals and devoid of nutrition).

Pro-tip: if it looks like the food’s packaging is desperately trying to convince you that it’s healthy, it’s probably not healthy.

Read More: How to Make Butter at Home

18. Cheese

Cheese could save you from a dental bill; this food contains an extremely high amount of calcium, which is the most important mineral for strong teeth.

Read More: How to Make a Grilled Cheese with No Mess

19. Nuts

Nuts are a portable, protein-packed, heart-healthy snack that could increase your longevity.

Read More: How to Make Nuts Healthier

20. Avocado 

Avocado offers 39% of your recommended daily fiber intake, plus avocado’s ability to “prevent unwanted inflammation is absolutely unquestionable in the world of health research.” (Source)

Read More: 4 Benefits of Avocado That Make It More Irresistible

Bonus Tip #4

Keep a plastic bag of nuts in your purse or pocket just in case you get hungry in the afternoon; this will help you counter those afternoon cravings with a healthy fat that satisfies your hunger until dinner-time.

Carbs

Despite what Dr. Atkins might have said, carbs are not the devil. Eating too much of anything — carbs, fat, protein, even fruit — will result in weight-gain. For now, consume 1 serving of carbs from the list below with every meal.

21. Rice

Rice, whole-grain or not, is a great cheap cooking accessory to keep in your kitchen. Debating the pro’s and con’s of brown rice versus white rice would require an essay (and this is already long enough!), so to dive into that debate, go here.

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Read More: How to Cook Brown Rice Like a Chef

22. Beans/legumes

Legumes are a great source of carbs and protein that you can add to soups, salads, and dips. The nutritional value of legumes varies depending on type, so compare the labels in your store to figure out your best options.

Read More: 11 Sinfully Easy Crock Pot Recipes

23. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a slow-digesting carbohydrate that hangs out in your stomach for a while after consumption, which could help you control cravings since you’ll feel full longer.

Read More: How to Cook Oatmeal Perfectly

24. Potatoes

Potatoes, like oatmeal, are rich in complex carbs that digest slowly and reduce over-eating.

Read More: How to Grow Potatoes in Your Garden

25. Popcorn 

Instead of munching on candy the next time you enjoy a movie marathon, opt for natural popcorn which includes fiber and a surprising amount of antioxidants.

Read More: Is Popcorn Healthy? 5 Ways to Keep Popcorn Healthy

Bonus Tip #5

There is an endless varieties of stir fry you could make with rice, a meat, and a vegetable or two. If you’d like some suggestions, check out these stir fry recipes. Oatmeal is another food that can be prepared in a number of ways, so check out these oatmeal recipes if you’d like to keep your breakfast fun and interesting.

Proper Nutrition: Best Practices

The best way to ensure proper nutrition is to eat a wide variety of the cheap and healthy foods on this list. To guide you in the right direction, I suggest starting with:

  • Have at least 1 fruit and veggie per meal (for a total of 3 per day). Aim to consume a full rainbow of fruits and veggies as different colors typically contain different vitamins and minerals.
  • Have one fist-full of protein per meal (that could be 2 eggs, canned tuna, or 6-8 oz. of meat).
  • Fat helps you stay full and satisfied, so start your day with a high fat/high protein breakfast. This is especially important if you tend to get hungry at work and snack on not-so-healthy things. A ham-and-cheese-omelet cooked in olive oil served with chopped tomato, berries, and a handful of nuts would do the trick.
  • The more active you are, the more carbs you need. Consume more carbs on days you exercise and less carbs on days you don’t. In other words: you may eat that bowl of pasta, but make it a workout day if you can.
  • Track your results by measuring your waist once per week and taking a progress photo once per month. Going in the right direction? Great! Don’t change a thing.
    Going in the wrong direction? First, don’t jump to the automatic conclusion that you need to eat less; many people pursuing fat loss (especially females) are not eating enough. Join an online support community like Fitocracy or the Nerd Fitness message boards to get support from experienced folks who would be happy to help you.

Click here to download a one-page budget friendly shopping guide that you can print and take to the store.

I hope this guide to cheap and healthy foods helps you get fit on your budget. If you have any other money-saving health tips, please share them in the comments.

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More by this author

Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 12, 2021

100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier

100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier

Want to learn some quick and easy life hacks that are easy to do, low cost and saves you time?

By tweaking little things in your daily life, it can make your life much more convenient!

Here’re 100 of the most practical life hacks so you can just pick up any of them right away!

83 tie a small piece of bright colored fabric

    84 write random letter

      85 use a rubberband

        86 dorm smell bad

          87 lean your phone on your sunglassess

            89 how to waterproof your shoes

              90 take a picture of the name card

                91 iron inside out

                  92 old newspaper

                    93 tumble try shoes

                      keep a card like this

                        SONY DSC

                          94 soap bar

                            95 make a hole

                              96 drop the battery

                                97 use a coozie

                                  98 when taking a picture

                                    use a clean dust pan

                                      try a pants hanger

                                        use your cellphone light

                                          use a spring from an old pen

                                            quick and easy iphone speaker

                                              user binder clips

                                                wrap a wet paper towel around your beverage

                                                  put pancake mix in a ketchup bottle

                                                    clean out an old lotion bottle for your beach

                                                      use a muffin tin to serve condiments at a bbq

                                                        doritos are great for kindling

                                                          use nail polish to identify different keys

                                                            use a hanging shoe rack to store cleaning supplies

                                                              freeze grapes to chill white wine without

                                                                use paper clips to organize your cables

                                                                  almost finished your jar of nutella

                                                                    sick of having a box full of tangled

                                                                      unroll the rim to increase the capacity

                                                                        cut open toilet paper rolls and use as a cuff

                                                                          remove the stem from strawberries

                                                                            turn an old bottle into a simple little cord holder

                                                                              for iced coffee and iced cappuccino, use frozen coffee cubes

                                                                                how to fold a fitted bed sheet

                                                                                  tired of snoozing past your alarm

                                                                                    place a rubber band around an open paint can to wipe your brush on

                                                                                      ut a wooden spoon across a boiling pot

                                                                                        use bread clips to save flip-flops

                                                                                          take pictures of friends holding items

                                                                                            how i always know which headphone is the left one

                                                                                              put a stocking over the end of a vacuum

                                                                                                How to make sure you drink enough water

                                                                                                  user a can opener to open blister

                                                                                                    good sandwich guide

                                                                                                      turn your muffin pans upside down

                                                                                                        50 pounds of groceries and living on the 5th floor

                                                                                                          the right way to make a blt

                                                                                                            add one teaspoon of baking soda

                                                                                                              38

                                                                                                                hair straighteners equals to collar irons

                                                                                                                  stack your clothes vertically to see them all

                                                                                                                    the right way to make cookies in the summer

                                                                                                                      how to clean a blender

                                                                                                                        the right way to eat a popsicle

                                                                                                                          use bread clips to label and organize power cords

                                                                                                                            to get the built up residue off of your shower head

                                                                                                                              user a hair clip to orgainize long wires

                                                                                                                                a frozen saturated sponge in a bag

                                                                                                                                  rub stuck zipper teeth with a graphite pencil

                                                                                                                                    use a soda pop tab

                                                                                                                                      50

                                                                                                                                        51 How to multiply large numbers in your head.

                                                                                                                                          52 How to open a bottle if you dont have a corkscrew.

                                                                                                                                            rub a walnut on damaged wooden furniture

                                                                                                                                              kids fall out of bed

                                                                                                                                                use toothpaste to clear up hazy car

                                                                                                                                                  58

                                                                                                                                                    59 keep pizza out while driving home

                                                                                                                                                      60 put your straw through the tab to keep it from rising

                                                                                                                                                        hold oreos with a fork so your fingers

                                                                                                                                                          Never lose your remotes again

                                                                                                                                                            hiding your emergency money

                                                                                                                                                              use a bread tab to hold your spot on a roll

                                                                                                                                                                if you are at a hotel and run out of chargers

                                                                                                                                                                  keep a square of cardboard in a ziplock bag

                                                                                                                                                                    If you need to pee or smoke at a bar

                                                                                                                                                                      drill holes in the bottom of your garbage

                                                                                                                                                                        use an accented letter as your passcode

                                                                                                                                                                          use a squeeze ketchup bottle top with your shopvac

                                                                                                                                                                            do something unusual when locking the door

                                                                                                                                                                              when heating leftovers space out a circle in the middle

                                                                                                                                                                                dont burn yourself in those hard to reach candles

                                                                                                                                                                                  put a small amount of water in a glass when you microwave your pizza

                                                                                                                                                                                    75 use a piece of paper to organize

                                                                                                                                                                                      use half a pool noodle

                                                                                                                                                                                        pencil case to store cables

                                                                                                                                                                                          78 clothespin to hold nail

                                                                                                                                                                                            79 make blts

                                                                                                                                                                                              80 take a picture of your fridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                81 fill plastic water bottles

                                                                                                                                                                                                  82 right ways to eat chips

                                                                                                                                                                                                    99 if your plug keeps failing

                                                                                                                                                                                                      100 put the banana on the wire

                                                                                                                                                                                                        88 before you throw away a post it

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Source: Reddit LifeProTips

                                                                                                                                                                                                          There you go, 100 awesome life hacks that you can try right now to make your life a lot easier!

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