When you're on a budget and shopping for one, it can feel nearly impossible to stock up on healthy foods. Fear not: We did the work for you. Check out our list of 44 tasty and healthy foods that'll cost you less than a buck per serving.
Note: Prices under $1 are based on units per serving and are followed by national average retail price. Pricing is approximate and will vary by brand and location.
1. Pinto Beans
Price: $0.30 per 1/2 cup, $3 per can
If you're a big fan of ordering refried beans at restaurants, you'll be glad to hear that they're a snap to : Just mash up pinto beans with garlic and spices on the stove. Packed with , pinto beans are a delicious and health-minded addition to any homemade burrito, soup, or salad.
Price: $0.60 per ounce (20-25 nuts), $5 per 8-ounce bag
Grab a small handful of almonds during the day or add to a bowl of cereal or oatmeal for an extra-filling kick of protein. in monounsaturated fat and fiber too, these super nuts could reduce the risk of diabetes and aid in weight loss. Kamil A, Chen CY. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 2012, Feb.;60(27):1520-5118." data-widget="linkref
Price: $0.50 per ounce (25-30 nuts), $4 per 8-ounce bag
Though some peanut butters are packed with sugar, in their natural form, these legumes can be healthy treat. When eaten in moderation, peanuts supply a dose of healthy fats and can reduce the risk of heart disease. Mattes RD, Kris-Etherton PM, Foster GD. The Journal of nutrition, 2008, Sep.;138(9):1541-6100." data-widget="linkref
5. Chicken Breasts
6. Black Beans
Price: $0.30 per 1/2 cup, $1.50 per can
These unassuming pack a ton of fiber, as well as calcium, potassium, and folic acid. Pro tip: Buy dry beans for an even better health deal. Boiling them at home may preserve more of their cancer-fighting antioxidants. Xu BJ, Chang SK. Journal of food science, 2008, Mar.;73(2):1750-3841." data-widget="linkref Cook up some black bean soup or make a healthy black-bean taco.
Price: $0.12 per 1/2 cup, $1.50 per pound (dry, in bulk)
These mild legumes add richness to curries and soups, act as a great meat replacement for or burgers. Bonus points: Lentils have more per pound than beef and are rich with antioxidants, so it might be worth it to trade in that cheeseburger once in a while. Xu B, Chang SK. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 2010, Apr.;58(3):1520-5118." data-widget="linkref
8. Garbanzo Beans
Price: $0.30 per 1/2 cup, $3 per can
These little beans (also known as chickpeas) pack a serious amount of . Roast them with olive oil and your favorite spices (think: cumin, paprika, or curry powder) to use as a crouton replacement or blend into DIY hummus.
Price: $0.20 per ounce, $3 per pound
High in protein and low in fat, is a delicious staple for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Plus soy in moderation may help reduce cholesterol and the risk of breast cancer. McCarty MF. Medical hypotheses, 2000, Mar.;53(6):0306-9877." data-widget="linkref Pan-fry tofu with veggies in your next stir-fry, scramble extra-firm tofu like eggs, and try the silken variety in a fruit smoothie.
10. Pumpkin Seeds
Price: $0.50 per ounce, $6 per pound
Pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas) go well in a salad or can be roasted with spices for a crunchy snack. Seeing as they're with essential vitamins and minerals, along with protein and iron, you really can't go wrong. Glew RH, Glew RS, Chuang LT. Plant foods for human nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 2006, Sep.;61(2):0921-9668." data-widget="linkref
Price: $1 per pound (in bulk)
are high in fiber, low in fat, and may even help lower cholesterol. Othman RA, Moghadasian MH, Jones PJ. Nutrition reviews, 2011, Sep.;69(6):1753-4887. Sadiq Butt M, Tahir-Nadeem M, Khan MK. European journal of nutrition, 2008, Feb.;47(2):1436-6207." data-widget="linkref You probably already know about oatmeal, but don't be afraid to mix things up with one of these overnight oats recipes instead.
12. Canned Salmon
Price: $0.20 per ounce, $2.50 per 14.75 -ounce can
No need to splurge on a salmon fillet to enjoy this omega-3-packed seafood. Levitan EB, Wolk A, Mittleman MA. European journal of clinical nutrition, 2010, Mar.;64(6):1476-5640." data-widget="linkref Grab the canned version for some —without having to dish out big bucks. Then try whipping up a batch of homemade salmon burgers.
13. Canned Tuna
Price: $0.30 per ounce, $1.50 per 5-ounce can
Not only is tuna cheap, but it’s an another easy way to get (which play a crucial role in ). Try mixing with hummus or Greek yogurt for a healthier tuna salad.
14. Whey Protein
Price: $0.75 per scoop, $40 per 3-pound container
Need an extra dose of protein? Add whey protein to a smoothie or bowl of oatmeal, or sneak it into your next batch of brownies.
16. Cottage Cheese
Price: $1 per 1/2 cup, $5.50 per 16-ounce container
This clumpy, mild cheese is surprisingly , and tastes great in both sweet and savory dishes. Like yogurt, cottage cheese typically comes in full-fat, low-fat, and fat-free varieties, so choose whichever fits best into your diet. Try it topped with sliced pineapple and berries or make it savory in a creamy .
Price: $0.25 per cup, $4 per gallon
Add a splash of milk to a fruit smoothie or enjoy it as a classic: over a bowl of cereal. One calcium-filled glass can help keep teeth strong and even stave off excess pounds. Angeles-Agdeppa I, Capanzana MV, Li-Yu J. Food and nutrition bulletin, 2010, Nov.;31(3):0379-5721." data-widget="linkref
18. Brown Rice
Price: $0.18 per 1/4 cup, $2 per pound
Use instead of white rice in any recipe (just note that cooking times differ) for a more exciting flavor and texture. Plus this whole-grain version of rice is full of and may cut the risk of diabetes. Buckwalter KA, Ellis JH, Baker DE. Radiology, 1986, Dec.;161(3):0033-8419." data-widget="linkref
19. Whole-Wheat Pasta
Price: $0.37 per 1/2 cup, $3 per box
Enjoy whole-wheat pasta's nutty flavor paired with sautéed veggies and a fresh tomato sauce. Not only is the whole-wheat version of pasta more complex in taste, it's packed with , antioxidants, and protein, and it may even help lower the risk of heart disease. Mellen PB, Walsh TF, Herrington DM. Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD, 2007, Apr.;18(4):1590-3729." data-widget="linkref
Price: $0.30 per 1/2 cup, $1 per pound for kernels
Popcorn is a low-calorie snack that's also a good source of . Pop kernels on the stove or in a paper bag in the microwave, and then top with your fave spices, like taco seasoning or cinnamon and sugar.
Price: $0.60 per 1/4 cup, $5 per 12-ounce box
Add cooked quinoa to sweet granola bowls and veg-filled salads or serve as a side instead of pasta. Bursting with , quinoa also contains all nine essential amino acids (that the body can't produce on its own). Ruales J, Nair BM. Plant foods for human nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 1992, Apr.;42(1):0921-9668." data-widget="linkref
Price: $0.75 per cup, $1.50 per pound
Add sliced grapes to salads instead of sugar-filled dried fruit or freeze them for a refreshing summer snack. It'll be well worth it: These tiny fruits are high in that may help reduce cholesterol.
Price: $0.30 per cup, $5 per melon
This feisty superfood might have , but it's guaranteed to be packed with , a cancer-fighting antioxidant that helps strengthen immunity and promote bone health. Slice and enjoy (or make these simple watermelon popsicles).
Price: $0.40 per kiwi
Did you know kiwis are actually berries? Start snacking, because they're packed with . Add a kiwi to your next fruit salad or granola bowl, or enjoy straight up with a spoon.
Price: $0.50 per 1/2 cup, $3 per small melon
Cantaloupe makes a perfect spring or summer treat. The -packed fruit pairs well with yogurt or can be frozen as a DIY popsicle.
Price: $0.75 per apple
An apple a day, right? have shown that eating apples may be linked to a decreased risk of cancer, diabetes, and even asthma. Eat them plain, smear with a nut butter, or pair with a few cubes of cheese for a protein-and-carb rich snack—perfect post workout.
Price: $0.85 each, $1.75 per pound
White fruits, like , may help prevent strokes, at least according to one study. Oude Griep LM, Verschuren WM, Kromhout D. Stroke; a journal of cerebral circulation, 2011, Sep.;42(11):1524-4628." data-widget="linkref But that doesn't mean you should only stick to one type. Keep your diet diverse and try the Bartlett, Bosc, and Anjou varieties.
Price: $0.50 each, $1 per pound
Oranges might get talked about for their vitamin C content, but they're also strong in . If you'd rather go with the juice, skip the carton and to make sure you're not downing any unnecessary sugar.
Price: $0.30 per bulb
Add minced garlic to any pan of sautéed vegetables or roast whole in the oven for a sweeter flavor, and then blend into salad dressings and dips. In addition to its vitamins and minerals, garlic may help enhance memory (at least in rats) and reduce the chance of heart attack. Haider S, Naz N, Khaliq S. Journal of medicinal food, 2009, Feb.;11(4):1557-7600. Galeone C, Tavani A, Pelucchi C. European journal of nutrition, 2009, Jan.;48(2):1436-6215." data-widget="linkref
31. Canned Pumpkin
Price: $0.75 per 1/2 cup, about $2.50 per 15-ounce can
Pumpkin’s orange color comes from carotenoids, a plant pigment with powerful antioxidant properties. Arima HK, Rodríguez-Amaya DB. Archivos latinoamericanos de nutrición, 1992, Mar.;40(2):0004-0622." data-widget="linkref Add canned pumpkin to sweet or savory recipes—smoothies, muffins, veggie burgers, curries, and more!
32. Canned Tomatoes
Price: $0.50 per 1/2 cup, $1.80 per 14.8-ounce can
Tomatoes retain exceptional amounts of the antioxidant lycopene even after cooking and canning. Rao AV. Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.), 2002, Dec.;227(10):1535-3702." data-widget="linkref Canned tomatoes are perfect for homemade sauces and stews, but be on the lookout for cans with no added sodium or sugar (and that are preferably ).
Price: $0.18 each, $0.59 per pound
Use along with garlic as an aromatic base for stir-fries, stews, and sauces; or sauté until golden and sweet, then add to salads, pastas, or sandwiches. Not only will your food be more flavorful, but you'll also be doing your body a favor—onions pack a surprisingly nutritious punch, including a hefty dose of . Griffiths G, Trueman L, Crowther T. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 2003, Mar.;16(7):0951-418X." data-widget="linkref
Price: $0.50 each, $2 per pound
Raw carrot sticks are perfect for dipping into hummus or nut butters (don't knock it 'til you try it!) and taste great roasted with other root veggies and a drizzle of olive oil. That nutritious crunch comes with tons of vitamin A. Tang G, Qin J, Dolnikowski GG. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2005, Nov.;82(4):0002-9165." data-widget="linkref
35. Winter Squash
Price: $0.50 per cup (raw, chopped), $2 per bunch
Kale is the among fruits and veggies and contains vitamins A, C, and K; fiber; calcium; iron; and potassium. Bonus: kale chips. Need we say more?
Price: $0.35 each, $1 per pound
These magenta gems are filled with betalains, an antioxidant that may help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases. Kapadia GJ, Azuine MA, Sridhar R. Pharmacological research, 2003, Sep.;47(2):1043-6618. Kanner J, Harel S, Granit R. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 2002, Jan.;49(11):0021-8561." data-widget="linkref They are also packed with folate, fiber, and vitamins galore—making them one of the best health bargains around. Ninfali P, Angelino D. Fitoterapia, 2013, Jun.;89():1873-6971." data-widget="linkref Roast with olive oil for salads or as a side dish, or add to a smoothie.
Price: $0.50 per 1/2 cup, $2 per bunch
has remarkably high levels of folate and vitamin C, which may help reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Yuan GF, Sun B, Yuan J. Journal of Zhejiang University. Science. B, 2009, Oct.;10(8):1862-1783. Verhoeven DT, Goldbohm RA, van Poppel G. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology, 1997, Jan.;5(9):1055-9965." data-widget="linkref This veggie tastes amazing blended in soup, stuffed in potatoes, tossed in frittatas, or simply cooked with a bit of garlic and olive oil.
Price: $0.50 per cup, $2 per bunch
Replace lettuce with spinach in salads for added benefits or add a few handfuls into your morning smoothie. These unassuming greens are with vitamins A, K, and calcium.
40. Sweet Potatoes
Price: $0.50 each, $1 per pound
Try this healthy alternative in place of a bread slice the next time you're whipping up an avocado-on-toast recipe. have high levels of vitamin A and calcium, they're lower in carbohydrates than their white counterparts (just in case you're counting). Studies also show the root veggie has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic activities. Mohanraj R, Sivasankar S. Journal of medicinal food, 2014, Jun.;17(7):1557-7600." data-widget="linkref
Price: $0.50 per 1/2 cup, $3 per 10-ounce frozen package
Skip the chips and enjoy edamame steamed with a touch of salt. These bite-size legumes are filled with , which make for a great afternoon snack.
Price: $0.40 per 16-ounce cup brewed at home, $10 per pound
Not only is it amazing for you, but brewing coffee at home can save some serious cash. This morning pick-me-up also that help protect your heart. A small cup can be a great pre-workout choice to help increase endurance (just make sure you limit yourself to about a half cup).
Price: $0.10 per tea bag, $5 per box
There are plenty of , ranging from lowering risks of depression and strokes to reducing chances of getting certain liver diseases. It may even help you maintain a healthy weight. The journal for nurse practitioners : JNP. 2010;6(2):153-154. doi:10.1016/j.nurpra.2009.12.005." data-widget="linkref Skip the sugary stuff and brew iced tea at home, and opt for the green variety if looking to maximize intake.
Price: Free (... kind of).
Head to the nearest faucet: Our bodies depend on it! Water keeps us hydrated, flushes out toxins, and helps keep you full between meals. Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 2009, Aug.;18(2):1930-739X." data-widget="linkref Still need more proof? Just check out one of these science-backed reasons water is awesome.
Originally published April 2013. Updated July 2016.