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Think you have to spend a lot of money in order to eat healthy? Think again.
Eating healthy is all about balance. You need a variety in your diet. Luckily, variation in your diet is also the best way to eat food for cheap.
Keep in mind, you can save a lot of money by eating seasonally, shopping at farmers markets, and by taking advantages of sales at your go-to grocery store.
Now, here are 25 healthy and cheap foods for you to start integrating in your meals.
Oatmeal is a great carb that I use for just about everything. I use it to mix with fruit in the morning for an easy, healthy breakfast and I add a couple handfuls to ground beef or turkey. It acts as a healthy filler to meat, so I can spend less money on protein, which is always the most expensive item on my list.
2) Black Beans
Beans can also be used as a filler, but they are also great on their own. One of my favorite things to make is a salsa salad – throw in a can of black beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro and jalepeno. So easy, healthy, and delicious!
3) Brown Rice
Brown rice is more complex of a carb than white rice, and it really isn’t that much more expensive. You can buy brown rice in bulk for pennies per serving.
Not only are bananas a great grab and go snack, but they mix well to create healthy desserts or breakfasts! I mash up a banana, add oatmeal, almond milk, and some cinninon to make overnight oats. So easy!
There’s such a large variety that it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like apples. You can find them for cheap at a grocery store and definitely buy them at an orchard seasonally for a great deal.
6) Cocoa Powder
If you couldn’t tell, I have a major sweet tooth. But I try really hard to avoid the processed candy and cookies they sell at the store. Not only are those terrible for you, but they are expensive.
Cocoa powder is my secret weapon. I’ll mix it with a little liquid sweetener (agave, honey, or maple syrup) and add it to my oatmeal for chocolate oats or will add with some coconut milk and freeze for ice cream.
Carrots are just so easy, what’s not to love? Baby carrots are relatively cheap, but you can save even more by purchasing whole carrots and cleaning them yourselves.
Hummus is for more than dipping pita chips. I love to use hummus in salads or to spread it across a sandwich or wrap in lieu of mayonnaise. And it’s full of protein and fiber.
I know not everyone is a cilantro fan, but I’m obsessed with this stuff. To me, it automatically makes a meal taste fresher and healthier if that makes sense. You can buy fresh cilantro for less than a dollar and add it to most any meal.
Garlic is an anti inflammatory, and it brings out the other flavors of a dish. Just be sure to avoid garlic salt and opt for garlic powder or minced garlic instead. Garlic cloves are a little more expensive and are more work, so I opt for the jars of minced garlic.
11) Red Pepper Flakes
I don’t know about you, but I love spice. Red pepper flakes bring just enough heat to dishes.
Cucumbers usually sell for a few cents in stores, and one cucumber goes a long way. We like to spiralize our cucumbers to make zoodles (I know you’re supposed to use zucchini, but cucumbers are usually cheaper).
Cinnamon is another anti inflammatory and it works wonders for desserts and for cooking. You can even add a bit to your coffee to get the anti inflammatory benefits of cinnamon.
Canned tomatoes are dirt cheap and can be used in almost any meal.
Who doesn’t love potatoes? A bag of potatoes is about the cheapest starch/vegetable you can find and they work great to make any meal denser or more filling.
16) Ground Turkey
Ground turkey is just about the cheapest meat there is. Since ground turkey is so much leaner than beef, it also makes for a healthy substitute.
I don’t know about you, but though I try to eat healthy, I loathe salads. But I like adding spinach to a wrap for lunch or cooking it down to add to stir fry for dinner. I even add it to my smoothies!
18) Whole Grain Tortillas
Tortillas are a great substitute for bread. If you’re a chip lover, you can slice up a few tortillas and bake them for 8 minutes or so, and add some salt for some healthier tortilla chips.
19) Coconut Milk
Canned coconut milk is great to use in desserts! I use coconut milk with cocoa powder for the ice cream I mentioned above.
20) Green Tea
If you’re a regular soda drinker, green tea is a healthy and cheaper alternative. You can buy bags of green tea in bulk for just a few dollars and you can find it in a variety of flavors and caffeinated or decaf.
Yes, I like to pick up cuties in the store…don’t tell my husband (bad joke but I had to!) Cuties, or those mini oranges, are the perfect snack. They are small and easy to peel. I love oranges because I can keep one in my purse or desk and not have to worry about washing it.
22) Unsalted Nuts
Nuts are a superfood and make for a great snack. Just be sure to avoid nuts or trailmix with a ton of extra salt or sugar.
23) Powdered Peanut Butter
Calling all peanut butter lovers! If you haven’t tried powdered peanut butter, now is your chance. You simply add this powder with a little water or milk to form real peanut butter. Since it’s powdered, it’s way lower in fat and calories. It can taste a little chalky mixed up (because it is lacking in the fat), but I love to use the powder to add to my smoothies, oatmeal, or even pad thai sauce for a lighter version of my favorite treat.
I thought powdered peanut butter would be expensive, but then I found a large bag for less than $3 at Aldi.
I’m not talking about the creamy coleslaw you serve at bbqs. I’m talking about the bags of coleslaw you find by the lettuce. Coleslaw adds the perfect crunch to any dish. We like to throw a whole bag in our stir fry to get a ton of hidden vegetables.
25) Dark Chocolate
We always have to have chocolate in my house and I have a little bit every single day. Dark chocolate is much better for you and is full of antioxidants. So that means it’s healthy, right? 🙂
What are your favorite health foods to get for cheap?