When you are broke, it can be a difficult challenge to trying living on a limited food budget. However, just because you’re poor, it doesn’t mean you have to survive on ramen noodles and butter bread.
According to many nutritionists and dieticians, when you are trying to stretch your money, some food, of course, will be a much better choice than others.
Regardless of how you purchase your food, always make sure you try to buy locally if possible.
This is for two reasons:
- One, it helps support the local farmers and you know where the food is coming from.
- Secondly, local food will almost always be organically grown, free of toxic pesticides and much cheaper than your grocery store equivalents.
To make the most of your health (for cheap), here are 20 healthy frugal foods to buy when broke:
#1. Pinto Beans ($.60 per 15 ounce can, $0.30 per 1/2 cup)
Pinto beans are healthy and cheap. If you are a big fan of beans, you will be glad to know that they cost less than $..60 per 15 ounce can, on average. With pinto beans, you can prepare tasty refried beans at home: Just mash them together with spices and garlic on the stove. Pinto beans are a delicious addition to any homemade salad, soup or burrito and are packed with fiber and protein.
#2. Organic Eggs ($3.50 per dozen, $0.19 per egg)
Eggs are a quick fix when you are in need of some good protein. Eggs also make a very versatile food, easy to incorporate in a wide range of recipes. Add them to a crepe, scramble with veggies or make a frittata.
#3. Peanuts ($4 per 8-ounce bag, $0.50 per ounce)
In its natural form, raw peanuts or even peanut butter can be a very healthy treat. Peanuts are considered a great supply of healthy fats when eaten in moderation. You can also reduce your risk of heart disease by eating regularly.
#4. Almonds ($5 per 8-ounce bag, $0.60 per ounce)
Almonds, like peanuts, are a good choice for that extra dose of protein. You can eat them raw or add them to a bowl of oatmeal or cereal. They are rich in fiber and a healthy monounsaturated fat and are known to reduce the risk of diabetes and help manage your weight.
#5. Lentils ($1.50 per pound, $0.12 per 1/2 cup)
These legumes act as a great meat replacement for burgers and can also add richness to soups and curries. Lentils are not only very rich in antioxidants but also have more protein per pound than beef.
#6. Black Beans ($1.50 per can, $0.30 per 1/2 cup)
These healthy and cheap beans pack fiber as well as potassium, calcium, and folic acid, and you can preserve most of its cancer-fighting antioxidants by boiling them at home. You can also use them to prepare a black bean taco or cook up a delicious black bean soup.
#6. Oats ($1 per pound)
Oats are low in fat, high in fiber and are great when prepared as oatmeal or mixed in with other recipes such as high-protein oatmeal peanut butter balls.
#7. Canned Salmon ($2.50 per 14.75 -ounce can, $0.20 per ounce)
Canned salmon is an omega-3-packed seafood and can either be eaten raw out of the can or can be spread on a cracker. When purchasing, however, just make sure salmon was ethically sourced and is labeled as Alaskan pink salmon, red salmon or Sockeye salmon.
#8. Canned Tuna ($1.50 per 5-ounce can, $0.30 per ounce)
Tuna is another cheap source of healthy omega-3. You can incorporate the canned tuna, just like salmon, on a cracker, sandwich or even in pasta. Like the canned salmon, don’t be cheap with your purchase. Make sure the tuna is labeled as “pole caught” and has the Marine Stewardship Council’s seal of approval.
#9. Brown Rice ($2 per pound, $0.18 per 1/4 cup)
Brown rice is known to be healthier than the white rice and can be great on its own or even mixed in with veggies. Unlike white rice, the side hulls and brans provide a “natural wholeness” to the grain, which are rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
#10. Grapes ($1.50 per pound, $0.75 per cup)
Whether you have added them to a salad or eat them raw, grapes have been known to reduce cholesterol as they are high in antioxidants.
#11. Watermelon ($5 per melon, $0.30 per cup)
The watermelon is a super food in the fruit world that’s packed with vitamin C. If you’re extremely frugal, wait until the summer when you can purchase larger watermelons for a few bucks.
#12. Kiwi ($0.40 per kiwi)
Kiwis, another great super fruit, are packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K and a lot of antioxidants.
#13. Bananas ($2 per bunch, $0.50 per banana)
Bananas are filled with potassium and fiber and one of the easiest foods to take on the go. A banana is known to contain essential nutrients to help aid digestion, heart health and even help you lose weight.
#14. Cantaloupe ($3 per small melon, $0.50 per 1/2 cup)
Cantaloupes are packed with antioxidants and are known to be very good for potassium, vitamin B, magnesium and fiber. If you’re the one who doesn’t mind the seeds, it’s good to know the seeds provide a measurable amount of omega-3 fat.
#15. Pears ($1.75 per pound, $0.85 each)
According to a study, white pears can prevent stroke, but other tasty varieties such as the Anjou, Bosc and Bartlett can offer benefits as well. Pears are packed with benefiting nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. If that’s not enough, they are a great low-calorie food, only containing 60 calories per 100g.
#16. Apples ($0.75 per apple)
Eating apples can help you reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer and asthma, and like a banana, it’s so easy to take on the go. Apples are known to be rich in flavonoids, dietary fiber and carry important antioxidants.
#17. Oranges ($1 per pound, $0.50 each)
Oranges are high in vitamin C content, as well as potassium, folate and fiber and are practically given away when they are in season.
#18. Canned Pumpkin ($2.50 per 15-ounce can, or $0.75 per 1/2 cup)
Pumpkin has a high content of carotenoids, a powerful antioxidant. You can add canned pumpkin to muffins, smoothies, curries, veggie burgers, and more. When choosing a brand, make sure the ingredient label says “organic pumpkin” and nothing else.
#19. Canned Tomatoes ($1.80 per 14.8-ounce can, or $0.50 per 1/2 cup)
Tomatoes have a high content of lycopene, another powerful antioxidant and can be mixed in with a ton of dishes. You can use canned tomatoes for homemade stews, sauces or bean chili.
#20. Broccoli ($2 per bunch, $0.50 per 1/2 cup)
Broccoli has high levels of vitamin C and folate. You can use this veggie tossed in frittatas, stuffed in potatoes, blended into a soup or cooked with a bit of olive oil and garlic.
About the author: Stephanie Lynch is a freelance writer who helped create the cost helping database called Howmuchisit.org. When she’s not helping consumers find out what things cost, she’s enjoying time with her family or hiking the local Arizona trails.