Everyone wants to save money on food, but low cost doesn't have to mean low quality. In fact, some of the most inexpensive items you can buy are the best and healthiest things for you. Eating healthy on the cheap means hanging out on the periphery of the grocery store-the produce, meat, dairy, and bulk grains sections-while avoiding the processed food in the interior aisles. By doing so, your kitchen will be stocked with excellent foods and your wallet will be stocked with extra cash.
High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have been shown to lower cholesterol, and a dollar will buy you more than a week's worth of hearty breakfasts.
You can get about a half dozen of eggs for a dollar, making them one of the cheapest and most versatile sources of protein. They are also a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may ward off age-related eye problems.
This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium. Like most greens, it usually costs a dollar a bunch.
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As long as they're not fried, potatoes are quite healthy. Eaten with the skin on, a single tater contains almost half a day's worth of vitamin C, plus lots of potassium. Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta carotene.
Apples are a good source of pectin-a fiber that may help reduce cholesterol-along with vitamin C, which keeps your blood vessels healthy.
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Nuts are packed with good-for-you unsaturated fats, along with essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and protein. And because they're so nutrient-dense, you only need to eat a few to get the nutritional benefits. Although some nuts (like pecans and macadamias), can be pricy, peanuts, walnuts, and almonds are quite inexpensive, especially if you buy them in the shell.
Bananas can cost as little as 19¢ apiece; a dollar gets you a banana a day for the workweek. High in potassium and fiber, bananas are a no-brainer when it comes to meeting your five-a-day quotient of fruits and veggies.
8. Garbanzo Beans
Beans give you your money's worth and then some. Not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but 'banzos are also high in iron, folate, and manganese, and may help reduce cholesterol. And if you don't like one type of bean, try another-black, lima, pinto…the varieties are endless. The most inexpensive way to purchase beans is in dried form, but even a precooked can will still only run you about a buck.
Broccoli contains tons of nutrients-calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and fiber. As if that isn't enough, broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients-compounds that may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Plus it's low in calories.
Though you may not be able to buy an entire watermelon for a dollar, your per serving cost isn't more than a few dimes. This summertime fruit is over 90 percent water, making it an easy way to stay hydrated. It also provides a healthy dose of vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, an antioxidant that may ward off cancer.
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11. Wild Rice
It won't cost you much more than white rice, but wild rice is much better for you. Low in fat and high in protein and fiber, this gluten-free grain is a great source of complex carbohydrates. It packs a powerful potassium punch and is loaded with B vitamins.
Beets are my kind of vegetable-their natural sugars make them sweet to the palate while their rich flavor and color make them nutritious for the body. They're powerhouses of folate, iron, and antioxidants.
13. Butternut Squash This beautiful gourd swings both ways: sometimes savory, sometimes sweet. However you prepare the butternut, it will not only add color and texture, but also five grams of fiber per half cup and plenty of vitamins A and C. When in season, butternut squash and related gourds are usually less than a dollar a pound.
14. Whole Grain Pasta
Pasta gets a bad rap, but there's nothing harmful about a complex carbohydrate that's high in protein and B vitamins.
Because not everyone has a taste for sardines, they are still relatively cheap. These little fish come with big benefits: calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins. And since they're low on the food chain, they don't accumulate mercury.
Spinach is perhaps one of the best green leafies out there;it has lots of vitamin C, iron, and calcium. Plus, you can usually find it year-round for less than a dollar.
Not just for vegetarians anymore, tofu is an inexpensive protein source that can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. It's high in B vitamins and iron but low in fat and sodium, making it a healthful addition to many dishes.
18. Low-fat Milk
Yes, the price of a gallon of milk is rising, but per serving, it's still under a dollar; single serving milk products like yogurt are usually less than a dollar, too, so you'll get a lot of benefit for a small investment. Milk is rich in protein, vitamins A and D, potassium, and niacin, and is one of the easiest ways to get bone-strengthening calcium.
19. Pumpkin Seeds
When it's time to carve your pumpkin this Halloween, don't shovel those seeds into the trash-they're a goldmine of magnesium, protein, and trace minerals.
The old cup-o-joe has accused of causing heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis,but it's been exonerated on all counts. In fact, coffee contains beneficial antioxidants that protect against free radicals and may actually help thwart heart disease and cancer. When made at home, coffee runs less than 50¢ per cup.
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