This month, many people are evaluating their eating habits and planning menus in order to eat healthier and possibly shed pounds—but hopefully not dollars. Fortunately, it is possible to make healthy choices that also fit your financial goals. This week on our blog we’ll be sharing great tips on how you can incorporate healthy foods into your menu without a lot of fuss or expense.
Here’s a list of budget-friendly (and diet-friendly) foods that make a whole lot of cents. (See what we did there?)
Popular weight-loss programs like Weight Watchers allow unlimited fruits and vegetables, so if you get a free pass on the calorie front, where can you get the most bang for your buck?
- A USDA analysis of 22 fresh fruits found 6 types with an average retail price of less than $1 per pound: watermelon ($0.26/lb), bananas ($0.45/lb), honeydew ($0.55/lb), navel oranges ($0.57/lb), grapefruit ($0.66/lb) and cantaloupe ($0.95/lb).
- While all fruit may be good for your waistline, that logic doesn’t apply to your wallet. The most expensive fruits were raspberries ($7.29/lb), blackberries ($5.18/lb), blueberries ($3.91/lb), and cherries ($3.51/lb).
- A look at 35 fresh vegetables revealed 8 with an average retail price of less than $1 per pound: potatoes ($0.48), cauliflower heads ($0.55), cabbage ($0.62), onions ($0.67), whole carrots ($0.77), celery stalks ($0.90), sweet potatoes ($0.90), and iceberg lettuce ($0.99).
- The vegetables that could break the budget are sliced mushrooms ($4.02/lb), fresh-cut spinach ($3.92/lb), and red peppers ($3.44/lb).
Lean proteins are an important part of any well-balanced diet. They keep you satisfied and provide important nutrients like iron and zinc, so how can you quite literally get your fill for less than $1 per serving?
- Learning to break down a chicken will not only give you a wonderful sense of culinary accomplishment, it will save you a wad of cash. On average, fresh whole chickens cost $1.51/lb whereas boneless breasts cost around $3.41/lb. Even when you factor in bones, the whole chicken is still cheaper (and you can use bones to make a tasty soup). A broiler typically weighs 2–3 pounds and serves 3-5, amounting to less than $1 per serving.
- Beans and lentils are another fabulous source of lean protein. If you are at the store comparing unit prices, canned beans typically cost less per pound than dried but don’t be fooled. When prepared, dried beans cost less per cup and they are better for your diet.
- All dried beans cost less than a dollar per edible cup, but the best prices were pinto beans ($0.13/cup) and lentils ($0.15/cup).
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, at least half of your grain intake should be whole grains. They can bulk up a meal and a little goes a long way. Think outside of the box—brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, oatmeal and even popcorn are all whole grains. While whole wheat bread can cost nearly $0.60 more per pound than white bread, there are still some whole grain deals to be had out there. We found a bag of Bulgur sold at gourmet grocery stores for $0.17 cents a serving.