Healthiest Foods For A Tight Budget

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If eating nutritious foods could be cheap, convenient, and really good for you, wouldn’t you eat healthy? 

When we eat nutritious foods, we feel good, have abundant energy, our skin radiates, and we’re generally happier people.

I went from clinically obese to fit (all on a very tight budget!). It’s possible to eat healthy, filling meals. I never went hungry since I was eating food with a ton of fiber and flavor. 

Before we get started, make sure to sign up for my free resource library and get access to exclusive printables all about saving money and building wealth, meal planning, and more.

Dirty Dozen List (foods that you should try to buy organic)

  • strawberries
  • spinach
  • apples
  • peaches
  • pears
  • cherries
  • grapes
  • celery
  • tomatoes
  • potatoes
  • hot peppers
  • sweet bell peppers

Foods that you don’t necessarily need to buy organic:

  • sweet corn
  • avocado
  • pineapples
  • cabbage
  • onions
  • frozen peas
  • papayas
  • asparagus
  • mangoes
  • eggplant
  • honeydew
  • kiwi
  • cantaloupe
  • cauliflower
  • grapefruit

1. In Season Produce (fruits and vegetables)

In season produce will be a lot cheaper since farmers are mass producing these foods.

In season produce is also fresher, sweeter, and generally more nutritious.

Tip: Use Ibotta to save money on healthy foods at the store. Ibotta gives you cash back for buying things like groceries, household items, clothes, etc. Get $10 just for signing up here. If you’re downloading Ibotta on your phone, the app will ask if you have a referral code. Use my referral code: lwyxxrb and you’ll get $10 for signing up.

Benefits of eating vegetables & fruits:

  • high in essential nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, fiber, folate
  • low in sodium, fat, calories
  • zero cholesterol
  • may reduce heart disease and stroke
  • may lower blood pressure 
  • may lower the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss

The most affordable vegetables & fruits:

  • bananas
  • potatoes
  • grapes
  • apples
  • oranges
  • kiwis
  • melons 

Tips for cooking with vegetables & fruits:

  • add in oatmeals, smoothies, protein shakes 
  • make banana ice cream (3 frozen bananas + fruit of your choice)
  • grill certain fruits like pineapples, apples

Months where fruit is in-season

January: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, rutabagas (my fav!), and tangerines.

February: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, lemons, oranges, parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips.

March: Artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnips, pineapples, radishes, rutabagas, and turnips.

April: Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, honeydew, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, pineapples, radishes, and spring peas.

May: Apricots, artichokes, asparagus, cherries, green beans, honeydew, lettuce, mangoes, okra, pineapples, radishes, spring peas, strawberries, swiss chard, and zucchini.

June: Apricots, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, corn, kiwi, lettuce, mangoes, peaches, strawberries, swiss chard, watermelon, and zucchini.

July: Apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, green beans, kiwi, lettuce, mangoes, peaches, peppers, plums, raspberries, strawberries, summer squash, tomatoes, watermelon, and zucchini.

August: Apples, apricots, blueberries, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, figs, green beans, kiwi, lettuce, mangoes, peaches, peppers, plums, raspberries, strawberries, summer squash, swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelon, winter squash, and zucchini.

September: Acorn squash, apples, beets, butternut squash, cantaloupe, cauliflower, eggplant, figs, grapes, green beans, lettuce, mangoes, mushrooms, peppers, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, and tomatoes.

October: Acorn squash, apples, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, cauliflower, cranberries, grapes, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnips, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, rutabagas, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, turnips, and winter squash.

November: Beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cranberries (surprised? LOL), leeks, mushrooms, oranges, parsnips, pears, persimmons, pomegranates, pumpkins, rutabagas, spinach, sweet potatoes, tangerines, turnips, and winter squash.

December: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, grapefruit, kale, leeks, mushrooms, oranges, papayas, parsnips, pears, pomegranates, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, tangerines, and turnips.

Tip: Stay away from prepackaged fruit at all costs. It’s overpriced and marked up simply for the convenience of being sliced.

2. Whole Grains 

Whole grains are a satisfying, filling, and cheap way to eat healthy foods and stay on a budget.

Benefits of eating whole grains:

  • contains high amounts of nutrients and fiber
  • supports healthy digestion
  • lowers risks of heart disease, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes
  • reduces chronic inflammation and cancer

The most affordable whole grains are:

  • oats
  • quinoa
  • rice
  • wheat
  • bulgar
  • buckwheat
  • wild rice

Tips to cook with whole grains:

  • opt for whole grain pasta and bread instead of white 
  • look for cereals made with whole grains and low or no sugar added
  • add cooked wheat to soups
  • made a recipe out of this handy whole grain recipe book
  • replace 1/3 of flour for quick oats
  • make big batches of food when cooking whole grains (ex. cooking enough quinoa or rice for a few days)

3. Pasta

You can get 1 pound of veggie pasta for under $1.50, tomato sauce for under $3, and add mushrooms, spinach, and other vegetables to create a cheap meal that is both fillings and has a lot of nutrients.

Making pasta is one of my favorite meals to make because it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, and only a handful of ingredients.

Benefits of eating pasta:

  • keeps you fuller longer
  • whole grains have many health benefits 
  • affordable (pasta is incredibly cheap and satisfying
  • simple and easy to make
  • low in sodium and fat 

The most affordable pastas are:

  • stick to whole grain pasta
  • no need to buy gluten-free unless you have celiac disease or issues with gluten 
  • red lentil and chickpea pasta is great, but can be expensive $$$

Tips to cook with pasta:

  • always measure noodles before cooking pasta 
  • add vegetables like fresh tomatoes, spinach, and onions to pasta
  • always use whole grain pasta (or chickpea/red lentil pasta assortment) 
  • cook lasagna with whole grain pasta 

Related: 7 Books To Become A Healthier And Happier You

4. Potatoes

Potatoes are often overlooked in the health and nutrition world when they are in fact one of the healthiest foods in the world.

They’re also in-season all year long.

Benefits of eating potatoes:

  • low in sodium, fat-free
  • numerous vitamins and minerals 
  • high in vitamin C and potassium
  • a ton of fiber to keep you full and satisfied 
  • may help reduce constipation and inflammation 

The most affordable potatoes are:

  • potatoes are all affordable. sweet potatoes and 

Tips for eating potatoes

5. Nuts

Nuts can be very cheap and packed with vital nutrients that our bodies need.

Benefits of eating nuts:

  • packed with “good fats”, such as monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats 
  • high omega-3 fatty acids
  • high in fiber, vitamin E, and other nutrients

The most affordable nuts are:

  • peanuts (technically a legume, but we are counting it as a nut here)
  • cashews

Tips for eating nuts:

  • create your own peanut butter at home with this recipe
  • do not buy peanut butter with high fructose corn syrup
  • buy nuts in bulk at health stores
  • add into smoothies, oatmeal, or eat as quick snack
  • do not buy or eat nuts that are covered in chocolate, salt, etc.

6. Beans 

Beans are cheap in the can, but even cheaper when they’re dry in a bag.

Dried beans are 1/2 cheaper than canned beans but take longer to prepare. 

Benefits of eating beans:

  • packed with fiber and protein
  • high in potassium and other vitamins 
  • may reduce cancer and other diseases
  • helps keep full and satisfied 

The most affordable beans are:

  • black beans
  • garbanzo beans
  • red kidney beans
  • soybeans
  • all beans are affordable and delicious ☺️

Tips for eating beans:

Related: 9 Easy Ways To Lose A Pound A Week

Bonus: Vegetable Stir Fry

Stir Fry is one of the easiest, quickest, and tastiest meals you can make at home if you’re on a budget.

If you’re in a time crunch, mix in frozen pre-cut vegetables.

My favorite vegetable stir fry recipes:

P.S. Save even more money using..

Walmart Grocery Pickup

My new favorite app is Walmart Grocery Pickup for 2 major reasons: 1) It’s a huge time-saver 2) Convenient, easy pickup. You don’t even get out of your car to get your groceries. 

Here’s how you save money with Walmart Grocery Pickup:

  • Are you bad at picking fresh produce? Their grocery experts know exactly which to pick from for maximum freshness. If you aren’t satisfied with the freshness, you can get a refund. 
  • I needed 1 substitution because they didn’t have the item I ordered, so they gave me an even better item for the same price as the original item I ordered.
  • You save money on groceries because you don’t even get the chance to impulse spend since you’re not in the store.
  • Once you fall in love with Walmart Grocery Pickup (which you will), you can start referring friends and family. Just get 5 friends to try out Walmart Grocery Pickup and you’ll get $50 toward groceries. 

How to get started easily:

  1. Click here and get $10 off your first Walmart Grocery Pickup.
  2. Order groceries online.
  3. Schedule your pickup.
  4. No fees, no tips accepted, no subscription model. It is free to use Walmart Grocery Pickup.

If you’re new to Walmart Grocery Pickup, you get $10 off your first purchase here. That means you can get $50 worth of groceries for only $40.

➡️ What to read next: 30 Ways To Cut Your Spending And Save Thousands Per Year

Don’t forget to sign up for the free resource library and get exclusive access to free printables & planners related to saving and making money, meal planning, and more!

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What other foods are inexpensive and healthy?

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Amy

    Great tips! I eat most of these foods daily! I wish I could eat oats! I have Celiac disease (so no gluten, barley, etc.) and I have a reaction to even gluten-free oats. My kids eat tons of oats though. We make oatmeal waffles with 1 cup of oatmeal, 1/2 cup of almond milk, 2 tbsp flax seed and one banana. Soo easy and super healthy. 🙂

    1. Alexis

      Oh man! I know someone with celiac disease and I bet it’s so hard! It’s great to see so many restaurants adding gluten-free options.

  2. Renee Benes

    I love these lists! That is probably my biggest struggle when sticking to a budget is trying to still eat healthy.

    1. Alexis

      Same here! I’m vegan but I LOVE expensive processed vegan food. Not healthy. Haha

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