Reed Vawter, MS, RDN, CSOWM, LD, Health Education Consultant, Employee Wellness
Healthy food can certainly seem more expensive if you compare organic pasture-raised beef versus a fast-food hamburger. And it’s hard to justify the cost of fresh vegetables if they go bad quickly and have to be thrown out.
On average, the expense of healthy food is real. A 2013 study found that healthier diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets. This adds up to about $550 per person per year or nearly $2,200 for a family of four! And that was from almost 10 years ago – it’s likely to be even more now, especially with food costs going up over the past year.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we purchase intelligently, we can shrink that excess cost. To simplify your grocery trip, here are some of the least expensive healthy options by category. Include more of these in your shopping cart, and you can eat well without breaking the bank.
- Canned or dry beans and lentils
- Canned tuna, salmon, and sardines
- Chicken breast
- Eggs (Tip: Often, white shell eggs are cheaper than brown, but the nutrition is the same.)
- Frozen edamame
- Rotisserie chicken
- Most anything frozen
- Canned pumpkin
- Canned tomatoes
- Russet potatoes
- Sweet potatoes
- Frozen berries
- Brown rice
- Millet (Tip: Find this in bulk bins at most health food stores. It’s cheap and super easy.)
- Oats (Tip: Choose steel-cut, rolled, or quick oats. All are healthy.)
- Popcorn (Air-popped)
- Whole grain pasta
- Cottage cheese
- Yogurt (Tip: purchase the large tub instead of the smaller sizes, and you’ll save money.)
This list is by no means exhaustive, but these items will give you a start on getting the most health bang for your buck.
Want to take this a step further? Check out this article that ranks the most (and least) nutritious meals for your dollar.