How to Eat Healthy on a Budget: 15 of the Cheapest Foods You Should Eat

If you find it a struggle to eat on a budget while including healthy foods on the list, this will help. You’ll be surprised by how healthy you’ll eat, while staying on budget, with a few shifts in your buying habits, and the inclusion of some of the 15 cheapest foods, that are surprisingly healthy!

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

How many times have you heard, “It’s too expensive to eat healthily”? It is possible to eat healthily on a budget. In fact, it costs $1.48 more per day to eat health, according to data from 27 studies conducted in 10 different countries, reported in the British Medical Journal Open. One of the best ways to stay on a budget while eating healthy is to shift some of your grocery shopping habits. Here are 8 tips to shop for healthy foods while staying on a budget.

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget: Shopping Tips
  • Make a list: sticking to your list helps prevents impulse purchases
  • Plan out a few meals: food waste is a money drain
  • Try some meatless meals: beans and tofu are nutritious and less expensive
  • Choose filling snacks: apples are more filling than potato chips and less expensive
  • Never shop hungry: friends don’t let friends shop on an empty stomach
  • Check for sales: items you can freeze can be bought in quantity when on sale
  • Go bulk: look for pantry and non-perishable items in “family-sized” or bulk
  • Be storage savvy: learning how to store perishables can help reduce spoilage.
  • Use coupons: check the coupon wall and leverage store point systems to save money.
  • Be aware: convenience costs more.

Cooking at Home is Cheaper and Healthier than Dining Out

Turn up the tunes in the kitchen and get cooking at home. Dining out can be expensive and when you cook at home you have the opportunity to create healthy dishes while staying on budget. If you cook larger portions, you’ll have readily available healthy items to grab for lunch the next day, helping you avoid costly, last-minute dashes to get take out. In some cases, cook large enough amounts that you can freeze portions, so you have handily, healthy meals for the next hectic day. Plus, not only are these strategies to help you have more healthy food conveniently on hand, many times buying food items at the store to cook in bulk saves you money.

What are the Cheapest Healthy Foods?

Here are 15 of the cheapest foods you should eat if you’re looking to find healthy foods that fit your budget. To give you a perspective, potato chips cost $1.40 – $1.84/100g, cereal $0.85-$1.14/100g, and frozen cut sweet potato fries $0.77/100g.

15 of the Cheapest Foods You Should Eat
  • Bananas ($0.13/100g)
  • Canned Beans ($0.30/100g)
  • Brown Rice ($0.30-0.45/100g)
  • Carrots ($0.33/100g)
  • Apples ($0.33/100g)
  • Whole Grain, Steel Cut Oats ($0.35/100g)
  • Beets ($0.35/100g)
  • Sweet Potato ($0.37/100g)
  • Edamame ($0.40/100g)
  • Zucchini ($0.43/100g)
  • Tomatoes ($0.37-$0.73/100g)
  • Frozen Berries ($0.55-0.65/100g)
  • Tofu ($0.75-$1/100g)
  • Frozen Broccoli ($0.80/100g)
  • Sunflower seeds ($0.95/100g)

Why You Should Eat More Plant Proteins if You’re on a Budget

Shifting just 3% of your food from animal protein (meat, poultry, fish, or dairy) to plant protein was found by researchers to lower the risk of death by 10%. In fact, diets high in plant protein have been linked to lower risks of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, in a paper published in the British Medical Journal.

Not only are plant proteins tasty ways to shake up your boring weekly menu, but eating less meat can also be a good way to save money. From legumes to seeds, there are many inexpensive plant-proteins to choose from

Why You May Need Tips to Eat on a Budget

Since many monthly costs are fixed, such as housing and transportation, often food purchases are where families look to reduce expenses. Canadian studies have shown that low-income households do not have enough income to pay for the basic costs of living, including the cost of nutritious food, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. In addition, many of us, at some point in our lives, will live on a fixed income (e.g. retirement), when it’s helpful to know how to stick to a grocery budget.

Eating healthy is a cornerstone of a quality life, so when eating on a budget, be sure you’re eating plans include a variety of nutrient-dense food that provide the fiber, protein, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs.

Want to know more about healthy eating and holistic nutrition? Stay online and learn!

Contributed by Allison Tannis

Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s articles and books are read around the world by those curious about where to find the most delicious (and nutritious) places to stick their forks. More at Follow @deliciouslygeeky.


Do healthier foods and diet patterns cost more than less healthy options? A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open 2013;3:e004277.

Yes we can. Eating healthy on a limited budget. J Nutr Educ Behav 2019 Mar; 51(3):268-276.

Association of animal and plant protein intake with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. JAMA Intern Med 2016;176(10):1453-1463.

Dietary intake of total, animal, and plant proteins and risk of all cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ 2020;370:m2412

Contributed by Allison Tannis

Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s articles and books are read around the world by those curious about where to find the most delicious (and nutritious) places to stick their forks. More at Follow @deliciouslygeeky.