12 Best Foods to Buy on a Tight Budget
A big concern many people have when they want to start eating healthier is the cost. Nutritious foods don't have to cost an arm and a leg, but it does take a little planning.
The goal is to create a meal plan that is centered around the most budget-friendly produce and proteins. Since meat is a big-ticket item, you can use more plants which will help save money.
Related - Supplement Plans on a Budget
Before you start cooking meals at home, there are a few things you should always keep stocked in your pantry.
These items include:
- Herbs and spices
Keeping plenty of seasonings, herbs, and spices help liven up your dishes and improve any dish. I invite you to check out the dollar store or your local grocery to try all of the herbs and spices you can afford.
I recently fell in love with chili powder and cumin in some dishes.
Find other versatile staples like broccoli — you can chop into a salad, put into a soup, or add to a stir-fry.
Once you have the basics in your pantry, you open up the ability to create almost any dish... and that's when the fun starts.
So if you're strapped for cash or don't have a very large budget, check out these 12 best foods to buy on a tight budget.
Best Foods on a Tight Budget
1.) Yams or Sweet Potatoes
Instead of opting for a regular potato, choosing a yam or sweet potato provides so many vitamins. In fact, you can get 241% of your daily needs in just one cup.
You'll also get more than 20% of your daily needs for fiber, potassium, copper, biotin, manganese, and vitamin C.
You can buy three pounds for $3 and you can get better prices if you buy in bulk.
2.) Broccoli or Cauliflower
Broccoli and cauliflower are great because they are inexpensive all year for about $1 to $2 per pound. They are a good source of glucosinolates, which research suggests can lower cancer risk.
They are rich in fiber, voluminous, and will make you feel fuller for longer. You can make a lot out of cauliflower, so check it out.
As you stop eating processed sugary foods, you'll find that apples are a sweet and refreshing treat. They only will cost about $1 to $2 per pound and they are rich in vitamin C and fiber.
There are several varieties ranging from sweet to tart, so find some that you can take with you on the go.
4.) Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are high in fiber, full of antioxidants and micronutrients, and they are low in calories — making them a great base for a meal-worthy salad.
Try some spinach in the spring and summer, Swiss chard for fall, and kale for winter.
Leafy greens can be cooked and added into pasta dishes, tacos, omelets, or even smoothies.
You can buy eight pounds of oats for $10 and they contain more protein than other cereals such as wheat, barley, and rye.
A 150-calorie serving of oats will give you around 5.3 grams of protein and since they contain beta-glucans, your body will use these soluble fibers to help clear the body of excess cholesterol.
6.) Peanut Butter
Buy you a nice jar of peanut butter. You can buy this lovely food in bulk and can store unopened bottles for up to nine months in your pantry or fridge.
This is an excellent plant-based protein that contains more protein by volume when compared to pinto beans, kidney beans, wheat flour, and chickpeas.
Make some no-bake granola bars, blend it into a sushi, or eat it straight out of the jar.
Bananas still reign as the number 1 consumed fruit, costing about 19 cents a piece.
Bananas are packed with potassium and fiber, they are wallet-friendly, and you can use overripe bananas in banana bread, breakfast cookies, or banana pancakes.
8.) Greek Yogurt
You can get 2 pounds of Greek yogurt at the store for less than $5.
When you compare it to traditional yogurt, you'll find that Greek yogurt is strained more and gives a more dense consistency and higher protein content.
Yogurt is full of live bacterial cultures that help predigest some of the milk proteins for you.
You can use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, add to soups and stews, or grab a bowl with some fruit and yogurt.
You can get eggs for around $2 to $3 per dozen, and they will be the most versatile protein in your kitchen.
Please don't waste the yolk — it contains 50% of the egg's protein. Yolks are also full of a huge list of vitamins and minerals, and they are a great source of choline.
You can enjoy them hard-boiled, scrambled, in a quiche, an omelet, or sunny-side up. They are versatile and a little hot sauce can really liven them up.
A pound of lentils will cost less than $2 and they are chock full of healthy carbs, fiber, and prebiotics that help promote gut health.
You don't have to be a vegetarian or vegan to enjoy lentils — they are an excellent source of iron.
Toss some cooked lentils into soups or stews to bulk them up and make more meals.
11.) Black Beans
You can buy 15 ounces of black beans for under $2 and you can save a lot more by purchasing them dry in bulk.
Black beans are a great staple to keep at the house because they are packed with protein and fiber which make them more satiating.
You'll get a black of iron, zinc, and calcium when you eat black beans. They make a great addition to a breakfast bowl, burrito, or you can make them into a black bean patty.
12.) Canned Tuna
While I don't recommend eating a lot of canned tuna, they are a budget-friendly way to enjoy some seafood.
Canned tuna is a lean protein, it keeps well, and it's an excellent source of protein.
Canned tuna is still more expensive than some cuts of meat when you compare price per pound, but the long shelf-life gives you the ability to stock up when the price is right.
Bonus: Get Groceries Cheaper
Getting the best bang for your buck when shopping is important.
Finding items that have a long shelf-life as staples will make you less reliant on buying more expensive meat.
A few things that have helped me get more bang for my buck have been:
Look for Short-Sale Meat — you can buy it and cook it or freeze it. It's not bad meat, they just need to sell it. Many grocery stores have sections where they keep the short-sale meats, so find out how often they add to it and snag it up.
Buy in Bulk — buying beans, rice, and other grains in bulk cut down the cost per unit.
Read the Ads — I'm not a professional with ads, but taking a quick look through your local ads to see what's on sale.
You can find great deals and plan your meals accordingly.