51 Healthy Food Items That Cost Under $1

51 Healthy Food Items That Cost Under $1

One of the common money myths I hear from people all of the time is, “It costs more to eat healthy.” The reality, though, is just the opposite.

Sure, you can spend a lot to eat healthy, but you can also spend a ton of money on a very unhealthy diet. I’ve always noticed that the food we should be eating the most of (according to the good old USDA) — things like grains, legumes, fruits and veggies — happen to cost less on a per-pound basis than the food that’s bad for us, at least in large quantities (red meat, fatty dairy products, processed foods, etc.).

Jeff Yeager’s 8 Grocery Essentials For a Frugal Winter>>>

Of course there are exceptions, but as a general rule, when you eat lower on the food chain, you have a healthier and more affordable diet.

With that in mind, I started keeping a running list of healthy foods I’ve found for under $1 per pound at supermarkets near where I live, in the Washington, D.C., area, which happens to be one of the most expensive places to live and shop in the U.S. Now, before you accuse me of being a “cheap-fake” rather than a “cheapskate,” let me be clear: Not all of the foods on this list can be found everywhere, at all times, for under $1 per pound (although some nearly always can).

Quite a few items on this list were special sale items (aka “loss leaders”), and scoring many of the fruits and vegetables on this list for under a buck a pound means buying them when they’re in season. And, no, you’re not likely to find any organically raised foods costing under $1 a pound — but most Americans would have a dramatically improved diet simply by eating more of the foods on this list, organic or not.

So forget this crazy talk about it costing more to eat healthy and adopt my motto instead: “For a healthy diet year round, shop for foods at under $1 a pound.”

51 Healthy Foods That Cost Less Than a Buck a Pound

1. Apples

Not such a forbidden fruit after all, when you can find them on sale — particularly in the fall.

2. Bananas

When they start to turn brown, peel and freeze them, then thaw slightly and mash them up to make a delicious, healthy mock ice cream. And for clever ways to repurpose banana peels and the skins of other fruits and veggies, here’s an a-peeling video:

3. Barley

This superfood is the perfect nutty substitute for rice or risottos in any dish. Plus, it barley costs anything.

4. Beans

Dried beans are always the best value, but canned beans are still a great deal.

5. Bok Choy

Try it steamed, stir-fried, braised, raw or in soups.

6. Broccoli

Look for store specials, particularly in the fall, and be sure to peel and thinly slice the tougher stems so that you can eat them, too.

Read Jeff Yeager’s 8 Grocery Essentials for a Frugal Winter>>>

7. Bulgur Wheat

Although best known by vegetarians, everyone should try this high-fiber, low-fat, low-calorie rice substitute.

8. Cabbage

It’s more than just a side for corned beef — tried it steamed, fried or raw.

9. Cantaloupe

Did you know that “cantaloupe” is also known as “muskmelon”? With a name like that, I can’t blame the grocers for rebranding it.

10. Carrots

Packed with fiber and vitamins A and C, they’re worth their weight in 24 carrot gold.

11. Cauliflower

Try baking it covered in olive oil and seasoned with curry powder for a simple, India-inspired side.

12. Celery

You won’t need a high celery to afford this veggie. Try thinly slicing and sautéing it in butter for a tasty change.

Read: Slash Your Monthly Food Bill With These Six Simple Tips

13. Chicken

Keep an eye out for legs and thighs on sale for under $1 a pound, or maybe even a whole bird for roasting.

14. Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

Studies have shown that people who regularly include this nutrient-dense food in their diet eat less overall — they’re sort of an all-natural diet pill and taste great.

15. Cornmeal

Use it to make bread, grits, and — my favorite — fried cornmeal mush.

16. Cucumbers

Buying these will keep your expenses from getting you in a pickle. Steam peeled, seeded slices of cucumber as a tasty side vegetable seasoned with butter and dill.

17. Daikon Radish

Try these instead of cabbage for a new kind of coleslaw.

18. Eggs

Did you know the U.S. is one of the only countries on Earth that refrigerates its eggs?

Related: 5 Stores Where You Can Stack Coupons for Ridiculous Savings

19. Green Beans

Find them canned year round, frozen when on sale and fresh in the summer months for the healthiest option of all. They’re also easy to grow in a backyard garden. Speaking of which, here’s a short video all about gardening on the cheap:

20. Greens

Kale, mustard, turnip greens, collard greens — they’re among the healthiest of all vegetables. The secret is to not overcook them.

21. Grapes

You heard it through the cheapskate grapevine: Look carefully, and you can often find 99 cents-a-pound store specials on a variety of fresh grapes in late summer and fall.

22. Grapefruit

Packed with fat-burning properties and immunity-boosting antioxidants.

23. Lentils

You’ll get all the protein, fiber and low-fat benefits of other members of the legume family, plus lentils cook faster, even when cooked in a “slow-cooker” (aka “Crock-Pot”). For Crock-Pot recipes and tips, check out this video:

24. Lettuce

Find big iceberg heads for 99 cents and mix them with many other items on this list to create a delicious salad.

Read 5 Money-Saving Secrets to Double the Shelf Life of Groceries>>>

25. Liver

I can often find chicken livers for under $1 a pound, and sometimes I even find beef and pork liver close to that price, as well.

26. Mangoes

Buy this king of fruits in May and June.

27. Milk

It may cost more per gallon than gasoline, but it’s still way less than $1 per pound.

28. Napa Cabbage

Wok and roll! Or wrap, if you like that sort of noise.

29. Oatmeal

If you think oatmeal is boring or just a breakfast food, think again. Try making an oatmeal omelet with a little uncooked oatmeal, egg, milk, onion, thyme and feta cheese.

Read: 10 Cheap Fitness Apps to Replace Your Gym Membership

30. Onions

Layers and layers of health benefits and prices not worth crying over. Try them baked (whole) in the oven.

31. Oranges

Find them on sale in December, just in time for the flu season.

32. Pasta

A wide variety of pastas are regularly on sale for $1 per 1 lb. box, and you can always score it for that price at most dollar stores.

33. Peanut Butter

Look for big sales and stock up. Peanut butter usually has a very long shelf life.

Read: Jenny Craig Vs. Weight Watchers: Which is the Cheaper Way to Lose Weight?

34. Popcorn

Make a low-calorie, high-fiber snack out of plain kernels for about $1 a pound.

35. Pork

I often find inexpensive cuts on sale near the buck-a-pound mark. I also look for bargains on ham during the holidays and stick a couple in the freezer.

36. Potatoes

Keep them out of the fryer, go easy on the butter and this comfort food will offer significant protections against cardiovascular disease and cancer.

37. Pumpkin

Use as decorations, then eat them! Here’s how to eat your jack-o’-lantern:

Read: 11 Best Money-Themed Pumpkin Carvings

38. Rice

Find white rice for under $1 per pound, or splurge on its healthier brown counterpart.

39. Rutabagas

According to Guinness World Records, a British gardener grew an 85.5 pound rutabaga in 2011. I’d love to know how much it sold for by the pound.

40. Sour Cream

Look for this as a loss leader at 99 cents per pint and stock up; it usually has a “use by” date far in the future. For tips on storing sour cream and other foods, watch this video:

41. Spinach

Well, blow me down! I found frozen spinach for just under $1 a pound.

42. Split Peas

Make split pea soup in a Crock-Pot with a hambone.

43. Squash

Both summer and winter varieties are dirt cheap when in season, and winter varieties can last for many months when stored properly in the panty.

44. Sweet Corn

An a-maize-ing deal! Canned and frozen are almost always available for about a buck, and sweet corn on the cob during the summer is usually way under my $1-a-pound limit.

45. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest foods on Earth, and are almost always available (fresh or canned) in bigger grocery stores for around $1 per pound.

46. Tomatoes

Look for canned tomatoes, which are low in calories and packed with fiber, lycopene and vitamin C.

47. Turkey

Shop holiday bargains and freeze an extra bird for later.

Read: Budget-Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

48. Turnips

Smaller turnips tend to be tenderer and sweeter. I like them sliced and steamed, or mashed up half-and-half with boiled potatoes.

49. Watermelon

Look for watermelon as cheap as 20 cents a pound in July and August.

50. Wine

I buy 5-liter boxes of wine weighing about 11 pounds for $10.

51. Zucchini

So, have I squashed that old myth about it costing more to eat healthy? If you’re still not convinced, watch this video:

Photo credit: Sodexo USA

Share This Article

How Ultimate Cheapskate Jeff Yeager Retired at 47

Jeff Yeager: The Truth About Retirement No Expert Will Tell You

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  • Amit Ojha

    Really Helpful

Featured In: