I’ve never quite understood when people say that they don’t eat healthy because they “Can’t afford it.” Last a checked, a double quarter pounder meal at McDonald’s has crept up to somewhere in the $7 to $9 range, depending on where you buy it (probably more if you get it in an airport!). I could definitely get you fed a wholesome, healthy meal for less than that. Maybe it’s because ritzy celebrities like Jada Smith and Gwyneth Paltrow talk so much about their meals full of leafy greens and whole grains that we’ve come to assume those foods are just pricey. But they really aren’t. The full-time personal chefs these stars likely hire to make them a kale and strawberry salad are probably expensive, but not the ingredients themselves. There are a lot of foods that are so densely packed with nutrients that they could fall under the superfood category, but they also fall under the budget-friendly category because a full serving is little more than a few dollars. So no more excuses for grabbing nothing but microwavable lasagna and frozen chicken nuggets and peanut butter pretzels at the store. They aren’t “more affordable” than the wholesome stuff. In fact, paying for the health issues that bad foods can cost you makes those foods the most expensive of all. Here are superfoods you can get for around $3.
You can get a full tin of sardines for $2 or $3 depending on where you shop. And out of it you’ll get tons of omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your heart and brain, as well as a satisfying serving of protein, lots of calcium to keep your bones healthy, and vitamin B12, which is essential for balanced moods.
You can grab a pretty hefty tub of quick oats for a few dollars – the type that will last you weeks – and they take, just as their name promises, a couple of minutes to cook up. In addition to pairing well with many sweet and savory foods, they also offer filling fiber, can improve cholesterol levels, and are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Ah the magical, practical, multifunctional egg! If there is a sale going on, you can get cage-free stuff for around $3. But you can always get the non-cage-free for around $2. One little egg offers six or seven grams of protein, and tons of vitamin B12 to help stabilize your moods, as well as iron, zinc, and copper.
You know you can get a full bundle of bananas for under $1. And when you eat this yellow fruit, you’ll get plenty of manganese, which is good for your skin, potassium, which is great for heart health and blood pressure, and vitamin C. Plus these can aid in digestion and are a good pick if you’re struggling with constipation.
You can grab a can of grocery store brand garbanzo beans for under a dollar. And one can is packed with protein and fiber, plus tons of vitamins and minerals. They can aid in weight management and promote better digestion. Consider tossing them in your pasta or salad for a vegetarian protein source.
Cottage cheese might be one of those foods we forget about, in favor of yogurt. But cottage cheese is an excellent low-fat form of dairy that offers tons of calcium and protein, as well as folate. A little bit of the stuff can help you remain full for hours, so it can help stabilize blood sugar, too.
If you don’t feel like baking or grilling fresh salmon, just grab a can of the stuff. It’s rich in vitamin D, calcium, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, so it can help keep you full while offering you healthy fats for your heart and brain. The canned stuff tastes great on top of lettuce, mixed up with mayonnaise and mustard for a salmon salad, or in pasta.
Brown rice is incredibly cheap. You can probably buy enough raw brown rice to last you half a year while hardly making a dent in your grocery budget. The fiber in this food can do several wonderful things, including help you eliminate waste, improve blood sugar, boost cholesterol, and even help prevent blood clots.
This pretty orange food isn’t just for making pumpkin pie or adding to your dog’s food when Fido is a little backed up. It’s loaded with antioxidants, as well as vitamin A, which can promote eye health. It’s also an excellent source of fiber to keep things moving and contains vitamins that can boost immunity.
You can buy them raw and boil them yourself for the best deal, but if you’re not up for it, you can get a can of ready-to-eat stuff for a couple of dollars. Beets are full of vitamin C, fiber, folate, potassium, iron, and manganese. They’ve been said to help improve circulation as well as lower blood pressure.
You can often buy this unique fruit for around $1.30 a pound, and it’s packed with nutrients. It has vitamin A for your eye health, vitamin C for your immune system, tons of antioxidants, and fiber to keep your digestive system working. Cut it up and roast it and use those cubes to have as a side dish or put in salads all week long. Or you can puree the cooked stuff to make butternut squash soup.
Don’t overlook the gorgeous little kiwi. Even though it is a bit more labor-intensive to eat than an apple or banana because you have to peel it, it’s so worth it. This pretty green fruit is packed with vitamin C, and having just two fruit a day could help relieve constipation. It’s also got tons of vitamin K and E, and folate and potassium.
You can often get a four- or six-pack of the microwavable stuff for a few dollars, or you could get a bag of raw kernels and make them yourself – something you can actually easily do in the microwave with few items. This snack is packed with fiber, low in calories (so long as you don’t overdo it on the butter), and offers whole grains.
Green tea is truly a superfood – or drink – as it can do so many things for the body and mind. It may help prevent certain types of cancer as well as diabetes. It can improve brain function, fight bad breath, and even help you burn more fat, making it a great beverage for those trying to lose weight.
Sautee it, throw it in soup, mix it into your omelet, add it to pasta, or have it raw as a salad – you can’t go wrong with Popeye’s favorite green. It’s loaded with vitamin A, C, and K, as well as folate. It’s actually one of the best sources of vitamin K. Plus it has iron and calcium for healthy bones.