10 Cheap and Healthy Items to add To Your Grocery List | Muse Health

 

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When it comes to healthy eating, many people believe that preparing healthy meals will burn a hole in their wallet. While some healthy foods are expensive, there are many that can fit anyone’s budget. From grains to fruits and vegetables, grocery stores are stocked with endless options for anyone looking to modify their diet. Before adding ice cream and donuts to your grocery list, consider some low fat revisions that make your shopping list both healthy and cheap.

Below are 10 cheap and health items you should get while buying groceries.

Healthy Fats

As you begin creating your healthy grocery list, making sure to add foods with healthy fats is important. Although the word “fat” carries a negative connotation, fats are essential in maintaining a balanced diet.

Avocados

Also known as butter fruit or alligator pear, avocados are characterized for being an excellent source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a nutrient that is crucial for vision, blood, brain, and skin health. Avocados are also rich in monounsaturated fats which result in the increase of good cholesterol and depletion of bad cholesterol.  

For women who are pregnant, avocados are a great source of folic acid. An adequate amount of folic acid in a pregnant woman’s diet has been linked to reduced instances of miscarries and neural tube defects.  

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, one serving of an avocado contains:

  • 64 calories
  • 3.4 grams of carbohydrates
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • Less than one gram of sugar

Avocados also work as a base for several cheap and healthy recipes. A breakfast favorite, avocado toast can be created with as little as two ingredients or modified to your desired preference.

On average, avocados costs can range from $1-$2.50 each. Like all fruits, prices fluctuate based on the time of year and what store you used to purchase it. While that may seem like a lot of money for one avocado, the average cost of a 5.2 oz tub of Pringles is $1.59.

Almonds

Adding nuts into your diet is a great way to gain protein. Especially for those who maintain plant-based diets, nuts pack important vitamins and minerals needed to keep your body healthy and functioning.

Just like avocados, almonds are an excellent source of Vitamin E. One ounce of almonds equates to 37% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin E.  

Almonds are also characterized as being high in magnesium. Magnesium helps with the regulation of several bodily functions, including blood sugar. For people with diabetes, almonds are a healthy snack choice. Two ounces of almonds provide 150mg of magnesium. This equates to half of the recommended daily intake.

One great thing about almonds is the variety of forms that you can find at any grocery store. From almond milk to almond butter to its raw form, incoporating it into your diet is simple. For example, add it to a salad for extra crunch and texture.  

Because almonds are available in different varieties, the price is dependent on several factors. With 1 pound of raw almonds ranging in price from $5.99 to $7.99, its substantive benefits make it a must-have item on a healthy grocery list.

It should be noted that almonds are high in fiber. Ingesting too many can cause stomach pain and digestive issues.

Healthy Grains

When examining the food pyramid, grains compose the base. A building block to a healthy diet, grains are complex carbohydrates that energize the body and are an essential item on a healthy grocery list.

Whole Wheat Pasta

For many years, pasta has been linked to the words unhealthy and carbohydrates. That was until whole wheat pasta came along. Unlike white pasta, which is filled with refined carbs, whole wheat pasta is packed with nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Due to its high fiber content, whole wheat pasta helps the body with digestion and passage of food. By bringing more oxygen into the body, it results in improved energy and calorie burning throughout the day.  

An affordable grocery item, one box of whole wheat pasta costs $1.00-$2.00.

When shopping, make sure the label reads “whole wheat”. While a word like “multigrain” appears similar, whole wheat varieties have more fiber and protein per serving. Whole wheat pasta is also great for meal plans. By incorporating different sauces and protein options, you'll be able to enjoy this dish in a number of ways.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the best sources of nutrients a person can have in their household. Oats are loaded with important vitamins and antioxidant plant compounds. A half-cup of dry oats contains:

  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B5

All of these nutrients are known to be incredibly beneficial. Oats are the only food to carry rare antioxidants called avenanthramides. Avenanthramides have been linked to lowering blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide is a gas molecule that dilates blood vessels, resulting in better blood flow throughout the body.  

Another benefit of oatmeal is its filling properties. Oatmeal delays digestion and the presence of beta-glucan tricks the body into feeling full. When you’re full, the urge to overeat diminishes.

The price of oatmeal ranges from $2.50 for 18 ounces to $3.50 for the same quantity.

Adding a fat free grain such as flaxseed to oatmeal will add a crunchy consistency while providing fiber.

If you don’t want to have oatmeal for breakfast every morning, use it to make healthy muffins and granola bars.

Healthy Meats

Most associated with protein, meat has become an essential part of many diets. As with anything, there are good kinds of meat and those you should avoid. Below are two healthy choices that are easily incorporable into any diet.

Chicken

It should come as no surprise that chicken is one of the healthiest meat sources out there.

Incorporating chicken into your diet can prove beneficial. High in Vitamin A, E, and K, chicken promotes the production of red blood cells which can help treat conditions like anemia. Chicken is also high in iron, potassium, and magnesium. These three nutrients are essential to cell growth and regeneration and immune system health. A boosted immune system helps to fight off toxins, free radicals, and cancer-causing cells.

For those looking to stretch themselves in the kitchen, chicken is a great protein choice. With almost every cuisine having a signature chicken dish, there are ample choices.

The way in which your chicken is cooked also determines the number of saturated fats that you intake. Instead of frying, use an oven and bake your chicken. Also, make sure to use a skinless chicken. Chicken skin carries extra fat and provides no nutritional value.  

Grocery stores package chicken in several different forms. From frozen whole chickens to packets of 7-8 chicken breast, the choice you make depends on budgetary and cooking time constraints.

The average packet of chicken breast can range anywhere from $5.00 to $15.00. Chicken on its own can become redundant. Mixing chicken with lentils, brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potatoes can help add variety to your meals while staying low sodium.  

Fish

If a list of heart-healthy meats was created, fish would be in either first or second position.

A great source of iodine, regular consumption of fish ensures that the thyroid gland produces a sufficient amount of hormones. Fatty fish types like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel pack Vitamin D. Although Vitamin D is provided by the sun, many people suffer from deficiencies. A deficiency of this vitamin can lead to feelings of fatigue, joint pain, and depression.

Fish are the best source for obtaining Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for development and growth. As you age, your body naturally deteriorates and Omega-3’s help to sustain the functionality of vital organs for a longer time.

With so many different kinds of fish to choose from, the price is dependent on the season and the perceived market value of a specific fish.

Sardines get a bad reputation for their smell but cans are less than $3.00. Sardines are packed with calcium and essential vitamins. With a little olive oil, they virtually take no time to cook.

Healthy Fruits & Vegetables

No healthy grocery list would be complete without the addition of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins. Depending on the fruit or vegetable you consume the primary vitamin will differ. Fruits and vegetables can be mixed with other foods to create instant healthy recipes. Although grocery stores have several choices, there are two items that you should consider.

Oranges

It’s commonly said that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” That saying could easily be directed towards oranges. These small, round fruits offer a plethora of vitamins and minerals and only carry 60 calories.

Oranges are filled with Vitamin C. This vitamin is critical in the protection of cells by neutralizing free radicals. If free radicals build up in the body, it can lead to chronic illnesses. Oranges are also a great source of potassium. Regular consumption of potassium is important for maintaining a healthy heart.

Fruit and vegetable prices are determined by weight. On average, individual oranges will cost $1.00-$2.00 per pound.  

Whether consumed on its own, added to a fruit salad, blended in a smoothie with kale, blueberries, or raspberries, or squeezed, oranges not only taste great but leave your body feeling refreshed. Oranges are also great toppings for greek yogurt and should be added to your grocery shopping list.

Broccoli

A vegetable that many children avoid, broccoli resembles a miniature tree and is filled with several important vitamins and minerals.  

Broccoli contains potent antioxidants that inhibit damage caused to cells by free radicals. Its antioxidant content has also been linked to aiding those with blood sugar issues.

One cup of broccoli is filled with Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin B9. Vitamin B9 helps the body create red blood cells, supports the building of muscle, and maintains heart health.

The price of broccoli can range from $1.00-$4.00 per bag. The frozen food aisle always has broccoli packets in stock. Several studies have shown that flash-frozen vegetables have equal if not more nutritional value than those in the fresh produce section.

It should be noted that different cooking methods (microwaving, stir-frying, steaming), affect the nutrient composition of broccoli. According to studies, steaming appears to have the least negative impact.

Mixing broccoli with leafy greens like kale and spinach will only add to the nutritional value of your meals.

Now that you have a list of essential grocery store items, it’s time to go out there and shop. Make sure to create a healthy and cheap grocery list before heading out as the snack food aisle is a constant temptation. Making a habit of buying whole foods and veggies will result in health benefits and potential weight loss. Remember that affordable grocery shopping is possible.

Even with covid-19 happening, keep this list in mind and you should be all set.