Want to know one of the biggest excuses I hear from people why they don’t eat better?
“Healthy food is too expensive.”
Guess what my response is? That’s a load of crap!!
While some healthy foods (mostly meat and dairy products) can be pricey, the truth is the majority of healthy foods are actually pretty cheap!
Why Unhealthy Foods Are Cheap?
Before I give you my list of the best cheap healthy foods for weight loss, I’d like you to understand something I think is important. Unhealthy foods are cheap for several reasons. First, food companies realized long ago that the stuff that’s bad for you has the highest profit margin. Think about it … you rarely/never see food companies advertising lettuce or apples. But you’re bombarded with ads for soda, unhealthy cereals, desserts, and packaged, processed junk food.
To make matters worse, our government provides tax breaks for these companies to produce these cheap products, which creates a food system that sets you up to gain weight. And that’s not cool in my humble opinion.
So what do you do? You have two choices: continue to support “the system” and buy cheap, unhealthy junk. Or realize that there are some really great healthy food alternatives that are pretty inexpensive. You can save even more money by shopping at farmers markets and buying local whenever you can. It’s healthier, it’s cheaper, it’s better for the environment, and it supports your local economy. So support your local farmers.
You’re probably sick of my rambling by now, so let’s get back on track.
List of the top 10 cheap healthy foods for weight loss
Beans and legumes are ridiculously cheap. A can of beans costs between $1 and $2, and dried beans cost much less. That means for less than $2 you get a healthy, filling dose of protein, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates. Beans are one of the healthiest, cheapest ways to lose weight. Replace some of the grains in your diet with beans, especially refined grains, and watch the weight come off. If you go with canned beans, choose a salt-free brand like Eden Organic.
2. Nuts and Seeds:
Nuts and seeds are a great source of healthier polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They’re also one of the cheapest, healthiest snack foods you can buy. A $5 bag of raw almonds can last you a week or two. Nuts are also a great source of fiber and protein. Opt for salt-free nuts and choose a different variety every time you stock up. I like pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, macadamias, and Brazil nuts.
3. Leafy Green Vegetables
Here’s the healthiest food on this list. Green leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and collard greens are health powerhouses with a crazy amount of health benefits. And they’re cheap. You can buy a head of organic romaine lettuce for under $3 in most stores, and it can provide an entire week of healthy salads!
Bananas make my list of top cheap healthy foods for several reasons. First, they’re a delicious fruit that are high in potassium. They make an awesome snack when you’re on the go. And they cost around 50 cents per pound. That’s a win-win-win in my book.
Eggs are one of my favorite and one of the most inexpensive healthy foods you can buy. For about $3 you can get a dozen eggs, which lasts most people a week (I go through a couple dozen a week, which my wife thinks is insane). Eggs are a fantastic source of protein, amino acids, and antioxidants. And a study published in the American Journal of Nutrition found that overweight or obese people who ate eggs in the morning instead of a bagel consumed less calories and felt more full!
6. Canned tuna
I’ll admit I had a few reservations about putting this one on my list of cheap healthy foods. That’s because the The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, an organization whose opinion I value highly, recommends avoiding many types of tuna. Fortunately, they give canned white albacore tuna their seal of approval. Canned tuna is an awesome source of protein and is low in calories and fat. A can of tuna makes a great snack or lunch and only costs a little more than $1. Talk about a sweet deal!
Carrots are one of my “go-to” healthy snack foods. In the spring, summer, and fall, I like to head down to the farmers market and pick up some carrots. Even off-season, you can buy a big ‘ole bag of organic carrots for about two bucks at the grocery store.
8. Brown rice
Brown rice is one of my favorite healthy grains. It contains belly-filling fiber and is a healthy source of whole grains. White rice, on the other hand, gets a big thumbs down from me. That’s because it’s a refined grain, and refined grains cause your blood sugar to rise, which signals a series of events in your body that essentially block your ability to burn fat. Refined grains are a huge no-no if you want to lose weight. Brown rice is a healthier alternative.
9. Chicken breast
Chicken breast certainly isn’t cheap compared to some of the other healthy foods on this list. But compared to other meat sources of protein, it’s one of the least expensive you’ll find. A 4-ounce chicken breast has nearly 30 grams of protein and barely any fat. You can grab a pound of chicken breasts from most grocery stores for between $3 and $4. I prefer to get my chicken from a local farm, so I highly recommend this option if you can swing it. But if you’re on a tight budget, buying chicken breasts from the grocery store is a cost-effective way to get some lean protein in your diet.
Celery is a great low calorie snack that’s super cheap (around $2/bag). In fact, two stalks of celery have just 15 calories! Eat celery sticks as a snack with either peanut butter or hummus. It’s a super snack food to help promote healthy weight loss.