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Although there are ways to eat healthy on a budget, there’s no denying that buying fresh, whole—even frozen—foods is pricier than processed, packaged foods and fast food.
In the last decade alone, the cost of food has increased by 26 percent and the average grocery bill for a family of 4 is anywhere between $129 and $285 per week, according to the USDA.
The good news is that your family can eat healthy and save money without sacrificing nutrition or taste.
Here are 7 budget-friendly healthy foods to fill up your grocery cart with each week.
A great source of potassium and vitamin B6, bananas are also a good source of fiber: 1 small banana has 2.6 grams.
Since they’re not considered part of the dirty dozen, you can buy conventional bananas which are more affordable.
In our home, we go through at least two bunches of bananas a week. I add bananas to oatmeal, overnight oats, green smoothies, and use them as a replacement for oil in bread, muffin and baking recipes.
When the bananas start to over-ripen, throw them in the freezer and whip up a frozen, non-dairy faux ice cream to stretch your food dollars even more.
Eggs are often dubbed “a perfect food” and for good reason.
An excellent source of protein, eggs are also high in lutein, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs make the list of budget friendly healthy foods because they’re so versatile.
Hard-boiled eggs can be served for breakfast, added to salads, transformed into egg salad or packed for snacks when you’re on the go.
My kids eat eggs almost every day whether it’s scrambled, in a frittata or a quiche, or incorporated into an egg “fried” rice.
Pasture-raised eggs and organic eggs are ideal because they’re raised humanely, treated without antibiotics or arsenic, and their nutritional profile is better than white eggs.
Although they’re more expensive, I’ve noticed prices come way down in recent months.
Something I also discovered at my local grocery store is that organic eggs are found in two areas of the store: the organic/natural section where they’re more expensive and the regular eggs section which are more affordable.
Since they’re high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, green leafy vegetables are some of the best vegetables to feed your kids
Broccoli in particular, is high in vitamins C, K, and folate.
It’s also quite affordable and can be served cooked or raw, and for meals or snacks.
Add broccoli to stews, casseroles and salads, as well as egg, pasta and rice dishes.
Or use your blender or Vitamix to blend the florets and the stems into a healthy, delicious soup.
4. Rolled oats
Rolled oats are low in sugar and a good source of whole grains and filling fiber, iron, selenium and manganese.
I use rolled oats practically every day in oatmeal, overnight oats, energy bites, cookies, breads, pancakes and muffins.
5. Frozen peas
With 5 grams of fiber and protein per 1/2 cup, peas are also a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, K, folate and magnesium.
While fresh peas are in season in the spring, you can stock up on frozen peas all year long.
Peas not only make for a great first food for baby, but they can be added to practically every dish including soups, stews, rice dishes, pastas and salads.
6. Sweet potatoes
An excellent source of vitamins A and C, and fiber, sweet potatoes are not only healthy, but a food most kids like and one that can stretch your food budget.
I love roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon and sea salt but you can also pop them in the microwave when you’re tight on time or grate them into a hash and serve them with eggs.
7. Beans and lentils
Beans and lentils are high in both protein and fiber and excellent sources of iron. Also, since you can buy beans in bulk, a little goes a long way.
Add beans to rice and pasta dishes, incorporate them into soups, stews and chilis or serve them as an appetizer that your kids can munch on while you’re cooking dinner.