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Nutrition on a Budget: The Best Bang for Your Buck

by Matt Weik

It seems like these days everyone is trying to stretch their dollar a little further. And when it comes to eating healthy foods, many people seem to complain that healthy food options are expensive and they can’t always buy in bulk like they would prefer to do. Well, this article will showcase a bunch of healthy food options (per serving) that are under a dollar. If you can find them on sale or use coupons, the cost drops even more. Let’s take a peek at what a dollar can get you.


No one likes to peel off the skin or take the chicken off the bones, but if you want to save money and stretch your dollar a little further, buy the whole chicken. Four ounces of chicken (a serving size) will be around $0.45. Stock up and you can use the chicken for many uses from salads, to soups, and obviously eating it plain. This is a fairly inexpensive protein source that you can always have on your weekly grocery list.

Ground Turkey

Similar to chicken, ground turkey will get you for around $0.45 per serving. Both chicken and ground turkey are high in protein and can be added to things like chili to up the amount of protein in your meal. Ground turkey is extremely easy to prepare and can be used with vegetables like peppers, carrots, spinach for a low-carbohydrate lunch or dinner.

Sweet Potatoes

These spuds are delicious. They are healthy for you and have a sweetness to them that can help you resist the urge to cheat on your diet. This variety has more fiber than white potatoes and can be made many different ways. Of course, you can bake them. But other ways you can enjoy sweet potatoes would be mashed or cut up into slices and baked into healthy fries. One large sweet potato will only run you around $0.58. They also go great with the chicken and ground turkey options mentioned above.

Dark Green Vegetables

Most dark green vegetables will run you around $0.50 per serving (such as a half cup of broccoli). You can consume these vegetables plain (raw) as a snack or you can have them as a side to your lunch or dinner. These vegetables will be loaded with vitamins and minerals and depending on the variety, they even provide fiber in your diet. You can’t go wrong with any of these veggies such as broccoli, spinach, lettuce, green beans, peas, edamame, celery, etc.


Another veggie to keep stocked in your fridge are carrots. Loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals, carrots can be used as a snack item or as a side dish to your meals. Personally, at $0.10 per serving (a half-cup), there’s no reason not to add these to your grocery list and have them readily available. You can cut them up into sticks and eat them as an afternoon or evening snack, or you can cut them up and add them to a salad. They go great in soups as well and with a chicken or turkey dinner as a side item.


A serving size would be two eggs in our case and that would only cost you $0.32. Eggs are a great source of protein and fats. You can poach them, scramble them, turn them into an omelet, hard-boil them, prepare them over-easy, you name it. They’re cheap and extremely versatile. You can even make yourself an egg sandwich in the morning if you wish. With so much variety from their use, they should always be considered a staple and something you can always count on being in your refrigerator. If you have the time and patience to make a bunch of hard-boiled eggs all at one time, you’ll have a quick and easy protein source you can take with you anywhere you go. Just make sure you eat them away from anyone as you don’t want to gross them out. They can be consumed plain, with salt and pepper, or cut up and tossed into a salad.


Sticking with the breakfast foods, oatmeal can always slide right into the mix. At only $0.24 per serving, you’ll have some healthy carbohydrates and fiber ready to go in a matter of minutes. You can often find oats on sale or in bulk which can help keep some extra money in your pocket. You can also find them at wholesalers like Sam’s, BJ’s, and Costco to name a few. Not only can you make a morning cup of oatmeal any time of day, but you could also use the old-fashioned rolled oats in your protein shakes or for homemade protein or granola bars. A serving of oatmeal is eight ounces and can definitely fill you up and help you feel satiated during the day.


Some people enjoy putting the oatmeal mentioned above, in their yogurt to add some texture. While oatmeal is one of the more expensive items on this list, sitting at $0.80, you can generally find it on sale which would lower the cost. You can purchase yogurt in bulk, and I’d recommend the unsweetened variety or plain. Once you get into the flavored or fruit-filled, you’re going to send your sugar intake into orbit. Yogurt is great for digestive health thanks to the natural probiotics. You can eat the yogurt plain, with a piece of fruit (like a banana mentioned below), or even in a smoothie with some protein powder (which we will get to later on). You could even substitute yogurt in some recipes rather than using mayonnaise.


A whole banana (one serving) will only cost you $0.26, and there are many uses for bananas. Not only are they great for increasing your potassium levels if you exercise regularly or are an athlete, but you can add them to many of the foods we already listed. You can put a banana in yogurt, oatmeal, or eat it plain with your breakfast (or any time of day for that matter). Bananas are rich in fiber and can be taken along with you for an on-the-go snack option. They are also delicious when frozen and added to a protein smoothie.


Nuts are a great snack item or something you can throw in your salad, oatmeal, or yogurt. Walnuts will set you back around $0.69 per serving (a half ounce). They are loaded with healthy fats (omega-3’s) and protein. They are also generally less expensive than some of the other nut varieties out there. If you can purchase walnuts in bulk, that will provide you with the best bang for your buck.

Protein Powder

While not a “real food” item, I felt it was important to throw this on the list. Protein powder is extremely convenient and can be used in many different ways. The obvious would be as a protein shake or smoothie. But, you can also use it with minimal water and make yourself some high-protein pudding. In addition, some people put protein powder in their coffee, cereal, yogurt, and even baked goods. The cost per serving varies greatly depending on the brand and quality, but you can normally find a good protein powder around $0.70 per serving.

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