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Thanks to overpriced juice bars and specialty organic grocers, some of the healthiest foods get a bad rap for being good for the body, but bad for your wallet. Thing is, cooking your own meals and having snacks on-hand will drastically cut the amount of money you spend on food throughout the week.

 

 

And fortunately, loading up on good-for-you food doesn’t have to make all your money disappear. We polled four nutritionists on the fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins that contain the most nutritional bang for your buck.

Here are 25 affordable foods that’ll deliver the greatest nutritional boost for less than a Lincoln. Prioritize these the next time you head to the grocery store.


20 of the Best Superfoods for Men

Raspberries

Average Cost: $5 per pint

Fresh berries are sweet and tasty, and most varieties have under 100 calories per cup. My favorite are raspberries. They’re easy to munch on their own, or with plain Greek yogurt, plus they pack a whopping 8 grams of fiber per cup. While they’re sometimes more expensive than other fresh fruits, they pack a ton of nutrition and can usually be found for under or around $5.

– Amanda Blechman, R.D., New York-based nutritionist 

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Oats

Average Cost: $2.75 for 18 oz tin

Old-fashioned, rolled oats are a versatile whole grain that provide heart-healthy fiber and essential nutrients, including B vitamins. Enjoy them sweet or savory in overnight oats or to make your own granola. You can even swap them out for breadcrumbs in recipes for meatballs or meatloaf. 

– Jessica Cording, R.D., integrative nutrition health coach in New York

 

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Cottage Cheese

Average Cost: $3 for 24 oz

With 26 grams of protein per cup—including casein protein, a slow-digesting form that supplies your muscles with mass-building amino acids—cottage cheese is an excellent choice for fueling muscle growth. Dollop over whole grain toast, pancakes, baked potatoes, chili, or fruit salads. Or, y’know, just eat it plain. 

– Vicki Shanta Retelny, R.D.N., author of Total Body Diet for Dummies

 

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Broccoli

Average Cost: $1.80 per pound

Broccoli is an excellent source of immunity-helping vitamin C and a cup of florets is less than $1. I like to eat it in a salad or in a simple stir-fry. 

– Amy Gorin, R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area

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Bananas

Average Cost: $0.55 per pound

Bananas are inexpensive and a great source of many important vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, magnesium, and tryptophan, an amino acid that’s important for supporting stable levels of mood-regulating serotonin. 

– JC

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Baby Spinach

Average Cost: $3.50 for 5 oz

Baby spinach contains potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron. It’s so easy to use in a quick salad, or mixed into smoothies and whole-wheat pasta and grain bowls for a nutrition boost. Spinach can also be used to make pesto, sauces, and marinades for chicken and fish.

– AB

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Tofu

Average Cost: $2 for 12 oz

Soybean curd—aka tofu—contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete, plant-based protein to fuel your muscles. It has no cholesterol, saturated fat, very little sodium, and plenty of calcium for healthy bones.

 VSR

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Hummus

Average Cost: $3 for 10 oz

Store-bought hummus, enjoyed as a dip, makes a great vehicle for vegetables and can be used as a marinade for chicken or fish. It’s also a great way to dress up a salad or grain bowl.

– JC

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Chicken Thighs

Average Cost: $2.28 per pound

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs can be a great money-saving swap, as they have a similar nutrient profile to boneless, skinless chicken breast but tend to cost less. One thigh has a whopping 28 grams of protein!

– JC

 

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Eggs

Average Cost: $2 per dozen

Quick and easy to cook, eggs go beyond breakfast. They’re an easy way to add a quick protein source to lunch or dinner atop salads, cooked veggies, or grain bowls. They also offer 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including an excellent source of choline—which is great for your brain.

 AB

 

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Canned Sardines

Average Cost: $0.98 for 3.75 oz tin

Sardines are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, and the canned variety is super cheap. If the bones and skin freak you out, grab the boneless, skinless fillets and enjoy them mashed up and cooked into sauce or in a salad with avocado. 

 JC

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Beans

Average Cost: $1 per 15 oz can; $1.50 per 16 oz dry

Whether you purchase dried or canned, beans are a cost-effective source of plant protein and also a great source of filling fiber. 

 JC

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Avocados

Average Cost: $1.15 to 1.50 each

So delicious, avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They also also supply the mineral potassium, helping to keep your blood pressure levels in check. 

 AG

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Potatoes

Average Cost: $2.55 per 5-pound bag

Potatoes get a bad reputation, because we usually think of them fried. But they can be a valuable part of a healthy diet, thanks to their vitamin A, potassium, and fiber content so long as you roast, bake, or steam. Sweet potatoes outweigh white potatoes in nutrition, too, so prioritize the orange tubers.  

 JC

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Plain Greek Yogurt

Average Cost: $1 per 6 oz

Greek yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium, and gut-healing probiotic bacteria. You can enjoy it with fruit or cereal, but it’s also great with savory foods as an alternative to sour cream or dressings. The single-serving cups are around a dollar each, but purchasing the 32-ounce containers will usually end up being less expensive at the end of the week.

 JC

 

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Brown Rice

Average Cost: $1.50 for 16 oz

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend including more whole grains in your diet, and brown rice in particular is a good source of fiber (1 cup has 3 grams). Plus, it’s easy to prep in advance and use in meals throughout the week by mixing into veggie bowls or stir-fry for a quick weeknight meal.  

 AB

 

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Tomatoes

Average Cost: $2.25 per pound

These red gems boast antioxidants, which may help prevent prostate cancer as well as wrinkles by helping to protect your skin from UV damage. Cooked tomatoes are best, because research shows the lycopene is better absorbed by the body than when it’s raw. 

 AG

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Freekeh

Average Cost: $4.60 for 8 oz

This ancient whole grain has a smoky flavor and is packed with 7 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein per quarter cup. Plus, choosing a whole grain like freekeh will stabilize blood sugar and keep you full longer. Toss it into salad greens, soups, chili, or use as a tasty side dish.   

 VSR

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Pistachios

Average Cost: $4 for 8 oz bag

Pistachios offer one of the highest protein counts for nuts—and they also provide fiber and better-for-you fats. In fact, close to 90 percent of the fats found in pistachios are the beneficial mono- and polyunsaturated type. The trio of plant protein, fiber, and healthy fats help to keep you fuller longer. I also love the visual cue that in-shell nuts provide, helping to slow you down and prevent extra noshing. 

– AG

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Watermelon

Average Cost: $0.30 to $0.55 per pound

This fruit is uber-hydrating, as it’s more than 90 percent water. And, like tomatoes, it gets its red color from the health-promoting antioxidant lycopene.

 AG

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Brussels Sprouts

Average Cost: $3.25 per pound

These tiny cabbage-like vegetables should be a staple in everyone’s diet. They’re jammed with phyto-compounds, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Brussels sprouts have been recognized as a great anti-inflammatory food to boot. The vegetable is a great addition to salads and meal-prep recipes.    

 VSR

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Apples

Average Cost: $1.30 per pound

Apples are a good source of filling fiber—and some research even suggests those who eat apples daily tend to use fewer prescription medications. Bonus: One cup of apple slices costs less than 50 cents.

 AG

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Butternut Squash

Average Cost: $1.30 per pound

This delicious fall veggie has a low glycemic index, which research shows could benefit your metabolism, especially following weight loss. I like to roast butternut squash and flavor with lemon juice, vanilla extract, and pomegranate juice.

 AG

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Cauliflower

Average Cost: $2.80 per head

Just because it’s white, don’t discount this powerful cruciferous veg as being less flavorful or nutritious. (Besides, cauliflower can be purple, green and orange.) It’s jam-packed with heart-, brain-, and cell-healthy plant compounds for total-body goodness.  Steamed, roasted, grilled, mashed, or riced, cauliflower is a low-carb powerhouse for any meal. Try these 10 healthy recipes

 VSR

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Kale

Average Cost: $1.10 per bunch

This leafy green is chock-full of fiber, plant compounds called flavonoids (a type of antioxidant), and multiple vitamins and minerals. It’s high-nutrient content helps fend off certain diseases and lower cholesterol levels. Toss it into a salad, soup, or smoothie.

 VSR

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The post The 25 Healthiest Foods You Can Buy for $5 or Less appeared first on Men's Journal.

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