Save money and eat healthy by choosing nutritious foods that taste great and fit into your budget. By: Holley Grainger, MS, RD

By Holley Grainger, MS, RD
September 24, 2010

There's no need to sacrifice quality, flavor, or nutrients when you're shopping on a budget. You can find amazing items at the grocery store that offer quality nutrition for a fraction of the cost. You just need know what to look for.

Low-fat Milk 
People complain all the time that milk is expensive yet their grocery carts are filled with sugary juices, sodas, and energy drinks. Now that's expensive! These drinks offer little to no nutrient value where a serving of low-fat milk is naturally nutrient-rich and costs around 21 cents per serving. Plus, you're getting calcium, vitamins A and D, protein and more! Ounce for ounce and penny for penny, the nutrition in milk is second to none.

Canola oil
Canola oil is one of the healthiest oils out there. It's four times cheaper than olive oil and offers the same amazing heart healthy benefits. Plus, it has the lowest amount of saturated fat than any other oil and it has a neutral flavor making it extremely versatile. Use it for stir fries, vinaigrettes, or marinades or try it as a substitute for butter when baking cakes and bread.

Long-Grain Brown Rice
Rice has gone from the stove to the microwave to individual precooked servings and now it's finding its way back to the long route on the stove. Those small pouches of rice are great in a pinch but they are costly! Cooking with dry brown rice averages just 58 cents per pound, adds a nutty flavor plus all of the benefits of whole grains.

Whole Chicken
Instead of buying chicken piece by piece, plan menus to include meals that use legs, thighs, and breasts all on different nights. Or, roast a whole chicken and be able to eat for a few days. Whole chickens run about $1.16 per pound versus as much as $5 or $6 per pound for individual pieces.

Seasonal produce
Pick up what's in season when shopping at the local farmers' market or grocery. That may be watermelon and peaches in the summer or butternut squash in the winter. Shopping seasonally assures that the products are more affordable and they taste the best.

Dried Beans
Beans and legumes are nutritional superstars. They don't always have to be a side dish either—they're great in a variety of recipes because they provide plant-based protein and fiber.  Even though it takes extra time to soak dried beans, the results are well worth it because you get less sodium and 5x more beans for your money compared to canned.

If you're wanting to eat healthy but are afraid you can't do it on a budget, ditch the excuses, quit eating junk food and go pick up some of these simple and nutritious foods at the grocery.